Sierra Leone

Lying on the west coast of West Africa is the Republic of Sierra Leone surrounded by Guinea, the Atlantic Ocean, and Liberia. The nation has tropical weather conditions and has a diverse ecosystem. Sierra Leone is extremely poor with an unequally distributed income. Although the country possesses a massive supply of minerals, agricultural and fishery products, it has yet to regain its physical and social facilities that were ruined from the civil war.

Exporting diamonds is Sierra Leone’s major source of income although almost 50% of the country’s workforce is engaged in agriculture as well as in the manufacturing of raw materials for its internal market. Its economy is dependent on domestic peace as well as donations from abroad which is vital to support government reviews and pay off its trade debts.

In 2010, Sierra Leone received aid from the International Monetary Fund’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility program, enabling the country to stabilize its economic progress and minimize inflation. With political stability, economic affairs were restored such as its rutile and bauxite mining sector. Additionally, a number of explorations of oil reserves were announced, however, the development of these reserves would still be in several years.

Sierra Leone has been using the leone for its currency since its introduction on August 4, 1964. The Bank of Sierra Leone issued leone banknotes that replaced the paper bills issued by the West African Currency Board. This family of notes depicted the Law Court headquarters building and the famous cottonwood in Freetown that’s over 300 years old. The banknotes’ reverse design portrays diamond mining, a scene of a marketplace in a village, and the dockside in Freetown. The next issues of banknotes bear a picture of the head of state such as first prime minister Sir Milton Margai, President Siaka Stevens, and Joseph Saidu Momoh who served as the nation’s second president.

On April 29, 1992, President Momoh was exiled to Guinea through a military coup. As a result, a family of notes without his portrait was issued. Several sets of notes were released bearing enhanced security elements including a windowed security thread, shaded watermarks, and novel serial number system. In 2010, new banknotes were issued by the central bank. These paper bills have improved security features. Their sizes that augment with the denomination are intended to help the children, the blind, and illiterate people distinguish between denominations.  

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