Capital (pop., 2006 est.: metro. area, 818,700) and largest city of Sierra Leone. Located at the mouth of the Sierra Leone River, it has the best harbour in western Africa. It was founded in 1787 by an English abolitionist, Granville Sharp, as a haven for freed African slaves from England. Later more freed slaves from Nova Scotia and runaway slaves from Jamaica settled there. Their descendants, known as Creoles, are now outnumbered by Mende and Temne immigrants from the interior. In 1821 Freetown became the seat of government for Britain's West African possessions. Incorporated as a municipality in 1893, it became Sierra Leone's capital in 1961. It is the nation's commercial, educational, and transportation centre. The city sustained extensive damage during the civil war that wracked the country in the 1990s and has seen an increase in population due to the war.