Liberia Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Liberia > Map Economy History

Background: Seven years of civil strife were brought to a close in 1996 when free and open presidential and legislative elections were held. President TAYLOR now holds strong executive power with no real political opposition. The years of fighting coupled with the flight of most businesses have disrupted formal economic activity. A still unsettled domestic security situation has slowed the process of rebuilding the social and economic structure of this war-torn country.
Government type: republic
Capital: Monrovia
Currency: 1 Liberian dollar (L$) = 100 cents

Geography of Liberia

Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone
Geographic coordinates: 6 30 N, 9 30 W
Area:
total: 111,370 sq km
land: 96,320 sq km
water: 15,050 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 1,585 km
border countries: Guinea 563 km, Cote d'Ivoire 716 km, Sierra Leone 306 km
Coastline: 579 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; hot, humid; dry winters with hot days and cool to cold nights; wet, cloudy summers with frequent heavy showers
Terrain: mostly flat to rolling coastal plains rising to rolling plateau and low mountains in northeast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Wuteve 1,380 m
Natural resources: iron ore, timber, diamonds, gold, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: 3%
permanent pastures: 59%
forests and woodland: 18%
other: 19% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 20 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: dust-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to March)
Environment - current issues: tropical rain forest subject to deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; pollution of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage.
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Biodiversity, Desertification, Endangered Species, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber
signed, but not ratified:  Climate Change, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note: facing the Atlantic Ocean, the coastline is characterized by lagoons, mangrove swamps, and river-deposited sandbars; the inland grassy plateau supports limited agriculture.

People of Liberia

There are 16 ethnic groups that make up Liberia's indigenous population. The Kpelle in central and western Liberia is the largest ethnic group. Americo-Liberians, who are descendants of freed slaves that arrived in Liberia early in 1821, make up an estimated 5% of the population. There also is a sizable number of Lebanese, Indians, and other West African nationals who make up a significant part of Liberia's business community. Because of the civil war and its accompanying problem of insecurity, the number of Westerners in Liberia is low and confined largely to Monrovia and its immediate surroundings. The Liberian constitution restricts citizenship only to people of Negro descent.

Liberia was traditionally noted for its hospitality and academic institutions, iron mining and rubber industry booms, cultural skills and arts and craft works. But political upheavals beginning in the 1980s and the brutal 7-year civil war (1989-96) brought about a steep decline in the living standards of the country, including its education and infrastructure.

Population: 3,482,211 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  43.21%
15-64 years:  53.34% 
65 years and over:  3.45% 
Population growth rate: 1.92% 
Birth rate: 46.55 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 16.36 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -11 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
note: by the end of 1999, all Liberian refugees, who had fled the domestic strife, were assumed to have returned
Infant mortality rate: 132.42 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  51.41 years
male:  49.96 years
female:  52.91 years
Total fertility rate: 6.36 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Liberian(s)
adjective: Liberian
Ethnic groups: indigenous African tribes 95% (including Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Grebo, Mano, Krahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma, Kissi, Vai, and Bella), Americo-Liberians 2.5% (descendants of immigrants from the US who had been slaves), Congo People 2.5% (descendants of immigrants from the Caribbean who had been slaves)
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
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 38.3%
male: 53.9%
female: 22.4% (1995 est.)
note: these figures are increasing because of the improving school system

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Liberia > Map Economy History