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Flag of Liberia
Map of Liberia
Introduction Liberia
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.
Geography Liberia
Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone
Geographic coordinates:
6 30 N, 9 30 W
Map references:
total: 111,370 sq km
water: 15,050 sq km
land: 96,320 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
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: 1.97%
permanent crops: 2.08%
other: 95.95% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
30 sq km (1998 est.)
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, Desertification, Endangered Species, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, 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
3,288,198 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 43.3% (male 714,563; female 709,582)
15-64 years: 53.2% (male 854,324; female 894,753)
65 years and over: 3.5% (male 57,925; female 57,051) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.91% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
45.95 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
16.05 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-10.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: by the end of 1999, all Liberian refugees who had fled the domestic strife were assumed to have returned (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.02 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
130.21 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 51.8 years
female: 53.33 years (2002 est.)
male: 50.33 years
Total fertility rate:
6.29 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
9% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
125,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
13,000 (2001 est.)
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: 38.3%
male: 53.9%
female: 22.4% (1995 est.)
note: these figures are increasing because of the improving school system
Government Liberia
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Liberia
conventional short form: Liberia
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
15 counties; Bomi, Bong, Gparbolu, 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
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Charles Ghankay TAYLOR (since 2 August 1997); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Charles Ghankay TAYLOR (since 2 August 1997); 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 (renewable); election last held 19 July 1997 (next to be held NA October 2003)
election results: Charles Ghankay TAYLOR elected president; percent of vote - Charles Ghankay TAYLOR (NPP) 75.3%, Ellen Johnson SIRLEAF (UP) 9.6%, Alhaji KROMAH (ALCOP) 4%, other 11.1%
Legislative branch:
bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (26 seats; 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 19 July 1997 (next to be held NA 2006); House of Representatives - last held 19 July 1997 (next to be held NA 2003)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NPP 21, UP 3, ALCOP 2; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NPP 49, UP 7, ALCOP 3, Alliance of Political Parties 2, UPP 2, LPP 1; note - the Alliance of Political Parties was a coalition of the LAP and the Liberia Unification Party or LUP
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders:
All Liberia Coalition Party or ALCOP [Peter KERBAY]; Free Democratic Party or FDP [George BORWAH]; Liberian Action Party or LAP [C. Gyude BRYANT]; Liberian National Union or LINU [Victor MOMOH]; Liberian People's Party or LPP [Koffa NAGBE]; National Democratic Party of Liberia or NDPL [Isaac D. DIKENAH]; National Patriotic Party or NPP [Cyril ALLEN] - governing party; People's Progressive Party or PPP [Weah A. WEAH]; Reformation Alliance Party or RAP [James THOMAS]; True Whig Party or TWP [Rudolph SHERMAN]; United People's Party or UPP [Wesley JOHNSON]; Unity Party or UP [Charles Clarke]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador William V. S. BULL
consulate(s) general: New York
FAX: [1] (202) 723-0436
telephone: [1] (202) 723-0437
chancery: 5201 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador John William BLANEY III
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:
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.
purchasing power parity - $3.6 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
5% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,100 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 60%
industry: 10%
services: 30% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
8% (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 70%, industry 8%, services 22% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $85.4 million
expenditures: $90.5 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
rubber processing, palm oil processing, timber, diamonds
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
450 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
418.5 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
rubber, coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, sugarcane, bananas; sheep, goats; timber
$55 million f.o.b. (2000 est.)
Exports - commodities:
rubber, timber, iron, diamonds, cocoa, coffee
Exports - partners:
Belgium 38.5%, Germany 17.6%, Italy 6.0%, US 5.8% (2000)
$170 million f.o.b. (2000 est.)
Imports - commodities:
fuels, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods; rice and other foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
France 29.1%, South Korea 20.6%, Japan 15.8%, Singapore 8.4% (2000)
Debt - external:
$2.1 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$94 million (1999)
Liberian dollar (LRD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Liberian dollars per US dollar - 46.0400 (December 2001), 48.5833 (2001), 40.9525 (2000), 41.9025 (1999), 41.5075 (1998), 1.0000 (officially fixed rate 1940-97); market exchange rate: Liberian dollars per US dollar - 40 (December 1998), 50 (October 1995)
note: until December 1997, rates were based on a fixed relationship with the US dollar; beginning in January 1998, rates are market determined
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Liberia
Telephones - main lines in use:
6,700 (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
0 (1998)
Telephone system:
general assessment: telephone and telegraph service via microwave radio relay network; main center is Monrovia
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 0, FM 7, shortwave 2 (2001)
790,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (plus four low-power repeaters) (2001)
70,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2001)
Internet users:
500 (2000)
Transportation Liberia
total: 490 km (328 km single-track)
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
note: in 1989, Liberia had three rail systems owned and operated by foreign steel and financial interests in conjunction with the Liberian Government; one of these, the Lamco Railroad, closed in 1989 after iron ore production ceased; the other two were shut down by the civil war; large sections of the rail lines have been dismantled; approximately 60 km of railroad track was exported for scrap (2001)
narrow gauge: 145 km 1.067-m gauge
total: 10,600 km
paved: 657 km
unpaved: 9,943 km
note: there is major deterioration on all highways due to heavy rains and lack of maintenance (1996 est.)
Ports and harbors:
Buchanan, Greenville, Harper, Monrovia
Merchant marine:
total: 1,513 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 51,912,244 GRT/79,297,046 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Argentina 9, Australia 2, Austria 15, Belgium 9, Brazil 5, Canada 4, Cayman Islands 1, Chile 7, China 39, Croatia 11, Denmark 4, Ecuador 1, Estonia 1, Germany 437, Greece 154, Hong Kong 69, India 5, Indonesia 1, Israel 1, Italy 5, Japan 90, Latvia 20, Man, Isle of 5, Monaco 56, Netherlands 12, New Zealand 1, Nigeria 1, Norway 103, Pakistan 1, Portugal 5, Russia 66, Saudi Arabia 21, Singapore 20, Slovenia 1, South Africa 1, South Korea 10, Spain 2, Sweden 9, Switzerland 17, Taiwan 29, Turkey 3, Ukraine 4, United Arab Emirates 12, United Kingdom 39, United States 113, Uruguay 3, Vietnam 1 (2002 est.)
ships by type: barge carrier 3, bulk 313, cargo 89, chemical tanker 167, combination bulk 16, combination ore/oil 32, container 318, liquefied gas 99, multi-functional large-load carrier 4, passenger 23, petroleum tanker 302, refrigerated cargo 69, roll on/roll off 20, short-sea passenger 3, specialized tanker 13, vehicle carrier 42
47 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 45
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 34 (2002)
Military Liberia
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Air Force
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 729,469 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 393,028 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$7.8 million (FY01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.3% (FY01)
Transnational Issues Liberia
Disputes - international:
rebels and refugees contribute to border instabilities with Sierra Leone
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 March 2003