Flag of Liberia

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In August 2003, a comprehensive peace agreement ended 14 years of civil war 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 legislative and presidential polls were broadly deemed free and fair despite fraud allegations from JOHNSON-SIRLEAF's rival George WEAH. 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.


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

Geographic coordinates:

6 30 N, 9 30 W


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


579 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 200 nm


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

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

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


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.)

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)


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)


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


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


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

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Liberia
conventional short form: Liberia

Government type:




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


26 July 1847

National holiday:

Independence Day, 26 July (1847)


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


18 years of age; universal

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

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 diffuse 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):

$2.598 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

8% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$900 (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:


Inflation rate (consumer prices):

15% (2003 est.)


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


rubber processing, palm oil processing, timber, diamonds

Electricity - production:

509.4 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

473.8 million kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

3,400 bbl/day (2003 est.)


$910 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities:

rubber, timber, iron, diamonds, cocoa, coffee

Exports - partners:

Denmark 28%, Germany 18%, Poland 13.6%, US 8.5%, Greece 7.6%, Thailand 4.8% (2004)


$4.839 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities:

fuels, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods; foodstuffs

Imports - partners:

South Korea 38.6%, Japan 21.1%, Singapore 12.2%, Croatia 5.3%, Germany 4.2% (2004)

Debt - external:

$3.2 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$94 million (1999)

Currency (code):

Liberian dollar (LRD)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

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)

Television broadcast stations:

1 (plus four low-power repeaters) (2001)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

5 (2005)

Internet users:

1,000 (2002)


53 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 51
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 38 (2005)


total: 490 km
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 145 km 1.067-m gauge
note: none of the railways are in operation because of the civil war (2004)


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 branches:

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

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