|General 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. In 2001, the UN imposed sanctions
on Liberian diamonds along with an army embargo and
a travel ban on government officials for Liberia's support
of the rebel insurgency in Sierra Leone.
comparative: Slightly larger than Tennessee.
Climate: Tropical; hot, humid; dry winters
with hot days and cool to cold nights; wet, cloudy summers
with frequent heavy showers.
Mostly flat to rolling coastal plains rising to rolling
plateau and low mountains in northeast.
Population: 3,288,198 (July 2002 est.)
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%
Language: English 20% (official), some 20
ethnic group languages, of which a few can be written
and are used in correspondence.
Government type: Republic
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.
Economic overview: A civil war in 1989-96
destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially the
infrastructure in and around Monrovia. Many businessmen
fled the country, taking capital and expertise with
them. Some returned; many will not return. Richly
endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and
a climate favorable to agriculture, Liberia had been
a producer and exporter of basic products, while local
manufacturing, mainly foreign owned, had been small
in scope. The democratically elected government, installed
in August 1997, inherited massive international debts
and currently relies on revenues from its maritime
registry and timber industry to provide the bulk of
its foreign exchange earnings. The restoration of
the infrastructure and the raising of incomes in this
ravaged economy depend on the implementation of sound
macro- and micro-economic policies of the new government,
including the encouragement of foreign investment.
Recent growth has been from a low base, and continued
growth will require major policy successes and containment
of armed rebellion.
Communication/Telephone system: Telephone and
telegraph service via microwave radio relay network;
main center is Monrovia.
Places of interest:
Travel tips: Liberia is a war torn and dangerous
country to visit.