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Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the west coast of Africa, bordered by Sierra Leonemarker, Guineamarker, Côte d'Ivoiremarker, and the Atlantic Oceanmarker. As of the 2008 Census, the nation is home to 3,476,608 people and covers .

Its capital is Monroviamarker. Liberia has a hot equatorial climate with most rainfall arriving in summer with harsh harmattan winds in the dry season. Liberia's populated Pepper Coastmarker is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the sparsely populated inland is forested, later opening to a plateau of drier grasslands.

The history of Liberia is unique among African nations, notably because of its relationship with the United Statesmarker. It is one of the few countries in Africa, and the only country in West Africa, without roots in the European Scramble for Africa. Founded as a colony by the American Colonization Society in 1821-22, it was created as a place for slaves freed in the United Statesmarker to emigrate to in Africa, on the premise they would have greater freedom and equality there.

Slaves freed from slave ships also were sent there instead of being repatriated to their countries of origin. These freed slaves formed an elite group in Liberian society, and, in 1847, they founded the Republic of Liberia, establishing a government modeled on that of the United States, naming Monroviamarker, their capital city, after James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States and a prominent supporter of the colonization.

A military-led coup in 1980 overthrew then-president William R. Tolbert, which marked the beginning of a period of instability that eventually led to a civil war that left hundreds of thousands of people dead and devastated the country's economy. Today, Liberia is recovering from the lingering effects of the civil war and related economic dislocation.


The name Liberia denotes "liberty". The newly arrived settlers formed a new ethnic group called the Americo-Liberians. However, this introduction of a new ethnic mix resulted in ethnic tensions with the sixteen other main ethnicities already residing in Liberia.From the 1500s until 1822, European explorers and traders had multiple names for Liberia, varying by language.

During the Spice trade, in non-English speaking Europe, Liberia was called the Malaguetta Coast or Pepper Coastmarker in English. It earned its name from the melegueta pepper found in rural Liberia that was dubbed the "Grains of paradise" since it was a rare spice in high demand throughout continental Europe. In late 18th century English explorers referred to the country as the Windward Coastmarker because of notoriously unnavigable, choppy waters off the coast of Cape Palmasmarker at the tip of Southern Liberia that were difficult for European ships to sail through.


Indigenous peoples of West Africa

Anthropological research shows the region of Liberia was inhabited at least as far back as the 12th century, perhaps earlier. Mende-speaking people expanded westward, forcing many smaller ethnic groups southward towards the Atlantic ocean. The Days, Bassa, Kru, Gola and Kissi were some of the earliest recorded arrivals. This influx was compounded during the ancient decline of the Western Sudanic Mali Empire in 1375 and later in 1591 with the Songhai Empire. Additionally, inland regions underwent desertification, and inhabitants were pressured to move to the wetter Pepper Coastmarker. These new inhabitants brought skills such as cotton spinning, cloth weaving, iron smelting, rice and sorghum cultivation, and social and political institutions from the Mali and Songhai Empires.

Shortly after the Manes conquered the region, there was a migration of the Vai people into the region of Grand Cape Mount. The Vai were part of the Mali Empire who were forced to migrate when the empire collapsed in the 14th century. The Vai chose to migrate to the coastal region. The ethnic Kru opposed the influx of Vai. An alliance of the Manes and Kru was able to stop further influx of Vai, but the Vai remained in the Grand Cape Mountmarker region (where the city of Robertsportmarker is now located).

People of the Littoral coast built canoes and traded with other West Africans from Cap-Vertmarker to the Gold Coast. Later European traders would barter various commodities and goods with local people, sometimes hoisting their canoes aboard. When the Kru began trading with Europeans, they initially traded in commodities, but later they actively participated in the African slave trade.

Kru laborers left their territory to work as paid laborers on plantations and in construction. Some even worked building the Suezmarker and Panama Canalsmarker.

Another tribal group in the area was the Glebo. The Glebo were driven, as a result of the Manes invasion, to migrate to the coast of what later became Liberia.

Between 1461 and late 17th century, Portuguese, Dutch and British traders had contacts and trading posts in Liberia. The Portuguese had named the area Costa da Pimenta, later translated as Grain Coastmarker, because of the abundance of grains of melegueta pepper.

Settlers from the United States

In 1822, the American Colonization Society (A.C.S.) which was the primary vehicle for returning black Americans to greater freedom in Africa, established Liberia as a place to send people who were formerly enslaved. This movement of black people by the A.C.S. had broad support nationwide among white people in America, including prominent leaders such as Henry Clay and James Monroe, who saw this as preferable to emancipation in America, with Clay believing "unconquerable prejudice resulting from their color, they never could amalgamate with the free whites of this country". While the institution of slavery in America grew, reaching almost four million slaves by the mid 1800's., free African-Americans (with legislated limits), a growing population in the U.S., due to abolition in the North and manumission, chose to emigrate to Liberia as well. African-Americans gradually migrated to the colony and became known as Americo-Liberians, from whom many present day Liberians trace their ancestry. On July 26, 1847, Americo-Liberian settlers declared independence of the Republic of Liberia.

The settlers regarded Africa as a "Promised Land," but they did not integrate into an African society. Once in Africa, they referred to themselves as Americans and were recognized as such by local Africans and by British colonial authorities in neighboring Sierra Leonemarker. The symbols of their state — its flag, motto, and seal — and the form of government that they chose reflected their American background and diaspora experience. Lincoln Universitymarker (founded as Ashmun Institute for educating young Africans in Pennsylvaniamarker in 1854) played an important role in supplying Americo-Liberians leadership for the new nation. The first graduating class of Lincoln University, James R. Amos, his brother Thomas H. Amos, and Armistead Miller sailed for Liberia on the brig Mary C. Stevens in April 1859 after graduation.

The religious practices, social customs and cultural standards of the Americo-Liberians had their roots in the antebellum American South. These ideals strongly influenced the attitudes of the settlers toward the indigenous African people. The new nation, as they perceived it, was coextensive with the settler community and with those Africans who were assimilated into it. Mutual mistrust and hostility between the "Americans" along the coast and the "Natives" of the interior was a recurrent theme in the country's history, along with (usually successful) attempts by the Americo-Liberian minority to dominate what they identified as savage native peoples. They named the land "Liberia," which in the Romance languages, and in Latin in particular, means "Land of the Free," as an homage to their freedom from slavery.

Historically, Liberia has enjoyed the support and unofficial cooperation of the United Statesmarker government. Liberia’s government, modeled after that of the U.S., was democratic in structure, if not always in substance. In 1877, the True Whig Party monopolized political power in the country. Competition for office was usually contained within the party, whose nomination virtually ensured election. Two problems confronting successive administrations were pressure from neighboring colonial powers, Britainmarker and Francemarker, and the threat of financial insolvency, both of which challenged the country’s sovereignty. Liberia retained its independence during the Scramble for Africa, but lost its claim to extensive territories that were annexed by Britain and France. Economic development was hindered by the decline of markets for Liberian goods in the late 19th century and by indebtedness on a series of loans, payments on which drained the economy.

Mid-20th century

Two events were particularly important in releasing Liberia from its self-imposed isolation. The first was the grant in 1926 of a large concession to the American-owned Firestone Plantation Company; that move became a first step in the (limited) modernization of the Liberian economy. The second occurred during World War II, when the United States began providing technical and economic assistance that enabled Liberia to make economic progress and introduce social change. Both the Freeport of Monroviamarker and Roberts International Airportmarker were built by U.S. personnel during World War II.

On April 12, 1980, a successful military coup was staged by a group of noncommissioned army officers led by Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe. The soldiers were a mixture of the various ethnic groups that claimed marginalization at the hands of the minority Americo-Liberian settlers. In a late-night raid, they killed William R. Tolbert, Jr., who had been president for nine years, in his mansion. Constituting themselves the People’s Redemption Council, Doe and his associates seized control of the government and brought an end to Africa’s first republic. Significantly, Doe was the first Liberian head of state who was not a member of the Americo-Liberian elite.

Doe favored authoritarian policies, banning newspapers and outlawing various opposition parties. His tactic was to brand popular opposition parties as "socialist", and therefore illegal according to the Liberian constitution, while allowing less popular minor parties to remain as a token opposition. Unfortunately for Doe, popular support would then tend to realign behind one of these smaller parties, causing them to be labeled "socialist" in their turn.

In October 1985, Liberia held the first post-coup elections, ostensibly to legitimize Doe's regime. Virtually all international observers agreed that the Liberia Action Party (LAP) led by Jackson Doe (no relation) had won the election by a clear margin. After a week of counting the votes, however, Samuel Doe fired the count officials and replaced them with his own Special Election Committee (SECOM), which announced that Samuel Doe's ruling National Democratic Party of Liberia had won with 50.9% of the vote. In response, on November 12 a counter-coup was launched by Thomas Quiwonkpa, whose soldiers briefly occupied the Executive Mansion and the national radio station, with widespread support throughout the country. Three days later, Quiwonkpa's coup was overthrown. Government repression intensified, as Doe's troops killed more than 2,000 civilians and imprisoned more than 100 opposing politicians, including Jackson Doe and BBC journalist Isaac Bantu.

1989 and 1999 civil wars

In late 1989, the First Liberian Civil War began. The harsh dictatorial atmosphere that gripped the country was due largely to Samuel Doe's rule. Americo-Liberian Charles Taylor, with the backing of neighboring countries such as Burkina Fasomarker and Cote d'Ivoiremarker, entered Nimba Countymarker with around 100 men. These fighters quickly gained control of much of the country, thanks to strong support from the local population who were disillusioned with their then government. By then, a new player also emerged: Yormie Prince Johnson (former ally of Taylor) had formed his own army and had gained tremendous support from the Gio and Mano ethnic groups.

In August 1990, the Economic Community Monitoring Group under the Economic Community of West African Statesmarker organized its own military task force to intervene in the crisis. The troops were largely from Nigeriamarker, Guineamarker and Ghanamarker. On his way out after a meeting, Doe, who was traveling only with his personal staff, was ambushed and captured by members of the Gio Tribe who were loyal to Prince Yormie Johnson. The soldiers took him to Johnson's headquarters in neighboring Caldwell, tortured and killed him.

By then, Taylor was a prominent warlord and leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia. After some prompting from Taylor that the anglophone Nigerians and Ghanaians were opposed to him, Senegalesemarker troops were brought in with some financial support from the United States. But their service was short-lived, after a major confrontation with Taylor forces in Vahun, Lofa Countymarker on 28 May 1992, when six were killed when a crowd of NPFL supporters surrounded their vehicle and demanded they surrender the vehicle and weapons.
By September 1990, Doe's forces controlled only a small area just outside the capital, Monroviamarker. After Doe's death, and as a condition for the end of the conflict, interim president Amos Sawyer resigned in 1994, handing power to the Council of State. Taylor was elected as President in 1997, after leading a bloody insurgency backed by Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi. Taylor's brutal regime targeted several leading opposition and political activists. In 1998, the government sought to assassinate child rights activist Kimmie Weeks for a report he had published on its involvement in the training of child soldiers, which forced him into exile. Taylor's autocratic and dysfunctional government led to the Second Liberian Civil War in 1999.

The conflict intensified in mid-2003, and the fighting moved into Monrovia. An elite rapid response unit of the US Marines known as 'FAST' deployed to the US Embassy to ensure the security and interests of the US. The Marines used US Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk to airlift non-combatants and foreign nationals to Dakar, Senegalmarker. A hastily assembled force of 1000 Nigerian troops, the ECOWASmarker Mission In Liberia (ECOMIL), was airlifted into Liberia on August 15, 2003 to prevent the rebels from overrunning the capital city and committing revenge-inspired war crimes. Meanwhile the US Joint Task Force Liberia commanded from USS Iwo Jima was offshore, though only 100 of the 2,000 US Marines landed to liaise with the ECOMIL force.

As the power of the government shrank, and with increasing international and US pressure for him to resign, President Taylor accepted an asylum offer from Nigeriamarker, but vowed: "God willing, I will be back." Some of the ECOMIL troops were subsequently withdrawn and at least two battalions incorporated into the 15,000 strong United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) peacekeeping force. More than 200,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the civil wars.

Post civil war

After the exile of Taylor, Gyude Bryant was appointed Chairman of the transitional government in late 2003. Because of failures of the Transitional Government in curbing corruption, Liberia signed onto GEMAP, a novel anti-corruption program. The primary task of the transitional government was to prepare for fair and peaceful democratic elections. With UNMIL troops safeguarding the peace, Liberia successfully conducted presidential elections on October 11, 2005. There were 23 candidates; an early favorite was George Weah, internationally famous footballer, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and member of the Kru ethnic group expected to dominate the popular vote. No candidate took the required majority, prompting a run-off election between the top two candidates, Weah and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The November 8, 2005 presidential runoff election was won decisively by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a Harvardmarker-trained economist. Both the general election and runoff were marked by peace and order, as thousands of Liberians waited in the Liberian heat to cast their ballots.

Prior to her election as president, Johnson-Sirleaf was jailed twice during the Doe administration before escaping and going into exile. Upon taking office she became the first elected female head of state in Africa. During her administration President Johnson-Sirleaf established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address crimes committed during the later stages of Liberia's long civil war. Elsewhere, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (a war crimes tribunal) charged former President Charles Taylor with crimes against humanity, violations of the Geneva Conventions and "other serious violations of international humanitarian law". The indictment was issued on March 29, 2006, and he was later extradited from Nigeria to Sierra Leonemarker, but the trial by the Special Court is being held in The Haguemarker, for security reasons.

Politics and government

The Executive Mansion in Monrovia

Liberia has a dual system of statutory law based on Anglomarker-Americanmarker common law for the modern sector and customary unwritten law for the native sector for exclusively rural ethnic communities. Liberia's modern sector has three equal branches of government in the constitution, though in practice the executive branch headed by the President of Liberia is the strongest of the three. The other two branches are the legislative and judicialmarker.

Following the dissolution of the Republican Party in 1876, the True Whig Party dominated the Liberian government until the 1980 coup. Currently, no party has majority control of the legislature. The longest serving president in Liberian history was William Tubman, serving from 1944 until his death in 1971. The shortest term was held by James Skivring Smith, who controlled the government for two months. However, the political process from Liberia's founding in 1847, despite widespread corruption, was very stable until the end of the First Republic in 1980.

The Executive branch of the government is headed by the President. Other parts of the branch are the Cabinet and the Vice President. Presidents are elected to six-year terms and can serve up to two terms in office. The President is both the head of state and the head of the government, and resides at the Executive Mansion in Monrovia.

The Legislature of Liberia is a bicameral body with an upper chamber Senate and the lower chamber House of Representatives. Each county sends two senators to the legislature for a total of 30 senators, while the 64 seats in the House are distributed among the 15 counties based on the number of registered voters, with a minimum of at least two from each county. Senators serve nine-year terms (only six-year terms for junior senators elected in 2005) and members of the House six-year terms. Leadership consists of a Speaker in the House and a President Pro Tempore in the Senate. Liberia's Vice President serves as the President of the Senate. The legislature meets in the capital city of Monrovia.

Liberia's highest judicial authority is the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice. The five justice court holds sessions at the Temple of Justice on Capitol Hill in Monrovia. Members are nominated to the court by the President and are confirmed by the Senate and have lifetime tenure. Under the supreme court are 15 circuit courts, one in each county.

Human rights

Amnesty International summarizes in its Annual Report 2006:
"Sporadic outbreaks of violence continued to threaten prospects of peace. Former rebel fighters who should have been disarmed and demobilized protested violently when they did not receive benefits. Slow progress in reforming the police, judiciary and the criminal justice system resulted in systematic violations of due process and vigilante violence against criminal suspects. Laws establishing an Independent National Commission on Human Rights and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission were adopted. Over 200,000 internally displaced people and refugees returned to their homes, although disputes over land and property appropriated during the war raised ethnic tensions. UN sanctions on the trade in diamonds and timber were renewed. Those responsible for human rights abuses during the armed conflict continued to enjoy impunity. The UN Security Council gave peacekeeping forces in Liberia powers to arrest former President Taylor and transfer him to the Special Court for Sierra Leonemarker if he should return from Nigeriamarker, where he continued to receive asylum. Liberia made a commitment to abolish capital punishment. A new law on rape, which initially proposed imposition of the death penalty for gang rape, was amended to provide a maximum penalty of life imprisonment."

Former 22nd president Charles Taylor was later captured trying to escape across the border of Cameroon and has been sent to the International Criminal Court in The Haguemarker for trial.


Map of Liberia

Liberia is situated in West Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean to the country's southwest. The landscape is characterized by mostly flat to rolling coastal plains that contain mangroves and swamps, which rise to a rolling plateau and low mountains in the northeast. Tropical rainforests cover the hills, while elephant grass and semi-deciduous forests make up the dominant vegetation in the northern sections. The equatorial climate is hot year-round with heavy rainfall from May to October with a short interlude in mid-July to August. During the winter months of November to March dry dust-laden harmattan winds blow inland causing many problems for residents.

Liberia's watershed tends to move in a southwestern pattern towards the sea as new rains move down the forested plateau off the inland mountain range of Guinée Forestière, in Guineamarker. Cape Mountmarker near the border with Sierra Leonemarker receives the most precipitation in the nation. The country's main northwestern boundary is traversed by the Mano River while its southeast limits are bounded by the Cavalla Rivermarker. Liberia's three largest rivers are St. Paul exiting near Monroviamarker, the river St. Johnmarker at Buchananmarker and the Cestos Rivermarker, all of which flow into the Atlantic. The Cavalla is the longest river in the nation at .

The highest point wholly within Liberia is Mount Wutevemarker at above sea level in the northwestern Liberia range of the West Africa Mountains and the Guinea Highlands. However, Mount Nimbamarker near Yekepamarker, is higher at above sea level but is not wholly within Liberia as Nimba shares a border with Guineamarker and Côte d'Ivoiremarker (Ivory Coast) and is their tallest mountain as well.

Counties and districts

Map of Liberia with counties

Liberia is divided into 15 counties, which are subdivided into districts, and further subdivided into clans. The oldest counties are Grand Bassa and Montserrado, both founded in 1839 prior to Liberian independence. Gbarpolu is the newest county, created in 2001. Nimba is the largest of the counties in size at , while Montserrado is the smallest at . Montserrado is also the most populous county with 1,144,806 residents as of the 2008 census.

Complete list of the counties:

County Capital Population (2008) Area Created
Bomimarker Tubmanburgmarker 82,036 1984
Bongmarker Gbarngamarker 328,919 1964
Gbarpolumarker Bopulumarker 83,758 2001
Grand Bassamarker Buchananmarker 224,839 1839
Grand Cape Mountmarker Robertsportmarker 129,055 1844
Grand Gedehmarker Zwedrumarker 126,146 1964
Grand Krumarker Barclayvillemarker 57,106 1984
Lofamarker Voinjamamarker 270,114 1964
Margibimarker Kakatamarker 199,689 1985
Marylandmarker Harpermarker 136,404 1857
Montserradomarker Bensonvillemarker 1,144,806 1839
Nimbamarker Sanniquelliemarker 468,088 1964
River Cessmarker River Cessmarker 65,862 1985
River Geemarker Fish Townmarker 67,318 2000
Sinoemarker Greenvillemarker 104,932 1843


Historically, the Liberian economy depended heavily on iron ore and rubber exports, foreign direct investment, and exports of other natural resources, such as timber. Agricultural products include livestock (goats, pigs, cattle) and rice, the staple food. Fish are raised on inland farms and caught along the coast. Other foods are imported to support the population. Electricity is provided by dams and oil-fired plants.

Boy grinding sugar cane.
Foreign trade was primarily conducted for the benefit of the Americo-Liberian elite. The 1864 Ports of Entry Act severely restricted trade between foreigners and indigenous Liberians throughout most of Liberia's history. Little foreign direct investment benefited the 95% majority population, who were often subjected to forced labor on foreign concessions. Liberian law often did not protect indigenous Liberians from the extraction of rents and arbitrary taxation, and the majority survived on subsistence farming and low wage work on foreign concessions.

While official export figures for commodities declined during the 1990s civil war as many investors fled, Liberia’s wartime economy featured the exploitation of the region’s diamond wealth. The country acted as a major trader in Liberian, Sierra Leonian and Angolan blood diamonds, exporting over $300 million in diamonds annually. This led to a United Nations ban on Liberian diamond exports, which was lifted on April 27, 2007.

Other commodity exports continued during the war, in part due to illicit agreements between Liberia’s warlords and foreign concessionaires. Looting and war profiteering destroyed nearly the entire infrastructure of the country, such that the Monrovian capital was without running water and electricity (except for fuel-powered generators) by the time the first elected post-war government began to institute development and reforms in 2006.

Once the hostilities ended, some official exporting and legitimate business activity resumed. For instance, Liberia signed a new deal with steel giant Mittal for the export of iron ore in summer 2005. But, as of mid-2006 Liberia was still dependent on foreign aid, and had a debt of $3.5 billion. As of 2003, Liberia had an estimated 85% unemployment rate, the second highest in the world behind only Nauru.

Nineteenth-century Liberian two-dollar bill
The Liberia dollar currently trades against the US dollar at a ratio of 65:1. Liberia used the US dollar as its currency from 1943 until 1982. Its external debt ($3.5 billion) is huge compared to its GDP ($2.5 billion/year); it imports approximately $4.839 billion in goods per year, while it exports only about $910 million. Inflation is falling, but still significant (15% in 2003, 4.9% in the 3rd quarter of 2005); interest rates are high, with the average lending rate listed by the Central Bank of Liberia at 17.6% for 3rd quarter 2005 (although the average time deposit rate was only 0.4%, and CD rate only 4.4%, barely keeping pace with inflation).

It continues to suffer with poor economic performance due to a fragile security situation, the devastation wrought by its long war, its lack of infrastructure, and necessary human capital to help the country recover from the scourges of conflict and corruption. Liberia has one of the world's largest national registries of ships, due to its status as a "flag of convenience".



As of the 2008 national census, Liberia was home to 3,476,608 people. Of those, 1,118,241 lived in Montserrado Countymarker, the most populous county in the country and home to the capitol of Monrovia, with the Greater Monrovia district home to 970,824 people. Nimba Countymarker is the next most populous county with 462,026 residents. Prior to the 2008 census, the last census had been held in 1984, and it listed the population as 2,101,628. The population of Liberia was 1,016,443 in 1962 and increased to 1,503,368 in 1974.

The population of over 3 million comprises 16 indigenous ethnic groups and various foreign minorities. Indigenous peoples comprise about 95% of the population, the largest of which are the Kpelle in central and western Liberia. Americo-Liberians, who are descendants of African-American settlers, make up 2.5%, and Congo people, descendants of repatriated Congo and Afro-Caribbeanmarker slaves who arrived in 1825, make up an estimated 2.5%. There also is a sizable number of Lebanesemarker, Indiansmarker, and other West African nationals who make up a significant part of Liberia's business community. A few whites (estimated at 18,000 in 1999; probably fewer now) reside in the country.

As of 2006, Liberia has the highest population growth rate in the world (4.50% per annum). Similar to its neighbors, it has a large youth population, with half of the population under the age of 18.

Of the population, 40% hold indigenous beliefs, 40% are Christians, and 20% are Muslims.


Life expectancy at birth was at 44.7 in 2005.
The fertility rate was at 6.8 per woman in the early 21st century. Expenditure on health was 22 US$ (PPP) in 2004. The infant mortality rate was at 15.7 % in 2005. The HIV/AIDS prevalence is at several % of the adult population.


Liberian ceremonial spoon

Liberia was traditionally noted for its hospitality, academic institutions, cultural skills, and arts/craft works. Liberia has a long, rich history in textile arts and quilting. The free and former US slaves who emigrated to Liberia brought with them their sewing and quilting skills. The census of 1843 indicated a variety of occupations, including hatter, milliner, seamstress and tailor. Liberia hosted National Fairs in 1857 and 1858 in which prizes were awarded for various needle arts. One of the most well-known Liberian quilters was Martha Ann Ricks, who presented a quilt featuring the famed Liberian coffee tree to Queen Victoria in 1892.

In modern times, Liberian presidents would present quilts as official government gifts. The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum collection includes a cotton quilt by Mrs. Jemima Parker which has portraits of both Liberian president William Tubman and JFK. Zariah Wright-Titus founded the Arthington (Liberia) Women's Self-Help Quilting Club (1987). In the early 1990s, Kathleen Bishop documented examples of appliquéd Liberian quilts. When current Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf moved into the Executive Mansion, she reportedly had a Liberian-made quilt installed in her presidential office.

The tallest man-made structure of Africa, the mast of former Paynesville Omega transmitter, is situated in Liberia.

Liberia is one of only three nations to use primarily a non-metric system of units, the others being Burma and the United States.


It is estimated that as much as 40 percent of the population of Liberia practices either Christianity or Christianity combined with elements of traditional indigenous religious beliefs. [1] Approximately 40 percent exclusively practices traditional indigenous religious beliefs.[1] An estimated 20 percent of the population practices Islam.[1] A small percentage is Bahá'í, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, or atheist.


Students studying by candlelight in Bong County, Liberia
The University of Liberiamarker is the country's largest college and is located in Monroviamarker. Opened in 1862, it is one of Africa's oldest institutes of higher learning organized upon the western model. Civil war severely damaged the university in the 1990s, but the university has begun to rebuild following the restoration of peace. The school includes six colleges, including a medical school and the nation's only law school, Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law.

Cuttington Universitymarker was established by the Episcopal Church of the USA (ECUSA) in 1889; its campus is currently located in Suakoko, Bong Countymarker (120 miles north of Monrovia). The private school, the oldest private college in Liberia, also holds graduate courses in Monrovia.

According to statistics published by UNESCOmarker for 2004 65% of primary-school age and 24% of secondary-school age children were enrolled in school. This is a significant increase on previous years; the statistics also show substantial numbers of older children going back to earlier school years. On average, children attain 10 years of education, 11 for boys and 8 for girls. Children ages five to eleven are required by law to attend school, though enforcement is lax. A 1912 law required children ages 6 to 16 to attend school.

See also


  1. .
  2. Global History of Liberia
  3. Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Liberia in Perspective: An Orientation Guide (2006) , page 1
  4. Financial Times World Desk Reference (2004) Dorling Kindersley Publishing. p 368
  5. Europeans in west africa 1450-1560 (1943) Hesperides Press p 175
  6. Runn-Marcos, K. T. Kolleholon, B. Ngovo, p. 5
  7. Runn-Marcos, K. T. Kolleholon, B. Ngovo, p. 6
  8. "Maps of Liberia 1830-1870" (Oct. 19, 1998). Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division. Retrieved Sept. 1, 2009.
  9. Introduction - Social Aspects of the Civil War
  10. Merriam Webster, p.684
  11. Flint, John E. The Cambridge history of Africa: from c.1790 to c.1870 Cambridge University Press (1976) pg 184-199
  12. The Mask of Anarchy, by Stephen Ellis, 2001, p.75 (There is also an NYU Press Updated Edition 2006, ISBN 0814722385)
  13. Adekeye Adebajo, 'Liberia's Civil War: Nigeria, ECOMOG, and Regional Security in West Africa,' Lynne Rienner/International Peace Academy, 2002, p.107
  14. Adekeye Adebajo, 'Liberia's Civil War: Nigeria, ECOMOG, and Regional Security in West Africa,' Lynne Rienner/International Peace Academy, 2002, p.108
  15. Special Court for Sierra Leone,
  16. Liberia in Perspective: An Orientation Guide (2006) Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, page 2
  17. Amnesty International, Report 2006
  18. Financial Time's World Desk Reference (2004) Dorling Kindersley Publishing. p 368
  23. Jallah, David A. B. “Notes, Presented by Professor and Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia, David A. B. Jallah to the International Association of Law Schools Conference Learning From Each Other: Enriching the Law School Curriculum in an Interrelated World Held at Soochow University Kenneth Wang School of Law, Suzhou, China, October 17-19, 2007.” International Association of Law Schools. Retrieved on September 1, 2008.
  24. UNESCO Schooling data


  • Hadden, Robert Lee. 2006. "The Geology of Liberia: a Selected Bibliography of Liberian Geology, Geography and Earth Science." Topographic Engineering Center, Alexandria, VA. Abstract: "Originally prepared by the US Geological Survey Library staff as part of an US Department of State project to restore the Geological Library of Liberia, 1998-1999. Revised and Updated through 2006."
  • Gilbert, Erik & Reynolds, Jonathon T (2004) Africa in World History, From Prehistory to the Present. Pearson Education Canada Ltd pg 357 ISBN 9780130929075
  • Merriam Webster Inc. (1997) Merriam Webster's Geographical Dictionary: 3rd Edition. Merriam Webster Inc. Springfield, Mass. ISBN 0877795460
  • Runn-Marcos, K. T. Kolleholon, B. Ngovo (2005) Liberians: An Introduction to their History and Culture. Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, DC

Further reading

  • Journey Without Maps by Graham Greene. An account of a four-week walk through the interior of Liberia in 1935. Reprinted in 2006 by Vintage ISBN 978-0099282235
  • Too Late to Turn Back by Barbara Greene. Account by a cousin of Graham Greene of the above-mentioned 1935 journey, on which she was also a participant.
  • Great Tales of Liberia by Wilton Sankawulo. Dr. Sankawulo is the compiler of these tales from Liberia and about Liberian culture. Published by Editura Universitatii "Lucian Blaga";; din Sibiu, Romania, 2004. - ISBN 973-651-838-8
  • Sundown at Dawn: A Liberian Odyssey by Wilton Sankawulo. Recommended by the Cultural Resource Center, Center for Applied Linguistics for its content concerning Liberian culture. ISBN 0-9763565-0-3
  • Mississippi in Africa: The Saga of the Slaves of Prospect Hill Plantation and Their Legacy in Liberia Today, by Alan Huffman (Gotham Books, 2004)
  • To Liberia: Destiny's Timing, by Victoria Lang (Publish America, Baltimore, 2004, ISBN 1-4137-1829-9). A fast-paced gripping novel of the journey of a young Black couple fleeing America to settle in the African motherland of Liberia.
  • Liberia: The Heart of Darkness by Gabriel I. H. Williams, Publisher: Trafford Publishing (July 6, 2006) ISBN 1553692942
  • Liberia: Portrait of a Failed State by John-Peter Pham, ISBN 1594290121
  • Godfrey Mwakikagile, Military Coups in West Africa Since The Sixties, Chapter Eight: Liberia: 'The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here,' pp. 85 - 110, Nova Science Publishers, Inc., Huntington, New York, 2001; Godfrey Mwakikagile, The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation, Chapter One: The Collapse of A Modern African State: Death and Rebirth of Liberia, pp. 1 - 18, Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2001.
  • Redemption Road: The Quest for Peace and Justice in Liberia (A Novel) by Elma Shaw, with a Foreword by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. (Cotton Tree Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-9800774-0-7)
  • House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood by Helene Cooper (Simon & Schuster, 2008, ISBN 0743266242)

External links


General information
  • Liberia from UCB Libraries GovPubs

News media


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