Sierra Leone is on the West coast of Africa bounded by Liberia to the southeast, Guinea to its northeast and northwest, and on the west side by the Atlantic Ocean. A former British colony, Siera Leone was a primary departure point for the majority of the slaves leaving West Africa for the Americas and Europe. Slave castles and ruins stand in silent, passionate testament to the horrors of the merchandizing and brutalizing Africans in preparation of transport to the Western world. 



Sierra Leone. The name means “Lion Mountains”, from the Portuguese term “Serra Leoa”. In 1462 Pedro Da Cintra from Portugal was the first European to visit this land of over a dozen small nations, each with a unique language and system of governance. 


Slavery and the Colony 

After the abolition of slavery due to the efforts of William Wilberforce and others, The British government purchased and established Freetown in the western area as a colony for the freed American and British slave Settlers and their Descendants. These Settlers were later collectively known as Creoles, speaking the Krio language. Meanwhile, the British also established a Protectorate Agreement with the rest of the nations, defined by their language and their geography. Technically, the Protectorate was not a  colony although it was treated as if it were so.  


Nations vs. Tribes

In 1897, the British established the chiefdom system in the provinces, effectively converting Kings into Chiefs, and Nations into Tribes.

After instituting a hut tax on each residence, some chiefs, notably Bai Bureh, waged war against the British and the Creoles, British citizens or subjects, who were already in place as administrators in the provinces. 


Language Loss

There were over 16 languages and nations during the early days of colonial Sierra Leone. Language loss has reduced the main spoken indigenous languages to about six, including  Temne, Mende, Krio, Limba, Kono, and Mandingo. The Fullah language is also spoken as it is across multiple West African countries.




Sierra Leone gained independence from Britain on April 27, 1961. Governance was by parliament with a prime minister. The British crown was represented by a governor general. 

On April 19, 1971, Sierra Leone declared itself a republic and the head of state was now the president. In 1971, the currency, the SL Leone, was pegged to a 1:2 relationship (1 SLL = 2 Br. Lb) with the British pound, and later pegged at 1:1 with the pound sterling, or about SLL1.0 to USD 1.06.


Statistics on Sierra Leone can be found at