In the old part of Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone, at the center of a roundabout surrounded by a concrete fence stands an enormous Cotton Tree. The tree is Freetown’s historic symbol and the city’s most famous landmark. Nobody is sure how old the tree is, but it is known to have existed in 1787 when the first settlers arrived. According to some sources, the Cotton Tree is 500 years old. It is believed that when a group of former African American slaves, who had gained their freedom by fighting for the British during the American War of Independence, landed in Freetown, they apparently rested and prayed underneath the shade of the tree.