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Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West African coast. Liberia means "Land of the Free" in Latin. It is bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north and Ivory Coast to its east. It covers an area of 111,369 square kilometers (43,000 sq. mi) and has a population of 4,503,000 people. English is the official language and over 20 indigenous languages are spoken, representing the numerous tribes who make up more than 95% of the population. The country's capital and largest city are Monrovia.
Forests on the coastline are composed mostly of salt-tolerant mangrove trees, while the more sparsely populated inland has forests opening onto a plateau of drier grasslands. The climate is equatorial, with significant rainfall during the May–October rainy season and harsh harmattan wind the remainder of the year. Liberia possesses about forty percent of the remaining Upper Guinean rainforest. It was an important producer of rubber in the early 20th century.
Liberia's financial system is shallow and remains vulnerable to political and economic instability. Financial intermediation is low while the high cost of credit and scarce access to financing, particularly in the case of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), continues to impede entrepreneurial activity and private sector development. Poor infrastructure still represents a major impediment to the expansion of financial services across the country. The Liberian financial system is dominated by the bank sector. Eight commercial banks with almost 80 branches across the country currently operate in Liberia. The banking system remains capitalized and liquid, but risks are elevated stemming from high non-performing loans and low profitability.
Financial sector access has however gradually increased in recent years, supported by substantial improvements in legal and regulatory frameworks. The banking system has continued to expand, with access to SME lending, microfinance, and mobile banking on the rise. The Central Bank of Liberia has progressed with new initiatives to expand financial intermediation, including to the unbanked, through a USD 5 million credit-stimulus initiative to SMEs launched in November 2010 and another USD 5 million facilities targeted to the agriculture sector.
|Agriculture||Natural rubber, rice, cassava, bananas, palm oil.|
|Manufacture||Diamonds, rubber processing, timber, palm oil processing, cement.|
|Services (Including financial)||30.8% (2004 estimate)|
|Liberia Broadcasting System||Media|
|Liberia Cement Corporation||Industrial|
|Monrovia Transit Authority||Industrial|
|Liberia Telecommunications Corporation||Telecom|
|Central Bank of Liberia||Financial|
|Global Bank Liberia||Financial|
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The Second Liberian Civil War was an intense four-year conflict that involved child soldiers on all sides and extensive civilian casualties. It was also one of the few civil wars that spread into neighboring countries, in this case, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The conflict began in April 1999 when a rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), with the support of the government of neighboring Guinea, began a military offensive to topple the government of President Charles Taylor. They quickly gained control over much of Northern Liberia.
The origin of the second civil war was rooted in the previous conflict waged between 1989 and 1996 which saw former rebel leader Charles Taylor become president of the entire nation, following UN-monitored elections in 1997. The country remained at peace only two years before LURD began its military campaign. Most of LURD was Mandingo and Krahn fighters led by Sekou Conneh. Many of them had been part of the rebel group, United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), which had fought in the first Liberian civil war against Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) as well as the government of President Samuel Doe.
In September 2000, to weaken support for the rebels from the government of Guinea and Sierra Leone which was now also supporting LURD, Taylor persuaded anti-government dissidents in both nations to form the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). They along with some of his paramilitary supporters began insurgencies and thus expanded the conflict to three nations. His action drew condemnation and opposition from the UN as well as support for Guinea and Sierra Leone from Great Britain and the United States.
By early 2002, LURD troops had outmaneuvered Taylor’s forces and were only about twenty-seven miles from Monrovia, the capital. Under leaders Conneh and Thomas Nimely, LURD troops mounted successful raids that bypassed government strongholds, and in May, they staged a bold attack on Arthington, less than twelve miles from Monrovia.
By early 2003, a second rebel group called the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), backed by the government of Cote d’Ivoire, emerged in the south to challenge the Taylor government as well. By May 2003, Taylor controlled only about one-third of Liberia. With rebels closing in on Monrovia from all sides, President John Kufuor of Ghana, then chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), convened a peace conference in Accra to work out a negotiated agreement that would avoid further bloodshed in a four-year conflict that had already taken nearly three hundred thousand lives. When Taylor appeared initially reluctant to support the peace process, Leymah Gbowee formed an organization called “Women of Liberia Mass Action in Peace” which, after a silent protest outside the presidential palace, extracted a promise from the Liberian head of state to attend the peace conference in Accra.
By July, even as peace talks were taking place in Accra, LURD forces reached the outskirts of Monrovia and began a siege of the capital. In the subsequent shelling of the city, over one thousand civilians were killed and thousands more were made homeless. On July 29, LURD declared a ceasefire which allowed ECOWAS to send to battalions of mostly Nigerian troops to the capital as peacekeepers. ??As it became increasingly apparent that his government would not survive the siege, on August 11, 2003, President Charles Taylor resigned and flew to exile in Nigeria. Three days later, two hundred American troops landed to support ECOWAS troops. On August 18, the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) announced the forming of the National Transition Government of Liberia with Gyude Bryant as president. The agreement also scheduled Liberia’s first post-civil war national election for 2005. In that election, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the twenty-fourth president of Liberia and the first woman to head an African nation. Sirleaf continues to hold the office of president, and over a decade after the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement was worked out, Liberia remains at peace.
The Republic of Liberia began as a settlement of the American Colonization Society (ACS), who believed blacks would face better chances for freedom in Africa than in the United States. The country declared its independence on July 26, 1847. The U.S. did not recognize Liberia's independence until during the American Civil War on February 5, 1862. Between January 7, 1822, and the American Civil War, more than 15,000 freed and free-born black Americans, who faced legislated limits in the U.S, and 3,198 Afro-Caribbeans, relocated to the settlement. The black American settlers carried their culture with them to Liberia. The Liberian constitution and flag were modeled after those of the U.S. On January 3, 1848 Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a wealthy, free-born black American from Virginia who settled in Liberia, was elected as Liberia's first president after the people proclaimed independence.
Liberia is the only African republic to have self-proclaimed independence without gaining independence through revolt from any other nation, being Africa's first and oldest modern republic. Liberia maintained and kept its independence during the European colonial era. During World War II, Liberia supported the United States war efforts against Germany and in turn the U.S. invested in considerable infrastructure in Liberia to help its war effort, which also aided the country in modernizing and improving its major air transportation facilities. In addition, President William Tubman encouraged economic changes. Internationally, Liberia was a founding member of The League of Nations, United Nations and the Organization of African Unity.
Political tensions from the rule of William R. Tolbert resulted in a military coup in 1980 that overthrew his leadership soon after his death, marking the beginning of years-long political instability. Five years of military rule by the People's Redemption Council and five years of civilian rule by the National Democratic Party of Liberia were followed by the First and Second Liberian Civil Wars. These resulted in the deaths and displacement of more than half a million people and devastated Liberia's economy. A peace agreement in 2003 led to democratic elections in 2005. Recovery proceeds but about 85% of the population live below the international poverty line. Liberia's economic and political stability was threatened in the 2010s by an Ebola virus epidemic; it originated in Guinea in December 2013, entered Liberia in March 2014, and was declared officially ended on May 8, 2015.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
(Chief of Justice)
Alex J. Tyler
(Speaker of House of Representatives)
The dollar (currency code LRD) has been the currency of Liberia since 1943. It was also the country's currency between 1847 and 1907. It is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or alternatively L$ or LD$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. It is divided into 100 cents.
In 1937, coins were issued in denominations of ½, 1 and 2 cents. These were augmented in 1960 with coins for 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents. A $1 coin was issued the following year. Five-dollar coins were issued in 1982 and 1985 (see above). According to the 2009 Standard Catalog of World Coins (Krause Publications, Iola, WI), numerous commemorative coins (featuring U.S. Presidents, dinosaurs, Chinese Lunar-Zodiac animals, etc.) in denominations ranging from 1 to 2500 Dollars have been issued beginning in the 1970s through the present.
In January 1980, banknotes dated 1979 (the last two digits of the year of issue are the serial number prefix denominator) were introduced in denominations of 2, 5 and 10 maloti. 20 and 50 maloti notes were added in 1981, followed by 100 and 200 maloti in 1994.
Five-dollar notes were introduced in 1989 which bore the portrait of J. J. Roberts. These were known as "J. J." notes. In 1991, similar notes were issued (see above) which replaced the portrait with Liberia's arms. These were known as "Liberty" notes.
On 29 March 2000, the Central Bank of Liberia introduced a new “unified” currency, which was exchanged at par for “J. J.” notes and at a ratio of 1:2 for “Liberty” notes. The new banknotes each feature a portrait of a former president. These notes remain in current use, although they underwent a minor redesign in 2003, with new dates, signatures, and the CENTRAL BANK OF LIBERIA banner on the back.
On 27 July 2016, the Central Bank of Liberia announced new banknotes will be introduced with enhanced security features. All of the denominations are the same as previous issues, with the $500 banknote being introduced as part of this series.
|National Song||"All Hail, Liberia, Hail!"|
|Currency||Liberian dollar (LRD)|
|GDP / GDP Rank||3.762 Billion USD|
|GDP Growth Rate||0 Percent|
|GDP Per Captial||$855.118 (PPP)|
< 1.0% Hindus
< 1.0% Buddhists
< 1.0% Jews
< 1.0% Other Religions
Indigenous African 95% (Including Kpelle
President – George Weah
|Website||Go to the web|
|Public Debt||44.799 Percent|
|Unemployment Rate||4.002 Percent|
|Labor Force (Occupation)||-|