official_name = Freetown, Sierra Leone
image_caption = Aerial view of Freetown
map_caption = Map of Sierra Leone showing the capital Freetown
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type2 = District
Western Area Urban District
established_title = Founded
established_date = 1787
unit_pref = Imperial
area_total_km2 = 357
population_as_of = 2006
population_total = 1,070,200 [http://www.nndb.com/geo/447/000097156/] [http://www.sightseebyspace.com/view_link.php?txt_link_autoid=573]
Greenwich Mean Time
latd= 8|latm=30 |lats= |latNS=N
longd= 13|longm= 7|longs= |longEW=W
elevation_ft = 84
Freetown is the
capitaland largest cityof Sierra Leone, and a major porton the Atlantic Ocean. The city is located in the Western Areaof Sierra Leone. Freetown is the hub of the nation's administrative, financial, educational, communications, culturaland economiccenter. The city had an estimated population of 1,070,200. [http://www.nndb.com/geo/447/000097156/] [http://www.sightseebyspace.com/view_link.php?txt_link_autoid=573]
The city of Freetown was founded in 1787 by Britain as a settlement for freed
African Americansand West Indiansslaves that arrived in the city from 1787 to about 1885. Their descendants, known today as the Krio still live primarily in Freetown and its surrounding Western Area.
Freetown's economy revolves largely around its
harbor, which is the largest natural harbor in Africa, and the third largest natural harbor in the world. [http://www.visitsierraleone.org/gettingthere.asp] The Freetown Harbor is a major commercial shipping port and handles Sierra Leone's main exports. Industries include fish packing, rice milling, petroleum refining, diamond cutting, and the manufacture of cigarettes.
Freetown is home to
Fourah Bay College, the oldest university in West Africa, founded in 1827. The university not only played a key role in Sierra Leone’s colonial history, but also a key role in English speaking West African nations' colonial history.
The area, said to have previously been a
slave market, was first settled in 1787 by 400 freed slaves and Black Americans sent from England, under the auspices of British abolitionists. They established the 'Province of Freedom' on land purchased from local Koya Temnesubchief King Tom and regent Naimbana, a purchase which was to cede the land to the new settlers "for ever." The established arrangement between Europeans and the Koya Temne did not include provisions for permanent settlement, and some historians question how well the Koya leaders understood the agreement. Disputes soon broke out, and King Tom's successor, King Jimmy, burnt the settlement to the ground in 1789. [Shaw, Rosalind, "Memories of the Slave Trade: Ritual and the Historical Imagination in Sierra Leone" (2002), University of Chicago Press, p. 37.]
The London based
Sierra Leone Companymade a second attempt in 1792 and resettled Freetown with 1,100 American slaves en route from Nova Scotia, many of whom were born in the United States, led by former slave Thomas Peters. These American slaves gave Granville Town the name "Freetown". [ [http://www.state.gov/p/af/ci/sl/30170.htm Post of the Month: Freetown ] ] Around 500 free Jamaican Maroons joined them in 1800.It survived being pillaged by the French in 1794, and the indigenous inhabitants revolted in 1800, but the British retook control, beginning the expansionism that led to the creation of Sierra Leone. From 1808 to 1874, the city served as the capital of British West Africa. It also served as the base for the Royal Navy's West Africa Squadronwhich was charged with halting the slave trade. Most of the slaves liberated by the squadron choose to settle in Sierra Leone, and Freetown in particular, rather than return home; thus the population includes descendants of many different peoples from all over the west coast of Africa. The city expanded rapidly as many freed slaves settled, accompanied by African soldiers who had fought for Britain in the Napoleonic Wars. During World War II, Britain maintained a naval base at Freetown. Descendants of the freed slaves, called Krios, play a leading role in the city, even though they are a minority of the population.Fact|date=August 2008
The city was the scene of fierce fighting in the late 1990s. Fact|date=August 2008 It was captured by ECOWAS troops seeking to restore President
Ahmad Tejan Kabbahin 1998, and later it was unsuccessfully attacked by rebels of the Revolutionary United Front. Fact|date=August 2008
Freetown has an abundance of historically significant landmarks that link the legacy of West Africans with
African-Americansand West Indians. A truly famous landmark in the center of the east of Freetown is the "Cotton Tree" which is a treasured symbol of the city. It was originally planted by the resettled American slaves with the founding of Freetown.
downtownFreetown is the Con Naught Hospital, which was the first hospital modeled after western medical practices in West Africa. Nearby is "King's Gate" which was erected in stone with a statement inscribed which reads "any slave who passes through this gate is declared a free man" hence the name of Freetown was derived. Down by the Naval Wharf are slave steps carved out of stone. It was here that the Portuguese slave traders bought and sold many Africans and from which their last footsteps on African soil were made.
Freetown is home to
Fourah Bay College, the oldest university in West Africa, founded in 1827. The university played a key role in Sierra Leone’s colonial history. The college’s first student, Samuel Adjai Crowther, went on to become the first indigenous Bishop of West Africa.
Next to the college is the little-visited National Railway Museum, whose prize exhibit is a coach built for the state visit of Elizabeth II in 1961. The Big Market on Wallace Johnson Street is the showcase for local artisans’ work and the place to pick up a bargain souvenir.
The Freetown peninsula is ringed by long stretches of white sand. Lumley Beach, on the western side of the peninsula, forms a focal point for local parties and festivals.
Freetown is the seat of
St John's Maroon Church(built around 1820), St George's Cathedral , St George's Cathedral, completed in 1828), Foulah Town Mosque (built in the 1830s). Also in Freetown are assorted beaches and markets, and the Sierra Leone Museum featuring the Ruiter Stone
Freetown is the economic, financial, cultural and education center of Sierra Leone. The country's national television and radio stations the
Sierra Leone Broadcasting servicesis primarily based in Freetown, although it also has regional headquarters in the country's other primary cities of Bo and Kenema. Freetown is home to dozens of radio stationsand newspapers. Freetown is home to one of the country's two main Universities, the Fourah Bay College, the oldest university in West Africa, founded in 1827.
Many of the country's largest corporations locate their headquarter's home offices in Freetown as well as the majority of international companies. The city's economy revolves largely around its fine
natural harbor, which is the third largest natural harbor in the world. The Freetown harbor is capable of receiving oceangoing vessels and handles Sierra Leone's main exports. Industries include food and beverage processing, fish packing, rice milling, petroleum refining, diamond cutting, and the manufacture of cigarettes, paint, shoes, and beer. Fact|date=October 2008 the Fula and Sierra Leonean-Lebaneseplay a major role in local trade in the city. The city is served by the Lungi International Airport, located in the city of Lungi, across the sea from Freetown.
Like the rest of Sierra Leone, Freetown is of
tropical climatewith a rainy season- May through October, the balance of the year representing the dry season. The beginning and end of the rainy season is marked by strong thunder storms. This is a Tropical Savanna Climate.
humidityis some what relieved November through February by the famous Harmattan, a gentle wind flowing down from the Sahara Desertaffording Freetown its coolest period of the year. Average temperature ranges in Freetown are from 21 degrees Celsius(73 degrees Fahrenheit) to 31 degrees Celsius(88 degrees Fahrenheit) all year. Fact|date=July 2008
Freetown is governed by a
city council, which is headed by a mayor, in whom executive authorityis vested. The mayor is responsible for the general management of the city and for seeing that all laws are enforced. The mayor is elected directly by the residents of Freetown.
The current mayor is
Herbert George-Williams, a member of the ruling All Peoples Congress(APC) party. He replaced his fellow member of the Krio ethnic group, Winstanley Bankole Johnsonon January 17, 2008. Johnson was appointed mayor in July 2004 and was a member of the APC. Johnson came to power as the APC swept 2004 Western Area municipal elections.
Freetown has a cement works.
Freetown is officially divided into three geographical regions:
*East End FreetownThe East End of Freetown is located in the eastern part of the city. The East End is the most populous of the three geographical regions of Freetown and with by far the highest
poverty ratein the city. The East End is also well known for having by far the highest crime ratein Freetown. Most of the violent crimecommitted in Freetown is concentrated in the East End. Several of Freetown's top football clubs come from the East End.
*Central FreetownCentral Freetown is located in the central part of the city, and includes Downtown Freetown and the
central business district. Most of the tallest and most important buildings in Sierra Leone are based in Central Freetown, as well as most of the foreign embassies in Sierra Leone. The country's national stadiumis also located in Central Freetown, as is the informal housing settlement of Kroo Bay.
Freetown is the capital, largest city and economic center of Sierra leone. The city has an estimated population of 1,070,200 (about 16.1% of Sierra Leone's total population).
Freetown is home to significant numbers of all of the country's
ethnic groups. The Krio people(descendant of freed African Americansand West Indiansslaves that landed in Freetown between 1787 and about 1885) form the single largest ethnic group in the city at about 29% of the total population and 5% of Sierra Leone's population in total.
Like in virtually all parts of Sierra Leone, the
Krio language(a native languageof the Krio people who only make up 5% of country's population) is by far the most widely spoken language in the city. The language is spoken at home as a first languageby 90% of the population and is spoken as a lingua francaby the entire population in the city.
Since the end of civil war in 2002, Freetown has experienced an increase in robberies,
murders, carjacking, home invasionand assault. This effect is most pronounced in the east end of Freetown, which has a higher crime ratethan other parts of the city. Over the past year, criminal exploits have become more brash and aggressive. Increasingly operating in numbers and while heavily armed, like in most West African countries, local criminals target expatriatesdue to their perceived wealth. Pickpocketingof cell phone and purses are the most common crimes in Freetown.
Some of the high profile victims of crime in the city included one of the most successful Sierra Leonean
businessmen Alhaji Lamrana Bah, was shot and killed by armed men onboard his Mercedes Benzon February 16, 2008in an apparent car-jackingalong the Old Main Motor Road at Cola Tree, Allen Town in the East-End of Freetown. All shops and businesses owned by the Fula community in Freetown were closed for several days in protest of the Freetown Police failure to bring down crime in the city. FannyAnn Eddy, the founder of Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association, who was murdered by a group of at least three men who broke into her office in Freetown, rapedher, stabbed her, and eventually broke her neck. Her murder occurred on September 28, 2004, shortly after she gave a speech to the United Nationsin New York, about the threats of violence faced by lesbians and gays in Sierra Leone, where homosexualityis illegal.
Another high profile victim of crime in the city was
Kenneth Moore, a government building inspector, who was despatched by the ministry of lands to demolishillegal structures erected on government property was attacked and murdered in a guest house in central Freetown by drug dealers. His case still remains unsolved.
Like the rest of Sierra Leone, Freetown has an education system with six years of primary school (Class 1-6), and six years of secondary school (Form 1-6); secondary schools are further divided into Junior secondary school (Form 1-3) and Senior secondary school (Form 4-6). Primary schools usually start from ages 6 to 12, and secondary schools usually start from ages 13 to 18. Primary Education is free and
compulsoryin government-sponsored public schools.
Freetown is home to one of the country's two main universities, the
Fourah Bay College, the oldest university in West Africa, founded in 1827.
Notable secondary schools in Freetown
Lungi International Airportis the international airport that serves Freetown and the rest of the country. It is located in the city of Lungi, across the river from Freetown. It serves as the primary airport for domestic and international travel to or from Sierra Leone. The airport is operated by Sierra Leone Airports Authority. Freetown also has a heliporton Aberdeen Island, connecting the city with the airport. There is a frequent helicopter, hovercraftand ferry-service to Lungi.
Transfers to Freetown
Passengers have the choice of
hovercraft, ferryor a helicopter to cross the river to Freetown. Ferry is the cheapest option. Hovercraft and ferry operations have at times been suspended due to safety concerns.
Access by sea
Sierra Leone has the third largest natural
harborin the world where shipping from all over the globe berth at Freetown's famous Queen Elizabeth II Quay. Passenger, cargoand private craft also utilize Government Wharf nearer to central Freetown.
Recent important investment has seen the introduction of high tech cargo scanning facilities operated by Intertek/ Port Maritime Security International (PMSI). This facility is a clear indication of the Sierra Leone Government's commitment for significant improvement, security and expansion of port facilities. Through the services provided, Sierra Leone has not only addressed its international obligations in keeping with future changes but also allows the country to trade freely with the important US export market of minerals including
100% inspection of containers arriving and departing Freetown is today the norm, placing Sierra Leone ahead of all other countries throughout West Africa in security.
Like the rest of Sierra Leone, football is the most popular sport in Freetown. The Sierra Leone national football team, popularly known as the
Leone Starsplay all their home games at Freetown's National Stadium, the largest stadium in Sierra Leone. Eight of the fifteen clubs in the Sierra Leone National Premier Leagueare from Freetown, including two of Sierra Leone's biggest and most successful football clubs, East End Lions, and Mighty Blackpool. A match between these two teams is the biggest domestic football clash in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone National Premier League clubs from Freetown
Notes of interest
The city hosts since the We Are the Future center, a child care center giving children a chance to live their childhoods and develop a sense of hope. The center is managed under the direction of the mayor’s office, and the international
NGO Glocal Forumserves as the fundraiser and program planner and coordinator for the WAF child center in each city. Each WAF city is linked to several peer cities and public and private partners to create a unique international coalition.Launched in 2004, the program is the result of a strategic partnership between the Glocal Forum, the Quincy JonesListen Up Foundation and Mr. Hani Masri, with the support of the World Bank, UNagencies and major companies.
2007 Freetown explosion
main|2007 Freetown explosion
A major explosion occurred on Free Street in downtown Freetown which killed at least 18 people on
20 December 2007.
It was believed that the explosion was caused by the combination of a gas leak and fire inside a
Nigerian-owned clothing store just off the main street of Freetown. Killing at least 17 people, the explosion also trapped a significant number of people underneath the rubble. The explosion damaged a fire enginewhich was on the scene to battle the fire inside. The Connaught hospitalwas reported to have struggled in caring for the wounded. Both President Ernest Bai Koromaand Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumanavisited injured people in the hospitals intensive care unit.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.