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Map of Liberia
Introduction Liberia
Eight years of civil strife were brought to a close in 1997 when free and open presidential and legislative elections were held. President TAYLOR now holds strong executive power with no real political opposition. 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 arms embargo and a travel ban on government officials, for Liberia's support of the rebel insurgency in Sierra Leone. Renewed rebel activity has further eroded stability and economic activity. A regional peace initiative commenced in the spring of 2003 but was disrupted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) indictment of President TAYLOR on war crimes charges.
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
3,317,176 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 43.4% (male 724,960; female 716,831)
15-64 years: 53% (male 858,191; female 898,851)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 59,539; female 58,804) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 18.1 years
male: 17.7 years
female: 18.4 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
1.67% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
45.28 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
17.84 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
-10.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: 200,000 Liberian refugees are in surrounding countries though slowly returning (2003 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: 1.01 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 132.18 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 125.11 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 139.03 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 48.15 years
male: 47.03 years
female: 49.3 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
6.23 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
9% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
125,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
5,000 (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: 57.5%
male: 73.3%
female: 41.6%
note: (2003 est.)
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 Gyude BRYANT (since 14 October 2003); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Gyude BRYANT (since 14 October 2003); 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 2005)
note:: a UN-brokered cease fire among waring factions and the Liberian government resulted in the August 2003 resignation of former president Charles TAYLOR; a jointly agreed upon replacement, President Gyude BRYANT, assumed office as chairman of the National Transitional Government on 14 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%; note - Taylor stepped down in August 2003
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)
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
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 14 October 2003)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders:
Alliance of Political Parties (a coalition of LAP and LUP) [leader NA]; All Liberia Coalition Party or ALCOP [Peter KERBAY]; Liberian Action Party or LAP [C. Gyude BRYANT]; Liberian People's Party or LPP [Koffa NAGBE]; Liberia Unification Party or LUP [leader NA]; National Patriotic Party or NPP [Cyril ALLEN] - governing party; 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 (vacant); Charge D'Affaires Aaron B. KOLLIE
chancery: 5201 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011
consulate(s) general: New York
FAX: [1] (202) 723-0436
telephone: [1] (202) 723-0437
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:
Civil war and misgovernment have destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially the infrastructure in and around Monrovia. Many businessmen have fled the country, taking capital and expertise with them. Some have returned; 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 restoration of the infrastructure and the raising of incomes in this ravaged economy depend on the settlement of civil warfare, the implementation of sound macro- and micro-economic policies, including the encouragement of foreign investment, and generous support from donor countries.
purchasing power parity - $3.116 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,000 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 74%
industry: 7%
services: 19% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
15% (2002 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:
468.8 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
435.9 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
3,100 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Agriculture - products:
rubber, coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, sugarcane, bananas; sheep, goats; timber
$110 million f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
rubber, timber, iron, diamonds, cocoa, coffee
Exports - partners:
Germany 54.8%, Poland 8.9%, France 8.5%, China 4.9%, Italy 4.5%, US 4.2% (2002)
$165 million f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
fuels, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods; foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
South Korea 30.3%, Japan 19.1%, Germany 15.6%, France 9.1%, Singapore 7.9% (2002)
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 - NA (2002), 48.58 (2001), 40.95 (2000), 41.9 (1999), 41.51 (1998)
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
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 145 km 1.067-m gauge
note: none of the railways are in operation (2002)
total: 10,600 km
paved: 657 km
unpaved: 9,943 km (1999 est.)
Ports and harbors:
Buchanan, Greenville, Harper, Monrovia, Robertsport
Merchant marine:
total: 1,432 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 48,700,851 GRT/75,408,994 DWT
ships by type: barge carrier 3, bulk 282, cargo 80, chemical tanker 163, combination bulk 12, combination ore/oil 24, container 357, liquefied gas 82, multi-functional large-load carrier 4, passenger 6, petroleum tanker 286, refrigerated cargo 60, roll on/roll off 19, short-sea passenger 4, specialized tanker 13, vehicle carrier 37
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, Isle of Man 5, Monaco 56, Netherlands 12, NZ 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, UAE 12, UK 39, US 113, Uruguay 3, Vietnam 1 (2002 est.)
47 (2002)
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: 735,481 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 396,725 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$7.8 million (FY02)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.3% (FY02)
Transnational Issues Liberia
Disputes - international:
rebels and refugees contribute to border instabilities with Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, and Guinea; the Ivorian Government accuses Liberia of supporting Ivorian rebels
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