Assessing fragility in Sierra Leone and identifying challenges and priorities ahead

Sierra Leone is a small West African country with a total landmass of 73,325 and estimated population of 5.6 million people. It is blessed with rich mineral resources including diamonds, gold, rutile, iron ore and bauxite. Its capital, Freetown, was founded in 1787 as a haven for freed slaves, and was at one time the headquarters for British West Africa. Sierra Leone boasts the oldest university in West Africa, Fourah Bay College, opened in 1827. At one time this earned the country the title of the ‘Athens of West Africa’.

Sierra Leone became an independent country within the Commonwealth of Nations on 27 April 1961 and was declared a Republic on 19 April 1971. In March 1991, Sierra Leone was plunged into a long civil war which finally ended in 2002. Since the end of the war, peace has been consolidated and considerable progress has been made in economic management, governance, transparency and accountability and in improving social conditions. Sierra Leone has held three rounds of peaceful and credible presidential, parliamentary and local council elections. While many challenges still lie ahead, the country is on track to move out of fragility onto a more stable development path.