The capital city of Sierra Leone, Freetown, is the most significant commercial center in the country. Home to one of the largest natural harbors in the world, the city’s port is the country’s main gateway for international import and export. Its burgeoning industries include mining, offshore energy and farming.
With a population of approximately 1.2 million (2010), Freetown is home to a diverse range of cultures and religions from all over Africa and beyond. All ethnicities are united by the common language of Krio, a derivation of English, which is spoken by 97% of residents.
Happily, Freetown has emerged from the destruction of the civil war in the 1990s with renewed enthusiasm, ambition and a real sense of inclusivity. You will find the locals extremely welcoming and eager to be of assistance. A growing number of tourists are attracted by the city’s beautiful beaches, rich history and vibrant character; the city’s growing popularity is evident by the number of hotels that have sprung up in recent years.
With an average annual temperature of 27°C (80.6°F), Freetown is a hot and humid city for most of the year. The rainy season (which runs from May to October) sees heavy thunderstorms coupled with highs of around 30°C (86°F), making for a particularly clammy atmosphere. The high rainfall means that Freetown, and the rest of Sierra Leone, is classified as having a tropical monsoon climate — so be sure to pack plenty of waterproofs. The best time to explore the city center and its sights is during the cooler, drier period that runs from November to February.
Unless you are a citizen of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), you will need one of the following visas: business, temporary worker, student, marriage, on-arrival, or transit. To apply for any of these visas, visit the relevant embassy website where you should find clear instructions on how to apply.
For a list of all the embassies based in Freetown, including addresses, contact details and website links, visit the Embassy Pages website. You must also have a valid passport or travel document to enter the country.