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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. President TAYLOR, who won the 1997 presidential elections after an eight-year-long civil war, was never able to fully eliminate rebel groups that sought to oust him by force. Rebel attacks on Monrovia, coupled with two years of UN-imposed sanctions for TAYLOR'S meddling in Sierra Leone's civil war, finally prompted TAYLOR'S abdication from power in August 2003. A transitional government - composed of rebel, government, and civil society groups - assumed control in October 2003. Chairman Gyude BRYANT, who has a two-year mandate to oversee efforts to rebuild Liberia, heads the new government.
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 - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, 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
3,390,635 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 43.4% (male 742,508; female 730,677)
15-64 years: 52.9% (male 875,951; female 918,570)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 61,867; female 61,062) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 18.1 years
male: 17.7 years
female: 18.4 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.7% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
44.81 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
17.86 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: at least 200,000 Liberian refugees are in surrounding countries; the uncertain security situation has hindered their ability to return (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 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 (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 130.51 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 123.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 137.32 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 47.93 years
male: 46.9 years
female: 48.99 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
6.16 children born/woman (2004 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, 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
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Chairman Gyude BRYANT (since 14 October 2003); note - this is an interim position until presidential elections in 2005; the chairman is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: Chairman Gyude BRYANT (since 14 October 2003); note - this is an interim position until presidential elections in 2005; the chairman is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate; note - current cabinet positions are divided among groups participating in the Liberian peace process
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (renewable); election last held 19 July 1997 (next to be held NA October 2005)
note:: a UN-brokered cease-fire among warring factions and the Liberian government resulted in the August 2003 resignation of former president Charles TAYLOR; a jointly agreed upon replacement, Chairman Gyude BRYANT, assumed office as head 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 NA October 2005)
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 departure of the former president, Charles TAYLOR, to Nigeria in August 2003, the establishment of the all-inclusive National Transition Government of Liberia (NTGL), and the arrival of a UN mission are all encouraging signs that the political crisis is coming to an end. The restoration of infrastructure and the raising of incomes in this ravaged economy depend on the implementation of sound macro- and micro-economic policies, including the encouragement of foreign investment, and generous support from donor countries.
purchasing power parity - $3.261 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,000 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 76.9%
industry: 5.4%
services: 17.7% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
15% (2003 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 70%, industry 8%, services 22% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:
85% (2003 est.)
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 - imports:
Agriculture - products:
rubber, coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, sugarcane, bananas; sheep, goats; timber
$1.079 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
rubber, timber, iron, diamonds, cocoa, coffee
Exports - partners:
Germany 52.7%, France 8.2%, Poland 6.8%, Denmark 5.3%, China 4.7%, Italy 4.4%, US 4% (2002)
$5.051 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
fuels, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods; foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
South Korea 31.1%, Japan 19.5%, Germany 16%, France 9.3%, Singapore 8.1% (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 (2003), 61.75 (2002), 48.58 (2001), 40.95 (2000), 41.9 (1999)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Liberia
Telephones - main lines in use:
7,000 (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
2,000 (2001)
Telephone system:
general assessment: telephone and telegraph service via microwave radio relay network; main center is Monrovia
domestic: NA
international: country code - 231; 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:
1,000 (2002)
Transportation Liberia
total: 490 km
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
note: none of the railways are in operation (2002)
narrow gauge: 145 km 1.067-m gauge
total: 10,600 km
paved: 657 km
unpaved: 9,943 km (1999 est.)
Ports and harbors:
Buchanan, Greenville, Harper, Monrovia, Robertsport
Merchant marine:
total: 1,449 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 50,555,752 GRT/79,125,329 DWT
by type: bulk 278, cargo 67, chemical tanker 161, combination bulk 10, combination ore/oil 20, container 388, liquefied gas 77, multi-functional large load carrier 3, passenger 3, petroleum tanker 317, refrigerated cargo 62, roll on/roll off 14, short-sea/passenger 3, specialized tanker 13, vehicle carrier 33
registered in other countries: 35 (2003 est.)
foreign-owned: Argentina 9, Australia 3, Austria 16, Belgium 8, Bermuda 1, Brazil 5, Chile 7, China 40, Croatia 11, Cyprus 4, Denmark 4, Estonia 1, France 3, Germany 510, Greece 142, Hong Kong 56, Iceland 1, India 3, Indonesia 1, Israel 4, Italy 8, Japan 81, South Korea 7, Latvia 22, Isle of Man 5, Mexico 1, Monaco 59, Netherlands 11, Nigeria 2, Norway 54, Panama 1, Poland 2, Portugal 6, Russia 68, Saudi Arabia 23, Singapore 43, Slovenia 1, Spain 1, Sri Lanka 1, Sweden 9, Switzerland 7, Taiwan 36, Turkey 3, Ukraine 3, United Kingdom 36, United States 95, Uruguay 3
53 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 51
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 38 (2003 est.)
Military Liberia
Military branches:
Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL): Army, Navy, Air Force
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 752,943 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 406,293 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$10 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.3% (2003)
Transnational Issues Liberia
Disputes - international:
domestic fighting among disparate rebel groups, warlords, and youth gangs in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have created insurgencies, street violence, looting, arms trafficking, and ethnic conflicts and refugees in border areas; the Cote d'Ivoire 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