Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone. It is a major port city in the Atlantic Ocean and is located in the Western Area of the country. Freetown is Sierra Leone's major urban, economic, financial, cultural, educational and political centre. The city's economy revolves largely around its harbor - occupying a part of the estuary of the Sierra Leone River in one of the world's largest natural deep water harbours. Its twin-town/sister city is Hull in England.
As the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown is home to the Sierra Leone House of Parliament, the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone and the State House, the official and principal workplace of the President of Sierra Leone. All of the foreign embassies in Sierra Leone are based in the city.
Freetown has an abundance of historical landmarks connected to its founding by African-Americans, liberated African, and West Indians slaves. Freetown is home to the Fourah Bay College, the oldest university in West Africa, founded in 1827. The university not only played a key role in Sierra Leone’s colonial history, but also a key role in the history of the English-speaking West-African nations.
The massive Cotton Tree, which has stood in central Freetown for over 500 years represents the historic symbol of Freetown. The "Cotton Tree" gained importance in 1792 when a group of former African American slaves, who had gained their freedom by fighting for the British during the American War of Independence, held a large gathering on their arrival in Freetown under this big tree praying and singing hymns to thank God for their deliverance to a free land.
Close to the Cotton Tree, seats the Sierra Leone Supreme Court Building, and the Sierra Leone Museum. In downtown Freetown is the Connaught Hospital, the first modern hospital constructed in West Africa in 1912.
Freetown is one of Sierra Leone's six municipalities and is locally governed by a directly elected city council, headed by a mayor. The mayor and members of the Freetown City Council are directly elected every four years by the residents of Freetown. The municipality of Freetown is politically divided into three regions: East End Freetown, Central Freetown, and West End Freetown, which are subdivided into wards.
The population of Freetown is ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse. The city is home to a large population of virtually all of the country's ethnic groups, with no single ethnic group forming a majority of the city's population. As in virtually all parts of Sierra Leone, the Krio language is the city's primary language of communication and is by far the most widely spoken language in the city.