Introduction Liberia

Background: In August 2003, a comprehensive peace agreement ended 14 years of civil war and prompted the resignation of former president Charles TAYLOR, who was exiled to Nigeria. The National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) – composed of rebel, government, and civil society groups – assumed control in October 2003. Chairman Gyude BRYANT, who was given a two-year mandate to oversee efforts to rebuild Liberia, heads the new government. The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), which maintains a strong presence throughout the country, completed a disarmament program for former combatants in late 2004, but the security situation is still volatile and the process of rebuilding the social and economic structure of this war-torn country remains sluggish.

Geography Liberia
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
Area: 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, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 3.95%
permanent crops: 2.28%
other: 93.77% (2001)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: dust-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to March)
Environment – current issues: tropical rain forest deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; pollution of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: facing the Atlantic Ocean, the coastline is characterized by lagoons, mangrove swamps, and river-deposited sandbars; the inland grassy plateau supports limited agriculture
People Liberia
Population: 3,482,211 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 43.6% (male 765,662/female 751,134)
15-64 years: 52.8% (male 896,206/female 940,985)
65 years and over: 3.7% (male 64,547/female 63,677) (2005 est.)
Median age: total: 18.06 years
male: 17.69 years
female: 18.42 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.64% (2005 est.)
Birth rate: 44.22 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate: 17.87 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: at least 200,000 Liberian refugees are in surrounding countries; the uncertain security situation has hindered their ability to return (2005 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.01 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 128.87 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 135.64 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 121.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 38.89 years
male: 37.03 years
female: 40.81 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate: 6.09 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 5.9% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 100,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 7,200 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever are high risks in some locations
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
aerosolized dust or soil contact disease: Lassa fever (2004)
Nationality: noun: Liberian(s)
adjective: Liberian
Ethnic groups: indigenous African tribes 95% (including Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Grebo, Mano, Krahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma, Kissi, Vai, Dei, Bella, Mandingo, and Mende), Americo-Liberians 2.5% (descendants of immigrants from the US who had been slaves), Congo People 2.5% (descendants of immigrants from the Caribbean who had been slaves)
Religions: indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%
Languages: English 20% (official), some 20 ethnic group languages, of which a few can be written and are used in correspondence
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 57.5%
male: 73.3%
female: 41.6% (2003 est.)
Government Liberia
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Liberia
conventional short form: Liberia
Government type: republic
Capital: Monrovia
Administrative divisions: 15 counties; Bomi, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, River Cess, River Gee, Sinoe
Independence: 26 July 1847
National holiday: Independence Day, 26 July (1847)
Constitution: 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: Chairman Gyude BRYANT (since 14 October 2003); note – this is an interim position until presidential elections in 2005; the chairman is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: Chairman Gyude BRYANT (since 14 October 2003); note – this is an interim position until presidential elections in 2005; the chairman is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate; note – current cabinet positions are divided among groups participating in the Liberian peace process
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (renewable); election last held 19 July 1997 (next to be held 11 October 2005)
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%; note – TAYLOR stepped down in August 2003
note: a UN-brokered cease-fire among warring factions and the Liberian government resulted in the August 2003 resignation of former president Charles TAYLOR; a jointly agreed upon replacement, Chairman Gyude BRYANT, assumed office as head of the National Transitional Government on 14 October 2003
Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (30 seats – number of seats changed in 11 October 2005 elections; members elected by popular vote to serve nine-year terms) and the House of Representatives (64 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms)
elections: Senate – last held 19 July 1997 (next to be held 11 October 2005); House of Representatives – last held 19 July 1997 (next to be held 11 October 2005)
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
Judicial branch: Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders: Alliance of Political Parties (a coalition of LAP and LUP) [leader NA]; All Liberia Coalition Party or ALCOP [Peter KERBAY]; Liberian Action Party or LAP [C. Gyude BRYANT]; Liberian People’s Party or LPP [Koffa NAGBE]; Liberia Unification Party or LUP [leader NA]; National Patriotic Party or NPP [Cyril ALLEN] – governing party; United People’s Party or UPP [Wesley JOHNSON]; Unity Party or UP [Charles CLARKE] Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, AU, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, NAM, OPCW (signatory), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Aaron B. KOLLIE
chancery: 5201 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011
telephone: [1] (202) 723-0437 FAX: [1] (202) 723-0436
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador John William BLANEY III
embassy: 111 United Nations Drive, P. O. Box 10-0098, Mamba Point, 1000 Monrovia, 10 Liberia
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [231] 226-370 through 226-380 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
Economy Liberia
Economy – overview: Civil war and government mismanagement have destroyed much of Liberia’s economy, especially the infrastructure in and around Monrovia, while continued international sanctions on diamonds and timber exports will limit growth prospects for the foreseeable future. Many businessmen have fled the country, taking capital and expertise with them. Some have returned, but many will not. Richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture, Liberia had been a producer and exporter of basic products – primarily raw timber and rubber. Local manufacturing, mainly foreign owned, had been small in scope. The departure of the former president, Charles TAYLOR, to Nigeria in August 2003, the establishment of the all-inclusive Transitional Government, and the arrival of a UN mission are all necessary for the eventual end of the political crisis, but thus far have done little to encourage economic development. The reconstruction of infrastructure and the raising of incomes in this ravaged economy will largely depend on generous financial support and technical assistance from donor countries.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $2.903 billion (2004 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 21.8% (2004 est.)
GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity – $900 (2004 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 76.9%
industry: 5.4%
services: 17.7% (2002 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture 70%, industry 8%, services 22% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 85% (2003 est.)
Population below poverty line: 80%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 15% (2003 est.)
Budget: revenues: $85.4 million
expenditures: $90.5 million, including capital expenditures of NA (2000 est.)
Agriculture – products: rubber, coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, sugarcane, bananas; sheep, goats; timber
Industries: rubber processing, palm oil processing, timber, diamonds
Industrial production growth rate: NA
Electricity – production: 488.8 million kWh (2002)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity – consumption: 454.6 million kWh (2002)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2002)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2002)
Oil – production: 0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil – consumption: 3,100 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil – imports: NA
Exports: $1.079 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports – commodities: rubber, timber, iron, diamonds, cocoa, coffee Exports – partners: Denmark 29.5%, Germany 18.9%, Poland 14.3%, US 8.9%, Greece 8% (2004)
Imports: $5.051 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports – commodities: fuels, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods; foodstuffs
Imports – partners: South Korea 38.8%, Japan 21.2%, Singapore 12.2%, Croatia 5.3%, Germany 4.2% (2004)
Debt – external: $2.1 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid – recipient: $94 million (1999)
Currency (code): Liberian dollar (LRD)
Currency code: LRD
Exchange rates: Liberian dollars per US dollar – 54.906 (2004), 59.379 (2003), 61.754 (2002), 48.583 (2001), 40.953 (2000)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Liberia
Telephones – main lines in use: 7,000 (2001)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 2,000 (2001)
Telephone system: general assessment: the limited services available are found almost exclusively in the capital Monrovia
domestic: fully automatic system with very low density of .21 fixed mainlines per 100 persons; limited wireless service available
international: country code – 231; satellite earth station – 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 0, FM 7, shortwave 2 (2001)
Radios: 790,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 1 (plus four low-power repeaters) (2001)
Televisions: 70,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .lr
Internet hosts: 14 (2004)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 2 (2001)
Internet users: 1,000 (2002)
Transportation Liberia
Railways: total: 490 km
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 145 km 1.067-m gauge
note: none of the railways are in operation because of the civil war (2004)
Highways: total: 10,600 km
paved: 657 km
unpaved: 9,943 km (1999 est.)
Ports and harbors: Buchanan, Monrovia
Merchant marine: total: 1,465 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 50,555,752 GRT/79,125,329 DWT
by type: barge carrier 3, bulk carrier 275, cargo 91, chemical tanker 173, combination ore/oil 22, container 388, liquefied gas 78, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 324, refrigerated cargo 57, roll on/roll off 6, specialized tanker 9, vehicle carrier 35
foreign-owned: 1,392 (Argentina 8, Australia 2, Austria 13, Bahamas 3, Brazil 6, British 1, Canada 2, Chile 1, China 36, Croatia 7, Cyprus 1, Denmark 5, France 3, Germany 511, Greece 149, Hong Kong 29, India 4, Indonesia 1, Isle of Man 5, Israel 7, Italy 12, Japan 106, Latvia 18, Monaco 10, Netherlands 18, Nigeria 1, Norway 57, Pakistan 1, Poland 14, Romania 1, Russia 63, Saudi Arabia 23, Singapore 29, Slovenia 1, South Korea 4, Sweden 12, Switzerland 10, Taiwan 54, Turkey 4, Ukraine 7, UAE 10, United Kingdom 56, United States 84, Uruguay 3) (2005)
Airports: 53 (2004 est.)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2004 est.)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 51
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 38 (2004 est.)
Military Liberia
Military branches: Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL): Army, Navy, Air Force
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2001)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 659,795 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 360,373 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures – dollar figure: $1.5 million (2004)
Military expenditures – percent of GDP: 0.2% (2004)
Transnational Issues Liberia
Disputes – international: although Liberia’s domestic fighting among disparate rebel groups, warlords, and youth gangs was declared over in 2003, civil unrest persists, and in 2004, 133,000 Liberian refugees remained in Guinea, 72,000 in Cote d’Ivoire, 67,000 in Sierra Leone, and 43,000 in Ghana; Liberia, in turn, shelters refugees fleeing turmoil in Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone; since 2003, the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has maintained about 18,000 peacekeepers in Liberia; the Cote d’Ivoire Government accuses Liberia of supporting Ivoirian rebels; UN sanctions ban Liberia from exporting diamonds and timber
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 13,941 (Sierra Leone) 38,325 (Cote d’Ivoire)
IDPs: 500,000 (civil war from 1990-2004; IDP resettlement began in November 2004) (2004)
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for Southeast and Southwest Asian heroin and South American cocaine for the European and US markets; corruption, criminal activity, arms-dealing, and diamond trade provide significant potential for money laundering, but the lack of well-developed financial system limits the country’s utility as a major money-laundering center

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