Liberia is Africa’s oldest republic, but it became known in the 1990s for its long-running, ruinous civil war and its role in a rebellion in neighbouring Sierra Leone.
Although founded by freed American and Caribbean slaves, Liberia is mostly inhabited by indigenous Africans, with the slaves’ descendants comprising 5% of the population.
Around 250,000 people were killed in Liberia’s civil war and many thousands more fled the fighting.
Big programmes are under way to address the shortage of electricity and running water. Corruption is rife and unemployment and illiteracy are endemic.
- The Republic of Liberia
- Capital: Monrovia
- Population 4.2 million
- Area 99,067 sq km (38,250 sq miles)
- Languages English, 29 African languages belonging to the Mande, Kwa or Mel linguistic groups
- Major religionsChristianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs
- Life expectancy 56 years (men), 59 years (women)
- Currency Liberian dollar