Sherbro Island

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Sherbro Island, Sierra Leone
Country Sierra Leone
Province Southern Province
District Bonthe District
Population (2013 estimate)
 • Total 28,457
Time zone Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0)

Sherbro Island, is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, located in Bonthe District off the Southern Province of Sierra Leone. The Sherbro make up by far the largest ethnic group in the island.

The island is separated from the African mainland by the Sherbro River in the north and the Sherbro Strait in the east.

It is 32 miles (51 km) long and up to 15 miles (24 km) wide, covering an area of approximately 230 square miles (600 km2). The western extremity is Cape St. Ann.

Bonthe, on the eastern end, is the chief port and commercial centre.

The island has over 65 miles (105 km) of tropical beaches and has been earmarked by the Ministry for Tourism and Development of Sierra Leone for tourism development.

Economic activities[edit]

Swamp-rice cultivation, tourism and fishing are the main economic activities.


Sherbro Island is the site of an early 19th-century British post against the slave trade.

The island was acquired from the Sherbro people by the colony at Freetown in 1861.

In 1815 Paul Cuffe a successful ship maker and prominent Quaker settled a group of 88 freed slaves on Sherbro Island under a British initiative. Cuffe's first trip to West Africa was not solely to help freed slaves however as he sought to make a profit on the cargo he would return to America with. After Cuffe's death in 1817, the ACS took over in the transportation of freed black slaves to West Africa.

The island was also surveyed by Samuel John Mills and Ebenezer Burgess at the behest of the American Colonization Society to explore the idea of establishing a "black colony" that consisted of freed black American slaves in Africa. The survey was conducted along a track of land between Sierra Leone and Sherbro Island where they found a group of colored people led by a former freed slave named John Kizzel. A report filed by Mills and Burgess on the mission led to the passing of an act by the U.S. Congress on March 3, 1819, authorizing the return of freed blacks slaves to their "motherland". With this new congressional approval the ACS took action in establishing a black colony in Africa. This black colony later became known as the Republic of Liberia.

The ACS group of freed slaves arrived at Sherbro Island in 1821 before being driven by circumstance to Providence Island at Cape Mesurado in present day Liberia in April 1822. The ship Elizabeth left from New York with eighty-six free American blacks as well as three agents from the ACS. After arriving on the island and hoping to only stay long enough to find more permanent living conditions on the main land, disease and fever had killed more than a quarter of the would-be settlers. [1]


Sherbro Island is believed to be a breeding ground for green sea turtles as well as leatherback sea turtles.[1] Also the water surrounding the island, holds some of the biggest tarpon in the world, some records at sportfishing organisation IGFA comes from this area.


In May 2013, the Government of Sierra Leone's figure of the island's population was 28,457.


Coordinates: 7°33′N 12°42′W / 7.550°N 12.700°W / 7.550; -12.700