Sierra Leone is a country in western Africa. It shares its borders with Liberia to the southeast and Guinea to the northeast. ‘Its name comes from 15th century Portuguese explorer Pedro de Sintra who named the country after the range of hills that surrounds the harbour in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital. Freetown also commands one of the world’s largest natural harbors.

Map of Sierra Leone
Source: WorldMeters

Sierra Leone was once a colony of the United Kingdom, and gained its independence in 1961. Though it is rich in minerals like diamond and gold, internal conflicts and a civil war caused its economy to collapse until the late 80s to 2002.

Diamonds are an important resource
Source: AS

The Sierra Leonean leone (SLL) is its national currency. It is subdivided into 100 cents. The leone is abbreviated as Le and placed before the amount. It is one of the weakest currencies in the world, with its value declining between June 2016 and December 2020.

Firs National Currency of Sierra Leone

The leone was introduced by the Bank of Sierra Leone on 4 August 1964 as a decimalized currency. It replaced the British West African pound at a rate of 1 pound = 2 leones, with one leone = 10 shillings.

1 Leone | 1964 |
Source: Banknote World Educational

Early leone notes feature the 300-year-old cotton tree and Law Court building in Freetown in front and different scenery at the back. Subsequent notes replaced the Law Court building and the cotton tree with portraits of the current leaders. These notes also had similar dimensions.

20 Leones | 1984 | P-14b |
Source: Banknote World Educational

By June 1986, Sierra Leone adopted a floating exchange rate regime. Circulating banknotes ranged between 1,000 to 10,000 leones. These large denominations are due to the hyperinflation experienced in the country. 

1,000 Leones | 2013 | P-30b |
Source: Banknote World

In 2010, a new series of notes were introduced. They featured different people and landmarks. These notes were also the first to have differentiated notes in order to make it easier to distinguish one note from the other.

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