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Sierra Leone



FIRST STAMPS 21 September 1859. (oblit. B31 used at Freetown).


CURRENCY

Until 1964, British.
From 1964, 100 cents = 1 leone.



British trading station was established here in 1672. The first settlement was at Freetown in 1787, for Africans rescued from slave ships. Colonized by the Sierra Leone Company in 1791, became a colony in 1808 and was extended inland by protectorate from 1892 to 1896. After becoming independent within the British Commonwealth on 27 April 1961, it underwent a series of military coups in 1967-8, and in 1971 was declared a republic.


Had become a republic while still under trusteeship, and stayed thus until independence on 1 July 1962.


Postal History
Casual letters are known from 1794. A regular packet operated from Falmouth from 1852.


Armed Tutsi exiles repeatedly attempted to invade Rwanda in the 1960s and 70s but were always defeated by the Hutu army. Continued Hutu-Tutsi conflict left thousands dead over a period of 30 years.


A PO agent was appointed to handle mail by British packets in July 1853. From 1854 mail from Freetown going to destinations abroad could be (and after 1860 had to be) prepaid; mail to UK was sent unpaid ('Bearing'). Datestamps and 'Paid' stamps were despatched to Freetown 21 March 1854 (no example of use is known before June 1855). The packet port moved to Liverpool in October 1858. An inland service was started in 1872. There were c. 137 POs in 1976.


After September 1991 a new multi-party constitution was adopted ang an interim government was formed until a general election could be held. The government was overthrown by a coup on 29 April 1992 and Captain Strasser became head of state. Strasser was ousted in a bloodless coup on 16 January 1996. The resulting military government gave up power after elections to a civilian government led by Ahmed Tejan Kabbah on 29th March 1996.


The Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) won 27 seats and formed a government with the support of the Peoples' Democratic Party. In May 1997, the military, led by Major Koroma seized power. Kabbah fled and, in the July, a Nigerian led ECOMOG force was sent to overthrow Karoma and restore Kabbah. On 10 March 1998, Kabbah resumed power and there was a purge of many of the people who had acted against Kabbah in his absence.


Since May 1991, the government forces have also been fighting the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), whose aim is to force all foreigners out of the country and to nationalise the mining sector. Attacks by the RUF intensified and on 6 January 1999 the RUF attacked Freetown itself, forcing President Kabbah to flee the capital. ECOMOG troops launched a counter-offensive and recaptured the city. A ceasefire agreement was signed on 18 May 1999. Although some accord was gained between the RUF and the SLPP, fighting has continued and more recently British troops have been deployed in the Freetown area.



British West Africa 1914 (Incl. Liberia & Port. Guinea)
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