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Flag of Liberia
Map of Liberia
Introduction Liberia
Background:
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 assassinated President William TOLBERT (1971-80) and ushered in a decade of authoritarian rule followed by a prolonged civil war, in which DOE himself was killed. In August 2003, a comprehensive peace agreement ended 14 years of intermittent fighting and prompted the resignation of former president Charles TAYLOR, who was exiled to Nigeria. 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), which maintains a strong presence throughout the country, completed a disarmament program for former combatants in late 2004, but the security situation is still volatile and the process of rebuilding the social and economic structure of this war-torn country remains sluggish.
Geography Liberia
Location:
Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone
Geographic coordinates:
6 30 N, 9 30 W
Map references:
Africa
Area:
total: 111,370 sq km
land: 96,320 sq km
water: 15,050 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Tennessee
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: 3.43%
permanent crops: 1.98%
other: 94.59% (2005)
Irrigated land:
30 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
dust-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to March)
Environment - current issues:
tropical rain forest deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; pollution of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, 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 Liberia
Population:
3,042,004 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 43.1% (male 656,016/female 653,734)
15-64 years: 54.2% (male 816,443/female 832,152)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 40,591/female 43,068) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 18.1 years
male: 18 years
female: 18.3 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
4.91% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
44.77 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
23.1 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
27.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: at least 238,500 Liberian refugees are in surrounding countries; the uncertain security situation has hindered their ability to return (2006 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: 0.94 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 155.76 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 171.96 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 139.06 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 39.65 years
male: 37.99 years
female: 41.35 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
6.02 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
5.9% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
100,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
7,200 (2003 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 are high risks in some locations
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
aerosolized dust or soil contact disease: Lassa fever (2005)
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, 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)
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: 57.5%
male: 73.3%
female: 41.6% (2003 est.)
Government Liberia
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Liberia
conventional short form: Liberia
local long form: Republic of Liberia
local short form: Liberia
Government type:
republic
Capital:
name: Monrovia
geographic coordinates: 6 18 N, 10 47 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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
Independence:
26 July 1847
National holiday:
Independence Day, 26 July (1847)
Constitution:
6 January 1986
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
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
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 6 January 2006); note - the President is both the chief of state and head of government
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 NA 2011)
election results: Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF elected president; percent of vote, second round - Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF (UP) 59.6%, George WEAH (CDC) 40.4%
note: a UN-brokered cease-fire among warring factions and the Liberian Government resulted in the August 2003 resignation of former president, Charles TAYLOR; a jointly agreed upon replacement, Chairman Gyude BRYANT, assumed office as head of the National Transitional Government on 14 October 2003; free elections were held 11 October 2005, with a runoff election between the two leading candidates on 8 November 2005
Legislative branch:
bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (30 seats - 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 2014); House of Representatives - last held 11 October 2005 (next to be held NA 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, UP 8, COTOL 8, APD 5, NPP 4, other 15
note: the current six-year term for junior senators - those who received the second most votes in the election - is mandated by the Liberian constitution to stagger Senate elections and ensure continuity of government
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders:
Alliance for Peace and Democracy or APD [Togba-na TIPOTEH]; Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia or COTOL; Congress for Democratic Change or CDC [George WEAH]; Liberian Action Party or LAP [H. Varney SHERMAN]; Liberty Party or LP [Charles BRUMSKINE]; National Patriotic Party or NPP [Cyril ALLEN]; Unity Party or UP [Charles CLARKE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
NA
International organization participation:
ACP, AfDB, AU, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITU, NAM, OPCW (signatory), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Charles A. MINOR
chancery: 5201 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011
telephone: [1] (202) 723-0437
FAX: [1] (202) 723-0436
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Donald E. BOOTH
embassy: 111 United Nations Drive, P. O. Box 10-0098, Mamba Point, 1000 Monrovia, 10 Liberia
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [231] 226-370 through 226-380
FAX: [231] 226-148
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
Economy Liberia
Economy - overview:
Civil war and government mismanagement have destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially the infrastructure in and around Monrovia, while continued international sanctions on diamonds and timber exports will limit growth prospects for the foreseeable future. Many businessmen have fled the country, taking capital and expertise with them. Some have returned, but many will not. 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. The departure of the former president, Charles TAYLOR, to Nigeria in August 2003, the establishment of the all-inclusive Transitional Government, and the arrival of a UN mission have helped defuse the political crisis, but have done little to encourage economic development. Wealthy international donors, who are ready to assist reconstruction efforts, are withholding funding until Liberia's National Assembly signs onto a Governance and Economic Management Action Plan (GEMAP). The Plan was created in October 2005 by the International Contact Group for Liberia to help ensure transparent revenue collection and allocation - something that was lacking under the Transitional Government and that has limited Liberia's economic recovery. The reconstruction of infrastructure and the raising of incomes in this ravaged economy will largely depend on generous financial support and technical assistance from donor countries.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$2.755 billion (2005 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
NA
GDP - real growth rate:
8% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,000 (2005 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 76.9%
industry: 5.4%
services: 17.7% (2002 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 70%
industry: 8%
services: 22% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:
85% (2003 est.)
Population below poverty line:
80%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
15% (2003 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $85.4 million
expenditures: $90.5 million; including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
Agriculture - products:
rubber, coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, sugarcane, bananas; sheep, goats; timber
Industries:
rubber processing, palm oil processing, timber, diamonds
Industrial production growth rate:
NA%
Electricity - production:
509.4 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
473.8 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2003)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - consumption:
3,400 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2003 est.)
Exports:
$910 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
rubber, timber, iron, diamonds, cocoa, coffee
Exports - partners:
Belgium 44.3%, Spain 12.5%, US 9.7%, Thailand 4.9%, Poland 4.9%, Germany 4.7% (2005)
Imports:
$4.839 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
fuels, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods; foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
South Korea 38.4%, Japan 21.3%, Singapore 14.4%, Croatia 4.7% (2005)
Debt - external:
$3.2 billion (2005 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$94 million (1999)
Currency (code):
Liberian dollar (LRD)
Currency code:
LRD
Exchange rates:
Liberian dollars per US dollar - NA (2005), 54.906 (2004), 59.379 (2003), 61.754 (2002), 48.583 (2001)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Liberia
Telephones - main lines in use:
6,900 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
47,300 (2003)
Telephone system:
general assessment: the limited services available are found almost exclusively in the capital Monrovia
domestic: fully automatic system with very low density of .21 fixed main lines per 100 persons; limited wireless service available
international: country code - 231; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 0, FM 7, shortwave 2 (2001)
Radios:
790,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (plus four low-power repeaters) (2001)
Televisions:
70,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
.lr
Internet hosts:
5 (2005)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2001)
Internet users:
1,000 (2002)
Transportation Liberia
Airports:
53 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 51
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 38 (2006)
Railways:
total: 490 km
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 145 km 1.067-m gauge
note: railway is inoperable because of damage suffered during the civil war (2005)
Roadways:
total: 10,600 km
paved: 657 km
unpaved: 9,943 km (1999)
Merchant marine:
total: 1,533 ships (1000 GRT or over) 56,681,509 GRT/88,825,842 DWT
by type: barge carrier 9, bulk carrier 290, cargo 82, chemical tanker 189, combination ore/oil 14, container 409, liquefied gas 75, passenger 3, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 355, refrigerated cargo 55, roll on/roll off 6, specialized tanker 11, vehicle carrier 34
foreign-owned: 1,460 (Argentina 8, Australia 2, Austria 14, The Bahamas 2, Bermuda 1, Brazil 4, Canada 4, Chile 1, China 35, Croatia 6, Cyprus 6, Denmark 5, France 3, Germany 510, Greece 229, Hong Kong 40, India 4, Indonesia 1, Isle of Man 5, Israel 5, Italy 20, Japan 100, Kuwait 1, Latvia 17, Lebanon 1, Monaco 11, Netherlands 13, Norway 46, Poland 14, Russia 65, Saudi Arabia 24, Singapore 16, Slovenia 2, Sweden 8, Switzerland 7, Taiwan 68, Thailand 1, Turkey 2, Ukraine 15, UAE 15, UK 49, US 77, Uruguay 3) (2005)
Ports and terminals:
Buchanan, Monrovia
Military Liberia
Military branches:
Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL): Army, Navy, Air Force
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2001)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 575,384
females age 18-49: 588,780 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 267,430
females age 18-49: 286,231 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$67.4 million (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
7.5% (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Liberia
Disputes - international:
although Liberia's domestic fighting among disparate rebel groups, warlords, and youth gangs was declared over in 2003, civil unrest persists, and in 2004, 133,000 Liberian refugees remained in Guinea, 72,000 in Cote d'Ivoire, 67,000 in Sierra Leone, and 43,000 in Ghana; Liberia, in turn, shelters refugees fleeing turmoil in Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone; since 2003, the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has maintained about 18,000 peacekeepers in Liberia; the Cote d'Ivoire Government accuses Liberia of supporting Ivoirian rebels; UN sanctions ban Liberia from exporting diamonds and timber
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 13,941 (Sierra Leone) 12,408 (Cote d'Ivoire)
IDPs: 464,000 (civil war from 1990-2004; IDP resettlement began in November 2004) (2005)
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

This page was last updated on 19 September, 2006