Sierra Leone History
|Sierra Leone Wiki Topics|
|Sierra Leone Background|
|Local Research Resources|
Sierra Leone is a small country on the west coast of Africa, the capital of which is Freetown, on the coast. It was first sighted by the Portuguese in 1446 and given the name Sierra Leone (Lion Mountain) in 1462. The Portuguese visited the coast of Sierra Leone frequently in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to trade for slaves, gold, and ivory. They were followed by the English, Dutch, French and Germans.
In the eighteenth century, the British government became interested in purchasing land in Africa for the settlement of former slaves, principally freed slaves from the West Indies. Land in Sierra Leone was purchased from local tribesmen for that purpose and in 1787 the first group of former slaves arrived together with 50 British colonists. These ex-slaves and their descendants eventually became known as Creoles.
In 1792, about 1200 free slaves arrived in Sierra Leone from Nova Scotia. They were freed men who had fought for the British during the American Revolution and had been given land in Nova Scotia as a reward. Since the climate was not to their liking, they elected to go to Sierra Leone when offered an opportunity to do so.
In 1800 some 500 Maroons (fugitive black slaves), ex-slaves from Jamaica, were shipped to Sierra Leone to put down a local revolt. They also elected to remain in the colony.
In 1807, the Sierra Leone Company which had established a British colony in Sierra Leone, surrendered it’s political functions to the British government. Sierra Leone was made a British crown colony in 1808. The eastern area remained a protectorate.
Several constitutions were adopted for Sierra Leone, which gradually allowed a measure of freedom to the inhabitants. Despite occasional unrest, Sierra Leone remained a British colony and protectorate until 1961, at which time it became an independent country.
Sierra Leone became a republic on 19 April 1971. Coups have occurred in the country in 1992, 1996, and 1997. A Nigerian led intervention force launched an offensive against the military junta that had taken power in 1997. In July 1999 a peace accord was achieved and signed by the parties involved. There were some eruptions of violence at the start, but as the UN peace keeping force grew in numbers things have been stabilized. Free and open elections are scheduled for May 2002.
The International Monetary Fund, feeling that sufficient progress has been made has begun to help the country to rebuild. Refugees are returning from exile as quickly as they can be reabsorbed back into the society.
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Sierra Leone,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 2001.