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.
As the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown is the seat of the Government of Sierra Leone, as the city is home to the State House, the House of Parliament, and the Supreme Court.
The population of Freetown is ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse, among Muslims and Christians. The city is home to a significant population of virtually all of the country's ethnic groups, with no single ethnic group forming a majority of the city's population. As in virtually all parts of Sierra Leone, the Krio language is Freetown's primary language of communication and is by far the most widely spoken language in the city.
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.
|FOUNDED :||March 11, 1792|
|TIME ZONE :|
|LANGUAGE :||English (official, regular use limited to literate minority), Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north), Krio (English-based Creole)|
|RELIGION :||Muslim 60%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs 30%|
|AREA :||357 km2 (138 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||26 m (85 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||8°29′4″N 13°14′4″W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49% |
• Female: 51%
|ETHNIC :||20 African ethnic groups 90% , Creole (Krio) 10%|
|AREA CODE :||22|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+232 22|
Many of Freetown's attractions are underdeveloped and not well publicised. The relatively low numbers of tourists visiting has meant there was not adequate incentive or financial reward for developing them. However, there are many hidden gems that can be well worth finding. It is not unusual to be the only visitor to some of them.
A visit to the Aberdeen district will give a break from the busy city centre. It's a short drive from any part of Freetown by car/taxi. The roads are barely passable and 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. There are some more modern shops not far from the Mammy Yoko Hotel on the beach road. There are plenty of hawkers on the beach selling sunglasses, fruit, peanuts, clothes, etc.
The beaches are beautiful and unspoilt. Most popular places like Lakka Beach, No. 2 River Beach and Bureh Beach offer simple but descent accommodations. Poda's (minibusses) will only take you until Lakka junction. If you want to continue with public transportation you'll need to go by okada (motorbike). If you're driving yourself a good vehicle will be required as the road conditions are pretty bad. The peninsular-road is currently being reconstructed and it is complete from Lumley to Goderich. The beaches are often not well sign-posted, so watch carefully or use GPS. The tracks to the beaches can also be very poor.
The following beaches are listed counter clockwise around the peninsular, starting at Aberdeen:
Lumley Beach. The main public beach close to Freetown itself facing the Atlantic with shops, restaurants, hotels, golf course, as well local clubs. The beach is popular for football, running and is normally crowded on holidays and the weekend. It is often not too clean and in September 2015 was inundated by huge quantities of sea weed washed in from the Atlantic. Demolition of all of the (illegally) constructed beach bars has not improved the beach.
Goderich Beach. Goderich is not known for its beach - most people drive past on the way to other beaches. Anywhere else, this would be a top attraction.
Lakka Beach. Takes about 10 minutes driving from Lumley. Here are many places to eat and sleep. The Hard Rock Café (no connection to the international brand) on the rocky peninsular has great views on the beach and offers, just like Paul's and Club Med, superb fresh seafood. These places also have excellent accommodation. Palm Beach (formally the Cotton Club) is in a very bad shape but will soon be renovated.
Hamilton Beach. Unfortunately this beach has become a mining site.
Sussex Beach. The popular Franco's restaurant is here. Nice setting, good food but really bad service.
No. 2 River Beach. Driving further, for another 20 minutes will get you to No. 2 River Beach. The villagers have set up a community project 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. If you are old enough to remember the 1970s Taste of Paradise commercial for the Bounty chocolate bar, this is where it was filmed.
As from Tokeh junction you'll find yourself driving on an excellent, modern and smooth paved road. However, the following beaches are also well reached driving around the other side of the mountains (Bai Bureh Rd or Regent Road), depending on your starting point from Freetown. If you take this route, take a right turn at Waterloo and follow the new road.
York Beach. Grey sanded beach, but interesting little fishing village with some old Portuguese remains.
Black Johnson Beach.
John Obey Beach. Stunning beaches and two small restaurants (if you can find them). Home of the recently settled Tribewanted initiative.
Bureh Beach. Stunning beach and river. Not many restaurants so bring your own for a great picnic.
Kent Beach. Besides the beach, Kent has some interesting historical sites. First off there is the 'slavery administration office', where slaves were kept and registered before sending them away. You'll find remains of the walls and buildings of this colonial settlement. Secondly you can visit an old residence of Siaka Stevens.
Banana Island Beaches. Two of the most secluded beaches in the country.
The area was first settled in 1787 by 400 formerly enslaved Black Britons sent from London, England, under the auspices of the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor, an organisation set up by Jonah Hanway and the British abolitionist, Granville Sharp.They established the 'Province of Freedom' and the settlement of Granville Town on land purchased from local Koya Temne subchief King Tom and regent Naimbana. The British understood the purchase was to mean that their new settlers had the land "for ever." Although the established arrangement between Europeans and the Koya Temne included provisions for permanent settlement, some historians question how well the Koya leaders understood the agreement, as they had a different conception of the uses of property.
Disputes soon broke out. 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 around the area now known as Cline Town, Sierra Leone near Fourah Bay. These 1787 settlers did not formally establish Freetown, even though the bicentennial of Freetown was celebrated in 1987. But formally, Freetown was founded in 1792.
Indigenous Africans attacked the colony in 1801 and were repulsed. The British eventually took control of Freetown, making it a Crown Colony in 1808. This act accompanied expansion 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 enforcing the ban on the slave trade. When the squadron liberated slaves on trading ships, they brought most to Sierra Leone, and Freetown in particular. The grew to include descendants of many different peoples from all over the west coast of Africa. The British also situated three of their Mixed Commission Courts in Freetown.
The liberated Africans established the suburbs of Freetown Peninsula. They were the largest group of immigrants to make up the Creole people of Freetown. The city expanded rapidly. The freed slaves were joined by West Indian and African soldiers, who had fought for Britain in the Napoleonic Wars and settled here afterward. Descendants of the freed slaves who settled in Sierra Leone between 1787 and 1792, are called the Creoles. The Creoles play a leading role in the city, although they are a minority of the overall Sierra Leone population.
The city was the scene of fierce fighting in the late 1990s during the civil war in the country. It was captured by ECOWAS troops seeking to restore President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in 1998. Later it was unsuccessfully attacked by rebels of the Revolutionary United Front.
Freetown has a tropical climate with a rainy season from May through to October.
The beginning and end of the rainy season is marked by strong thunderstorms.
Freetown has a tropical monsoon climate primarily due to the heavy amount of precipitation it receives during the rainy season.
The average annual temperature is around 27 degrees Celsius.
|Daily highs (°C)||29.9||30.3||30.9||31.2||30.9||30.1||28.7||28.4||29.0||29.9||30.1||29.7|
|Nightly lows (°C)||23.8||24.0||24.4||24.8||24.4||23.6||23.1||23.0||23.1||23.4||24.0||24.1|
The Freetown municipality is politically divided into three regions: East End, Central and West End of Freetown. The wards in the East End of Freetown (East I, East II, and East III) contain the city's largest population centre and generally the poorest part of the city. The Queen Elizabeth II Quay is located within East End.
The two central wards (Central I and Central II) make up Central Freetown, which includes Downtown Freetown and the central business district (Central II). Most of the tallest and most important national government building and foreign embassies are based in Central Freetown.
Sierra Leone's House of Parliament and the State House, the principal workplace of the president of Sierra Leone, are on Tower Hill in central Freetown. The National Stadium, the home stadium of the Sierra Leone national football team (popularly known as the Leone Stars) is in the Brookfield neighborhood.
The three westernmost wards (West I, West II, and West III) of the city constitute the West End of Freetown. These wards are relatively affluent. Most of the city's luxury hotels, a number of casinos, and the Lumley Beach are in the west end of the city. The west end neighbourhood of Hill Station is home to the State Lodge, the official residence of the president of Sierra Leone.
Freetown is the economic and financial centre of Sierra Leone. The country's state television and radio station, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, is primarily based in Freetown. 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 final natural harbour, which is the largest natural harbour 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.
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