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  Introduction Back To Top

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 descendents 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 Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.11 cu km/yr (27%/18%/55%)
per capita: 34 cu m/yr (2000)

Total renewable water resources:
232 cu km (1987)

Land boundaries:
total: 1,585 km
border countries: Guinea 563 km, Cote d'Ivoire 716 km, Sierra Leone 306 km

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation

tropical; hot, humid; dry winters with hot days and cool to cold nights; wet, cloudy summers with frequent heavy showers

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
6 30 N, 9 30 W

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Wuteve 1,380 m

mostly flat to rolling coastal plains rising to rolling plateau and low mountains in northeast

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

total: 111,370 sq km
land: 96,320 sq km
water: 15,050 sq km

Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone

579 km

Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Tennessee

Irrigated land:
30 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:
tropical rain forest deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; pollution of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
dust-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to March)

Land use:
arable land: 3.43%
permanent crops: 1.98%
other: 94.59% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
5.87 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

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

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

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 41.13 years
male: 39.85 years
female: 42.46 years (2008 est.)

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
aerosolized dust or soil contact disease: Lassa fever
animal contact disease: rabies (2008)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 57.5%
male: 73.3%
female: 41.6% (2003 est.)

Net migration rate:
15.14 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
indigenous African 95% (including Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Grebo, Mano, Krahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma, Kissi, Vai, Dei, Bella, Mandingo, and Mende), 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)

Median age:
total: 18 years
male: 17.8 years
female: 18.2 years (2008 est.)

3,334,587 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:

Population growth rate:
3.661% (2008 est.)

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

Death rate:
21.45 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 143.89 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 159.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 127.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
7,200 (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 8 years (2000)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 44% (male 734,375/female 731,287)
15-64 years: 53.3% (male 879,848/female 896,319)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 45,175/female 47,583) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
42.92 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Christian 40%, Muslim 20%, indigenous beliefs 40%

noun: Liberian(s)
adjective: Liberian

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Linda THOMAS-GREENFIELD
embassy: 111 United Nations Drive, P. O. Box 98, Mamba Point, 1000 Monrovia, 10
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [231] 7-705-4826
FAX: [231] 7-701-0370

National holiday:
Independence Day, 26 July (1847)

18 years of age; universal

Government type:

Political pressure groups and leaders:
other: demobilized former military officers

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Milton Nathaniel BARNES
chancery: 5201 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011
telephone: [1] (202) 723-0437
FAX: [1] (202) 723-0436
consulate(s) general: New York

International organization participation:

Legislative branch:
bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (30 seats; note - number of seats changed in 11 October 2005 elections; members elected by popular vote to serve nine-year terms) and the House of Representatives (64 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 11 October 2005 (next to be held in 2011); House of Representatives - last held 11 October 2005 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - COTOL 7, NPP 4, CDC 3, LP 3, UP 3, APD 3, other 7; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CDC 15, LP 9, COTOL 8, UP 8, APD 5, NPP 4, other 15
note: junior senators - those who received the second most votes in each county in the 11 October 2005 election - will only serve a six-year first term because the Liberian constitution mandates staggered Senate elections to ensure continuity of government; all senators will be eligible for nine-year terms thereafter

Legal system:
dual system of statutory law based on Anglo-American common law for the modern sector and customary law based on unwritten tribal practices for indigenous sector; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

Flag description:
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

26 July 1847

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Republic of Liberia
conventional short form: Liberia

Political parties and leaders:
Alliance for Peace and Democracy or APD [Togba-na TIPOTEH]; Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia or COTOL [H. Varney SHERMAN]; Congress for Democratic Change or CDC [George WEAH]; Liberty Party or LP [Charles BRUMSKINE]; National Patriotic Party or NPP [Roland MASSAQUOI]; Unity Party or UP [Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF]

name: Monrovia
geographic coordinates: 6 18 N, 10 48 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

6 January 1986

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF (since 16 January 2006); note - the President is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF (since 16 January 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 8 November 2005 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF elected president; percent of vote, second round - Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF 59.6%, George WEAH 40.4%

Administrative divisions:
15 counties; Bomi, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, River Cess, River Gee, Sinoe

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
Malaysia 27.5%, Poland 18.5%, Germany 11.5%, US 10.5%, Spain 8.2%, Norway 5.5% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
297.6 million kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$224 million (2007)

Debt - external:
$3.2 billion (2005 est.)

Unemployment rate:
85% (2003 est.)

Oil - exports:
23.37 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$500 (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$1.157 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$1.741 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$926 million (2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
Liberian dollars (LRD) per US dollar - NA (2007), 59.43 (2006), 53.098 (2005), 54.906 (2004), 59.379 (2003)

GDP - real growth rate:
9.4% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$145.6 million (31 December 2007)

Imports - partners:
South Korea 31.4%, Singapore 22.1%, Japan 14.9%, China 10.1% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
11.2% (2007 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 76.9%
industry: 5.4%
services: 17.7% (2002 est.)

Oil - imports:
3,593 bbl/day (2005)

$1.197 billion f.o.b. (2006)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
Liberian dollar (LRD)

Economy - overview:
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 favorable 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.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
fuels, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods; foodstuffs

rubber processing, palm oil processing, timber, diamonds

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
80% (2000 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
15.05% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$49.89 million (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
320 million kWh (2006 est.)

$7.143 billion f.o.b. (2006)

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 70%
industry: 8%
services: 22% (2000 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Oil - consumption:
3,687 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:
rubber, timber, iron, diamonds, cocoa, coffee

Economic aid - recipient:
$236.2 million (2005)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: NA
expenditures: NA

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
1,000 (2002)

Telephones - main lines in use:
6,900 (2002)

70,000 (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 0, FM 10, shortwave 2 (2007)

790,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
563,000 (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
4 (plus 4 repeaters) (2007)

Telephone system:
general assessment: the limited services available are found almost exclusively in the capital Monrovia; coverage extended to a number of other towns and rural areas by four mobile-cellular network operators
domestic: fixed line service stagnant and extremely limited; mobile-cellular subscription base growing and teledensity approaching 20 per 100 persons
international: country code - 231; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2007)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2001)

Internet hosts:
7 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

total: 490 km
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 145 km 1.067-m gauge
note: sections of railway are inoperable because of damage suffered during the civil war (2008)

Ports and terminals:
Buchanan, Monrovia

Merchant marine:
total: 2,204
by type: barge carrier 3, bulk carrier 390, cargo 107, chemical tanker 241, combination ore/oil 7, container 750, liquefied gas 84, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 460, refrigerated cargo 103, roll on/roll off 7, specialized tanker 12, vehicle carrier 36
foreign-owned: 2,109 (Argentina 3, Belgium 4, Brazil 3, Canada 7, China 11, Croatia 2, Cyprus 63, Denmark 12, Estonia 1, France 5, Germany 849, Gibraltar 5, Greece 358, Hong Kong 44, India 2, Indonesia 2, Isle of Man 5, Israel 23, Italy 41, Japan 116, South Korea 3, Latvia 21, Lebanon 2, Mexico 2, Monaco 8, Netherlands 6, Nigeria 2, Norway 40, Poland 13, Qatar 4, Romania 2, Russia 94, Saudi Arabia 27, Singapore 32, Slovenia 3, Sweden 10, Switzerland 13, Taiwan 91, Turkey 7, Ukraine 25, UAE 23, UK 20, US 98, Uruguay 3, Vietnam 4) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)

total: 10,600 km
paved: 657 km
unpaved: 9,943 km (2000)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 51
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 38 (2007)

53 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
16 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 729,813
females age 16-49: 741,223 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 371,287
females age 16-49: 373,265 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL): Army, Navy, Air Force

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 30,448
female: 29,902 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
1.3% of GDP (2006 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
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 neighboring states who can no longer send their migrant workers to Ivorian cocoa plantations; UN sanctions ban Liberia from exporting diamonds and timber

Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 12,600 (Cote d'Ivoire)
IDPs: 13,000 (civil war from 1990-2004; IDP resettlement began in November 2004) (2007)

Illicit drugs:
transshipment point for Southeast and Southwest Asian heroin and South American cocaine for the European and US markets; corruption, criminal activity, arms-dealing, and diamond trade provide significant potential for money laundering, but the lack of well-developed financial system limits the country's utility as a major money-laundering center

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