Sierra Leone Independence Day takes place on April 27 annually. Formally known as the Republic of Sierra Leone, and colloquially Salone, it is a country on West Africa’s southwest coast. Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic observing a unicameral parliament. Although the country and its borders have been inhabited for millennia, Sierra Leone was formed by the British Crown in two phases: the coastal Sierra Leone Colony and the inland Protectorate. As a result, the country was renamed British Sierra Leone and became a commonwealth realm when it declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1961.
History of Sierra Leone Independence Day
According to archeological findings, Sierra Leone has been continually inhabited for at least 2,500 years with various societies migrating from other parts of Africa. During the 15th century, European relations with Sierra Leone were among the first in West Africa. The hills surrounding what is now known as the Freetown Harbor were charted in 1462 by Portuguese navigator Pedro de Sintra, who named the formed structure Serra da Leoa or Serra Leoa.
Following the exodus of American slaves during the American War of Independence, the British began to play an active role in Sierra Leone as a commercial port and as a haven for liberated American slaves. In 1787, the capital, Freetown, was established as a space for repatriated former slaves. Sierra Leone was colonized by the British in the early 1800s. After the British Parliament approved an act declaring the slave trade illegal in 1807, the new colony was utilized as a base for enforcing the law.
The Sierra Leone People’s Party (S.L.P.P.) was founded in 1951 and acquired local authority in 1953. The first parliamentary elections were held in May 1957, with Sir Milton Margai of the S.L.P.P., obtaining the most seats. A series of discussions were conducted in April 1960, and as a consequence, Sierra Leone gained independence from the United Kingdom at midnight on April 27, 1961. This ended the over 150 years of British colonial control. The Duke of Kent handed out royal documents establishing Sierra Leone as an independent nation during a ceremony at Brookfields Playground in Freetown, where the nation’s new flag was unfurled in front of applauding crowds.
Sierra Leone Independence Day timeline
A settlement for repatriated and rescued slaves is established in Freetown by British abolitionists and benefactors.
Britain establishes a protectorate over the Freetown hinterland.
Sir Milton Margai, the leader of the Sierra Leone People's Party, is appointed as the country's prime minister.
Sierra Leone gains independence from British authority.
Sierra Leone becomes a republic and Siaka Stevens becomes its first executive president.
Sierra Leone Independence Day FAQs
Is Sierra Leone a safe country to live in?
Sierra Leone was dubbed “the safest country in West Africa” by the Lonely Planet Guide.
What is Sierra Leone's main language?
The main language spoken in Sierra Leone is English.
What religion is practiced in Sierra Leone?
Roughly 77% of the population is Muslim, whereas 21.9% is Christian, according to national government figures.
How to Observe Sierra Leone Independence Day
Visit Sierra Leone
What better way to observe the independence day celebration than in person? Make arrangements and book a flight down to Sierra Leone. There's a lot to see, from its deep cultural history in the settling of Freetown to its popular places such as the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Rainforest Sanctuary Park.
Share on social media
Nothing says celebration like sharing pictures and videos inviting others to join in. Post images of the beautiful scenery and locations in Sierra Leone as you discover them.
Read up Sierra Leone's history
Join in the celebration by reading up on Sierra Leone's history. Educate yourself on its origin story and many monumental occasions.
5 Interesting Facts About Sierra Leone
The country of Sierra Leone is well-known for its blood diamonds.
The main diet is rice
Sierra Leone's basic diet is rice, which is consumed at practically every meal by the majority of the population.
The Bounty chocolate advertisement
The "Taste of Paradise" commercial for Bounty chocolate bars was shot in Sierra Leone in 1987.
A decade-long civil war
Sierra Leone descended into a decade-long civil war in 1991.
The cotton tree
The cotton tree is one of Freetown's most historic and well-known icons.
Why Sierra Leone Independence Day is Important
It honors Sierra Leone's fallen heroes
The independence day observation commemorates and honors the Sierra Leoneans who made sacrifices for its independence. It also commemorates the nation's freedom and the privileges that its citizens enjoy. Most importantly, it honors those who have defended the country over the years.
It highlights Sierra Leone’s long history
Sierra Leone was given the Portuguese name Serra Leoa, which translates to Lioness Mountains. For at least 2,500 years, Sierra Leone has been continually inhabited. The country has plenty of historic sites to see: beaches, cotton trees, museums, and other historical monuments.
It promotes democracy
The celebration of Sierra Leone's Independence Day promotes democracy. The concept of democracy upholds the ideals of a democratic country which are liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and equality.
Sierra Leone Independence Day dates