Sierra Leonean Leone (SLL)

What Is the Sierra Leonean Leone (SLL)?

The Sierra Leonean Leone (SLL) is the national currency of Sierra Leone. It is issued by the nation's central bank, Bank of Sierra Leone. As of December 2020, one U.S. dollar bought 10,000 leone.

The leone is often represented with the symbol "Le" before the numeral. For instance, 100 leones may be written as Le100.

Key Takeaways

  • The Sierra Leonean Leone is the national currency of Sierra Leone, a West African nation which declared independence from Britain in 1961.
  • It is one of the weakest currencies in the world, with its value relative to the U.S. dollar declining significantly between June 2016 and December 2020.
  • Sierra Leone's economy is heavily reliant on raw commodity exports, particularly in its diamond sector.

Understanding the SLL

The leone replaced the British West African pound as the official currency of Sierra Leone in 1964, at an exchange rate of two leones to every one pound. By June of 1986, to correct persistent overvaluation, the country adopted a floating exchange rate regime. Its banknotes circulate in denominations ranging between 1,000 and 10,000 leones.

The economy of Sierra Leone suffers from persistently high inflation. As a result, the leone is one of the world's weakest currencies. Between June 2016 and December 2020, the leone has fallen from $0.00025 to $0.0001 USD per leone.

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest nations in the world and relies heavily on external aid. According to the United Nations Development Program, approximately 57 percent of Sierra Leone's residents live below the poverty line. Exacerbating poverty was a slowdown in economic growth, registering 3.7% in 2018 compared with 21% in 2015.

Real World Example of the SLL

The Republic of Sierra Leone is a small West African country on the Atlantic coast. Home to the world's third-largest natural harbor, Sierra Leone was once a British colony and gained independence in 1961.

Between 1967 and 1991, an authoritarian one-party government held power. Civil war broke out in 1991, unseating the government and continuing until 2002, claiming tens of thousands of lives and destroying the country's infrastructure. In 2014, an Ebola outbreak overburdened the ability of the healthcare system, creating a humanitarian crisis.

The economy of Sierra Leone is heavily dependent upon mineral extraction, particularly diamonds and gold. In 2018, the total value of mineral exports reached $359 million, down from $433.1 million in 2017. Sierra Leone exported diamonds worth approximately $86 million. In 2018, the government collected $29 million from extractive industries in the form of mining licenses, royalties, corporate taxes and other revenue sources.

In 2019, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative said Sierra Leone had made meaningful progress in implementing standards to promote open and accountable management of its extractive industries. However, the group said Sierra Leone needed to make progress in areas such as disclosing the existence of any barter arrangements or infrastructure agreements with private companies.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Bank of Sierra Leone. "Bank of Sierra Leone - Indicative Exchange Rates," Page 1. Accessed Dec. 18, 2020.

  2. Xe. "XE Currency Charts: SLL to USD." Accessed Dec. 18, 2020.

  3. International Monetary Fund. "Floating Exchange Rates in Africa." Accessed Dec. 18, 2020.

  4. Bank of Sierra Leone. "Banknotes and Coins." Accessed Dec. 18, 2020.

  5. United Nations Development Program. "UNDP Sierra Leone 2018 Annual Report," Page 14. Accessed Dec. 18, 2020.

  6. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. "SLEITI 2017 - 2018 Report," Page 65 and 100. Accessed Dec. 18, 2020.

  7. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. "The Board agreed that Sierra Leone has made meaningful progress overall in implementing the 2016 EITI Standard." Accessed Dec. 18, 2020.

Take the Next Step to Invest
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.