Liberia [Country Flag of Liberia]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Liberia]



[Top of Page]

Current issues: The Abuja Peace Accords ended seven years of civil warfare in Liberia. More than 20,000 of the estimated 33,000 factional fighters gave up their arms to the Cease-Fire Monitoring Group of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOMOG). Free and open presidential and legislative elections were held 19 July 1997; former faction leader, Charles TAYLOR, and his National Patriotic Party won overwhelming victories. The years of civil strife coupled with the flight of most business people disrupted formal economic activity, but with peace restored and a popularly-elected government installed, the difficult task of rebuilding the social and economic structure of this war-torn country can proceed.


[Top of Page]

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

Geographic coordinates: 6 30 N, 9 30 W

Map references: Africa

total: 111,370 sq km
land: 96,320 sq km
water: 15,050 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

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 extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Wuteve 1,380 m

Natural resources: iron ore, timber, diamonds, gold

Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: 3%
permanent pastures: 59%
forests and woodland: 18%
other: 19% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 20 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: dust-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to March)

Environment—current issues: tropical rain forest subject to deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; pollution of rivers from the dumping of iron ore tailings and of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Desertification, Endangered Species, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation


[Top of Page]

Population: 2,771,901 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 45% (male 622,797; female 616,902)
15-64 years: 52% (male 734,425; female 700,124)
65 years and over: 3% (male 47,099; female 50,554) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 5.76% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 41.88 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 11.28 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 27.02 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)
note: until domestic peace is restored, many Liberian refugees will not return from exile

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.93 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 103.13 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 59.45 years
male: 56.81 years
female: 62.16 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.09 children born/woman (1998 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, and Bella), Americo-Liberians 2.5% (descendants of immigrants from the US who had been slaves)

Religions: traditional 70%, Muslim 20%, Christian 10%

Languages: English 20% (official), about 20 tribal languages, of which a few can be written and are used in correspondence

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 38.3%
male: 53.9%
female: 22.4% (1995 est.)


[Top of Page]

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Liberia
conventional short form: Liberia

Data code: LI

Government type: republic

National capital: Monrovia

Administrative divisions: 13 counties; Bomi, Bong, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, River Cess, Sinoe

Independence: 26 July 1847

National holiday: Independence Day, 26 July (1847)

Constitution: 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

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Charles Ghankay TAYLOR (since 2 August 1997); note—the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Charles Ghankay TAYLOR (since 2 August 1997); note—the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: the president is elected by universal adult suffrage for a four-year term (renewable); election last held 19 July 1997 (next to be held NA July 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%

Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (26 seats; members serve NA-year terms) and the House of Representatives (64 seats; members serve NA-year terms)
elections: Senate—last held 19 July 1997 (next to be held in NA 2003); House of Representatives—last held 19 July 1997 (next to be held in NA 2003)
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; note—the Alliance of Political Parties was a coalition of Liberian Action Party and Liberian Unification Party

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders:
ruling party: National Patriotic Party or NPP [Charles Ghankay TAYLOR, leader]
opposition party: All Liberia Coalition Party or ALCOP [Alhaji KROMAH, chairman]; Free Democratic Party or FDP [Fayah GBOLLIE, chairman]; Liberian Action Party or LAP [Cletis WOTORSON]; Liberian National Union or LINU [Harry MONIBA, chairman]; Liberian Peoples Party or LPP [Togba-Nah TIPOTEH, chairman]; Liberian Unification Party or LUP [Laveli SUPUWOOD]; National Democratic Party of Liberia or NDPL [Dr. George E. Saigbe BOLEY, chairman]; National Reformation Party or NRP [Martin SHERIF, chairman]; People's Democratic Party of Liberia or PDPL [George Toe WASHINGTON, chairman]; People's Progressive Party or PPP [Chea CHEAPOO, chairman]; Reformation Alliance Party or RAP [Henry Boimah FAHNBULLEH, chairman]; True Whig Party or TWP [Rudolph SHERMAN, chairman]; Unity Party or UP [Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF, chairman]; United People's Party or UPP [Gabriel Baccus MATTHEWS, chairman]

International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, NAM, OAU, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador designate Rachel DIGGS; Charge d'Affaires ad interim Konah K. BLACKETT
chancery: 5201 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011
telephone: [1] (202) 723-0437
consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Chief of Mission William MILAM
embassy: 111 United Nations Drive, Monrovia
mailing address: P. O. Box 100098, Mamba Point, Monrovia
telephone: [231] 226-370
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


[Top of Page]

Economy—overview: Civil war since 1990 has 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 returned during 1997. Many will not return. Richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture, Liberia had been a producer and exporter of basic products, while local manufacturing, mainly foreign owned, had been small in scope. The democratically elected government, installed in August 1997, inherited massive international debts and currently relies on revenues from its maritime registry to provide the bulk of its foreign exchange earnings. The restoration of the infrastructure and the raising of incomes in this ravaged economy depends on continued disarmament of factions and the implementation of sound macro- and micro-economic policies of the new government.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$2.6 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: NA% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1,000 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 30%
industry: 36%
services: 34%

Inflation rate—consumer price index: NA%

Labor force:
by occupation: agriculture 70%

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA

Industries: rubber processing, food processing, construction materials, furniture, palm oil processing, iron ore, diamonds

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 332,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 472 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 154 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: rubber, coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, sugarcane, bananas; sheep, goats; timber

total value: $667 million (f.o.b., 1995 est.)
commodities: diamonds, iron ore, rubber, timber, coffee
partners: US, EU, Netherlands, Singapore

total value: $5.8 billion (f.o.b., 1995 est.)
commodities: mineral fuels, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods; rice and other foodstuffs
partners: US, EU, Japan, China, Netherlands, ECOWAS, South Korea

Debt—external: $2 billion (1997 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA

Currency: 1 Liberian dollar (L$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Liberian dollars (L$) per US$1—1.0000 (officially fixed rate since 1940); market exchange rate: Liberian dollars (L$) per US$1—50 (October 1995), 7 (January 1992); market rate floats against the US dollar

Fiscal year: calendar year


[Top of Page]

Telephones: less than 25,000 (1991 est.)

Telephone system: 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 3, FM 4, shortwave 0

Radios: 622,000 (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 2 (1998)

Televisions: 51,000 (1992 est.)


[Top of Page]

total: 490 km (single track); note—three rail systems owned and operated by foreign steel and financial interests in conjunction with Liberian Government; one of these, the Lamco Railroad, closed in 1989 after iron ore production ceased; the other two were shut down by the civil war
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 145 km 1.067-m gauge

total: 10,600 km
paved: 657 km
unpaved: 9,943 km (1996 est.)

Ports and harbors: Buchanan, Greenville, Harper, Monrovia

Merchant marine:
total: 1,620 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 59,521,524 GRT/97,187,450 DWT
ships by type: barge carrier 4, bulk 413, cargo 117, chemical tanker 143, combination bulk 28, combination ore/oil 54, container 168, liquefied gas tanker 89, multifunction large-load carrier 1, oil tanker 424, passenger 35, refrigerated cargo 67, roll-on/roll-off cargo 21, short-sea passenger 4, specialized tanker 11, vehicle carrier 41
note: a flag of convenience registry; includes ships from 54 countries among which are Germany 198, US 181, Norway 153, Greece 148, Japan 137, Hong Kong 109, China 58, UK 48, Singapore 43, and Monaco 41 (1997 est.)

Airports: 46 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 44
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 35 (1997 est.)


[Top of Page]

Military branches:
note: The new government of Liberia has developed a plan for the armed forces: total strength 5,000, of which Army 3,400, Navy 1,100, Air Force 500; note - the Navy is to have several small coastal patrol vessels and the Air Force is to comprise two air wings

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 631,546 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 337,744 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $14 million (1993)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 2.9% (1993)

Transnational Issues

[Top of Page]

Disputes—international: none

Illicit drugs: increasingly a transshipment point for Southeast and Southwest Asian heroin and South American cocaine for the European and US markets