Liberia

Settlement of freed slaves from the US in what is today Liberia began in 1822; by 1847, the Americo-Liberians were able to establish a republic. William TUBMAN, president from 1944-71, did much to promote foreign investment and to bridge the economic, social, and political gaps between the descendants of the original settlers and the inhabitants of the interior. In 1980, a military coup led by Samuel DOE ushered in a decade of authoritarian rule. In December 1989, Charles TAYLOR launched a rebellion against DOE’s regime that led to a prolonged civil war in which DOE himself was killed. A period of relative peace in 1997 allowed for elections that brought TAYLOR to power, but major fighting resumed in 2000.

 

An August 2003 peace agreement ended the war and prompted the resignation of former president Charles TAYLOR, who faces war crimes charges in The Hague related to his involvement in Sierra Leone’s civil war. After two years of rule by a transitional government, democratic elections in late 2005 brought President Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF to power. The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) maintains a strong presence throughout the country, but the security situation is still fragile and the process of rebuilding the social and economic structure of this war-torn country will take many years.

Geography:
Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone
Geographic coordinates: 6 30 N, 9 30 W
People:
Population: 3,887,886 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 44.3% (male 843,182/female 834,922)

15-64 years: 52.7% (male 989,623/female 1,007,577)

65 years and over: 2.9% (male 56,189/female 55,271) (2011 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Liberia

conventional short form: Liberia

Government type: republic
Capital: name: Monrovia

geographic coordinates: 6 18 N, 10 48 W

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use:  5,900 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 1.571 million (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 29 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 2

over 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL): Army, Navy, Air Force
Military service age and obligation: 16 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2010)
Economy:
Civil war and government mismanagement destroyed much of Liberia’s economy, especially the infrastructure in and around the capital, Monrovia. Many businesses fled the country, taking capital and expertise with them, but with the conclusion of fighting and the installation of a democratically-elected government in 2006, some have returned. Richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favourable to agriculture, Liberia had been a producer and exporter of basic products – primarily raw timber and rubber.

 

Local manufacturing, mainly foreign owned, had been small in scope. President JOHNSON SIRLEAF, a Harvard-trained banker and administrator, has taken steps to reduce corruption, build support from international donors, and encourage private investment. Embargos on timber and diamond exports have been lifted, opening new sources of revenue for the government. The reconstruction of infrastructure and the raising of incomes in this ravaged economy will largely depend on generous financial and technical assistance from donor countries and foreign investment in key sectors, such as infrastructure and power generation.

Transnational Issues:
Although civil unrest continues to abate with the assistance of 18,000 UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) peacekeepers, as of January 2007, Liberian refugees still remain in Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and Ghana; Liberia, in turn, shelters refugees fleeing turmoil in Cote d’Ivoire; despite the presence of over 9,000 UN forces (UNOCI) in Cote d’Ivoire since 2004, ethnic conflict continues to spread into neighbouring states who can no longer send their migrant workers to Ivorian cocoa plantations; UN sanctions ban Liberia from exporting diamonds and timber