Sierra Leone is a proud African nation whose roots travel back thousands of years. Because of its natural swampy environment along with the area’s dense rainforest, Sierra Leone enjoyed a more insular formation of it culture as it was protected from the conquest of other African empires. The state, however, like many African states could not stave off the colonization efforts of the British Empire which dominated Sierra Leone for over 150 years. It is this history that informs the forming and design of the national flag.
The current flag replaced that of the colonized Sierra Leone which was the traditional British Blue Ensign – which flew over all of the British Empire’s colonies – but defaced with the territory’s coat of arms: an emblem consisting of a circle showing an oil palm tree, an elephant and mountains. However, that emblem was unique as Britain allowed almost the exact same design for some of its other colonies – namely, the Gold Coast and Lagos Colony.
In the early 1900s, however, Sierra Leone was granted its own unique coat of arms to place on the traditional British Blue Ensign, but it still carried the look of colonization, consisting of the Union Jack emblem along with the image of an African person greeting his colonizers at the harbor. Once independence was earned in 1961, then, Sierra Leone chose to signify its unique properties with a new coat of arms and national flag.
The coat of arms was developed first, the image focusing on two lions rampant standing over the words, motto: “Unity, Freedom and Justice.” The colors were appropriately the same used in the flag, all carrying regional, political and cultural symbolism held by Sierra Leone.
This Sierra Leone flag consists of three horizontal bands of three varying colors: green, white and blue in that order top to bottom. The green symbolizes the nation’s agriculture and mountains. The white stood for the concepts of justice and unity for which Sierra Leone strives. At last, the blue spoke to the aspirations of the nation to help along peace in this violent world, particularly through the work of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city and natural harbor.