Bureau of African Affairs
Fact Sheet
January 22, 2014

More information about Sierra Leone is available on the Sierra Leone Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The United States established diplomatic relations with Sierra Leone in 1961, following its independence from the United Kingdom. U.S.-Sierra Leone relations are cordial. About two percent of Sierra Leone's population are Krio, the descendants of freed slaves who returned to Sierra Leone beginning in the late 1700s from Great Britain and North America and from slave ships captured on the high seas. Many thousands of Sierra Leoneans reside in the United States.

Sierra Leone's brutal 1991-2002 civil war destroyed infrastructure and truncated political, social, and economic development. The country has made substantial progress in transitioning from a post-conflict nation to a developing democracy that has made notable economic gains. It also is emerging as one of the most stable countries in a volatile region. Most notably, it now contributes significantly to United Nations peacekeeping operations, including the UN Mission to Darfur (UNAMID). It deployed a U.S.-trained battalion to the AU Peace Support Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) in March 2013. The government also has passed one of Africa’s toughest anti-corruption laws, made high-profile arrests, and secured convictions in a majority of its prosecutions. As a result, President Koroma was invited to meet President Obama in the Oval Office on March 28, 2013. In October 2013, Sierra Leone ratified a Freedom of Information Act and applied to the Open Government Partnership. Despite this, Sierra Leone continues to grapple with entrenched corruption, poor health conditions, weak governmental institutions, high unemployment, slow economic growth, abject poverty, and inadequate social services. In the November 17, 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections wherein over 87 percent of the electorate participated, the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party and incumbent President Koroma were re-elected with over 58 percent of the vote in a generally peaceful process that marked the third consecutive successful election since the end of the war.

Sierra Leone relies on significant amounts of foreign assistance, principally from multilateral donors; the United States is among the largest bilateral donors. The United States was the largest single donor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which pursued cases against those most responsible for violations of humanitarian law during the country's civil war. Upon its conclusion of appellate proceedings in September 2013, it transitioned into a Residual Court .

U.S. Assistance to Sierra Leone

U.S. development assistance programs seek to support elections and political processes, create livelihood opportunities, improve food security and nutrition, augment civic participation, and build capacity for both rural and urban health service delivery. U.S. security assistance aims to help Sierra Leone build a more professional and apolitical Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces that will also be capable of supporting peacekeeping in Africa as well as fighting drug trafficking and smuggling. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) continues limited engagement with Sierra Leone in the development of a proposal for a compact.

Bilateral Economic Relations

U.S. exports to Sierra Leone include transportation equipment, agricultural products, machinery, and chemicals, while its imports from Sierra Leone include minerals, metals, machinery, and agricultural products. Sierra Leone is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. The two countries do not have a bilateral investment treaty or taxation treaty. On September 17, 2012 in Washington, senior officials for both countries signed an Open Skies air services agreement.

Sierra Leone's Membership in International Organizations

Sierra Leone and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.

Bilateral Representation

There is currently no U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Sierra Leone maintains an embassy in the United States at 1701 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20009, tel. 202-939-9261.

More information about Sierra Leone is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Sierra Leone Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Sierra Leone Page
U.S. Embassy: Sierra Leone
USAID Sierra Leone Page
History of U.S. Relations With Sierra Leone
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Travel and Business Information

[This is a mobile copy of Sierra Leone]

Short URL: http://m.state.gov/md5475.htm