According to the 2004 Census of Sierra Leone, the country has 18 major languages. Krio is the most widely spoken language but it is only spoken by 10% of the population as their primary language. The most spoken primary languages as of 2005 were Mende (32%) and Themne (30%). Although English, as the official language, is spoken in schools, government administration and the media, Krio is widely spoken as a lingua franca. As of 2005, approximately 97% of the population speak the Krio language (either natively, or as a second or third language).

Other sources of language data

Language data allows humanitarian organizations to better understand the languages people speak and understand, leading to better programming and accountability. These datasets and maps were primarily supported by the H2H Fund, a funding mechanism for H2H Network members. The fund is a rapid funding vehicle for network members responding to humanitarian crises.

Learn more about the project on our blog.

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Maps and resources:

Languages of Sierra Leone: Interactive (EN)

Interactive map showing the languages spoken as first or second languages throughout Sierra Leone. Data is from the 2004 census.

Sierra Leone Language Map: Static (EN)

Static map highlighting the most common languages spoken as a first or second language in Sierra Leone. Data is from the 2004 census.