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Liberia

Liberia lies in western Africa. It is bounded by the North Atlantic Ocean as well as Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone. This country was founded in 1882 through the efforts of the American Colonization Society. This society wanted freed American slaves to settle down in West Africa. As a result, many African slaves moved from the Americas to this part of West Africa. It was not until 1847 that Liberia became the Free and Independent Republic of Liberia. Although Liberia was founded by freed American and Caribbean slaves, there is a huge population of indigenous Africans. Liberia experienced a devastating 14-year civil war that ended in 2003. That same year, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was elected as Liberia’s President.

She is Africa’s first elected female leader. The currency of Liberia, the red, white and blue mailboxes as well as the wide usage of English are some of the features that show the American influence embedded in this country. Liberia has beautiful sights; from the sandy beaches and mountains (Mount Nimba at 1752m) to thick forests. The Sapo National Park offers a variety of plants and animals, including elephants, leopards, giant forest hogs and the rare pygmy hippos. This rainforest, which is only accessible on foot as there are no roads here, is Western Africa’s largest untouched rainforest. The capital city, Monrovia, is on the coast and is known for its restaurants and bars and the fine sandy beaches nearby. Visitors can enjoy touring one of the largest rubber plantations in the world (the Firestone Rubber Plantation) and Lake Piso, the perfect location for water sports and fishing.
CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Demographics
Country Flag: Liberia's Flag

11 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a white five-pointed star on a blue square in the upper hoist-side corner; the design was based on the US flag

Nationality: Liberian

Capital: Monrovia

Population: 3,042,004 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 43.1%
  • 15-64 years: 54.2%
  • 65 years and over: 2.8% (2006 est.)  

Population growth rate: 4.91% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write.
  • 57.5% of the population is literate (male: 73.3%, female: 41.6%) (2003 est.)

Major religions: Indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%

Languages: English 20% (official), some 20 ethnic group languages, of which a few can be written and are used in correspondence

Quick Facts
Area:
  • total: 111,370 sq km
  • land: 96,320 sq km
  • water: 15,050 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province:  double the size of Nova Scotia

Natural resources: Iron ore, timber, diamonds, gold, hydropower

Environmental Issues: Tropical rain forest deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; pollution of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage

Economy


Liberia has mineral resources, forests, water and a good climate for agriculture. It produces and exports basic products such as raw timber and rubber. Liberia has had the unfortunate experience of civil war and a mismanaged government, greatly damaging the economy of Liberia. The infrastructure of Monrovia as well as existent international sanctions on diamonds and timber exports both limit economic growth for this region. This has contributed to the emigration of many Liberians. The former president, Charles Taylor, left Liberia for Nigeria in August 2003, leading to the establishment of a Transitional Government and the UN mission in Liberia. Although the political situation improved, little was done to ensure economic growth. The financial support and technical assistance of donor countries will enable Liberia to improve its economic situation.


Major industries:

  • rubber processing
  • palm oil processing
  • timber
  • diamonds

Agricultural products:

  • rubber
  • coffee
  • cocoa
  • rice
  • cassava (tapioca)
  • palm oil
  • sugarcane
  • bananas
  • sheep
  • goats
  • timber

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2003)

Railways: 490 km (note: none of the railways are in operation because of the civil war (2004) )

Road map: 10,600 km (paved: 657 km, unpaved: 9,943 km)

Currency: Liberian Dollar

Communications

Telephone lines in use: 6,900 (2002)

Cellular lines in use: 47,300 (2003)

Television Stations: 1 (plus four low-power repeaters) (2001)

Radio Stations: AM 0, FM 7, shortwave 2 (2001)

Internet users: 1,000 (2002)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 5.9% (2003 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 100,000 (2003 est.)

More Information

For more informaiton, please visit:
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/li.html