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Brief History

Liberia, officially known as the Republic of Liberia, achieved its independence on July 26, 1847, when the Americo-Liberians were able to establish a republic. The longest serving president in Liberian history was William Tubman, serving from 1944 until his death in 1971 who worked to bridge socio-economic and political gaps. In 1980, a military coup led by Samuel Doe ushered in a decade of authoritarian rule. In late 1989, the First Liberian Civil War began and Doe was killed. Fighting broke out again in 2000, leading to a declaration of a state of emergency on 8 February 2002, and President Charles Taylor lifted the emergency in September 2002. An August 2003 peace agreement ended the war and prompted the resignation of former president Charles Taylor. 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 is present in the country to protect the fragile socio-economic situation of Liberia.

Geography

Liberia, capital Monrovia, is located on the west coast of Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean. It covers an area of 111,369 square kilometers. Liberia is bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Côte d'Ivoire. The climate is tropical, hot, and humid. Its winters are dry with hot days and cool to cold nights. Its summers are wet and cloudy with frequent heavy showers. Liberia's three largest rivers are St. Paul River, St. John River, and the Cestos River, all of which flow into the Atlantic. The Cavalla is the longest river in the nation. The country has some natural resources such as iron ore, timber, diamonds, gold, and hydropower.

People

Liberia has a population of 3,685,076 (2010). There are 16 indigenous ethnic groups and various foreign minorities. Indigenous peoples comprise about 95% of the population, the largest of which are the Kpelle. Americo-Liberians make up 2.5% and Congo people. The official language is English, and there are about 20 ethnic group languages used. The literacy rate is 57.5% (2003) and the unemployment rate is 85% (2003). Its religions are distributed among 40% Christians, 20% Muslims, and 40% followers of indigenous beliefs. Of the non-African resident population, the biggest component consists of Lebanese and Syrians.

Government

The government of Liberia is subject to a republic system. Its legal system is a 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. It accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations. Since January 16, 2006, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been both the chief of state and the head of government. The official currency is the Liberian dollar, where 71.00 dollars are equivalent to US$1.

Economy

Liberia is considered one of the world’s poorest countries, with 80% of the population living below the poverty line (2000), and with GDP per capita of US$500 (2009). Civil war and government mismanagement destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially the infrastructure. However, it has the distinction of having the highest ratio of direct foreign investment to GDP in the world.

The country has an agricultural economy employing 70% (2000) of the labor force and accounting for 76.9% (2002) of the GDP. Agricultural products include rubber, coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, sugarcane, bananas; sheep, goats, and timber.

The industrial sector 5.4% (2002), and it consists rubber processing, palm oil processing, timber, and diamonds. Timber exports were lifted, opening new sources of revenue for the government.

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. Liberia's undeveloped resources included barite, chromium, kyanite, manganese, nickel, palladium, platinum, titaniferous sands, and uranium. In 2002, Diamonds comprised the fourth-leading industry and export commodity in 2002. Diamond exports were lifted on April 27, 2007. Liberia also had significant reserves of moderate-grade iron ore, the country's third-leading export commodity.

Liberia has one of the world's largest national registries of ships, due to its status as a "flag of convenience".

The inflation rate is 11.2% (2007) and the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is estimated to be US$ 167.23 (2010).


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