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 descendents 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 himself was killed. A period of relative peace in 1997 allowed for elections 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 faces war crimes charges in The Hague related to 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. The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) maintains a strong presence throughout the country, but the security situation is still fragile and the process of rebuilding the social and economic structure of this war-torn country will take many years.
indigenous African 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)
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; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (30 seats; note - number of seats changed in 11 October 2005 elections; 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)
Senate - last held 11 October 2005 (next to be held in October 2011); House of Representatives - last held 11 October 2005 (next to be held in October 2011)
Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - COTOL 7, NPP 4, CDC 3, LP 3, UP 3, APD 3, other 7; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CDC 15, LP 9, COTOL 8, UP 8, APD 5, NPP 4, other 15
note:junior senators - those who received the second most votes in each county in the 11 October 2005 election - will only serve a six-year first term because the Liberian constitution mandates staggered Senate elections to ensure continuity of government; all senators will be eligible for nine-year terms thereafter
Alliance for Peace and Democracy or APD [Togba-na TIPOTEH]; Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia or COTOL [H. Varney SHERMAN]; Congress for Democratic Change or CDC [George WEAH]; Liberty Party or LP [Charles BRUMSKINE]; National Patriotic Party or NPP [Roland MASSAQUOI]; Unity Party or UP [Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF]
Civil war and government mismanagement destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially the infrastructure in and around the capital, Monrovia. Many businesses fled the country, taking capital and expertise with them, but with the conclusion of fighting and the installation of a democratically-elected government in 2006, some have returned. 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. President JOHNSON SIRLEAF, a Harvard-trained banker and administrator, has taken steps to reduce corruption, build support from international donors, and encourage private investment. Embargos on timber and diamond exports have been lifted, opening new sources of revenue for the government. The reconstruction of infrastructure and the raising of incomes in this ravaged economy will largely depend on generous financial and technical assistance from donor countries and foreign investment in key sectors, such as infrastructure and power generation.
general assessment: the limited services available are found almost exclusively in the capital Monrovia; coverage extended to a number of other towns and rural areas by four mobile-cellular network operators
fixed line service stagnant and extremely limited; mobile-cellular subscription base growing and teledensity exceeding 20 per 100 persons
country code - 231; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
barge carrier 3, bulk carrier 390, cargo 107, chemical tanker 241, combination ore/oil 7, container 750, liquefied gas 84, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 460, refrigerated cargo 103, roll on/roll off 7, specialized tanker 12, vehicle carrier 36
2,109 (Argentina 3, Belgium 4, Brazil 3, Canada 7, China 11, Croatia 2, Cyprus 63, Denmark 12, Estonia 1, France 5, Germany 849, Gibraltar 5, Greece 358, Hong Kong 44, India 2, Indonesia 2, Isle of Man 5, Israel 23, Italy 41, Japan 116, South Korea 3, Latvia 21, Lebanon 2, Mexico 2, Monaco 8, Netherlands 6, Nigeria 2, Norway 40, Poland 13, Qatar 4, Romania 2, Russia 94, Saudi Arabia 27, Singapore 32, Slovenia 3, Sweden 10, Switzerland 13, Taiwan 91, Turkey 7, Ukraine 25, UAE 23, UK 20, US 98, Uruguay 3, Vietnam 4) (2008)
although civil unrest continues to abate with the assistance of 18,000 UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) peacekeepers, as of January 2007, 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 (UNOCI) 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
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