Sierra Leone is a country the size of Scotland, with roughly the same population - about 5.5 million people of which 57% (HDR 2007) live on less than one dollar a day and 26% live in extreme poverty (defined as below a calorific intake of 2700 calories per day: Sierra Leone Integrated Household Survey 2003/04).
It has about 150 doctors to the entire population.
The current ruling party is the All People’s Congress Party democratically elected in September 2007. Local elections are scheduled in July 2008.
GDP per capita is approximately $200. In the UK GDP per capita is $37,600 (World Bank [WB] 2005).
The ratio of girls to boys in primary school is now almost equal, but less than 70% of children are enrolled.
Over 70 per cent of women and over 50 per cent of men are illiterate
Less than half of the population has access to safe and clean water (UNICEF 2006).
Half of the population are undernourished (HDR 2007)
Average life expectancy is 42 years in Sierra Leone (HDR 2007). Average life expectancy in the UK is 79 years.
A quarter of children die before they reach their 5th birthday and mothers have a one in six chance of dying in childbirth (the highest rate in the world). In the UK 6 out of every 1000 children die before the age of five (HDR 2007/8) and 0.01 percent of women die during child birth.
There is no reliable data on HIV prevalence but the latest study has estimated it at under 2%. Other data indicates that the rate is rising fast and is particular prevalent amongst sex workers.
Overall in 2007 Sierra Leone ranked last out of 177 countries in the UN Human Development Index