Located in central West Africa, Sierra Leone is starting to recover from a devastating civil war that occurred from 1991-2002 where upwards of tens of thousands of citizens were killed and up to 2 million displaced out of a total population of 6 million. UN peacekeepers left the country in December 2005, the post-conflict economy has since rebounded with strong GDP growth although poverty is widespread. Sierra Leone obtained independence in April 1961 from the United Kingdom, the country is home to substantial natural resources including precious minerals, fish and agriculture. National challenges include a wide array of social issues including one of the world’s lowest life spans, HIV/AIDS, inequality of income distribution, etc..
Total GDP as measured by purchasing power parity stands at $4.9 billion USD (2005) with corresponding GDP/Capita at $800 USD. GDP market stands at $1.12 billion USD (2005). GDP growth figures include year 2005 at 7.5 percent, year 2006 estimated at 7.4 percent of GDP, year 2007 at 6.5 percent. Inflation quotes have year 1997 at 40 percent, 2005 at 12.5 percent, year 2006 projected at 11.3 percent, 2007 at 8.3 percent. External debt stands at $1.61 billion USD (2003). Challenges include the very large current account deficit measured at 14.5 percent of GDP (excluding grants) and/or at 8.5 percent of GDP (including grants). The trade component is in deficit at $346 million USD (2004). The fiscal account is also in deficit at 1.5 percent of GDP (including grants). Official reserves amounted to $150 million year-end 2005 and/or at 3 months of import coverage. Net oil importer.
CURRENCY: ISO Symbol ‘SLL’, Sierra Leonean leone. At time of review on September 15, 2006, the Sierra leone had an exchange valuation of 2957.4 SLL to the US-dollar (USD) and/or 3746.6 SLL to the Euroland euro (EUR). Currency regime follows that of a managed exchange rate whereby the leone is valued at weekly auctions.
Currency controls are in place for some foreign exchange transactions.
CURRENCY HISTORY: the leone was introduced in 1964 when it replaced the West African pound at 2 leones to 1 pound. Historical exchange quotes include year 2005 at 2890 SLL to the USD, year 2004 at 2701, 2003 at 2348, 2002 at 2099, year 2001 at 1986, 1999 at 1804, 1998 at 1563, 1997 at 981, 1996 at 920, 1995 at 755 and 1993 at 567.4 .
CURRENCY FORECAST: currency risks are heightened with regional instability, moderate to medium inflation being prevalent, large current account shortfall amongst many social difficulties. Mineral exports particularly that of diamonds will remain the country’s largest source of export earnings with further mining potential in rare earth minerals including titanium and rutile.
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