Key Facts About Liberia
- Liberia, which means “land of the free,” is Africa’s first republic, founded around 1820 by the American Colonization Society to settle approximately 12,000 freed American slaves in West Africa and later gained its independence in 1847.
- The country is an English speaking country, with a population of 4.2 million people composed of 16 different ethnic groups, including a 5% Americo -Liberian population (descendants of former American slaves).
- The capital city of Liberia is Monrovia, named in honor of U.S. president James Monroe.
- Liberia’s government, constitution, flag, and currency were modeled after the United States.
- Liberia is a West Africa country bordering the Atlanta Ocean, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Guinea of 43,000 square miles or slightly larger than Tennessee.
- Liberia is rich in natural resources, notably iron ore, diamonds, gold, timber and rubber. Oil was recently discovered in the country.
- Liberia’s devastating 15 year civil crisis, which was fought by warring factions, enlisted over 15,000 child soldiers, killed over 250,000 people and displaced a half million, and decimated the country.
- Today, Liberia is the 4th poorest nation in the world with a literacy rate of 60.8% (188 out of 194 African nations), 84% unemployment rate and median age of 18 years old.
- Of the 2400 schools that existed prior to the 15 year civil crisis, today 80 % are nonoperational and the majority of the operating schools are in subpar condition, lacking electricity, running water, books, computers, and libraries.
Visit CIA World Factbook to learn more about Liberia.