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Republic of Liberia
Republic of Liberia
Flag of Liberia
Liberia coat of arms
flag coat of arms
Motto : "The love of liberty brought us here"
German : "The love of freedom brought us here."
Official language de jure : none
de facto : English
Capital Monrovia
State and form of government presidential republic
Head of state , also head of government President George Weah
area 111,369 km²
population 5,073,296 (July 2020)
Population density 42 inhabitants per km²
Population development   + 2.44% (2016)
gross domestic product
  • Nominal
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nominal)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 3.248 billion ( 162. )
  • $ 6.330 billion ( 163. )
  • 728 USD ( 177. )
  • 1,418 USD ( 185. )
Human Development Index 0.48 ( 175th ) (2019)
currency Liberian dollar (LRD)
US dollar (USD)
independence July 26, 1847 (by the USA )
National anthem All Hail, Liberia Hail
Time zone UTC ± 0
License Plate LB
ISO 3166 LR , LBR, 430
Internet TLD .lr
Telephone code +231
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The Republic of Liberia ( German [ liˈbeːʁi̯a ], English [ laɪˈbɪ (ə) ɹɪə ]; outdated Liberia ) is a state on the West African Atlantic coast . It borders with Sierra Leone , Guinea and the Ivory Coast .


Topographic overview map

Liberia is located in the southwest of West Africa on the Atlantic coast . It borders Sierra Leone to the northwest , Guinea to the north and northeast, and Ivory Coast to the east .

The Portuguese were the first European explorers to become aware of this area in 1461, which was initially entered on the maps as the Pepper Coast (“Costa de Malagueta ”). The Mesorado Bay , Cape Palmas and the cape mesurado described alongside some estuaries and striking mountains as landmarks of the approximately 579 km long coastline.

The national territory covers 111,370 km². The state border has a total length of 1 585  km, of which Guinea accounts for 563 km, Ivory Coast 716 km and Sierra Leone 306 km. The extension of the country is 520 km in the northwest-southeast direction and 270 km in the southwest-northeast direction.

Natural structure

Liberia lies in a geological zone made of geologically very old rocks of the Paleozoic Era (mainly granite and gneiss ), the surface of which is characterized by strong weathering and sedimentation.

The national territory of Liberia consists largely of mountainous terrain from 300 to 500 meters above sea level. The 10 to 50 km wide, swampy coastal plain is followed by a plateau landscape up to 400 m high. The area covered by rainforest was broken up into countless peaks and valleys by erosion . In the north there are mountains. The country belongs to the tropical rainforest zone , which takes up about 60 percent of today's national territory. The agricultural and forestry use resulted in numerous small-scale cleared areas, nine rubber tree plantations are important for the economy .


The highest point is Mount Wuteve ( 1440  m ) in the north of the country, it belongs to the mountain range of the Wologizi Mountains in the northwest. The Nimba Mountains in the north are located in the county of the same name and have iron ore deposits, but mining came to a standstill due to the civil war. In the middle northwest are the Mano Hills , in the center the Bong Range extends to the suburbs of the capital Monrovia, the Putu Range in the east extends up to 80 km to the coastal city of Greenville .


Climate diagram of Monrovia


Liberia, which is close to the equator, has the following particularities of climatic conditions:

  • In the coastal area there is a tropical climate with consistently hot and humid weather,
  • in the northern coastal plain, the rainy season is interrupted in August by a dry period,
  • In the northern parts of the country, the rainy season prevails from June to October, which is determined by the precipitation regime of the West African monsoons ,
  • in the extreme south there are two rainy season maxima.


On the coast 24 ° C to 35 ° C, in the interior 22 ° C to 40 ° C are measured. The average temperatures are 26 ° C in January and 24 ° C in July.


The rainy season is characterized by heavy rainfall in all parts of the country, during this time road traffic in the hinterland often collapses for weeks. In the capital Monrovia the annual rainfall is 5130 mm, in Robertsport (northwest coast) 5210 mm and in the drier south-east near Harper only 2500 mm.

On an annual average, precipitation decreases sharply towards the interior of the country, but increases again in the low mountain ranges in the north. Especially inland, the dry season from October to March comes with the hot, dusty Harmattan wind, a northeastern trade wind from the southern Sahara that drives temperatures up. Precipitation only drops so much for a few weeks that it is possible to speak of a dry season in which precipitation is less than evaporation .


The Guinea Current


The Guinea Current , a warm ocean current of the Atlantic Ocean, flows incessantly onto the coast of Liberia . It is responsible for the sediment deposits along the coastline in the form of spits and a climate factor .


Overview of the river systems

The water network consists of countless streams and several larger rivers, most of which flow in a south-westerly direction towards the coast. There are seven larger rivers that have their headwaters in, or on the border, with Guinea. The Mano , Moa , Lofa and Saint Paul Rivers have their source on or on the edge of the Beyla plateau , the Saint John River , Cestos River and Cavally in the Nimbabergen . The largest river is the Cavally, which however only has part of its catchment area in Liberia.


The largest lake is Lake Piso (about 100 km²) near Robertsport. There are numerous small lagoons and mangrove swamps along the coast. The Mount Coffee Dam on the lower reaches of the St. Paul River and the Firestone Hydroelectric Power Station on the Farmington River are the only dams in the country to date.


Highway in the bush in the dry season

The always moist, warm conditions lead to intensive weathering of the raw material with leaching of the water-soluble nutrients, so that the soil types that are poor in nutrients from the aspect of crop cultivation predominate:

Ferralsoles are dominant in large parts of the country . With this type of soil, the weathering horizon is extremely low. The dissolved minerals are quickly washed out because of the low exchange capacity of the soil, so that it contains almost no nutrients and cannot store them after fertilization. The nutrients are contained in vegetation and litter. After clearing, the soil is leached out within a few harvest periods. Ferralsoles are traditionally only used through shifting cultivation. Uses through permanent crops such as plantations are, however, agriculturally possible.

From the coastal strip to about 150 m above sea level, orange-yellow (xanthic) ferralsoles dominate. In the mountainous interior there are humic (humic) and hardened (plinthic) ferralsoles in front of and on the border with Guinea typical (haplic) ferralsoles.

In the final stage of weathering, the silicates are washed out ( desilification ), so that only the iron and aluminum oxides remain ( ferrallitization ). These can cement themselves with clay particles and then harden irreversibly after they have dried out once (plinthite formation). After that, the soil material can at best still be used as building material. The tendency to hardening can be observed almost nationwide. Soils that are particularly badly affected ( plinthosols ) are occasionally associated with ferralsols.

Acrisoles are also important on the border with Ivory Coast and nationally . These are nutrient-poor, acidic soils with a shift in clay . They tend to become silted up and encrusted, which is why cleared areas are difficult to work on and are very susceptible to erosion. Acid-tolerant crops such as oil palms must be grown on them and cover the ground whenever possible.

In addition to these large-area dominant soils, there are others with a significant distribution:

  • Cambisole are relatively fertile, young soils in the river valleys.
  • Fluvisols are formed from river sediments and are located directly on large rivers.
  • Gleysols are located in the wetlands and are heavily influenced by the groundwater
  • Leptosols are very shallow soils in the mountainous areas.
  • Nitisols are young, fertile soils that occur in small areas in the mountainous region
  • Regosols are the young, barely pronounced soils on the dunes of the coastal strip.


Liberia is a very species-rich area in Africa. Since the 19th century, research expeditions in the dense rainforests of Liberia have repeatedly discovered rare and unique animal species. According to information from nature conservation authorities, there are already 2200 species of plants, 193 species of mammals and 576 species of birds known in the country.


The evergreen rainforest is typical of Liberia's vegetation. In the far north of the country there are also some zones that are considered wet savannah, the coasts are partly covered by mangrove swamps. Especially teak and mahogany -Hölzer are particularly valuable tree species. Only in places where less than 2000 mm of precipitation falls annually, the forests are partly deciduous.


Leopards , forest elephants and hippos are the most well-known large mammals in Liberia, which were also considered to be hunting game until the very recent past. In Sapo National Park in the east of the country one of the world's last populations lives of dwarf hippopotamus . The rare species that occur in the country also include:

  • The Liberian mongoose or Liberia kusimanse ( Liberiictis kuhni ) is a species of predator from the mongoose family that lives in West Africa . It was not scientifically described until 1958 and is considered to be threatened.
  • The diana monkey ( Cercopithecus diana ) is a primate of the genus monkeys ( Cercopithecus ).
  • West African colobus monkeys are tree dwellers, but more flexible in their habitat than their eastern relatives. In addition to rainforests, they can also be found in mangrove areas and tree-lined savannas .
  • Jentink duiker ( Cephalophus jentinki ), a species of antelope , are threatened with extinction. The species only occurs in individual areas of Sierra Leone, Liberia and the western Ivory Coast. Their survival depends heavily on whether remaining rainforest areas, such as those in Sapo National Park, can be protected.
  • The genus of chimpanzees is divided into two types, the common chimpanzee into further subspecies. The western subspecies found in Liberia's rainforests differs so much from the other subspecies in terms of skull structure and DNA sequences that it may represent a species of its own.


A variety of animals can be found in the country's rainforests. The reptile species are particularly numerous, including crocodiles, for example, as well as a large number of more or less poisonous snake species as well as scorpions and lizards. The insects are also rich in species, colorful butterflies share the air space with bats and birds (including parrot species). In mammals, for example, chimpanzees, antelopes and pygmy hippos are mentioned. But also forest buffalo and elephants as well as leopards, which have now become rare, are at home here.


The coastal waters as well as the numerous rivers are home to a wide variety of fish species and shellfish. Turtles and sea birds also use this habitat. The mangrove swamps, characterized by changing water levels and brackish water zones, are a specialty.

Nature reserves

The international nature conservation organization Fauna & Flora International was the first organization that dared to go to Liberia as early as 1997 to organize nature and environmental protection in the country. The Sapo National Park and the nature reserve of the Nimbaberge were the first successes of the project team. The idea of ​​nature conservation was also incorporated into the revision of the laws and regulations on logging in the rainforest. Parks, nature reserves and hunting areas (safaris) were among Liberia's tourist trump cards from an early age. The following protected areas currently exist:


Prehistory and early history

Location and extent of West African empires

It was not until the 1970s that a systematic nationwide study of the prehistory and early history of Liberia began. This research campaign, which lasted barely ten years, provided important statements and evidence for the settlement history of the country.

The earliest settlement of today's territory of Liberia began in the late Neolithic coming from the north. The migrating groups initially used the savannah-like landscape in the Nimba region as a hunting ground. An advance to the coast of the Atlantic took place along the rivers, these offered the people food and orientation. Characteristic stone chips and tool remains of these first settlers, who led the lives of hunters , were found preferentially on gravel surfaces on the banks of the larger rivers .

Travel accounts by ancient authors known as Periplus report on the expeditions of Sataspes and Hannos . They are now considered to be credible evidence of the first scheduled exploratory trips along the African coasts to the Gulf of Guinea and complement the research trips into the interior of the continent that had already been commissioned by the Egyptian pharaohs .

The empires on the Niger , which arose in West Africa, had been involved in fierce battles among one another since the 13th century, which triggered frequent flows of refugees. As these fights increased, groups of these refugees apparently remained in the rainforest and thus separated themselves from their previous ethnic groups and their enemies. They preserved remnants of their language, rites and customs.

The way to founding a state

Supply ship USS Hamilton

Liberia was initially a project to settle former slaves from the United States and one of the first independent states on the African continent. Conflicts between the descendants of former slaves and ethnic groups who have lived there for a long time characterize the country to this day.

In the last third of the 15th century, the Portuguese reached the coast of what is now Liberia, but did not explore the country any further. The area was called the Guinea coast , later also known as the pepper coast . In 1822 the American Colonization Society , a society of white Americans, bought the coastal strip in order to settle released former slaves and at the same time to become colonial masters themselves. At the beginning of the American Civil War , around 12,000 African Americans lived there. In 1847 Liberia declared its independence under President Joseph Jenkins Roberts , which was soon recognized by many European countries, but not until 1862 by the USA.

Settler house in Robertsport, Liberia, 1983

After the Berlin Congo Conference in the winter of 1884/1885, parts of the country had to be ceded to France . The influence of the USA prevented a complete annexation.

Originally, only male Liberians of American descent and released African slaves who had settled in Liberia could vote. The voters had to have a steady income. In 1907, male indigenous Liberians who paid taxes were also given the right to vote. In the referendum of May 7, 1946, the active and passive right to vote for women was introduced, if they had property or other property or owned a hut and paid taxes for it; According to different sources, this was not decided until 1947. Although this definition formally achieved universal suffrage for both sexes, in practice the law aimed at discrimination against women. The restrictive condition was abolished in the 1970s and the 1986 constitution guaranteed unrestricted universal suffrage. Women first exercised their right to vote in 1951. The first election of a woman ( Ellen Mills Scarborough ) to the national parliament took place in 1960.

The port city of Monrovia has developed into an important hub in maritime transport since the 19th century. In 1926 the US companies Firestone and Goodrich Corporation were given part of the state territory for rubber plantations for 99 years. Firestone then founded the largest rubber plantation in the world in Liberia. In 1950 rubber made up almost 90 percent of Liberia's total export volume, so the country was totally economically dependent on the USA.

Military coup and civil war

The rise in the price of rice sparked nationwide demonstrations and unrest in 1979. On April 12, 1980, Samuel K. Doe took power after a military coup. This marked the beginning of a 20-year phase of political instability. Doe was deposed, tortured and killed in 1990. An extremely cruel civil war followed for 14 years. After the ceasefire between the civil war parties was sealed in 2003, President Charles Taylor , who had been in power since 1997, left the country. From January 16, 2006, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was elected President of Liberia for two terms ending January 2018 .


Population development since 1960
The median age in Liberia was 18.3 years
Statistical data (2016)
Life expectancy
Death rate
per 1,000 people
Birth rate
per 1000 inhabitants
Fertility rate
per woman
Child mortality
per 1000 live births
Infant mortality
per 1,000 live births
growth of population 2.4%
Population density
inhabitants per km²
Urban population 50.1%
under 15 years of age
over 65 years

According to the official final results of the 2008 census, there are 3,476,608 people in Liberia. In 2019 it is estimated that there will be almost five million inhabitants, more than half of whom will live in the capital.

With a constantly very high or even rising birth rate , the pyramid shows a base that widens exponentially downwards. This goes hand in hand with a mostly low life expectancy and an early onset, high mortality rate across all ages. Whereas in 2007 there were 3.8 million inhabitants, a figure of 12.5 million inhabitants is forecast for 2050 - tripling within 45 years.

Migration and urbanization

In 2017, 2.1% of the population was born abroad; there is also strong internal migration.

The process of migration and urbanization continues in the Monrovia metropolitan area; the settlement area extends up to 30 kilometers into the hinterland and leads to an increase in social tensions. A large part of the rural population lives in the northern border region with Guinea. The last census found around 10,000 inhabited settlements in Liberia.

The six largest cities in 2008 were:

Population groups

Peoples of Liberia (around 1970)

Article 27 of the Liberian Constitution stipulates that only people of African descent ("persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent") can obtain citizenship. There is a class of African American descent called Creoles or "American Liberians"; they make up 2-5% of Liberia's population and are mostly Christian. Around 8,000 Lebanese still live in Liberia as a minority .

The 16 indigenous ethnic groups of Liberia are divided into two different cultural and language groups. Some belong to the Mandean people : the Kpelle , who traditionally live as chopping farmers in the center of the country, make up 20.3% of the population. In the north live Gio or Dan with 8% and the Mano with 7.9%. Other important Mandean people are the Loma with 5.1% and the Vai with 3% of the population.

The second group is made up of the peoples who speak the Kwa languages: the largest of these are the Bassa around Buchanan, who make up 13.4% of the country's population and often work in the mining industry and as domestic servants. On the coast east of Greenville, the Kru, with a population of 6%, play an important role in nautical and technical professions; For more than 400 years they were valued as sailors on the West African route. Other Kwa peoples are the Grebo with 10% and the Krahn with 5%. There are also the ethnic groups of the Gola with 4.4%, the Kissi , Malinke (Mandingo) and Bela .

In the practice of coexistence between the various parts of Liberian society, a patronage system developed in Liberia since the 1860s, in which the families of the American-Liberian upper class took in children and young people from families of the indigenous population in their households and in the family environment to bind them to oneself through school and vocational training. As a result of this increasing interdependence with the upper class, a deeply rooted dependence and devotion of the autochthonous population to the Ameriko-Liberians arose.

As a result of the civil wars in the neighboring countries of Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, there were still around 12,600 refugees from Sierra Leone in Liberia in 2008; At the same time, roughly the same number of Liberian civil war refugees are living in West African countries or have applied for political asylum in European countries.

Languages ​​and scripts

None of the West African languages ​​has been able to take a dominant position in the national framework of Liberia. The State of Liberia de facto uses English as its official language , which is modified Liberian English , interspersed with numerous loan words from native languages. Meanwhile, 2.5 percent of the population - descendants of the resettled freed slaves from the USA - consider English their mother tongue.

In everyday life, the use of the languages ​​of individual ethnic groups predominates. Mande is spoken in the west and north of the country and Kru in the east and south. Other languages ​​in Liberia are Gola and Kpelle .

Some of these peoples are known for their high achievements in developing their own scriptures. The Vai script is a specialty among the scriptures: It was developed to record the West African family and place names and other personal data in the church records. The script was mastered by educated members of the Vai ethnic group , who had to report such data to the authorities. This syllabary consists of 226 characters (vowels or syllables) and was first described in 1849 by the missionary SW Koelle . Native sources reported that the Vai script was invented between 1829 and 1839. All known documents of the Vai script are collected in the Monrovias Museum.

In addition, the Bassa , the Kpelle , the Mende and Loma each have their own writing systems and alphabets for their native languages ​​(the Bassa Vah script , the Kpelle script and the Mende script ). In the meantime, however, the Latin script has largely replaced the native writing systems.


According to the 2008 census, around 85.6 percent of the population (mainly in the coastal region) are Christians , 12.2 percent are Muslims and only 0.6 percent profess traditional religions . 1.4% have no religion. The numbers of believers given below contradict this result.

The National Muslim Council of Liberia in Monrovia was headed by Shaykh Kafumba Konneh and represents the approximately 670,000 devout Muslims.

The Roman Catholic Church in Liberia has 166,000 believers. There are three dioceses: the Archdiocese of Monrovia with 132,600 believers, the Cape Palmas diocese with 19,100 believers and the Gbarnga diocese with 14,300 believers. The division took place in the 1950s. The Archbishop of Monrovia, Lewis Zeigler , is also Chairman of the Bishops' Conference of Liberia .

The Methodist Episcopal Church began work in Liberia in 1833. She was a predecessor of the United Methodist Church (English: The United Methodist Church). The Bishop of the United Methodist Church for Liberia is Reverend Dr. Samuel J. Quire Jr. This church had 281,007 members in the country as of 2017. The Methodist Church with the second highest membership in Liberia is The African Methodist Episcopal Church (approx. 42,000 church members around 2005).

At the head of the 35,600 believers in the Lutheran Church of Liberia is Bishop Sumoward E. Harris.

Liberia is part of the Anglican Communion , Province of West Africa as the Protestant Epic Church of Liberia . This church was founded in Liberia in 1836 and joined the ecclesiastical province of West Africa in 1982. Metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province is the incumbent bishop of Accra in Ghana . The Bishop of Liberia with official seat in Monrovia was Reverend Edward Neufville until 2011; his diocese currently has about 20,000 believers.

One of the free churches in Liberia is the Pentecostal Church Assemblies of God with 14,500 believers; it has 287 parishes and was founded in 1908. At the head is General Superintendent Jimmie K. Dugbe.

The Providence Baptist Church in Liberia is headed by Reverend A. Momolue Diggs and has approximately 2,500 believers. The church has 300 parishes ( congregations ) and runs eight schools. The Liberian Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention Inc. was founded in Monrovia (headquarters) as early as 1880; he is currently under the presidency of Reverend JK Levee and Reverend Charles W. Blake as general secretary.

The influence of the USA can also be felt in the practice of religion; Here the influence of the Methodists , the Baptists , Presbyterians and the Episcopals is growing . Their first missionary societies began their work shortly after the Republic of Liberia was founded.

The Jehovah's Witnesses are in Liberia more than 6,000 worshipers.

Education and Research

Adult education of Liberians

The Liberian government education system is free and consists of primary and secondary school (primary and secondary education). Regular school attendance is legally set at 9 school years. According to the government, 10 percent of the annual state budget has been invested in education since 1999. School enrollment takes place at the age of 7; attendance at primary school usually lasts six school years. At the age of 13 the secondary school education begins, which can also lead to the Abitur in two consecutive three-year training phases. According to information from aid organizations, only 40 percent of school-age children have been able to take part in lessons again since 2002, as the school infrastructure in many rural areas is only rudimentary. School lessons on a European scale are therefore only offered in the larger cities and in the vicinity of Christian mission stations. The majority of children from predominantly Muslim homes only attend the Koran school .

The vital and traditional knowledge of the Liberian rural population is imparted in a traditional way. Both boys and girls are separated from their families from a certain age before they reach puberty and are prepared for life as adults in isolated groups. These groups are called "poro schools"; Girls are accepted into the "sands". There you learn from a few instructors the traditional customs, including secret rites and the skills necessary for survival. The youth acquire the necessary respect for the authorities and hierarchies in their group and society. After three to four years of “training”, these young people are festively accepted into the group of adults and given new rights and duties in the community. Only as adults do they find the opportunity to choose to go to school to learn to read and write. Girls tend to receive less schooling.

Various government projects aim to improve educational opportunities. Also, literacy campaigns carried out to compensate for the costs incurred in the civil war period deficits. Mary Antoinette Brown-Sherman was the first female rector of an African university. During her tenure (1978–1984) a boarding school was founded in Fendall (University Primary School).

The literacy rate in 2015 was 47.6% of the population.

Educational institutions

  • Liberia is a priority country for the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church . The Christian Education Department AME Zion Church runs the AME Zion University in Monrovia for the training of pastors and pastors.
  • The Booker T. Washington Institute (BWI) is located in Kakata . It is privately run and has existed since the 1950s. It teaches over 5000 young people, making it the largest vocational school in the country. The BWI has an excellent reputation, but despite high fees, it cannot cope with the requests.
  • Another educational institution that was finally closed in 2000 was the College of West Africa (CWA) in Monrovia. His role was taken over by the JJ Roberts United Methodist School (JJRUMS).
  • One of the oldest (private) universities in Africa is located in Suacoco near Gbarnga : Cuttington University College . It was founded in Harper (Cape Palmas) in 1889 and moved to the hinterland in 1948. The college has close relationships with educational institutions in the United States.
  • With foreign support, a forestry training center - the Forest Development Autorithy (FDA) - and an institute for industrial and economic development - the Liberian Opportunities Industralization Center (LOIC) - were founded.
  • The state University of Liberia is the largest university in the country and is located in Monrovia . The university has the only law faculty in the country. In 2011, far outside Monrovia, in Fendall, a huge university campus was carefully put into operation. This was built by the Chinese government; However, the move had to be stopped again because of botch and serious construction defects. In 2013, all of the 25,000 or so applicants for a university place failed the entrance examination. As a result, the requirements were lowered so that ultimately 1,600 students could be admitted.
  • Some of the urgently needed doctors are being trained at the newly founded (private) St. Luke School Of Medicine in Monrovia.
  • The Stella Maris Polytechnic is a state technical university in Monrovia. It emerged from the Arthur Barclay Technical Institute and the Don Bosco Polytechnic College .
  • With the support of the United Methodist Church (The United Methodist Church; see above: Religions), the United Methodist University of Liberia (UMU) is currently being established.
  • The William VS Tubman University in Harper is the second public university. It emerged from the William VS Tubman College of Technology , which was founded in Tubman's hometown in 1978.

Liberia joined the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for joint educational projects and mutual recognition of university degrees. This is an association of English-speaking countries.


Political indices
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 90.0 out of 120 31 of 178 Stability of the country: Alarm
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index 5.45 out of 10 88 of 167 Hybrid regime
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World 60 out of 100 --- Freedom status: partially free
0 = not free / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 32.25 out of 100 95 of 180 Recognizable problems for the freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 28 out of 100 137 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2019

Political system

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, incumbent President until January 22, 2018

The Republic of Liberia, which has existed since 1847, is the second oldest independent state in Africa (after Ethiopia ). The content of the first constitution of Liberia was discussed and adopted on January 5, 1839 with the main representatives of the American Colonization Society . The text form described the new state as the presidential republic of the Commonwealth of Liberia .

President George Weah, who has been in office since January 22, 2018

In 1984 a new constitution was adopted by referendum, which, like the previous one, is closely based on the US model. The legislature rests with Parliament. The parliament consists of two chambers (following the American model):

  1. the Senate has 30 senators
  2. the House of Representatives has 64 elected MPs. All MPs and senators are elected by majority vote , with the 15 administrative districts ("Counties") of Liberia each sending two senators for a term of nine years. The determination of the constituencies for the House of Representatives is more problematic; here the number of registered voters determines how many constituencies are to be formed in the respective county. As a result of the civil war, tens of thousands of people are still in camps and refugee camps, making it difficult to precisely check the election lists.

The President, who is elected for six years, is head of state, head of government and commander-in-chief of the Liberian armed forces under the Liberian constitution.

In the presidential elections of November 2005, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf ( Unity Party ) emerged victorious with around 59.4 percent of the vote. So she prevailed in two ballots against 22 candidates, among whom George Weah ( Congress for Democratic Change ) was the one who reached the runoff election with her, but lost there. She is the first woman to be elected head of state in Africa . In the 2011 election , Sirleaf got 43.9 percent of the vote in the first ballot on October 11, her challenger Winston Tubman of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) got 32.7 percent. In the runoff election in November, Sirleaf achieved around 90 percent. Your opponent was not running. The election was overshadowed by violent clashes. Hence the turnout was low; According to experts, it was 37 percent.

For the 2017 election , Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf did not run and George Weah was elected President of Liberia. His party Congress for Democratic Change was also the strongest party in parliament. The transfer of power went smoothly and peacefully. In recognition of her successful governance and her contribution to the democratization of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was awarded the Mo Ibrahim Prize in 2018 .

Judicial system

After the coup in 1980, in February 1982 the previously dissolved People's Supreme Court was "reinstalled" as Liberia's supreme court. An independent five-member Supreme Court has been responsible for confirming election results since January 1992 . Henry Reed Cooper currently heads the justice system as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia .

Liberia's judiciary is also under construction; however, there are very few courthouses, judges and prosecutors. The knowledge and respect of the law is hardly developed; in large parts of the country processes are carried out according to traditional archaic laws or the religious regulations of the Sharia .

The detention conditions in the Liberian prisons are harsh and sometimes life-threatening. In contrast to European legal systems, in large parts of Liberia conservative morals , indigenous laws and traditions still regulate coexistence in rural regions. Marital rape as well as domestic violence against children and the internationally outlawed genital mutilation of women also exist there .

Domestic and security policy

The successful reconstruction of the state apparatus is an essential prerequisite for the future of the country. The ECOWAS peacekeeping force, ECOMOG, has been in the country since 1990 , mainly from Nigeria and Ghana . Under pressure from ECOWAS, the peace process was continued in the mid-1990s.


Corruption is still a major problem at all levels of state building. In 2007, Liberia was ranked 150th out of 175 countries on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) . By 2010 Liberia was able to improve to 87th place. By 2019, the country slipped back to 137th place out of 180.

Police reorganization

Liberian soldiers on the American warship USS Fort McHenry

With a mandate from the UN, around 15,000 members of the UNMIL peacekeeping force and 1,100 UNPOL officers have been in the country since the end of the civil war, helping to maintain internal security. The Liberian National Police (LNP) is being restructured, recruited, trained and equipped with modernized technology with the participation of UNPOL. Since 2004 3500 LNP officers have been deployed. The police presence, however, cannot prevent cases of violence and vigilante justice from occurring.

Foreign and Defense Policy

Liberia is a member of the following international organizations and confederations:

Photo op on the occasion of a meeting between President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama with Liberian Foreign Minister King-Akerele.

Liberia has been one of the most unstable and dangerous countries in the world since the 1980s. After the civil war, Liberia's government tried to consolidate its traditional ties and ties with the United States. In the run-up to a state visit by US President George W. Bush on February 21, 2008, he said that the United States was not planning any new US military bases in Africa, although Liberian President Sirleaf, as the only leader of an African country to date, had advocated set up the headquarters of the US Africa Military Command in Liberia. The establishment of the AFRICOM took place in Europe (Stuttgart) because the African Union and its members to the objectives of AFRICOM mistrusted and the United States therefore found no African host country for the Authority.

Previous President Bill Clinton and his wife and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also visited Liberia regularly to organize assistance for aid projects.

During her trip to Africa, Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the capital Monrovia in October 2007. On this occasion, the accompanying business representatives were assured of an improvement in German-Liberian economic relations.

At the same time, efforts by the People's Republic of China to gain influence in Liberia are growing . Chinese development workers and technicians are trying to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure - in return, China expects preferential contracts for the raw material supply with rubber, iron ore and for the import of Chinese products through Liberia. As a lasting sign of “good relations”, the Chinese ambassador to Liberia handed over the newly built Fendall campus to the University of Liberia in June 2010 .

Diplomatic missions

Diplomatic missions of Liberia

Due to its pro-Western stance, Liberia has experienced a lot of rejection in African states, so only a few African states have established diplomatic relations with Liberia. During the civil war, almost all diplomats left the country for security reasons and came back reluctantly. The embassies of the Federal Republic of Germany , Switzerland and Austria were evacuated to Accra . The German Embassy in the Congo Town district of Monrovia (as of 2019) does not have a visa department.

Under the former government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf , Asian countries were increasingly approached for economic cooperation and diplomatic relations were agreed; the most recent example (June 2010) is the emirate of Kuwait .


The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) go back to a militia that was founded in the 19th century by the first black colonists of Liberia. They were reorganized in 2008 and are under the command of George Weah , President of Liberia. Brigadier General Daniel Dee Ziankahn is the military commander . The AFL comprise approx. 2100 soldiers of the army and a small coast guard with 2 boats.

Administrative structure

The state of Liberia is divided into 15 regions ( counties ). The Liberian government appoints the 15 heads of administration (County Superintendent and District Commissioner) of these subordinate units. The cities have elected mayors and city councils. Traditional leaders at different levels (Town Chief, Clan Chief and Paramount Chief ) exert a great influence on political life in the country . This dichotomy continues in the legal system, where public and traditional jurisdiction coexist.

No region Capital Population
Sierra Leone Guinea Elfenbeinküste Bomi River Cess Maryland Gbarpolu Sinoe Bong Grand Gedeh Margibi River Gee Nimba Lofa Grand Cape Mount Montserrado Grand Bassa Grand KruAdministrative division of Liberia
About this picture
1 Bomi County Tubmanburg 82.036 1,942 1984
2 Bong County Gbarnga 328.919 8,772 1964
3 Gbarpolu County Bopolu 83,758 9,689 2001
4th Grand Bassa County Buchanan 224,839 7,936 1839
5 Grand Cape Mount County Robertsport 129,055 5,162 1844
6th Grand Gedeh County Zwedru 126,146 10,484 1964
7th Grand Kru County Barclayville 57.106 3,895 1984
8th Lofa County Voinjama 270.114 9,982 1964
9 Margibi County Kakata 199,689 2,616 1985
10 Maryland County Harper 136,404 2,297 1857
11 Montserrado County Bensonville 1,144,806 1,909 1839
12 Nimba County Sanniquellie 468.088 11,551 1964
13 River Cess County Cestos City 65,862 5,594 1985
14th River Gee County Fish Town 67,318 5.113 2000
15th Sinoe County Greenville 104,932 10.137 1843


Statistical data
GDP per capita, PPP 855 US $ (2016)
Foreign debt $ 3,200 million (2005)
Balance of payments - $ 224 million (2007)
inflation rate 11.2% (2007)
unemployment 85% (2003)

Liberia's economy is characterized by great contrasts. The country was one of the most progressive countries in Africa after World War II and, under the rule of William Tubman, had the highest economic growth in the world after Japan. However, the Liberian Civil Wars destroyed many of its achievements. During the civil war, per capita income fell to less than 125 euros.

Liberia is therefore one of the poorest countries in the world today. Internationally, 420 million euros have been made available in development aid and Liberia is involved in many multinational communities. According to a study by the Washington organization Fund for Peace and the US political magazine "Foreign Policy", Liberia has made the clearest improvement in the so-called index of failed states in the years since the end of the civil war ; this evaluates the political, social and economic situation of the respective state.

President Johnson-Sirleaf has taken first steps to fight corruption, incentivize private investment and promote a publicity initiative to support international donors. The inflation rate continued to rise and in 2008 was 11.2 percent.

In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Liberia ranks 131st out of 138 countries (as of 2016). In 2017, the country ranks 161st out of 180 countries in the index for economic freedom .

State budget

The  state budget  included expenditures in 2016 of the equivalent of 743 million  US dollars , which were income equivalent to 613 million US Dollar against. This results in a  budget deficit  of 6.1% of  GDP .

The  national debt  was 39.5% of GDP in 2016.

In 2006 the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:

(in millions of USD)
2000 2001 2002
Agriculture 400 391 432
Mining 1 0.2 0.1
Industry 38.1 43.1 30.3
Power generation 3 3 2.8
Construction industry 8th 8.7 8.3
Domestic trade 21.1 21.2 28.2
Transportation and
24.4 24.3 28.2
Financial services 15.1 14.6 13.9
Administrative services 16.9 14.1 12.3

Foreign trade

After many decades of dependence on the USA, Liberia has adjusted to new trading partners. The main buyers for Liberia's exports in 2008 were Belgium with 48 percent and Italy with 10 percent of the country's total revenues; meanwhile, a clear shift in favor of the People's Republic of China is expected. The most important supplier countries for Liberia's imports are South Korea with 27 percent, Japan with 25 percent and Singapore with 7 percent. These states supply Liberia with shipbuilding and repair services. Germany, too, still has a considerable market share with 14 percent.

Export goods are natural rubber, tropical wood, iron ore, diamonds, cocoa, coffee and pineapple. After iron ore , rubber is the country's second most important export. President Johnson-Sirleaf expects the agreement with Arcelor Mittal to send a signal for further foreign investments in the Liberian economy. But the dependence on foreign investors also contributes to the country's problems.

Maritime economy

Liberia formally operates the second largest merchant fleet in the world. After the Second World War, more and more European, American and Asian ship operators flagged their ships for Liberia. In 2019, the Liberian shipping register included ships with a total tonnage of 124.1 million gross registered tons . The trade flag of Liberia is known as the "flag of convenience".


Cultivated crops
(amount in 1000 tons)
2000 2001 2002
rice 183.4 145 110
sweet potato 18th 18th 18th
manioc 440.5 480 480
Yams 22nd 26th 26th
Sugar cane 250 255 255
Bananas 110 110 110
Oranges 7th 7th 7th
rubber 105 107 108
Palm oil 174 174 174

Slightly more than 70 percent of Liberians live from agriculture , which is operated for self-sufficiency. Mostly one works in slash and burn construction , which not only contributes to the leaching of the soil and the destruction of valuable forest stands, but is also not suitable for setting up a market production, i.e. H. a production that goes beyond self-sufficiency. The main foods are cassava , rice , corn and sweet potatoes . Liberia is an important growing area for cassava, known in Liberia as cassava . The cultivation is run by the family (small farmers) and is concentrated in the central provinces of Bong, Nimba and Grand Bassa.

Other crops traditionally destined for export to the USA are sugar cane , cotton , coffee , cocoa and oil palm products. Large areas of the forest have been cleared for Malaysian and British investors to grow oil palms. The deposits of over 100 valuable types of tropical timber from the ten state forest districts (Gbi, Gio, Gola, Grebo, Krahn-Bassa, Kpelle, Nimba, Sapo, South-Belle, North-Belle and Vai) have declined sharply. Part of the forest areas is now to be placed under nature protection on a permanent basis, areas near the coast are to be licensed to foreign timber companies with strict conditions.

Fishing industry

The fisheries sector accounts for around fifteen percent of the country's GDP. For centuries, people in Liberia had been fishing for simple inshore nets. Deep sea fishing has also been done with relatively modern fishing trawlers since the 1970s; In 1988 Liberia owned 55 fishing trawlers. Fishing and the associated supplier industries and trades provide employment for 20,000 people.

In 1999 there were five commercial companies in Liberia, which employ around 6,000 people in the fishing and processing sector with the attached fish factories and cold stores. The economically most important food fish species with 80 percent of the catch is Ethmalosa ( Ethmalosa fimbriata ). Shrimp , West African catfish ( Arius seemani ) and blue threadfin ( Eleutheronema tetradactylum ) are also caught . Cichlids ( Tilapia nilotica ) and African catfish ( Clarias luzerra ) are preferred in the country's rivers .

Mussels, cephalopods and crustaceans are also caught for food.

Service sector

The service sector is one of the fastest growing economic sectors. In the capital, numerous new bank buildings mark the reviving economy. Private transport is developing particularly in the Monrovia metropolitan area. Numerous taxis and pick-up companies sprang up here. Great expectations are placed on the expansion of the free port.


Before the Civil War, the economy relied in large part on the mining of iron ore. With investments worth 1 billion US dollars by the steel company Arcelor Mittal , the iron ore industry is now to be revitalized again. 3500 new jobs will be created directly and 15,000 to 20,000 indirectly as soon as production can be ramped up.

Another dominant is rubber . In 1926 the US companies Firestone and Goodrich were given part of the state territory for rubber plantations for 99 years. Firestone established the largest rubber plantation in the world in Harbel , 50 kilometers east of Monrovia . In 1950 rubber made up almost 90 percent of Liberia's total export volume. Natural rubber is still of great value and holds its own against chemical derivatives . The Liberian government has therefore decided on a rebuilding program for the rubber plantations; she speaks of an agro-industry.

The industrial production of molded concrete parts is of great importance for the reconstruction of the infrastructure. There are manufacturing facilities in several coastal cities.

As a result of the civil war, the Liberia petroleum refinery had to be shut down in 1982 . In the 1970s, a status symbol for Liberia's economic upswing, the plant has already been largely dismantled.


Disused mining area on the northern border

The most important mineral resource is iron ore. Another billion tonnes of ore is forecast for the Nimba region; the ore currently provides 60 percent of export earnings. Manganese , barite , kyanite , columbite and gold are available in minable quantities. Diamonds are found on the border with Sierra Leone.

The iron ore deposits in Liberia formed an essential basis for the country's economic development. There are five concession areas that are being exploited with Liberian participation:

The most important area was in the Nimba Range , licensed to the Liberian-American-Swedish Mining Company (LAMCO). The significant deposits continue across the border (Guinea) and this country plans to build its own railway line to mine the ore. Chinese technicians are also currently working on the repair of the railway line from the ore port of Buchanan to Santiquelle in the Nimba Range.

As early as the 1950s, the DELIMCO - a German-Liberian steel consortium (on the German side: Thyssenkrupp and Hoesch AG ) - began building the mining facilities in the Bong Range and Putu Range . 500 million US dollars were invested and the entire infrastructure, which also includes the bong mining track , was built. The mining concessions for the deposits in the Wologizi Range were granted to the Liberia Iron and Steel Company (LISCO), the deposits in the west of the country went to the National Ironore Company (NIOC) and the Liberian Mining Company (LMC).

Diamonds are found in some areas in the west of the country. The gemstones were also called blood diamonds during the civil war , as the rebels were able to finance their weapons with captured diamonds. To contain the conflict, the UN had therefore imposed a diamond trade embargo on Liberia, which has since been lifted.

Economic data

The per capita GDP is, according to an IMF estimate for 2014 is about $ 495; In 2005 it was only around $ 166 per capita.

  • The business cycle indicator improved slightly from 8.4 in the FSI 2007 to 8.3 in the FSI 2008.
  • Liberia's GDP was $ 1,340,000,000.
  • The economy had a growth rate of 9.4 percent, which is, however, strongly influenced by revenues from raw material exports (rubber) and revenues from the shipping register. The international sanctions against the Liberian state for trading in diamonds and wood could be lifted, so that the exports of these goods will contribute positively to economic growth.
  • Poverty line : Around 80 percent of the population lived below the poverty line in 2008.
  • The unemployment is 85 percent; only about 15 percent of the working population had a regular job.
  • Malnutrition : Around 35 percent of the population was considered malnourished in 2008.


The currency is administered by the Central Bank of Liberia , which has replaced the inefficiently functioning National Bank of Liberia since October 1999 . The bank pursues a policy of monetary stability and refuses to be influenced by the government, which wants to reduce budget deficits through fiscal tricks.

Liberia joined the Eco-Zone on February 16, 2010 . Following the example of the euro, a common currency is to be created in parts of West Africa in order to facilitate the real economy and the exchange of goods. The introduction of the currency was planned for January 2015. This date passed uneventfully, the new target is 2020. In addition to Sierra Leone and Guinea, Ghana , Nigeria and Gambia are also members of the “Eco-Zone” . The project is an essential basis of the West African economic and monetary union that has been striven for for decades.

Legal tender is the Liberian dollar (abbreviation: LRD ), colloquially known in the country as "Liberity".

Banknotes are in circulation to the denomination of 500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 LRD; Coins are no longer in circulation.

The conversion rate in mid-2019 was 1 US dollar, around 200 LRD.

Adoption of international standards

The Anglo-American system of measurement applies in Liberia . Deviating from this, the power grid was converted to the European standard with Norwegian support.


On January 28, 2016, the EU Commission presented a package of measures to combat tax evasion , which included Liberia on the black list of tax havens .

Transport and infrastructure

Traffic statistics
traffic system Right-hand traffic
Number of private cars
per 1000 inhabitants
Asphalted roads 657 km
Highways 0 km
Developed canals
and waterways
0 km
Railway lines
in operation
480 km

Road network

Liberia's rail lines

The Liberian road network is exposed to heavy loads due to the topographical and climatic conditions. There are asphalt roads in the vicinity of the administrative centers and cities, the majority of the local roads are natural roads and slopes. In the rainy season, road traffic collapses because the roads are impassable. The first automobiles , vehicles of the British, arrived in the country as early as 1910. As a consequence, road traffic regulations had to be issued immediately and the first traffic policemen to be posted in the capital. In the land of the true legal relations . At that time there was a brief horse-drawn railway line in Monrovia , but it did not seem to be profitable.

The Dakar-Lagos Highway is the most important highway and land connection to neighboring West African states. The road in Liberia is only rudimentary; a section about 100 kilometers long (Ganta-Tappita-Tobli border with Ivory Coast) is missing.

Slope in Lofa County, Liberia, 1983

From Monrovia's central bus depot at Wood Camp there used to be daily bus connections to all district capitals. A modern coach for sightseeing tours was offered to tourists. Countless taxi companies now serve downtown Monrovia. As a gift from the Chinese government, there are some buses that serve a few lines completely overcrowded. Since 2011, thousands of cheap Chinese brands have also been offering passenger transportation, but they are more expensive and dangerous.

Liberia had the fourth highest number of fatal traffic accidents in relation to the number of inhabitants in the world. In 2013, 1,448 people died in traffic.

Rail network

At present Liberia has no actual rail network. There are only three railway lines leading from the coast into the inland , between which no cross connections are operated.

The majority of the mining areas are in the northern border area; the ore was transported away via a railway line from the port city of Harper. The rail network was partially interrupted during the civil war and rail operations had to be stopped due to a lack of profitability. Chinese construction crews are now working on the renovation of the facilities, as the country is interested in further developing the mineral resources. The sections of the route that are currently in operation again enable the transport of tropical timber and also offer limited transport options for jeeps and small vehicles. In the summer of 2010, a Brazilian mining company also announced plans to build a completely new railway line and an ore port in order to be able to expand a Guinean mining area.

air traffic

Roberts International Airport

Direct flights to and from Europe are currently (2014) offered by Brussels Airlines , Gambia Bird (to London Gatwick) and British Airways and, since 2011, by Royal Air Maroc. With the 2011 summer flight schedule , the French Air France -KLM Monrovia will be flying again. There are still connections to neighboring West African capitals offered by African airlines. In contrast to the merchant fleet, Liberian airlines are among the most unsafe in the world. Liberia is one of only six countries in the world from which not a single airline is allowed to use EU airspace or even land within the EU.

There are currently two major airports in Liberia, Roberts International Airport and the smaller Spriggs Payne Airport . Both have an asphalt runway . There are also 51 unpaved airfields, none of which is more than 2500 m in length. Due to the overgrown vegetation, these can hardly be used anywhere and are also blocked by the government.


Coastal shipping

The main cities of Liberia are located on the coast and have ports or anchorages. Coastal shipping often offers an alternative to the poorly developed road network. The navigability of the rivers, on the other hand, is limited to sections near the coast due to the countless rapids and shallows.

Ocean shipping

Country Ships
(in million GRT)
Panama 5704 140.120 1
Liberia 1560 58.134 2
Greece 1110 30,774 3
People's Republic of China 2326 21,139 9
Germany 473 11,276 15th
Data from 2008

Many shipping companies fly the Liberian flag, which is mainly due to the low costs (no taxes above the registration fees) and the confidentiality of the authorities. As a result, Liberia has the second largest fleet in the world in terms of gross register tons . In 2020 there were already around 4600 registered ships.

The Liberian fleet is now also one of the safest; In the relevant rankings of port state controls (US Coast Guard, Paris MOU, Tokyo MOU), Liberia's fleet has long held a top position. The registered office is in New York . Liberia has five ports; the Freeport Monrovia is the largest trading port in the country and was built with American support during World War II.


The state-owned Liberian telecommunications authority has set up a fixed network, but it is considered very prone to failure. Almost the whole country is now covered by cellular networks . Internet cafes have opened in all major cities, but the transmission speed is extremely slow. It is still extremely rare to see small wooden houses in the streets in which a public telephone connection has been laid and an operator offers to make connections or take calls almost day and night for a fee.

power supply

The construction of the energy supply network in Liberia began in the 1940s. At first it was limited to the coastal region, where the industrial and port facilities, administrative and commercial facilities, hospitals and hotels were available as reliable customers. The agricultural regions in the hinterland were only occasionally connected to the power grid. The largest investment in the energy network so far was the construction of the Mount Coffee Dam . This hydroelectric power station was commissioned in 1966, but was destroyed in 1990 during the civil war. As early as the mid-1970s, the power plant was expanded to four generators and the outdated transmission lines were replaced. This has been defective for years. Anyone who can afford it from the population buys tiny to medium-sized small generators for their private homes or businesses. There has been no municipal power grid in the whole country since the end of the war. Even government buildings use their own systems that only supply the respective house.

In 2005, 320,000,000 kWh of electrical energy were generated, which is less than half of the energy production from 20 years ago. The infrastructure was damaged during the civil war and the new construction was delayed. With support from abroad, the power plant of the Mount Coffee Dam was able to be put back into operation at the end of 2016.

Waste disposal

One of the biggest problems in Liberia is the lack of infrastructure for waste disposal. Even in the metropolitan region of Monrovia there are only eight garbage trucks. A controlled landfill of the municipal waste has taken place in the main streets of Monrovia since spring 2012. A second aspect of this problem is the enormous rainfall: The rainwater is contaminated in the garbage and spreads and parts of the waste in the city center. Due to the lack of sanitary conditions, the outbreak of infectious diseases and epidemics is foreseeable.


Statistical data
Health expenditure
per inhabitant (2016)
US $ 98
Medical care
residents per doctor
Birth rate
per 1000 inhabitants
Child mortality
per 1000 inhabitants
Infant mortality
per 1,000 live births
Maternal mortality
per 1,000 live births
HIV infected persons of
all adult residents
Ebola virus infected
all residents

The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates health risks on its Liberia information pages. Liberia is considered a high risk area for various diseases.

Frequently occurring tropical diseases are yellow fever , cholera and dengue fever . Malaria is a problem all year round and in all parts of the country; the dangerous malaria tropica is responsible for most cases of illness . Drugs for malaria prophylaxis are available in many pharmacies, with those operated by Indians in particular offering a selection and quality comparable to western standards.

From the beginning of 2014, the deadly Ebola virus spread massively in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea . It was the largest Ebola epidemic since the virus was discovered in 1976. Over 11,000 people died during the severe epidemic. According to the Doctors Without Borders deployed there , the epidemic had spiraled out of control since June 2014. Ebola has been considered eradicated in Liberia since 2016. This is thanks, among other things, to the public relations work of the then still incumbent president and strong international aid.

Medical care is at the lowest level even in the capital Monrovia. Although pharmacies are widespread, the quality of the drugs offered is sometimes dubious.

The current WHO health policy in Liberia focuses on improving the medical infrastructure. 250 facilities (including hospitals, health centers and clinics) were either refurbished or rebuilt. In 2011, for example, the Chinese government built a large hospital with computed tomography in the city of Tapeta in Nimba County, for which the necessary specialist staff is still lacking. In addition, many devices are defective and are not repaired due to frequent corruption. Malnutrition is still common; it mainly affects women and children.


Rites and customs

Group of young women in festive costume, ethnological collection (around 1910)

The thought of the spirits of the ancestors , of the deceased, of idols and amulets plays a major role among the peoples of the West African coast. Singing, masks and mask dances are used in all ceremonies . They serve the medicine men in their conjuring ceremonies in order to strongly influence the sick person psychologically. The African religions form the background for the classification of medicine and healing methods as magical practices and real experience. All the important stages of life - birth, puberty, marriage, illness, death - but also practical activities such as hunting and fishing, the manufacture of weapons and tools were connected with magic. Belonging to and practicing certain rituals in secret societies, such as the Poro, is still part of the life of the ethnic groups .

Liberian literature

Dancer in Liberia

The knowledge and history of the indigenous peoples has been preserved and passed on for centuries in the form of oral literature . In the Liberian peoples, too, lived men revered as storytellers , who distributed memorized texts and news from the previously visited places. These highly respected men reproduced their texts, refined through gestures, music, dance and pantomime forms of expression, as myths, fairy tales, fables and songs at village festivals, weddings, childbirths, healing ceremonies, funeral celebrations or during transit and received accommodation, food and drink in return.

  • The most famous Liberian writer is Wilton GS Sankawulo , who was also President of Liberia for a time. Sankawulo belonged to the Kpelle people and translated the Bible into this language. He collected and published fairy tales and fables from his homeland (for example: Marriage of Wisdom and Other Tales from Liberia ), wrote numerous essays and stories and worked for several decades as a university lecturer in literature and English. His last novel Sundown at Dawn: A Liberian Odyssey was published in 2005.
  • The poet and author Melvin Beaunorus Tolson , who emigrated to the United States and who joined the Harlem group of Negro writers in New York, comes from the Liberian literary scene . A collection of poems appeared in 1950 under the title Libretto for the Republic of Liberia.
  • The New York Times and Washington Post recommended books in 2008 for the autobiographical story The House at Sugar Beach by Monrovia-born journalist Helene Cooper . The author belongs to the Congo ethnic group .

Many works by young writers and lyric poets, many of whom went into exile in the 1990s, including Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, deal with recent history with the traumatic experiences of the civil war.

  • Lynda Schuster : The final Days of Dr. Doe . 1994.
  • Patricia Jabbeh Wesley: Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa . In: New Issues Poetry & Prose . 1998.
  • Patricia Jabbeh Wesley : Where the Road Turns . 2007.

In the 1930s, the British writer Graham Greene toured West Africa and described his experiences in the 1936 report Journey without Maps . One of the most notable experiences of this trip was his meeting with the then chief of the Liberian border guards, Colonel Elwood Davis . On behalf of the government, he had put down the uprisings of various ethnic groups with brute force and then ruled the Grand Bassa region for a few years as the archetype of a lawless warlord.

music and dance

Traditional music and dance

In large parts of Africa, dances are an integral part of daily life and an important form of cultural expression for people, but also a natural connection to the ancestors and their souls. The whole (village) community is involved in the dances; there are dancers and non-dancers, but they also fulfill an important function. The traditional dances are also increasingly performed on national holidays or as a folkloric element, so the risk of alienation and flattening increases.

A variety of drums, rattles, and percussion instruments are used in music. Particularly popular and widespread because it is cheap, is the sasa , a calabash rattle that is surrounded by a net with whipped balls. Traditional instruments are also xylophones , slit drums , stringed instruments (frame zither , pluriarc and musical bow ), small bells and horns ( túru ) made of wood and blown transversely, and animal horns or ivory trumpets .

Cape Palmas Military Band

At the request of President Tubman, the Cape-Palmas Military Band was founded in 1963 . She was responsible for the musical design of military parades and state visits and was used at national holidays and festive events. The military band had a high level of musical ability.

Current music scene

The current Liberian music scene has been orienting itself increasingly towards Western models since the 1980s and has influences from reggae and hip-hop as well as West African ethno music as models. A special set of voice impersonator and Chinese singing entertainer Emmanuel Uwechue . The most famous traditional singer of Liberia has Sundaygar Dear Boy, who sings mostly in the local language Bassa.

Visual arts

The Cavalla Basin in western Liberia has been home to artful wood carvers for centuries who have specialized in the production of ritual masks, talismans and figures as well as small-format pieces of furniture. Many European museums have extensive art collections with artefacts from the region. The masks have a cultic and ritual meaning, but were also used as a status symbol. According to a study by the German-Swiss ethnologist Eberhard Fischer from the Rietberg Museum in Zurich , which began in the 1930s, around 140 types of masks occur in this area of ​​West Africa, the symbolism and distribution of which he was able to examine.


The traditional construction of the indigenous population group has adapted over centuries to the living conditions in the tropical rainforest and the savannah and consists of simple wooden huts covered with a canopy of leaves or mud houses with a thatched roof in the savannahs. Forms of jewelry are different from ethnic group to ethnic group - for example, carved beams, the furniture is often artfully decorated.

The “ridge roof house”, which dominates the rainforest region, is 4 to 5 meters long and has an interior space of around 20 square meters. The material required for building the house is obtained from the immediate vicinity of the settlement area and consists of vegetable building materials, for example woven mats, palm leaves, brushwood and straw, as well as processed wood for the load-bearing post structures. The service life of the houses is limited because of the building materials used and requires frequent maintenance work. Palm leaf roofs have to be re-covered every three years. That is why corrugated iron roofs are becoming more and more popular, but too expensive for many families.

The house architecture of the savannah region has taken over the cylindrical round house, which is mainly built from clay. The construction of these buildings is more complex and usually requires the help of the family clan or the village population. These houses have a diameter of three to five meters and thus a maximum usable area of ​​around 20 square meters.

The mosques built by the Muslims and various palaces built are special forms of architecture.

The former slaves who immigrated to Africa did not want to adopt these traditional house forms and copied the architecture popular in the southern states of the USA. A small number of government and administrative buildings have survived from this period.

As early as 1900, as a result of the advancing missionary work, a lively construction of church buildings began. Brick construction was preferred and traditional European (neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic) architecture was used. Only a few stone buildings were erected in the emerging cities and larger settlements, as wood was available in great variety and inexpensively.

A clear change in the style of European architecture - so-called "colonial style buildings" - took place after the First World War . Inexpensive industrial building materials - above all corrugated iron - replaced the previous natural building materials and became a status symbol of modern building. Today they are devalued and synonymous with the slum architecture of the townships. Today almost everyone who can afford it financially tries to use corrugated iron sheets ( zinc ) for their roof in different quality, as this does not have to be changed every three years like natural roofs.

One of the most remarkable buildings in the old town of Monrovia is the Masonic Temple , the house of the Liberian Masonic lodge - today a ruin inhabited by the homeless.

In the early 1950s, a group of young African-American architects from the southern United States, including Henry Clifford Boles, received a teaching position at the newly founded University of Liberia in the field of architecture and town planning. In addition to the apprenticeship training for local architects, her task also included the planning of several model buildings that were viewed as American development aid: The Monrovia Elementary School (1954) and the Mines and Geology Office of Liberia (1955), also built in Monrovia, also corresponded to the American one Building standard.


The traditional cuisine of Liberia is based on West African cuisine and offers a rich, varied range of foods, which includes vegetables and fruits as well as rice, corn and millet as the basis. Fish and meat (from goats, cattle, poultry, including game) are preserved by smoking them before they are used, but meat that is freshly slaughtered is usually used. Water is common as a drink, while ginger beer , palm wine and rum are served at festivals . Due to the influence of the Anglo-Liberians, new dishes and recipes were adopted, including the potato.

Typical dishes are: Cassava (manioc) in various preparation variants, plantains, called plantains, rice, corn, stews with cabbage, fufu and palava sauce. Now, after the war, the population hardly buys the better, but expensive, country rice from their own country, but rather broken rice imported from Asia .


Young Bundu Women
(Ethnographic Collection from 1912)

There is no such thing as “traditional Liberian clothing”: clothing not only varies with the gender and age of the wearer, but is also determined by his or her social and economic situation. Special clothing for participating in ceremonies and rituals was developed in prehistoric times. The clothing preferred today is the result of influences from Western and Muslim morals; African ideas are taken into account in textile production in terms of patterns and colors. During the colonization of Africa, clothing styles were adopted for the first time - initially it was the uniforms of soldiers and sailors. The influence of European and American fashion was felt in the cities and on the plantations near the coast, and appropriate clothing was imported as status symbols (dark or light-colored suits, official robes, and shoes). Today's clothing is also strongly influenced by the milieu belonging to it. Certain rural groups prefer military-style clothing among young people, while urban youth are interested in European jeans and T-shirts as status symbols.

Especially in the interior of the country, it is considered a breach of tradition when women do not wear the wraparound skirt, known as lappa . A woman can recognize the origin of her wearer from the pattern of the Lappa.


Newspapers and journals
Analyst website
Heritage website
Inquirer website
Liberian Journal website
Liberian Observer website
In Profile daily website

In the 2017 press freedom ranking published by Reporters Without Borders , Liberia was ranked 94th out of 180 countries. According to the non-governmental organization, there are “recognizable problems” with the situation of press freedom in the country.

The first international communications links were two submarine cables that German and French cable companies laid off the coast of West Africa around 1910. From the Monrovia station, the German operating company laid two more cables to Togo , Cameroon and Namibia and via Brazil and Uruguay to Argentina . France also used its own submarine cables from Monrovia to reach the Central African colonies. The first radios arrived as early as the First World War; the Liberian government received a modern radio telegraph as a gift from the USA in the 1940s. In 1959, two Liberian radio amateurs received a license to set up a medium and short wave transmitter in Paynesville with a maximum transmission power of 10 kilowatts. The station's amateur radio identifier was ELRS and became a synonym for Liberian Radio. After the test operation, the station was nationalized in 1960 and served as the first electronic mass medium. With the support of President Tubman, Liberia's first television studio was opened in 1964 . The state television broadcaster ELTV was initially only available in the vicinity of the capital. The transmission technology was modernized in the following years, co-financed by Japanese and American state treaties. Since the 1960s there were also several radio stations operated by the mining companies, which broadcast news and light music as an additional program, also in the most important national languages. Mention should also be made of the transmission technology of the airports and the port authority of Monrovia and the other port cities of the country, which, however, was used exclusively for communication with the Liberian merchant fleet and the incoming ships ( marine radio ). As a reaction to the independence movements in the crumbling colonial empires of Africa, the USA installed a military broadcasting station near Monrovia, which broadcast the corresponding propaganda programs from Voice of America in numerous African and European languages.

Radio ELWA in Monrovia is the oldest Christian radio station in Africa. In addition to English, the radio station broadcasts in the languages ​​Grebo, Kru, Gola, Bassa, Kpelle, Kissi, Dan, Krahn and Loma. The transmitter went into operation on January 18, 1954. Since the 1980s, other mission stations and the Catholic Church in Monrovia had their own broadcast studios (Radio Veritas) and frequencies to broadcast Christian-religious content on radio programs. These stations also fell victim to the war. In the meantime, a new station of the Catholic Church also transmits education and information programs, since radio reception is currently the safest medium in the country. During the civil war, all Liberian broadcasting stations in the country were captured and destroyed by the rebels. For a transitional period, radio reception of Liberian programs will be made possible via Radio France Internationale and the BBC-Worldservice . A group of communications engineers and editors is currently working on a restart of the state radio and television program and has already been successful.

The first private television DC-TV already exists through foreign license partners ; the majority of programs are received via satellite television .

The Liberian journalists' association Press Union of Liberia (PUL) endeavors to present the news and events in a factual, impartial manner. One of the most popular radio stations is the private Star Radio or the UN station called UNMIL Radio.

In 2016, 8.6% of the population used the internet.


With its participation in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Liberia was represented at the Olympic Games for the 12th time. The first participation was in 1956. Liberia's athletes - for example Kia Davis , Bobby Young and Abraham Morlu - are particularly successful in athletics . The most popular sport is football, but basketball and numerous other sports are also practiced. There are two newly built stadiums in Monrovia; otherwise there is no sporting infrastructure worth mentioning in the country that meets international competition conditions. Most internationally successful Liberian athletes train and live abroad. In addition, the Liberian George Weah was the only African to date to win the World Footballer Award - the Ballon d'Or.

National monuments

Presidential Palace in new splendor

National monuments of Liberia are:

All buildings are located in Monrovia's old town.

public holidays

Liberia sees itself as a Christian country; State holidays are modeled on the USA. In addition to the national holidays, the religious festivals of Islam and Christianity are also celebrated. In addition to these holidays, religious, traditional and cultural festivals are celebrated at certain times of the year.


  • Werner Korte: Liberia. A bibliography (1988–1998) with special references to the civil war . In: Institute for African Studies (Ed.): University of Leipzig papers on Africa . Politics and economics series. tape 23 . Institute for African Studies, Leipzig 1999, ISBN 3-932632-33-8 (English: Liberia .).
  • Werner Korte: Processes of the state collapse in Liberia . In: WeltTrends. Journal of International Politics and Comparative Studies . tape 14 , 1997, ISSN  0944-8101 , p. 55–80 ( - full text).
  • Patricia Levy, Michael Spilling: Liberia . In: Cultures of the World . Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, New York 2010, ISBN 978-0-7614-3414-6 .
  • Stefan von Gnielinski: Liberia in maps . Ed .: University of London. London University Press, 1976, ISBN 0-340-15804-2 , pp. 111 .
  • Ruedi Kuster: Africa - Liberia: a country between fear and hope . Portmann, Erlenbach 2006, ISBN 3-9523107-4-3 .
  • Willi Schulze: Liberia: country-specific dominants and regional structures . In: Scientific regional customers . tape 7 . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1973, ISBN 3-534-05821-6 .
  • Gerold Schmidt: The New Constitutional Developments in the Republic of Liberia . In: Hamburg Society for International Law and Foreign Policy (ed.): Constitution and Law in Overseas . Volume 3. Hamburg 1981, p. 243-268 .
  • Gerold Schmidt: The state church law of the new constitution of the Republic of Liberia . In: Yearbook of Public Law of the Present . tape 35 (new episode). Tübingen 1986, p. 643-683 (Annex: Constitution of the Republic of Liberia. (1983), pp. 663-683).
  • Gerold Schmidt: Tropical fates - Germans in Liberia / West Africa in the Monrovia cemetery . In: Journal for Culture Exchange . 33. Vol. 2, 1983, ISSN  0044-2976 , pp. 240-247 .
  • JW Lugenbeel: The republic of Liberia: its geography, climate, soil and productions, with a history of its early settlements . GS Stockwell, New York 1868 ( ).
  • Roland R. Wahl: Geologic, geophysical and mineral localities map of Liberia . Ed .: US Dep. of Geological Survey. Washington 2007, ISBN 978-1-4113-1985-1 (2 DVD-ROM).

Web links

Commons : Liberia  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Liberia  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations
Wikimedia Atlas: Liberia  - geographical and historical maps
Wikivoyage: Liberia  Travel Guide


  1. Vegetation zones: A cartographic representation of the vegetation zones along the Mano River was published in 1979 and is also available in digital form: A Reconnaissance Agricultural Land Evaluation of the Mano River Union Project Area in Liberia .
  2. Prehistory and early history: Research into the prehistory and early history of Liberia was perceived as threatening by the country's educated elite, because the results could have undermined their claim to power. Under pressure from the USA, Liberia was systematically toured in the 1970s by a team of renowned US scientists: archaeologists, anthropologists, ethnologists and linguists from the University of Boston, under the direction of the Africa expert W. Creithon Gabel .
  3. Cities: An administrative regulation already issued by the Tubman government defines any settlement with more than 1,000 inhabitants as a city, regardless of the existing infrastructure.
  4. Concubines: “The polygamy existing in many African cultures was massively opposed by the Christian churches in Liberia, but also shamelessly undermined by the patronage system established by the American-Liberian upper class . This usually happened with the approval of the respective families, who transferred their daughters into the household as "outside wives" for training or any pretext. The offspring resulting from such extramarital relationships were, however, recognized in Liberian society and were not, as in European societies, discriminated against for illegitimacy . "
  5. Foreign initiatives: International organizations and private associations support with their own projects - here we refer to the “Liberian Education Assistance Project” (LEAP) launched by the “Friends of Liberia” in 1999: in three year-old courses, 147 young people and adults were mentored as primary school teachers which have been distributed to 42 schools across the country since 2002.
  6. Fake diplomas: “In 2003, on behalf of Boston College, the Center for International Higher Education, an American investigative agency tracked down a flourishing trade in forged university diplomas from Liberia. Liberians in exile and US citizens had, in fact, created three fictitious universities with corrupt Liberian officials to issue diplomas and doctorates against payment of an "administrative fee". The diplomas obtained at St. Regis University, James Monroe University and Robertstown University are therefore worthless forgeries. "
  7. Fishing: “A law has existed since 1956 that regulates fishing and the economic use of Liberian territorial waters. The territorial waters zone has been expanded to 200 miles to meet the needs of national inshore fishing. Only fishing companies that have received a state license are allowed to operate within the territorial waters. Inland fishing and angling also requires a license. "
  8. Fishing fleet: "According to an FAO report (see Haakonsen (1992), p. 85), the Liberian fishing fleet consists largely of formerly Greek fishing trawlers that were relocated from the (overfished) Mediterranean to the fish-rich West African coast, and their crews are the largest Part consists of Ghanaians . The dispatch of the trawlers was legitimized as part of a joint venture . In return, Liberia delivers a contractually agreed share of the catch to the participating Greek fishing companies. "
  9. Second currency: "In the country, the US dollar is also recognized as a means of payment, which is used for all higher sums due to the otherwise too many bills."
  10. ↑ Radio navigation: Until 1997 there was an important system for global radio navigation in Liberia , whose transmission mast, which is still in place today, is the tallest structure in Africa.
  11. Telephone booths: “It is usually not a coin-operated telephone, but a normal mobile telephone, for the use of which a fee is due depending on the duration. With the exception of a few streets in the capital, there are no longer any telephone lines in the whole country, as these were mostly torn out and sold by child soldiers because of the copper. "
  12. Emergency power supply: "Since the civil war, energy generation has been based on a large number of small power plants (for example generators removed from scrapped ships) and some thermal power plants ."
  13. Landfill problem: The situation with industrial waste is particularly precarious. The majority of the overpopulated suburbs are now like a garbage dump with tons of plastic leftovers (drinking water bottles) .
  14. Medical infrastructure: The reconstruction of the technical infrastructure also includes medical laboratories, cold stores, test laboratories and training programs for nurses, especially in the Phebe Hospital in Gbarnga.
  15. Posting agreement: The posting took place at the express request of Liberian President William S. Tubman to US President Harry S. Truman (Point Four Program) .
  16. ↑ Model farm: In the same way, Francis E. Griffin was sent to set up a model farm and various facilities .
  17. Table manners: The African table custom of taking food as finger food was frowned upon by the upper class and is avoided in the company of foreigners .

Individual evidence

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Coordinates: 7 °  N , 10 °  W