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.