Sierra Leonean leone

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Sierra Leonean leone
Circulating coins 10 to 500 leones
ISO 4217
BanknotesLe 1,000, Le 2,000, Le 5,000, Le 10,000
CoinsLe 10, Le 50, Le 100, Le 500
User(s) Sierra Leone
Central bankBank of Sierra Leone
 SourceThe World Factbook, 2013 est.

The leone is the currency of Sierra Leone. It is subdivided into 100 cents, but denominations in cents are no longer in use due to the low value of the currency. The ISO 4217 code is SLL and the leone is abbreviated as Le placed before the amount.


The leone was introduced on 4 August 1964. It replaced the British West African pound at a rate of 1 pound = 2 leones (i.e., 1 leone = 10 shillings).[1] When it was introduced, one leone was worth precisely half a pound sterling or US$1.40. The leone was worth more than the U.S. dollar until the 1980s, when the currency started to devalue rapidly. Years of high inflation have caused the value of leone to plummet, and a U.S. dollar became worth thousands of leones starting in the 2000s.

It has been announced that a new leone, worth 1000 of the current leones, will be introduced to the economy.[2]


In 1964, decimal coins were introduced in denominations of ½, 1, 5, 10 and 20 cents. The coins size and compositions were based in part on those of the former colonial state British West Africa. All bore the portrait of the first prime minister of Sierra Leone, Sir Milton Margai. In 1972, 50 cents coins were introduced which carried the portrait of the first president Dr. Siaka Stevens.

In 1974, round cupro-nickel one leone coins were introduced and in 1976, seven sided cupro-nickel 2 leone coins commemorating FAO were introduced. These latter two denominations, however, did not circulate as frequently as the lower cent denominations. The portrait of Stevens also appeared on a new, slightly smaller series of coins introduced in 1980 in denominations of ½, 1, 5, 10 and 20 cents. In 1987, octagonal, nickel-bronze 1 leone coins were introduced with a bust portrait of General Joseph Saidu Momoh. This coin effectively replaced the one leone note.

Following a period of economic collapse and the following Sierra Leone Civil War inflation became rampant, devaluing older coins. A new coin series was introduced in 1996 for 10, 50 and 100 leones. The 50 leones is octagonal while the other two are round. These coins were struck in nickel-plated steel and feature important figures in Sierra Leone's political history. Ten sided, bimetallic 500 leones coins were first introduced in 2004. Of the four coins in circulation, only the 100 leones is available in small quantity due to their low valuation and shortage of supply.

500 leones coins and the two lowest denominations are rarely encountered due to rampant metal theft in the impoverished country.

1 leone 1987
Coat of arms Joseph Saidu Momoh


With the introduction of decimal currency in 1964, a new series of Banknotes was introduced by the Bank of Sierra Leone. Originally called Shillings, the unit name "Leone" was finally decided upon. After considering (and subsequently rejecting) several new designs, including a particularly attractive multi-coloured design, notes were issued in the 1, 2 and 5 Leone denominations. These officially replaced notes of the British West African pound at a two leone to one pound exchange ratio. 50 cents notes were introduced in 1979, followed by 10 leones in 1980 and 20 leones notes in 1982. Throughout this period the value of the currency was fixed and remained relatively stable despite inherent economic problems.

100 leones notes were introduced in 1988, followed by 500 leones in 1991, 1000 and 5000 leones in 1993, 2000 leones in the year 2000 and 10,000 Leone in 2004.

The original series of notes (1964-1974) depicted the famous 300 year old Cottonwood Tree and Court building in central Freetown. The reverses showed Diamond Mining (1 Leone), a Village market scene (2 Leones) and the Dockside in Freetown (5 Leones). Subsequent issues (1974-1991) depicted the head of state during the time of issue. The first series depicting Sir Milton Margai and later issues depicting either Siaka and Momoh. This practice ended with the ascension of the NPRC regime and has remained so despite the return to civilian government.

Prior to June 2010, bank notes in circulation were 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10,000 leones. 10,000 leones notes were in circulation for less than ten years and were infrequently encountered. This meant that most transactions took place in bundles of 5000 leones notes.

In June 2010, the Bank of Sierra Leone issued new notes which were slightly smaller in size than the earlier series and intended to be more secure and durable. The new bank notes are: Le10,000, Le5,000, Le2,000 and Le1,000.[3] Coins are still used, but because of their low value are less common.

Because of inflation, a 20,000 leone banknote has been suggested[by whom?]. As of 23 Oct 2018, 20,000 leones are equivalent to about 2.09 EUR. As of 19 April 2021, 20,000 leones are equivalent to about 1.62 EUR.[4]

2010 Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Color Description Date of issue Date of first issue Watermark
Obverse Reverse
[1] 1000 leones 135 x 67 mm Red Bai Bureh; Coat of arms of Sierra Leone Telecommunications satellite dish 27 April 2010 14 May 2010 Lion head and electrotype 1000
[2] 2000 leones 140 x 69 mm Brown Isaac Theophilus Akunna Wallace-Johnson, cargo ship; Coat of arms of Sierra Leone Bank of Sierra Leone building, Freetown 27 April 2010 14 May 2010 Lion head and electrotype 2000
[3] 5000 leones 145 x 71 mm Purple Sengbe Pieh; Coat of arms of Sierra Leone Bumbuna Dam 27 April 2010 14 May 2010 Lion head and electrotype 5000
10,000 leones 153 x 73 mm Blue and Green Dove flying over the map of Sierra Leone, Flag of Sierra Leone White silk-cotton tree; Coat of arms of Sierra Leone 27 April 2010 14 May 2010 Lion head and electrotype 10000


Due to high inflation (13.4% in 2020) in August 2021 the Bank of Sierra Leone announced that Sierra Leone will lop three zeros from its currency and print smaller bills and will be called the New Leone without determinating a date for the change.[5]

There will be 5 coins depicting musicians on their obverses and musical instruments on their reverses.

They will be as follows [4];

1 Cent - Sullay Abu Bakarr - Microphone.

5 Cents - Israel Olorunfeh Cole - Drum.

10 Cents - Sooliman Ernest Rogers - Guitar.

25 Cents - Bassie Sorie Kondi - Thumb piano.

50 Cents - Salia Koroma - Accordion.

The 25 Cents will be a new denomination, as previous coin series contained a 20 Cents denomination.

Specimen banknotes[edit]

Specimen banknotes are issued to banks to familiarize the local inhabitants with any currency changes.

These are issued by Thomas De La Rue of the UK.

Current SLL exchange rates

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Linzmayer, Owen (2012). "Sierra Leone". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA:
  2. ^ "Sierra Leone to cut three zeros from currency". Punch Newspapers. 12 August 2021. Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  3. ^ Sierra Leone resized note family confirmed Retrieved 2012-03-12.
  4. ^ "20,000 SLL to USD - Sierra Leonean Leones to US Dollars Exchange Rate".
  5. ^ "Sierra Leone to cut three zeros from currency". 12 August 2021.

External links[edit]