Liberia

Liberia

Facts & figures

Full name: Republic of Liberia

Population: 4.2 million (UN, 2012)

Capital: Monrovia

Area: 99,067 sq km (38,250 sq miles)

Languages: English, 29 African languages belonging to the Mande, Kwa or Mel linguistic groups

Major religions: Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs

Life expectancy: 56 years (men), 59 years (women) (UN)

Monetary unit: 1 Liberian dollar (L$) = 100 cents

Main exports: Diamonds, iron ore, rubber, timber, coffee, cocoa

GNI per capita: US $330 (World Bank, 2011)

Internet domain: .lr

International dialling code: +231




Map

Leader

President: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Africa's 'Iron Lady'

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became Africa's first elected woman head of state in 2006.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became Africa's first female president in 2005, two years after the end of a brutal 14-year conflict.

She was re-elected in November 2011 in a poll marred by a low turn-out and a boycott by her main rival.

 



Travel

Visa & travel advice

Visas for Liberia are required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.

Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Liberia.

  • Best period

Liberia has a dry season and a rainy one: the dry season lasts from December to April and the rainy season is from May to November. Because of Liberia’s location, just north of the equator, the climate is tropical and daily temperatures are usually between 79 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (between 26 and 32 degrees Celcius.) Humidity levels are very high, especially in areas closer to the coast, averaging 88 percent year-round. Though rainfall is not consistent during the rainy season, humidity levels are higher. We suggest visiting in the dry season or in the months of July and August, when there is usually a brief period of weather similar to that of the dry season.

  • Safety

Though Liberia is much safer for foreigners today than it was during the years of civil war, visitors must still take various precautions when visiting the country. It is inadvisable to travel anywhere outside of Monrovia without adequate safety arrangements. Petty theft and robbery are common, and women traveling alone face the risk of sexual assault. Visit the U.S. Department of State’s consular website for current travel warnings and advice on how to stay as safe as possible while visiting Liberia.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has created a security ratings system called the Ibrahim Index, wherein scores are based on each country’s quality of government. Before traveling to Liberia or anywhere on the continent, check the index and do your research.

 

History

Africa's first republic, Liberia was founded in 1822 as a result of the efforts of the American Colonization Society to settle freed American slaves in West Africa. The society contended that the emigration of blacks to Africa was an answer to the problem of slavery and the incompatibility of the races. Over the course of forty years, about 12,000 slaves were voluntarily relocated. Originally called Monrovia, the colony became the Free and Independent Republic of Liberia in 1847.

The English-speaking Americo-Liberians, descendants of former American slaves, make up only 5% of the population, but have historically dominated the intellectual and ruling class. Liberia's indigenous population is composed of 16 different ethnic groups.

The government of Africa's first republic was modeled after that of the United States, and Joseph Jenkins Roberts of Virginia was elected the first president. Ironically, Liberia's constitution denied indigenous Liberians equal to the lighter-skinned American immigrants and their descendants.

After 1920, considerable progress was made toward opening up the interior of the country, a process that facilitated by the 1951 establishment of a 43-mile (69-km) railroad to the Bomi Hills from Monrovia. In July 1971, while serving his sixth term as president, William V. S. Tubman died following surgery and was succeeded by his longtime associate, Vice President William R. Tolbert, Jr.


Arts & Culture

  • Music :

The music of Liberia is less modern than the music of neighboring countries; it consists of many tribal beats. Liberian music is often spoken in one of their native dialects, or colloquial.

The indigenous ethnic groups of Liberia can be linguistically divided into three groups; those in the east who speak the isolate Gola language and the Mel languages (particularly Kissi) and those in the west who speal Kru languages (particularly Bassa). To these must be added the Mande people (the Kpelle are Liberia's largest ethnic group) in the north as well as Liberian repatriates (Americo-Liberians, Congo, Caribbean).

Highlife music is very popular in Liberia, as elsewhere in West Africa. It is a combination of North American, West African and Latin American styles, and emerged in the 1950s in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia, especially among the Liberian Kru people, who were sailors that played Spanish guitar, banjo, pennywhistle, harmonica, accordion, mandolin and concertina.

 

  • Literature

A rich literary tradition has existed in Liberia for over a century. Despite European colonialists and historians labeling Liberia as a country without a written tradition until the 19th century, numerous Liberian authors throughout the years have contributed to the writings of various genres. They have written on folk art, ancient proverbs, everyday life in countryside, city life, religion and observation of their own lives. Culture, tradition, identity, society, taboo subjects, human rights, equality and diversity within Liberia, multiculturalism, Pan-Africanism, colonialism and its reverberating consequences today, post colonial African countries and future of the country have been featured in novels, books, magazines and novelettes since the 19th century.

Poetry is a prominent canon of Liberian literature. Many authors have presented their pose in all poetic styles. Often adding their own unique perspectives, writing styles and observation of the material and spiritual worlds into their books. Liberia's prominent writers also share a variety of genres that cross several decades.

 

  • Famous monuments & places

Sapo national park

 

The monument of the Slave Trade

 

Matilda Newport Canon

 

 

  • Architecture history

In the cities, especially Monrovia, imposing public buildings from the prewar period were built mostly in the post-World War II International Style, including the Executive Mansion, which became an armed fortress during the civil war. Houses from the nineteenth century are similar to antebellum architecture of the American South, with verandas and classical columns. The civil war reduced many buildings to ruins and left others occupied by homeless refugees.


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