Sherbro Island Now

Sherbro Island is a 230 square mile (600 km2) tropical island, in the Atlantic Ocean which lies within the Bonthe District, Southern Province, Sierra Leone.

Sherbro is separated from the mainland by the Sherbro River in the north and Sherbro Strait in the east. It is 32 miles (51 km) long and up to 15 miles (24 km) wide. At the western extremity is Cape St. Ann. Bonthe and on the eastern end, is the Island’s chief port and commercial centre.

50 miles of natural beaches, mangrove forests and coastal villages

The island possesses ecologically important mangrove forests, sea turtle nesting sites and populations of endangered West African manatees as well as world record tarpon found in its surrounding waters.

The People

The island is home to a relatively small population of 40,000 people with the majority residing in Bonthe Town, the Island’s chief port and commercial centre.

Sherbro Island is ethnically diverse, though mainly from the Sherbro, and Mende ethnic groups.

Primary occupations include fishing and rice farming.

Infrastructure and accessibility

Island remains one of Sierra Leone’s most isolated regions.

There is limited development and infrastructure beyond Bonthe Township which includes a small air strip.The mobility of the people who live there is limited not only in terms of access to the mainland, but also by their ability to move around the island itself.


Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Bonthe was a major town and an active regional trading post populated by native Sherbro islanders, freed slaves from Europe and America and European traders.