2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Africa; Cities

Freetown, Sierra Leone
Freetown and Freetown Harbour
Freetown and Freetown Harbour
Map of Sierra Leone showing the capital Freetown
Country Sierra Leone
Region Western Area
District Western Area Urban District
Founded 1787
 - 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
Time zone Greenwich Mean Time ( UTC)
Freetown seen from Spot satellite
Freetown seen from Spot satellite

Freetown, population 1,070,200 is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, and a major port on the Atlantic Ocean. Located in the Western Area of the country on the Sierra Leone peninsula, Freetown is the hub of the nation's administrative, financial, educational, communications, cultural and economic centre, as well as its main port.


Freetown is located on the northern edge of Freetown Peninsula.
The colony of Freetown in 1856.
The colony of Freetown in 1856.

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 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.

The London based Sierra Leone Company made 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" . 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 Squadron which 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.

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.


British Expeditionary Force in Freetown, 1919
British Expeditionary Force in Freetown, 1919

Like the rest of Sierra Leone, Freetown is of 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. This is a Tropical Savanna Climate.

Freetown's high humidity is some what 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 (73 degrees Fahrenheit) to 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit) all year.


Freetown is governed with by city council form of government, 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 Krio 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.


Freetown is officially divided into three geographical regions:

  • East End Freetown

The 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 rate in the city. The East End is also well known for having by far the highest crime rate in Freetown. Most of the violent crime commited in Freetown is concentrated in the East End. Several of Freetown top football clubs come from the East End.

  • Central Freetown

Central 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 stadium is also located in Central Freetown.


Freetown Court, 1984
Freetown Court, 1984


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 harbour, which is the third largest natural harbor in the world. The Freetown harbour 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. 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.


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 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
Albert Academy 1904
Annie Walsh Memorial Girls Secondary School 1845
St. Edward's Secondary School 1925
Prince of Wales Secondary School 1921
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


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 or a helicopter to cross the river to Freetown. Ferry is the cheapest option. The Hovercraft is no longer operating (since Nov 13th 2007).

Access by sea

Sierra Leone has the third largest natural harbour in the world where shipping from all over the globe berth at Freetown's famous 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 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, so vastly improving the whole import/export experience for commercial enterprises and shipping lines worldwide.


One of Freetown’s most recognisable features is its famous cotton tree. The cotton tree has reportedly been in the same position since colonists settled in the area in 1787 when the tree was still a young sapling. It now stands outside the Freetown Museum.

Notable buildings in the city include Freetown Law Courts; The city is the site of the permanent home of Fourah Bay College (built in 1827), the oldest university in West Africa, 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.


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 play all of 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


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, which has a higher crime rate than 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 expatriates due to their perceived wealth.

Pickpocketing of 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 [bussiness man]] Alhaji Lamrana Bah. On February 15, 2008, Alhaji Lamrana Bah was shot and killed in an apparent car-jacking along 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, raped her, stabbed her, and eventually broke her neck. Her murder occurred on September 28, 2004, shortly after she gave a speech to the United Nations in New York, about the threats of violence faced by lesbians and gays in Sierra Leone. She stood up for the rights of lesbians and gays in a country where homosexuality is 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 demolish illegal structures erected on government property was attacked and murdered in a guest house in central Freetown by drug dealers. His case still remains unsolved.

Nightlife in Freetown

Freetown boasts a number of nightclubs featuring various styles of music and culture.

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