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Freetown, Sierra Leone
Freetown, Sierra Leone is located in Sierra Leone
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Map of Sierra Leone showing the capital Freetown
Coordinates: 8°29′4″N 13°14′4″W / 8.48444°N 13.23444°W / 8.48444; -13.23444Coordinates: 8°29′4″N 13°14′4″W / 8.48444°N 13.23444°W / 8.48444; -13.23444
Country  Sierra Leone
Region Western Area
District Western Area Urban District
Founded March 11th, 1792
 - Type City council
 - Mayor Herbert George-Williams (APC)
 - Total 137.8 sq mi (357 km2)
Elevation 84 ft (26 m)
Population (2006)
 - Total 1,070,200 [1] [2]
 - Density 7,764.3/sq mi (2,997.8/km2)
Time zone Greenwich Mean Time
Freetown seen from Spot satellite

Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country and with a population of 1,070,200.[1][2] The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of Sierra Leone. Many of the country's largest corporations locate their headquarters' 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 largest natural harbor on the continent of Africa. Queen Elizabeth II Quay is capable of receiving oceangoing vessels and handles Sierra Leone's main exports.

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. 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. Freetown is home to dozens of Sierra Leonean newspapers and the country's national television and radio stations, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Services (SLBS) is primarily based in Freetown, although it also has regional headquarters in the country's other primary cities of Bo ,Kenema, Koidu Town and Makeni.

Lungi International Airport is the international airport that serves Freetown and the rest of Sierra Leone. It is located in the city of Lungi, Port Loko District, across the river from Freetown. It serves as the primary airport for domestic and international travel to or from Sierra Leone.

As in virtually all parts of Sierra Leone, the Krio language (a native language of the Creole people who only make up 5% of country's population) is by far the most widely spoken language in the city. The Krio language is spoken as a lingua franca by the entire population in the city of Freetown.

Freetown is home to significant numbers of all of the country's ethnic groups, although it is the primary home of the Sierra Leone Creole people (descendant of freed Liberated African, African Americans and West Indian). Currently the Temne people form the largest ethnic group in the city at 30%, though the Krio people are stil the most dominant ethnic group in the city. Many of the Freetown local city council city are held by ethnic Krios, including the mayor of Freetown, a position the Krios have held since the city was founded.

The city of Freetown was founded by Lieutenant John Clarkson and freed American slaves called the 'Nova Scotians' (also called the 'Settlers') who were transported to Sierra Leone by the Sierra Leone Company in 1792. Freetown is the oldest capital to be founded by freed American slaves, having been founded thirty years before Monrovia, Liberia. The oldest part of Freetown is Settler Town which was established by the Nova Scotians in 1792, after their namesake 'the Settlers'. The Maroons founded Maroon Town in 1800, and that is another historical area in modern Freetown. The suburbs of Freetown were founded by the Liberated Africans between 1809-1827, and presently they are the most affluent areas of the Freetown peninsula.


Province of Freedom 1787-1789

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 abolitionist, Granville Sharp. They established the 'Province of Freedom' or Granville Town on land purchased from local Koya Temne subchief 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. Alexander Falconbridge was sent to Sierra Leone in 1791 to collect the remaining Black Poor settlers, and they re-established Granville Town (later on renamed Cline Town, Sierra Leone) near Fourah Bay. It should be noted that these 1787 settlers did not establish Freetown. The bicentennial of Freetown was celebrated in 1987, when in reality Freetown was founded in 1792.[3]

Freetown Colony 1792-1808

Street-level view of Freetown and the Cotton Tree where former American slaves prayed under and christened Freetown in 1792.
Arrival of the Nova Scotians in 1792 which marked the founding of Freetown

The basis for the Freetown Colony began in 1791, when an African American called Thomas Peters, who had served in the Black Pioneers, went to England to petition the British government to give the black refugees at Nova Scotia their land. Peters met with the directors of the Sierra Leone Company and it was there he learned of a new settlement at Sierra Leone for freed black settlers. The directors were eager to allow the Nova Scotians to build a settlement at Sierra Leone; the London-based and newly created Sierra Leone Company had decided to create a new colony but before Peter's arrival had no colonists. Lieutenant John Clarkson was sent to Nova Scotia to register immigrants to take to Sierra Leone for the purpose of starting a new settlement. Over 1,100 former American slaves from Nova Scotia sailed in 15 ships and arrived in St. George Bay between February 26-March 9. Sixty four settlers died en route to Sierra Leone, and even Lieutenant Clarkson was ill during the voyage. Upon reaching Sierra Leone, Clarkson and some of the Nova Scotian 'captains' "despatched on shore to clear or make roadway for their landing". The Nova Scotians were to build Freetown on the former site of the first Granville Town which had become a "jungle" since its destruction in 1789. Though they built Freetown on Granville Town's former site, their settlement was not a rebirth of Granville Town, which had been re-established at Fourah Bay in 1791 by the remaining Old Settlers. The women remained in the ships while the Nova Scotian men worked tirelessly to clear the land. Clarkson told the men to clear the land until they reached a large cotton tree. The Settler men toiled and many were scratched and hurt by the shrubbery and bush. After the work had been done and the land cleared all the Nova Scotians, men and women, disembarked and marched towards the thick forest and to the cotton tree, and their preachers (all African Americans) began singing:

Awake and Sing Of Moses and the Lamb Wake! every heart and every tongue To praise the Saviour's name The day of Jubilee is come; Return ye ransomed sinners home

On March 11, 1792, at the cotton tree, Nathaniel Gilbert, a white preacher prayed and preached a sermon under the large Cotton Tree, and Reverend David George preached the first recorded Baptist service in Africa.

Freetown in 1798, rebuilt by the Nova Scotians

The land was dedicated and christened 'Free Town' according to the instructions of the Sierra Leone Company Directors. This was the first thanksgiving service in the newly christened Free Town. Eventually John Clarkson would be sworn in as first governor of Sierra Leone. Small huts were erected before the rainy season. The Sierra Leone Company surveyors and the Nova Scotians built Freetown on the American grid pattern, with parallel streets and wide roads, with the largest being Water Street.

On August 24, 1792, the Black Poor or Old Settlers of the second Granville Town were incorporated into the new Sierra Leone Colony but remained at Granville Town.[4]

The colony of Freetown in 1856

It survived being pillaged by the French in 1794, and was rebuilt by the Nova Scotian settlers. By 1798, Freetown had between 300-400 houses with architecture resembling that of the United States-3–4 feet stone foundations with wooden superstructures. Eventually this style of housing (brought by the Nova Scotians) would be the model for the 'bod oses' of their Creole descendants.

In 1800, the Nova Scotians rebelled and it was the arrival of the Jamaican Maroons which caused the rebellion to be suppressed. Thirty-four Nova Scotians were banished and sent to either the Sherbro or a penal colony at Gore. Some of these of the Nova Scotians were eventually allowed back into Freetown. After the Maroons captured the rebels, they were granted the land of the Nova Scotian rebels. Eventually the Maroons would have their own district at Maroon Town. Freetown.

Freetown as a Crown Colony 1808-1961

Later on, the indigenous inhabitants attacked the colony in 1801, but the British eventually took control of Freetown making it a Crown Colony in 1808, beginning the expansionism that led to the creation of Sierra Leone.

Liberated African slaves landing in Freetown, they founded the suburbs of Freetown

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 Squadron which was charged with halting the slave trade. Most of the slaves liberated by the squadron chose to settle in Sierra Leone, and Freetown in particular, rather than return home; thus the population included descendants of many different peoples from all over the west coast of Africa. The Liberated Africans established the suburbs of Freetown Peninsula, and they were the largest group of immigrants which made up the Creole people of Freetown.

The city expanded rapidly as many freed slaves settled, accompanied by West Indian and 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 various freed slaves who landed in Sierra Leone between 1787 and 1792, are called the Creoles. The Creoles play a leading role in the city, even though they are a minority of the overall Sierra Leone population.

The city was the scene of fierce fighting in the late 1990s. It was captured by ECOWAS troops seeking to restore President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in 1998, and later it was unsuccessfully attacked by rebels of the Revolutionary United Front.

Historical attractions

Freetown has an abundance of historically significant landmarks that link the legacy of West Africans with African-Americans, Liberated African slaves, and West Indians. A famous landmark in the center of the east of Freetown is the Cotton Tree, which is a treasured symbol of the city because it represents the christening of Freetown in 1792.

In downtown Freetown is the Connaught Hospital, which was the first hospital in West Africa modeled after Western medical practices. Nearby is "King's Gate", built in stone with a statement inscribed which reads "any slave who passes through this gate is declared a free man", and it was this gate through which Liberated Africans passed through. 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 Ajayi 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 Cathedral (completed in 1828), and 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 and financial center of Sierra Leone. The country's national television and radio stations, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Services, is primarily based in Freetown, although it also has regional headquarters in the country's other primary cities of Bo, Kenema Koidu Town and Makeni. The vadozens of radio stations and 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 headquarters' 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 largest natural harbor on the continent of Africa. Queen Elizabeth II Quay 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. the Fula and Sierra Leonean-Lebanese play 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.


British Expeditionary Force in Freetown, 1919

Like the rest of Sierra Leone, Freetown has a tropical climate with 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. Under the Koppen climate classification, Freetown has a Tropical monsoon climate primarily due to the heavy amount of precipitation it receives during the rainy season.

Freetown's high humidity is somewhat relieved November through February by the famous Harmattan, a gentle wind flowing down from the Sahara Desert affording Freetown its coolest period of the year. Average temperature ranges in Freetown are from 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) to 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit) all year.

Weather data for Freetown
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 33
Average high °C (°F) 29
Average low °C (°F) 24
Record low °C (°F) 20
Precipitation mm (inches) 13
Source: BBC Weather [5] 2009-08-21


Freetown is governed by a city council, which is headed by a mayor, in whom executive authority is 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 Creole ethnic group, Winstanley Bankole Johnson on 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. George-Williams retained his seat in the 5 July 2008 election with a margin of over 50,000 votes.[6]

Neighborhoods & City Map

Panorama of Freetown

The city of Freetown is politically divided into eight municipalities or wards. The East End of Freetown has East I, East II, and East III; the Central Freetown includes Central I and Central II; the West End of Freetown contains the wards West I, West II, and West III.

  • East End of Freetown

The wards in the East End of Freetown contain the most populous and by far the poorest in the city. The East End is also well known for having higher crime rates generally and violent crime rates in particular (though actual incidents of violent crime are unusual within the city). Queen Elizabeth II Quay is located here within East I, and the East End town of Kissy (East III) contains the city's only power plant. Several of Freetown's top football clubs come from the East End.

  • Central Freetown

Two central wards make up Central Freetown which includes Downtown Freetown and the central business district (Central II). 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. Government Wharf is here (Central II) and serves as the downtown's harbor. Sierra Leone's Houses of Parliament are on Tower Hill (Central I). The informal housing settlement of Kroo Bay is also here (Central II).

  • West End of Freetown

The three westernmost wards of the city constitute the West End of Freetown. These wards are relatively affluent and have lower rates of crime than the others within the city. The West End neighborhood of Ascension Town in Ward I contains the country's national stadium. The West End also includes the remains of centuries-old Portuguese towers and fortresses, most of the city's nicer tourist hotels, a number of casinos, and the Lumley Golf Course, Beach, and Club House.

  • City Map

A detailed Freetown city street map is available from the Sierra Leone Information Society (SLIC) in PDF format.


Freetown Court, 1984

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). Islam is the predominant religion in Freetown at 55%; follow by Christianity at 40%.

Freetown is home to significant numbers of all of the country's ethnic groups, although it is the primary home of the Sierra Leone Creole people (descendant of freed Liberated African, African Americans and West Indian) who make up the second largest ethnic group in the city after the Temne people.

As in virtually all parts of Sierra Leone, the Krio language (a native language of the Creole 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 language by 90% of the population and is spoken as a lingua franca by the entire population in the city.


Main street in the east end of Freetown

Although violent crime within Freetown is very rare, since the end of civil war in 2002 Freetown has experienced an increase in robberies, murders, carjacking, home invasion, and assault. This effect is most pronounced in the East End of Freetown.

Pickpocketing of cell phone and purses are the most common crimes in Freetown.


Like the rest of Sierra Leone, Freetown has an education system with seven years of primary school (Class 1-7), 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 comprise from ages 6 to 12, and secondary schools usually comprise from ages 13 to 18. Primary Education is free and compulsory in 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

School Founded
Government Rokel Secondary School
Albert Academy 1904
Annie Walsh Memorial Girls Secondary School 1849
St. Edward's Secondary School 1925
Prince of Wales Secondary School Freetown 1925
Government Model Secondary School
Methodist Boys High School 1874
Ahmadiyya Muslim Secondary School 1965
Congress Boys Secondary School 1975
Kankalay Islamic Secondary School 1978
Sierra Leone Grammar School 1845
St. Joseph's Secondary School 1866
Muslim Brotherhood Secondary School
Young Women's Christians Association Secondary School
Freetown Secondary School for Girls 1926


Air transportation


Lungi International Airport is 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 heliport on Aberdeen Island, connecting the city with the airport. There is a frequent helicopter, hovercraft, and ferry-service to Lungi.

Transfers to Freetown

Passengers have the choice of hovercraft, ferry, speedboat, water taxi, or 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 largest natural harbor in the African continent [3] where ships from all over the globe berth at Freetown's Queen Elizabeth II Quay. Passenger, cargo, and 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 up with future changes but also allows the country to trade freely with the important US export market of minerals including rutile and bauxite.

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.

Access By and On Land

Sierra Leone's infrastructure is limited, and its highways and roads reflect this. The roads and highways of the country are administered by the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) which has often been crippled by graft. Highway 1 enters the city from the town of Waterloo several kilometers to the south.

Following a recommendation from the IBRD, the railway into Freetown was removed in 1975, and has never been reopened. The iron rails have been scavenged by the city's residents.


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 Stars plays 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 League are 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

Club City
East End Lions Freetown
Mighty Blackpool Freetown
Ports Authority Freetown
F.C. Kallon Freetown
Old Edwardians Freetown
Central Parade Freetown
Golf Leopards Freetown
Mount Aureol Freetown

Notes of interest

The city hosts 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 Forum serves as the fundraiser, 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 Jones Listen Up Foundation, and Mr. Hani Masri, with the support of the World Bank, UN agencies, and major companies.

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 18 people, the explosion also trapped a significant number of people underneath the rubble. The explosion damaged a fire engine which was on the scene to battle the fire inside. The Connaught Hospital was reported to have struggled in caring for the wounded. Both President Ernest Bai Koroma and Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana visited injured people in the hospitals intensive-care unit.


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

For other places with the same name, see Freetown (disambiguation).
Lakka Beach
Lakka Beach

Freetown is the capital city of Sierra Leone and is the heart of the Western region. It is on a peninsula on the south bank of the estuary of the Sierra Leone River. The city lies at the foot of the peninsula mountains and faces one of the best natural harbours on the west coast of Africa. The peninsula is home to some of the finest beaches in Africa - Lumley beach, Lakka beach, No. 2 river beach and Toke beach are some examples.


Freetown, like the rest of Sierra Leone has endured some very difficult times during the civil war. It was occupied by rebels twice and the resident population and infrastructure suffered badly. As stability returned to Freetown, many Sierra Leoneans fled the rural areas to the city to escape the carnage. Though the country has been peaceful since 2002, the population of the city is still much higher than it was prior to the war. This has put pressure on land and local services. Many areas of jungle have been cleared to house the new residents. Some claim that the US government has not helped the situation with their new embassy development at Leicester. Some blame the new developments for severe flooding of the city during the rainy season. Deforestation has also been blamed for a shortage of water in the city.

Helicopter in Freetown
Helicopter in Freetown

Freetown International Airport (IATA: FNA) (ICAO: GFLL), in Lungi (on the other side of the estuary from Freetown), Tel: (232-22)-338405,[1]. Getting from the airport to Freetown can be a challenge and the safety of the various operators has been questioned. A short helicopter ride can be taken with UTair to the Aberdeen part of Freetown (80USD October 2009). Pelican Water Taxis operate small boats from Mahera Hotel to the Aberdeen bridge for Le150,000. The crossing can be unpleasant if the sea is rough. An alternative (if the sea is not rough and it is working) is the hovercraft service to Aberdeen ($50 From October 2008). The hovercraft, Pelican and helicopter are convenient for most foreign travellers as they avoid the slow route through the crowded east end of Freetown.

Another possibility is on the overloaded ferry which runs to the main part of Freetown. A seat on a bus which uses the ferry costs Le60,000. The bus takes passengers to Rawdon Street in the center of Freetown. This trip can take 3+ hours and has been known to take 8 hours. By road it is 4+ hours to the city, via Port Loko using some poor roads.

Finally, some private boats cross the estuary. This is not recommended at night.

By train

Sierra Leone's public railway service was closed in 1974. A new railway museum is due to open during 2005 at Cline Town. Many of the original railway buildings and signs can still be seen in and around Freetown, particularly at Hill Station and Congo Cross. It is also possible to walk along much of the track bed, starting near the Hill Station Club [2] and dropping down the hill via Congo Cross into Freetown.

Get around

Local taxis, which run fixed routes. One can approach a Taxi driver and Hire him/Her for a few hours or days or even a day if one wished. In some cases you can also have a shared often with several people which keeps cost as low as 700 leones. These vehicles tend to be old. One can identify the local taxis due to their yellow stripes. Taxis can be hired for a complete journey, which could cost Le5000-10000 and the drivers do expect to be negotiated with so don't be scared be cheeky and negotiate.

if you do feel that this isn't the route for you however, Hotel taxis are usually available in much better condition and are regulated. These will also cost up to Le10000.

Car hire is possible and can normally be arranged through the hotels or local car dealerships. They will normally come with a driver. Journeys outside of Freetown may require a 4 wheel drive vehicle and will cost more.

However if you wish to mingle with the locals, which is encouraged as it creates more social inclusion, you may be surprised. They can help you find your way around town, hire taxi's for you, introduce you to their friends and families and in some cases ceremonies taking place. They can also cook for you as Sierra Leoneans are very hospitable people. Many tourist tend to fall in a trap where they visit and hang around with only familiar people. It's better to see visiting Sierra Leone as a social/ cultural holiday allowing visitors and locals to exchange customs and at the same time experience the diamond in the rough. Seeing the good and bad parts is what makes visiting Sierra Leone an experience to remember.

  • National Rail museum, Cline Town. The museum has several steam/diesel locomotives and carriages which include one used by HM Queen Elizabeth II during her state visit. All have been restored. A guide will usually show guests around. Entry is free, but donations are gratefully received. Open Monday-Saturday 1030-1700.
  • Bunce Island
  • Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, 40 minutes outside Freetown, tel: +232-76-611211, (email: [3]. Open twice daily at 10:30AM & 4:00PM 7 days a week by appointment. Le 30,000 (approx. 10 USD), Le 15,000 for children.
  • Charlotte falls
  • Sierra Leone Museum, Cotton Tree, Freetown.
  • Hill Station Club, [4]. Gentleman's club dating from colonial times.
  • Colonial houses on stilts at Hill Station. Most are in a poor state but offer an insight into how people lived in the past.
  • A visit to the Aberdeen part of Freetown will give a break from the busy city center. It's a short drive from any part of Freetown by car/taxi. The roads are good but watch the speed bumps on the beach road and Sir Samuel Lewis road. There are small stalls outside of Alex' bar selling 'tourist' fare. There is a fashion boutique at Family Kingdom. Various other stalls can be found on the Lumley beach road and in the area of the Mammy Yoko heliport. There are plenty of hawkers on the beach selling sunglasses, fruit, peanuts, clothes etc.
  • The beaches are beautiful and unspoiled. Driving to the more remote ones such as Lakka and No. 2 river beach will require a good vehicle because the road is bad.
  • Lakka Beach takes about 20 minutes. Here there are some bars - Pierre's (formally the Cotton Club) is popular for food and drink.
  • Driving further, for another 20 minutes will get you to No. 2 River Beach. The local villagers have set up a management company to look after this stunning beach and river outfall. There are some small craft shops and a bar serving cold drinks and fresh fish/lobster.
  • Toke Beach is best reached by driving the other way round the Freetown peninsular along the new road.
  • Lumley Beach Directly on the front of Freetown itself facing the Atlantic is beautiful with white sandy beach, shops, restaurants, hotels, golf course as well local clubs.
  • A round of golf at the club just off the beach at Lumley.
  • Gamble at the Casino in Aberdeen.
  • Walk along the route of the old railway line, from Hill Station, via Congo Cross to the center of Freetown.
  • Take a boat from Toke to Banana Island and a bbq on Jonobo beach


Local crafts are inexpensive, some are unique in that they are made from scrap gathered after the war.


Freetown has a few high quality restaurants but very little in the tier below that. Being on the Atlantic coast, some excellent seafood is on offer. Barracuda, grouppa and lobster are readily available. Freetown has a large Lebanese community. Consequently, some very good Lebanese food is available at most restaurants.

  • Fresh peanuts from the local sellers on Lumley beach.
  • Alex's Beach Bar and Restaurant, 64 Cape Road, Man o' War bay, Aberdeen, +23222 272957.
  • Angels Delight, Family Kingdom, Aberdeen, +23222 273257.
  • Cape Club, Cape Road, Man o' War bay, Aberdeen, +23222 272949.
  • Crown Bakery Restaurant, Freetown Centre.
  • Diaspora, 2 Pricilla Street (off Shiaka Stevens)
  • Paddy's bar, Aberdeen Road.
  • Prince's pizza (take-away), 125 Wilkinson Road, +23222 239114.
  • Country Lodge Hotel Restaurant, HS 51 Hill Station, tel: 00232 22 235589 (fax: 00232 22 235688 ), [5].
  • Mamba Point Restaurant (also does take-away pizza/delivery), 4 Regent Rd, Wilberforce, +23222 232872.
  • Sierra Lighthouse Restaurant, 5 Man of War bay, tel +232 22 236676.
  • Atlantic Restaurant, Beach Road, Lumley, +232 76667677.
  • Indochine Restaurant, 64 Sir Samuel Lewis Rd, Aberdeen, +23222 2733452. Particularly good Chinese/Thai food in a smart air-conditioned restaurant. They have another restaurant in Conakry.
  • Balmaya Arts Restaurant, 32B Main Motor, Congo Cross, +23222 230055.
  • Bamboo Hut Bar and Restaurant, 70A Wilkinson Road, +23222 230462, [6].
  • The Solar Hotel restaurant, near Man o' War Bay, tel +232 22 272531. is currently offering some of the best food in Freetown.


Apart from the hotels and restaurants there are many bars on the beaches. Particularly at the Aberdeen end of Lumley beach. However, as of October 2008, the government has closed and demolished most of the bars on the beach. Also a "must see" for any visitor is Paddy's on the road into Aberdeen. This bar is famous and was the only place to be consistently open during the war. Get a cold Star and enjoy the atmosphere. Star beer is now available on tap in better bars. Also worthy of a visit is the Hill Station Club [7] at Hill Station. This old gentleman's drinking club was looted during the war but the building itself survived and the bar will be opened for visitors. If you are lucky you will be allowed to see the snooker room, where the tables appear untouched for many years and old champions names are still on the sign boards. On Sir Samuel Lewis (same as Paddy's) there is also a small local pub, called Tribes, with a pool table.


Freetown has some high standard hotels. All in the splurge section will offer air conditioned rooms with power available 24 hours per day. Most will also have Internet access, with some providing high speed wireless access too. Hotels in the Aberdeen area are closest to Lumley beach. During the busiest time of the year (December-March) it can be hard to find a room, especially with the closure of the Cape Sierra Hotel. Booking ahead is advised.

  • Ohio 99 Regent Street, Freetown. Small, well run guest house with flushing toilets, showers and small drinks bar. Conveniently close to town centre and clean. From around $8 per night.
  • Blackheath Guest House, Wilkinson Road, Tel:(UK) +44(0)7946 886849.
  • Bintumani Hotel, Aberdeen
  • Cabenda Hotel, 14 Signal Hill Road, Tel: +232:22:230544 (Fax: +232:22:233109), [8]. The hotel has wireless Internet but not 24 hour power. Rooms from $86/night. From January 2009, the UN has exclusive use of the hotel.
  • Hotel Barmoi, Aberdeen (behind the Cape Sierra Hotel), Tel: 232-22-234933 (Fax: 232-22-236702 Email:, [9]. Well run hotel with good views of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Cape Sierra Hotel, Aberdeen. Closed before Christmas 2008 for refurbishment. It is not expected to reopen for more than 2 years.
  • Country Lodge Hotel, Hill Station, 00232 22 235589 (Fax: 00232 22 235688), [10]. Well located hotel overlooking Freetown. Has a pool, fitness room and good bar/restaurants.
  • Family Kingdom, Aberdeen
  • Kimbima Hotel, near Man o' War bay, Aberdeen, [11].. Overlooking the Atlantic. Take the road to the Bintumani Hotel and turn right just before the hotel entrance. Good rooms from $110/night.
  • Lacs Villa, Brookfields
  • Mamba Point, Wilberforce. They have one of the best restaurants in town.
  • Sierra Lighthouse Inn, Man of War bay, Aberdeen, tel +232 22 236676, [12]. Also has a fine restaurant offering Lebanese and local cuisine. The grilled fish is highly recommended.
  • Solar Hotel, Aberdeen. Has one of the best restaurants in Freetown.
  • Airport Hotel, Lungi (Turn right out of airport then first left). Close to the airport. Has good air conditioned rooms, swimming pool, nice bar and 24 hour power.  edit
  • United Kingdom, 6 Spur Road, +232(22)232961, [13]. Also provides assistance to citizens of France  edit
  • Serbian Consulate, DSTV office, Wilkinson Road.  edit
  • US Embassy, Leicester, +232(22)515000 or +232(76)515000, [14].  edit

A full list of embassies and consuls can be found here [15]

Stay safe

Violent crime is very rare in Freetown. However, petty crime is common. Take care of possessions and be wary of leaving valuables in rooms.


The unrelenting heat and humidity can make life very unpleasant. For anyone not used to this, an air-conditioned room to sleep in will be almost essential. BBC World Service can be heard on 94.3MHz (FM) and Western style commercial station Capital Radio [16] on 104.9MHz.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FREETOWN, capital of the British colony of Sierra Leone, West Africa, on the south side of the Sierra Leone estuary, about 5 m. from the cape of that name, in 8° 29' N., 13° 10' W. Pop. (1901) 34,463. About 500 of the inhabitants are Europeans. Freetown is picturesquely situated on a plain, closed in behind by a succession of wooded hills, the Sierra Leone, rising to a height of 1700 ft. As nearly every house is surrounded by a courtyard or garden, the town covers an unusually large area for the number of its inhabitants. It possesses few buildings of architectural merit. The principal are the governor's residence and government offices, the barracks, the cathedral, the missionary institutions, the fruit market, Wilberforce Hall, courts of justice, the railway station and the grammar school. Several of these institutions are built on the slopes of the hills, and on the highest point, Sugar Loaf Mountain, is a sanatorium. The botanic gardens form a pleasant and favourite place of resort. The roads are wide but badly kept. Horses do not live, and all wheeled traffic is done by manual labour - hammocks and sedan-chairs are the customary means of locomotion. Notwithstanding that Freetown possesses an abundant and pure water-supply, drawn from the adjacent hills, it is enervating and unhealthy, and it was particularly to the capital, often spoken of as Sierra Leone, that the designation "White Man's Grave" applied. Since the beginning of the 10th century strenuous efforts have been made to improve the sanitary condition by a new system of drainage, a better water service, the filling up of marshes wherein the malarial mosquito breeds, and in other directions. A light railway 6 m. long, opened in 1904, has been built to Hill Station (900 ft. high), where, on a healthy site, are the residences of the government officials and of other Europeans. As a consequence the public health has improved, the highest death-rate in the years 1901-1907 being 29.6 per 1000. The town is governed by a municipality (created in 1893) with a mayor and councillors, the large majority being elective. Freetown was the first place in British West Africa granted local self-government.

Both commercially and strategically Freetown is a place of importance. Its harbour affords ample accommodation for the largest fleets, it is a coaling station for the British navy, the headquarters of the British military forces in West Africa, the sea terminus of the railway to the rich oil-palm regions of Mendiland, and a port of call for all steamers serving West Africa. Its inhabitants are noted for their skill as traders; the town itself produces nothing in the way of exports.

In consequence of the character of the original settlement (see Sierra Leone), 75% of the inhabitants are descended from non-indigenous Negro races. As many as 150 different tribes are represented in the Sierra Leonis of to-day. Their semiEuropeanization is largely the result of missionary endeavour. The only language of the lower class is pidgin-English - quite incomprehensible to the newcomer from Great Britain, - but a large proportion of the inhabitants are highly educated men who excel as lawyers, clergymen, clerks and traders. Many members of the upper, that is, the best-educated, class have filled official positions of great responsibility. The most noted citizens are Bishop Crowther and Sir Samuel Lewis, chief justice of Sierra Leone 1882-1894. Both were full-blooded Africans. The Kru-men form a distinct section of the community, living in a separate quarter and preserving their tribal customs.

Since 1861-1862 there has been an independent Episcopal Native Church; but the Church Missionary Society, which in 1804 sent out the first missionaries to Sierra Leone, still maintains various agencies. Furah Bay College, built by the society on the site of General Charles Turner's estate (12 m. E. of Freetown), and opened in 1828 with six pupils, one of whom was Bishop Crowther, was affiliated in 1876 to Durham University and has a high-class curriculum. The Wesleyans have a high school, a theological college, and other educative agencies. The Moslems, who are among the most law-abiding and intelligent citizens of Freetown, have several state-aided primary schools.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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Proper noun


  1. The capital city of Sierra Leone


Simple English

Map of Sierra Leone showing the capital Freetown
Coordinates: 8°30′N 13°7′W / 8.5°N 13.117°W / 8.5; -13.117
Country Sierra Leone
Settled 1787
Elevation 26 m (84 ft)
Population (2004)
 - Total 1,070,200
Time zone Greenwich Mean Time

Freetown is the capital city of the African country of Sierra Leone. With a population of 1,070,200 people, it is the largest city in that country. The city is a port on the Freetown Peninsula on the Atlantic coast. The port is a very important part of the economy of Freetown. It handles the main exports of the country. Industries include fish, rice, petroleum, and making cigarettes.


The area was first settled in 1787 by 400 freed slaves and Black American Loyalists sent from England. Before that time it was said to be a slave market. These people created the 'Province of Freetown' on land bought from local Temne leaders. After many of these original settlers died from disease, it was burnt by the local people in 1790.

The Sierra Leone Company tried to settle the area again in 1792. They resettled Freetown with 1,100 former slaves and Loyalists from Nova Scotia. Many of these people were born in the colonial United States. They were led by former slave Thomas Peters. Around 500 free Jamaican Maroons joined them in 1800.

The city survived being attacked by the French in 1794. In 1800 the people revolted but the British retook control. From 1808 to 1874, the city was the capital of British West Africa. The city grew quickly as many freed slaves came to live there. African soldiers who had fought for Britain in the Napoleonic Wars also came to live in Freetown. During World War II, Britain had a naval base at Freetown. Descendants of the freed slaves, called Creoles, have a large role in the city, even though they are only a small amount of the population.

The city had much fighting in the late 1990s. In 1998, it was captured by ECOWAS soldiers who were trying to make Ahmad Tejan Kabbah the President again.


One of Freetown’s most most known features is its famous cotton tree. The cotton tree is said to have been in the same position since colonists came to the area in 1787. At that time, the tree was still a young sapling. It now stands outside the Freetown Museum.

Notable buildings in the city include Freetown Law Courts, the Slave Gate and Portuguese Steps, St John's Maroon Church (built around 1820), St George's Cathedral (completed in 1828), Foulah Town Mosque (built in the 1830s) and the Roman Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral. Also in Freetown are many beaches and markets, and the Sierra Leone Museum.

The city is the home of Fourah Bay College and the Njala University college.

Lungi International Airport is the international airport of Sierra Leone. Freetown also has a heliport on Aberdeen Island. It connects the city with the airport. There is a helicopter, hovercraft and ferry-service from the city to the airport.

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