Facts about Liberia

Official language: non, de facto english and different dialects of the counties

Form of government: republic

System of government: presidential republic

President: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Country area: 97.079 km²

Population: 3.476.608 Mio (Zensus 2008)

Population density: 35,81 citizens per km²

Poverty line: about 80% of the population lived under the line of poverty in 2008. Unemployment is at 85%, only about 15% of the population has a regular job.

Malnutrition:  35% of the population suffered under malnutrition in 2008

In 1820, the American Colonization Society (ACS) began sending black volunteers to the Pepper Coast to establish a colony for freed American blacks. These free African Americans came to identify themselves as Americo-Liberian, developing a cultural tradition infused with American notions of racial supremacy, and political republicanism. On July 26, 1847, the settlers issued a Declaration of Independence and promulgated aconstitution, which, based on the political principles denoted in the United States Constitution, created the independent Republic of Liberia.

During the 19th century  the seaport Monrovia developed to a important junction in maritime traffic. After the congoconference in Berlin from 1884-1885 parts of the Country had to be handed out to France. The influence of the USA prevented a complete annexiation.

The african citizens obtained civil rights in 1904 and the right to vote in 1907. In 1926 the US Companies Firestone and Goodrich Corporation became parts of the country for rubber plantations for 99 years. In Liberia Firestone established the biggest rubber plantations of the world. In 1950, rubber held 90% of the total export volume of Liberia. There was a total economic dependency of Liberia from the United Staates of America. The increase of the prize of rice sparked nationwide demonstrations and unrests.

On April 12, 1980, a military coup led by Master Sergeant Samuel Doe of the Krahn ethnic group overthrew and killed President William R. Tolbert, Jr.. Doe and the other plotters later executed a majority of Tolbert’s cabinet and other Americo-Liberian government officials and True Whig Party members.  The National Patriotic Front of Liberia, a rebel group led by Charles Taylor, launched an insurrection in December 1989 against Doe’s government with the backing of neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, triggering the First Liberian Civil War. By September 1990, Doe’s forces controlled only a small area just outside the capital, and Doe was captured and executed that month by rebel forces. The rebels soon split into various factions fighting one another, and the Economic Community Monitoring Groupunder the Economic Community of West African States organized a military task force to intervene in the crisis. From 1989 to 1996 one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars ensued, claiming the lives of more than 200,000 Liberians and displacing a million others into refugee camps in neighboring countries.

A peace deal between warring parties was reached in 1995 leading to Taylor’s election as president in 1997. Under Taylor’s leadership, Liberia became internationally known as a pariah state due to his use of blood diamonds and illegal timberexports to fund the Revolutionary United Front in the Sierra Leone Civil War. The Second Liberian Civil War began in 1999 whenLiberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, a rebel group based in the northwest of the country, launched an armed insurrection against Taylor. In March 2003, a second rebel group, Movement for Democracy in Liberia, began launching attacks against Taylor from the southeast. Peace talks between the factions began in Accra in June of that year, and Taylor was indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for crimes against humanity that same month. By July 2003, the rebels had launched an assault on Monrovia. Under heavy pressure from the international community and the domestic Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peacemovement, Taylor resigned in August and went into exile in Nigeria, and a peace deal was signed later that month. The United Nations Mission in Liberia began arriving in September 2003 to provide security and monitor the peace accord, and an interim government took power the following October.

The subsequent 2005 elections were internationally regarded as the most free and fair in Liberian history. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Harvard-trained economist and former Minister of Finance, was elected as the first female president in Africa. Upon her inauguration, Sirleaf requested the extradition of Taylor from Nigeria and immediately handed him over to the SCSL for trial in The Hague where he was send to prison for 50 years in 2012 for crimes against humanity during his participation at the civil war in Sierra Leone.

The economic situation of Liberia is nine years after the end of the civil war still largely underdeveloped. The complete material and institutional  infrastructure of the Country was demolished (Streets, water and electricity supply, telecommunication, schools, hospitals) and are build up again in approaches. Many business people have left Liberia during the war and did not came back. By this the land has lost capital and important talents who are missing now during reconstruction.

The economic potential of Liberia is high. There is no lack of water and the soils are fertile why sustainable agriculture is possible. Also has Liberia significant natural resources, especially rubber, gold, diamonds, wood and iron. The prospects of the economic recovery depend on a on going peaceful development of the freely elected government under the president Ellen J. Sirleaf who was confirmed for a second legaslatue in 2011. The mandate of the United nations peace corps was extended by the UN Safety Council until 2012 (8.000 Soldiers).

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