How many ethnic groups are there in Sierra Leone? There are some 18 major ethnic groups which are listed in the quick compilation video below!

An ethnic melting pot

In its own way, Sierra Leone has been a melting pot for centuries. Steady migrations have impacted the ethnic landscape. Perhaps the most transformative was the Mané Invasions.

Portuguese lançados settled in pre-colonial Sierra Leone, many of whom were Jews fleeing the Portuguese Inquisition.

The establishment of the Province of Freedom for formerly enslaved people was the inception of Sierra Leone’s powerful Creole community.

Sierra Leone also has sizeable trading communities from Syria, Lebanon, India, Sri Lanka and China.

During the conflict in Liberia, Sierra Leone took in manifold Liberian refugees.

All of these influxes have made Sierra Leone more diverse.

Indigenous ethnic groups

The focus of this video is largely on the indigenous ethnic groups. Many smaller groups have formed alliances with the two largest, the Temne and the Mende. Intermarriage between the respective groups is very common.

Cite this article

Seisay, Manya, ‘The major ethnic groups of Sierra Leone’. Published online on 3 March 2018 (


Kaifala, Joseph. Free Slaves, Freetown, and the Sierra Leonean Civil War. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. Pages 9 – 30.

LeVert, Suzanne. Sierra Leone. New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2007. Page 67.