Major Tribes and Ethnic Groups in Sierra Leone
There is a total of 16 ethnic groups in Sierra Leone. The largest of these is the Mende in the southern and eastern provinces. The second largest of these is the Temne located in the north, followed by the Limba which is also in the north, and then Kono which is in the east.
The term Mende refers to both the people and the language. This ethnic group accounts for one-third of the population in Sierra Leone. Within Mende, three major dialect groups are distinguished: Kpa-Mende in the west, Sewa-Mende in the center, and Ko-Mende in the east.
Temne also refers to both the people and the language. The Temne population is about 1.6 million who are mostly farmers with the staple crop being rice. The Temne are divided into numerous independent chiefdoms, each being governed by it's own paramount chief.
The Limba are the third largest group, accounting for about 8.5% of the population which is about 566 thousand. During Sierra Leone's colonial era, thousands of Limba migrated to Freetown, as a result many Limba's can still be found there.
The Kono are about 7.6% of the population, or 490 thousand. These people are primarily diamond miners due to the fact that the Kono district is very diamond rich. Many of the youth from this district speak Krio as the primary language to communicate with other ethnic groups. Most Kono do not travel outside eastern Sierra Leone, as a result very few are found in the capital Free town.
Divisions by Ethnic Group