1902 Encyclopedia > Freetown, West Africa

Freetown, West Africa

FREETOWN, a town of West Africa, capital of the British colony of Sierra Leone, stands on the South side of the estuary of the Sierra Leone river, about 5 miles from the cape of that name in 8° 29' N. lat. and 13° 10' W. long. It is situated on a plain which slopes up gradually from the river, and is closed in behind by a succession of wooded mountains. The town is divided into several quarters, the best of which is inhabited by Europeans, half-castes, and immigrants, who are either tradesmen or artificers, and the remainder solely by the black population, who congregate together in separate tribes. From the fact that both the houses in the best quarter and also the negro huts are surrounded by a courtyard or garden, the town covers an unusually large amount of space for the number of its inhabitants. The decomposed vegetable matter which is carried down the river, and driven back to the town by the tide, renders it very unhealthy, and unsuited for European residents, of whom there are only a small number. Freetown is the chief seat of the Sierra Leone trade, and a considerable sum of money has lately been expended on the construction of a new wharf. The principal buildings are the governor’s residence and government offices, the barracks, the cathedral, the missionary institutions, and the grammar school. About two miles above Freetown, at Fourah Bay, the English Church Missionary Society has its principal West-African College, built in 1840, the ground having been purchased in 1827, and the work commenced in a temporary building. In 1876 the college was reorganized and affiliated to Durham university. The population is about 18,000.

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