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Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country along the coast of western Africa. Liberia’s terrain ranges from the low and sandy coastal plains to rolling hills and dissected plateau further inland.

Liberia covers an area of 111,369 km² (43,000 sq mi). The country has a population of about 4.5 million people (in 2015). Capital and largest city is Monrovia, (named after, no not Marilyn Monroe, but James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States (1817–1825)). The country’s major cities are located along the coast like the port cities of Harper and Buchanan. Spoken languages are English (official) and an English-based pidgin (Liberian English), plus several indigenous languages.

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Religion practiced in the country are Christian 85.6%, Muslim 12.2%, Traditional 0.6%, other 0.2%, none 1.4% (2008 EST.). Ethnic groups in Liberia are Kpelle 20.3%, Bassa 13.4%, Grebo 10%, Gio 8%, Mano 7.9%, Kru 6%, Lorma 5.1%, Kissi 4.8%, Gola 4.4%, Krahn 4%, Vai 4%, Mandingo 3.2%, Gbandi 3%, Mende 1.3%, Sapo 1.3%, other Liberian 1.7%, other African 1.4% and non-African .1% (2008 EST.)

The World Health Organization (WHO) tracks air quality at 1,622 urban locations in 92 countries.
Of the 92 countries to feature, Australia has the least polluted urban areas, followed by Brunei and New Zealand, while Liberia comes 10th, ahead of the likes of Spain, Japan, the US and the UK.

Liberia is the only black state in Africa never subjected to colonial rule and is Africa’s oldest republic. It was established on land acquired for freed U.S. slaves by the American Colonization Society, which founded a colony at Cape Mesurado in 1821. In 1824 the territory was named Liberia, and its main settlement was named Monrovia, which is the present-day capital. Liberian independence was proclaimed in 1847, and its boundaries were expanded. The country enjoyed relative stability until a rebellion in 1989 escalated into a destructive civil war in the 1990s that did not fully cease until 2003.

key events in Liberia’s history:

1847 – Constitution modelled on that of the US is drawn up, and Liberia becomes independent.

1917 – Liberia declares war on Germany, giving the Allies a base in West Africa.

1926 – Rubber production becomes backbone of Liberia’s economy after Firestone Tyre and Rubber Company opens rubber plantation on land granted by government.

1936 – Forced-labour practices abolished.

1943 – William Tubman elected president.

1958 – Racial discrimination outlawed.

1980 – Master Sergeant Samuel Doe carries out military coup ousting and publicly executing President William Tolbert and 13 of his aides.

1985 – Doe wins presidential election one year after his regime allowed return of political parties following pressure from the United States and other creditors.

1989-2003– Civil war. Up to 250,000 are killed, while thousands more are mutilated and raped, often by armies of drugged child soldiers led by ruthless warlords.

2005 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf becomes the first woman to be elected as an African head of state.

2012 – An international tribunal finds Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone’s civil war.

2012 – The UN passes Resolution 2066, which will reduce the number of UN troops in Liberia to under 4,000 by 2015.

2014– The country was also affected by the worst Ebola epidemic in history.

2017 – Constitutional term limits barred President JOHNSON SIRLEAF from running for re-election. Legal challenges delayed the 2017 presidential runoff election, which was eventually won by George WEAH.

2018 – In March, the UN completed its 15-year peacekeeping mission in Liberia.

Political system

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Liberia is a unitary state and a presidential representative democratic republic with a multi-party system, modeled after the government of the United States. Head of state and head of government is the President. The cabinet is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The bicameral National Assembly consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The country’s legal system is a mixed system of common law (based on Anglo-American law) and customary law.


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Liberia’s high fertility rate of nearly 5 children per woman and large youth cohort – more than 60% of the population is under the age of 25 – will sustain a high dependency ratio for many years to come. Significant progress has been made in preventing child deaths, despite a lack of health care workers and infrastructure. Infant and child mortality have dropped nearly 70% since 1990; the annual reduction rate of about 5.4% is the highest in Africa.

Nevertheless, Liberia’s high maternal mortality rate remains among the world’s worst; it reflects a high unmet need for family planning services, frequency of early childbearing, lack of quality obstetric care, high adolescent fertility, and a low proportion of births attended by a medical professional. Female mortality is also increased by the prevalence of female genital cutting (FGC), which is practiced by 10 of Liberia’s 16 tribes and affects more than two-thirds of women and girls. FGC is an initiation ritual performed in rural bush schools, which teach traditional beliefs on marriage and motherhood and are an obstacle to formal classroom education for Liberian girls.


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Liberia’s economic freedom score is 49.0, making its economy the 165th freest in the 2020 Index. Its overall score has decreased by 0.7 point, primarily because of a drop in the fiscal health score. Liberia is ranked 40th among 47 countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is well below the regional and world averages.

The Liberian economy has fallen further into the repressed category this year. GDP growth has also recorded a weak performance over the past five years.

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Liberia continues to consolidate its democratic gains and rebuild its war-torn economy. Since the end of the Liberian Civil War in 2003, the country has held three national elections generally perceived as free and fair. It has also taken on the difficult task of rebuilding its economy, and strengthening its educational and health care delivery systems. The 2014-2015 Ebola Virus Disease outbreak drained the Government of vitally needed resources, slowed economic growth, and delayed key development projects.

Revitalizing the economy in the future will depend on economic diversification, increasing investment and trade, higher global commodity prices, sustained foreign aid and remittances, development of infrastructure and institutions, combating corruption, and maintaining political stability and security.


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One contender for UNESCO to look at might be Sapo National Park. It is the country’s largest protected reserve and home to 125 types of mammal and 590 types of bird. Among them are a number of threatened species, such as the pygmy hippopotamus and the African golden cat. You’ll also find African forest elephants, crocodiles, leopards, seven species of monkey and three species of pangolin, one of the weirdest looking animals you’re likely to see. Liberia is also an unlikely option for cycle tourism. The West Africa Cycle Challenge takes riders from Bo, in neighbouring Sierra Leone, to Monrovia, raising money for the charity Street Child along the way.

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The cruise industry is regularly accused of flying a “flag of convenience” by registering their ships in countries where employment laws are less stringent. All but one of NCL’s ships are registered in the Bahamas; Carnival and MSC register theirs in Panama; Oceania Cruises in the Marshall Islands, and P&O Cruises in Bermuda. And Royal Caribbean International, which possesses the three largest cruise ships on the planet, is incorporated in Liberia, along with 12 per cent of the world’s entire maritime fleet.

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“Liberia is an incredible country to visit,” said Tom Owen, who took part in the challenge last year. “Cycling in the countryside was somewhat surreal – it’s just not something people do there, so we were very much a novelty. People were really interested in us. Each time we stopped a crowd of kids would gather around and stare at us. It felt like being a very low-budget celebrity. The country is stunning. It’s like having the colour artificially turned up on your vision. The mud is the brightest orange, the greens of the jungle are incredibly rich and lush.”

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