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State

Capital

Liberia

Monrovia

Currency unit

US dollar

Connections

Democracy

Famine

Lawless

Sierra Leone

War

West Africa

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

Created by the American Colonization Society (who didn't wish free blacks to remain in the United States) to settle freed slaves but without asking the people who were already there. Possibly the white Americans who formed this society were not fully aware of the different African nations from which the slaves had come and thought it sufficient to send them to "Africa" .

The Republic was proclaimed in 1847 by the descendants of the freed slaves - the Americo-Liberians - who then formed a ruling aristocracy, speaking American English.

Their control over the interior as a quasi-colonial society took a long time to establish. In effect Liberia became a colony ruled by the Americo-Liberians who handed out concessions to American mining and rubber companies, especially Firestone who operate a large plantation.

Although the outward constitutional forms imitated the United States, the reality was a one-party state in which the indigenous people were not allowed to take part. Only in the 1960s did they begin to gain a position in the state.

The last period of the Americo-Liberian domination was when William V. Tubman was president from 1944 -1971 followed by his vice-president William Tolbert who was overthrown. The Americo-Liberians and their True Whig Party were overthrown in a coup led by Sergeant Samuel Doe in 1980. During his period in power law and order broke down and there was no constitutional government.

Samuel Doe, in turn, was overthrown in 1990 after a long civil war.

A peacekeeping force raised by the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) operated in the country but the war spread over the frontiers into Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, and became almost entirely ethnic in nature. Great destruction was caused in the war and famine followed as no crops could be planted or food imported. There was no effective government. This period of civil war may have come to an end with the election of the current president.

Languages

American English

Pidgin

 

Various African languages of Niger Congo family

Kwa group

Bassa

Kru

Grebo

Bakwe

Sapo

Kran

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Politics

1990 Civil war resulted in serious destruction of the physical and social infrastructure of the country, especially the killing of various ethnic groups because of their association with different contending leaders including: Charles Taylor, former minister; Amos Sawyer supported by the peace keeping force. A third group ULIMO (United Liberation Movement for Democracy) represents the supporters (mainly Krahn) of the previous regime. It is based in Sierra Leone after expelling the Taylor forces. The ECOWAS powers hoped to support elections for a new government. However, the conditions after the civil war, and the continuing war caused by the attempts of Charles Taylor to seize the presidency delayed elections.

There was no constitutional government since the one-party state was overthrown by Samuel Doe and the "other ranks" of the army.

The underlying problem may be that the aristocracy fell but was not replaced by any competent ruling group.

Elections held in July 1997 under UN supervision produced a government but the war may break out again. Charles Taylor, one of the rebel leaders was elected. His father was from the former ruling aristocracy while his mother was from the indigenous people. His regime continues to be that of a warlord. Another group LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) may be gaining power to overthrow the Taylor regime. Would they be any better? Only time will tell.

Taylor has been suspected of assisting Osama bin Laden's group by helping to launder their money via the smuggled diamond trade he controls. He has been indicted in Sierra Leone for his actions in provoking the war there. In mid June 2003 opposition armies captured Monrovia but were beaten back. Taylor resigned 12 August 2003 and went into exile in Calabar Nigeria. Will he stand trial for war crimes in Sierra Leone?

An agreement was signed (18 August 03) in Ghana to form an interim government from both sides in the conflict. The hope is that later a technocratic government will be formed which will rebuild the schools, hospitals and economic infrastructure and bring law and order to Liberia.

What about Taylor's activities in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast? It is hoped that without his direction these rebellions will collapse.

Under UN supervision new elections were held in October 2005. A former World Bank economist Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was elected, the first elected woman government leader in Africa. She has a difficult task ahead of her, to rebuild the whole state structure.

One of her first acts was to call for the repatriation of Taylor to face the UN court in Sierra Leone. He has been arrested in Nigeria and sent to the UN court in the Hague.

Interesting Reading
Grahame Greene - Journey without maps


Journey Without Maps (Vintage Classics)

Im Hinterland: Barbara und Graham Greene in Liberia
Tim Butcher - Chasing the Devil



Chasing the Devil

Radio programme

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

The modern economy - rubber and iron ore - has collapsed and only the subsistence economy is still functioning. This, however, is also disrupted by the presence of armed men so that people are afraid to plant their crops.

The American Dollar is still the official currency.

The actual economy seems to have been dominated by the various smuggling operations formerly controlled by the Charles Taylor. It is reported that the Firestone rubber plantation is still capable of reviving its output quickly, if the fighting stops.

Part of the cause of the state's collapse was similar to that in Sierra Leone - the government had failed to tax the multi-national companies, perhaps because of bribes taken by officials.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

Much of the indigenous rain forest has been cut down for plantations.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

There was no rule of law under the regime of Samuel Doe. Things have scarcely improved, given that much of the country is still experiencing the effects of generalised war.

Can the new government establish courts and law? It will take a long time to restore the legal system.

Climate effects

Last revised 7/05/11


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