Liberia

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Settlement of freed slaves from the US in what is today Liberia began in 1822; by 1847, the Americo-Liberians were able to establish a republic. William TUBMAN, president from 1944-71, did much to promote foreign investment and to bridge the economic, social, and political gaps between the descendants of the original settlers and the inhabitants of the interior. In 1980, a military coup led by Samuel DOE ushered in a decade of authoritarian rule. In December 1989, Charles TAYLOR launched a rebellion against DOE's regime that led to a prolonged civil war in which DOE was killed. A period of relative peace in 1997 allowed for an election that brought TAYLOR to power, but major fighting resumed in 2000. An August 2003 peace agreement ended the war and prompted the resignation of former president Charles TAYLOR, who was convicted by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague for his involvement in Sierra Leone's civil war. After two years of rule by a transitional government, democratic elections in late 2005 brought President Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF to power. She subsequently won reelection in 2011 and remains challenged to rebuild Liberia's economy, particularly following the 2014-15 Ebola epidemic, and to reconcile a nation still recovering from 14 years of fighting. The UN Security Council in September 2015 passed Resolution 2239, which extends the mandate for the UN Mission in Liberia through September 2016, decreases UN forces by June 2016 and challenges Liberia's security sector to fill the gaps.

Geography

Location

Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone

Geographic coordinates

6.30° N, 9.30° W

Area 104/257

total: 111,369 sq km

land: 96,320 sq km

water: 15,049 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Tennessee

Land boundaries

total: 1,667 km

border countries (3): Guinea 590 km, Cote d'Ivoire 778 km, Sierra Leone 299 km

Coastline

579 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 200 nm

Climate

tropical; hot, humid; dry winters with hot days and cool to cold nights; wet, cloudy summers with frequent heavy showers

Terrain

mostly flat to rolling coastal plains rising to rolling plateau and low mountains in northeast

Elevation

mean elevation:

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

agricultural land: 28.1%

arable land 5.2%; permanent crops 2.1%; permanent pasture 20.8%

forest: 44.6%

other: 27.3% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

30 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

232 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 0.13 cu km/yr (55%/37%/8%)

per capita: 43.66 cu m/yr (2005)

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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, 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 and Society

Nationality

noun: Liberian(s)

adjective: Liberian

Ethnic groups

Kpelle 20.3%, Bassa 13.4%, Grebo 10%, Gio 8%, Mano 7.9%, Kru 6%, Lorma 5.1%, Kissi 4.8%, Gola 4.4%, other 20.1% (2008 Census)

Languages

English 20% (official), some 20 ethnic group languages few of which can be written or used in correspondence

Religions

Christian 85.6%, Muslim 12.2%, Traditional 0.6%, other 0.2%, none 1.4% (2008 Census)

Population 128/238

4,195,666 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 42.75% (male 904,495/female 889,198)

15-24 years: 18.3% (male 376,224/female 391,568)

25-54 years: 31.51% (male 658,291/female 663,954)

55-64 years: 4.3% (male 87,606/female 92,831)

65 years and over: 3.13% (male 64,697/female 66,802) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 82.9%

youth dependency ratio: 77.4%

elderly dependency ratio: 5.5%

potential support ratio: 18.2% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 18.1 years

male: 17.9 years

female: 18.3 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 24/233

2.47% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 26/224

34.41 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 51/225

9.69 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 91/222

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 49.7% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 3.36% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

MONROVIA (capital) 1.264 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.97 male(s)/female

total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19

note: median age at first birth among women 20-24 (2013 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 8/184

725 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 15/224

total: 67.5 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 71.71 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 63.16 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 201/224

total population: 58.6 years

male: 56.94 years

female: 60.32 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 21/224

4.7 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

20.2% (2013)

Health expenditures 3/191

10% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

0.01 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density

0.8 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 88.6% of population

rural: 62.6% of population

total: 75.6% of population

unimproved:

urban: 11.4% of population

rural: 37.4% of population

total: 24.4% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 28% of population

rural: 5.9% of population

total: 16.9% of population

unimproved:

urban: 72% of population

rural: 94.1% of population

total: 83.1% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

1.17% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

33,100 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

2,000 (2014 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 161/191

5.8% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 28/138

15.3% (2013)

Education expenditures 144/173

2.8% of GDP (2012)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 126/134

total: 5.1%

male: 3.4%

female: 6.6% (2010 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Liberia

conventional short form: Liberia

etymology: name derives from the Latin word "liber" meaning "free"; so named because the nation was created as a homeland for liberated African-American slaves

Government type

republic

Capital

name: Monrovia

geographic coordinates: 6.18° N, 10.48° W

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

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

Independence

26 July 1847

National holiday

Independence Day, 26 July (1847)

Constitution

previous 1847 (at independence); latest drafted 19 October 1983, revised version adopted by referendum 3 July 1984, effective 6 January 1986; amended 2011; note - a series of amendment proposals approved by the Constitution Review Conference in early 2015 are pending government review (2015)

Legal system

mixed legal system of common law (based on Anglo-American law) and customary law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Liberia

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 2 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF (since 16 January 2006); Vice President Joseph BOAKAI (since 16 January 2006); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF (since 16 January 2006); Vice President Joseph BOAKAI (since 16 January 2006)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president, confirmed by the Senate

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 6-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 11 October and 8 November 2011 (next to be held in 2017)

election results: Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF reelected president; percent of vote in second round - Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF (UP) 90.7%, Winston TUBMAN (NDPL) 9.3%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (30 seats; members directly elected in 15 two-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 9-year staggered terms with half the membership renewed at 3- and 6-year intervals; eligible for a second term; and the House of Representatives (73 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 6-year terms; eligible for a second term)

elections: Senate - last held on 20 December 2014 (originally scheduled for 14 October 2014, but postponed due to Ebola-virus epidemic; next to be held in fall 2020); House of Representatives - last held on 11 October 2011 (next to be held in 2017)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - CDC 29.8%, LP 11.5%, NPP 6.1%, PUP 4.9%, NDC 1.3%, other parties 11.8%, independent 24.3%; seats by party - UP 4, CDC 2, LP 2, ANC 1, NDC 1, NPP 1, PUP 1, independent 3; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - UP 17.8%, CDC 12.8%, LP 9.2%, NDC 5.7%, LTP 4.5%, PUP 3.9%, NPP 3.3%, MPC 2.4%, LDP 1.0%, NRP 0.8%, other parties 16.8% independent 19.7% ; seats by party - UP 24, CDC 11, LP 7, PUP 6, NDC 5, APD 3, NPP 3, MPC 2, LDP 1, LTP 1, NRP 1, independent 9

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of a chief justice and 4 associate justices); note - the Supreme Court has jurisdiction for all constitutional cases

judge selection and term of office: chief justice and associate justices appointed by the president of Liberia with consent of the Senate; judges can serve until age 70

subordinate courts: judicial circuit courts; special courts including criminal, civil, labor, traffic; magistrate and traditional or customary courts

Political parties and leaders

Alliance for Peace and Democracy or APD [Marcus S. G. DAHN]

Alternative National Congress or ANC [Orishil GOULD]

Congress for Democratic Change or CDC [George WEAH]

Liberia Destiny Party or LDP [Nathaniel BARNES]

Liberia Transformation Party or LTP [Julius SUKU]

Liberty Party or LP [J. Fonati KOFFA]

Movement for Progressive Change or MPC [Simeon FREEMAN]

National Democratic Coalition or NDC [Dew MAYSON]

National Democratic Party of Liberia or NDPL [D. Nyandeh SIEH]

National Patriotic Party or NPP

National Reformist Party or NRP [Maximillian T. W. DIABE]

National Union for Democratic Progress or NUDP [Victor BARNEY]

People's Unification Party [Isobe GBORKORKOLLIE]

Unity Party or UP [Varney SHERMAN]

Political pressure groups and leaders

other: demobilized former military officers

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AU, ECOWAS, EITI (compliant country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSMA, NAM, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)

Flag description

11 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a white five-pointed star appears on a blue square in the upper hoist-side corner; the stripes symbolize the signatories of the Liberian Declaration of Independence; the blue square represents the African mainland, and the star represents the freedom granted to the ex-slaves; according to the constitution, the blue color signifies liberty, justice, and fidelity, the white color purity, cleanliness, and guilelessness, and the red color steadfastness, valor, and fervor

note: the design is based on the US flag

National symbol(s)

white star; national colors: red, white, blue

National anthem

name: "All Hail, Liberia Hail!"

lyrics/music: Daniel Bashiel WARNER/Olmstead LUCA

note: lyrics adopted 1847, music adopted 1860; the anthem's author later became the third president of Liberia

Economy

Economy - overview

Liberia is a low income country that relies heavily on foreign assistance. It is richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture. Its principal exports are iron ore, rubber, gold and timber. The Government has attempted to revive raw timber extraction and is encouraging oil exploration. In the 1990s and early 2000s, civil war and government mismanagement destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially infrastructure in and around the capital. With the conclusion of fighting and the installation of a democratically elected government in 2006, businesses that had fled the country began to return. The country achieved high growth during 2010-13 due to favorable world prices for its commodities. However, in 2014 as the Ebolavirus began to spread, the economy declined and many businesses departed, taking capital and expertise with them. The epidemic forced the government to divert scarce resources to combat the spread of the virus, reducing funds available for needed public investment. Revitalizing the economy in the future will depend on increasing investment and trade, higher global commodity prices, sustained foreign aid and remittances, development of infrastructure and institutions, and maintaining political stability and security. The cost of addressing the Ebola epidemic will weigh heavily on public finances at the same time decreased economic activity reduces government revenue, although higher donor support will partly offset this loss.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 179/230

$3.78 billion (2015 est.)

$3.747 billion (2014 est.)

$3.722 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.015 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 184/225

0.9% (2015 est.)

0.7% (2014 est.)

8.7% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 224/230

$900 (2015 est.)

$900 (2014 est.)

$900 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving

NA% (2014 est.)

-35% of GDP (2013 est.)

-2.3% of GDP (2012 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 116.3%

government consumption: 20.7%

investment in fixed capital: 25.4%

investment in inventories: -5.2%

exports of goods and services: 32.4%

imports of goods and services: -89.5%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 36%

industry: 16%

services: 48% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

rubber, coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava (manioc, tapioca), palm oil, sugarcane, bananas; sheep, goats; timber

Industries

mining (iron ore), rubber processing, palm oil processing, timber, diamonds

Industrial production growth rate 166/202

-0.5% (2015 est.)

Labor force 130/233

1.6 million (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 70%

industry: 8%

services: 22% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate 206/207

85% (2003 est.)

Population below poverty line

63.8% (2007 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.4%

highest 10%: 30.1% (2007)

Budget

revenues: $681.5 million

expenditures: $809.2 million (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 71/219

33.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 184/220

-6.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 173/176

6.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

0.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 199/226

8.2% (2015 est.)

9.8% (2014 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 47/184

14.2% (31 December 2015 est.)

13.5% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 167/192

$444.1 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$449.7 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 175/193

$738.7 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$656 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 168/191

$558.3 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$678.8 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$NA

Current account balance 113/197

-$839 million (2015 est.)

-$578 million (2014 est.)

Exports 177/224

$440.1 million (2015 est.)

$468.2 million (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

rubber, timber, iron, diamonds, cocoa, coffee

Exports - partners

China 31.9%, Greece 8.8%, US 8.6%, Germany 8.2%, France 7.3%, Spain 4.8% (2014)

Imports 174/223

$1.21 billion (2015 est.)

$1.052 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

fuels, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods; foodstuffs

Imports - partners

Singapore 33.9%, South Korea 25.6%, China 14.7%, Japan 9.1% (2014)

Debt - external 174/206

$652.2 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$541.5 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 83/120

$17.01 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$16.56 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 91/105

$201 million (31 December 2013 est.)

$201 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates

Liberian dollars (LRD) per US dollar -

86.13 (2015 est.)

83.89 (2014 est.)

83.89 (2013 est.)

73.52 (2012 est.)

72.23 (2011 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production 179/220

300 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 184/219

276.9 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 161/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 170/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 202/214

23,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 17/214

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 129/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 182/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 194/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 158/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 151/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 214/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 157/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 202/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 176/212

3,750 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 195/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 168/213

3,750 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 213/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 164/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 135/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 92/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 161/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 179/212

541,600 Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 198/219

total subscriptions: 10,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 136/217

total: 3.2 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 79 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: the limited services available are found almost exclusively in the capital, Monrovia; fixed-line service stagnant and extremely limited; telephone coverage extended to a number of other towns and rural areas by four mobile-cellular network operators

domestic: mobile-cellular subscription base growing and teledensity reached 50 per 100 persons in 2011

international: country code - 231; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2010)

Broadcast media

3 private TV stations; satellite TV service available; 1 state-owned radio station; about 15 independent radio stations broadcasting in Monrovia, with another 25 local stations operating in other areas; transmissions of 2 international broadcasters are available (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 0, FM 10, shortwave 2 (2007)

Television broadcast stations

5 (plus 4 repeaters) (2007)

Internet country code

.lr

Internet hosts 228/232

7 (2012)

Internet users 158/217

total: 177,600

percent of population: 4.3% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 117/236

29 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2

over 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 27

1,524 to 2,437 m: 5

914 to 1,523 m: 8

under 914 m: 14 (2013)

Pipelines

oil 4 km (2013)

Railways 116/136

total: 429 km

standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge

narrow gauge: 84 km 1.067-m gauge

note: most sections of the railways inoperable due to damage sustained during the civil wars from 1980 to 2003, but many are being rebuilt (2008)

Roadways 134/223

total: 10,600 km

paved: 657 km

unpaved: 9,943 km (2000)

Merchant marine 2/156

total: 2,771

by type: barge carrier 5, bulk carrier 662, cargo 143, carrier 2, chemical tanker 248, combination ore/oil 8, container 937, liquefied gas 92, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 526, refrigerated cargo 102, roll on/roll off 5, specialized tanker 10, vehicle carrier 27

foreign-owned: 2,581 (Angola 1, Argentina 1, Australia 1, Belgium 1, Bermuda 4, Brazil 20, Canada 2, Chile 9, China 4, Croatia 1, Cyprus 9, Denmark 8, Egypt 3, Germany 1185, Gibraltar 5, Greece 505, Hong Kong 48, India 8, Indonesia 4, Israel 34, Italy 47, Japan 110, Latvia 5, Lebanon 1, Monaco 8, Netherlands 31, Nigeria 4, Norway 38, Poland 13, Qatar 5, Romania 3, Russia 109, Saudi Arabia 20, Singapore 22, Slovenia 7, South Korea 2, Sweden 12, Switzerland 25, Syria 1, Taiwan 94, Turkey 16, UAE 37, UK 32, Ukraine 10, Uruguay 1, US 53) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Buchanan, Monrovia

Military and Security

Military branches

Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL): Army, Navy, Air Force

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2012)

Military expenditures 114/132

0.82% of GDP (2012)

0.86% of GDP (2011)

0.82% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

although civil unrest continues to abate with the assistance of 6,500 UN Mission in Liberia peacekeepers, as of January 2013, Liberian refugees still remain in Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and Ghana; Liberia, in turn, shelters refugees fleeing turmoil in Cote d'Ivoire; despite the presence of over 9,000 UN forces in Cote d'Ivoire since 2004, ethnic conflict continues to spread into neighboring states who can no longer send their migrant workers to Ivorian cocoa plantations; UN sanctions ban Liberia from exporting diamonds and timber

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 38,090 (Cote d'Ivoire) (2015)

IDPs: up to 23,000 (civil war from 1990-2004; post-election violence in March and April 2011; many dwell in slums in Monrovia) (2014)

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