Liberia is a 43,000 square mile country (about the size of state of Tennessee) situated on the west coast of Africa. It shares borders with the Ivory Coast, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Liberia was colonized by the American Colonization Society as a solution to the problem of slavery and the incompatibility of races in the 1800s. In July of 1847, Liberia received its independence and became the first free African republic with a government that modeled that of the United States.
Since its independence on July 26, 1847, Liberia has been plagued by crises, abject poverty and an insurmountable rate of illiteracy. These unattended political, economic and social issues were a result of rampant corruption and total lack of good governance; the result of a bloody military coup in 1980 that led to a devastating 14-year civil war. These two internal uprisings destroyed over 300,000 lives, left the country’s infrastructure in ruins, and destroyed its entire social fabric; ultimately leaving a nation of totally emasculated people. Over 600,000 Liberians who fled the atrocities – rape, child labor, torture, etc - of the civil conflict sought refuge in neighboring countries including Guinea, Sierra Leone, Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Ghana and a host of other countries in West Africa, as well as in Europe and the United States.
After 14 years of enduring a devastating civil war, tyranny, and corruption, the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) were able to restore peace and stability in the country. This move ushered in a new and democratically elected government headed by a Harvard trained public administrator, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The country has since then enjoyed relative peace and stability and has been making efforts to rebuild and create better socio-economic conditions for its citizens.
The impact of the civil war left overwhelming suffering, increased poverty, illiteracy, and over-crowdedness of the capital city; Monrovia as a result of mass migration from rural areas. Currently, at a population of nearly 4 million (3,195,931 July 2007 est.); growth rate of 4.836% (2007 est.); birth rate at 43.75 births/1,000 population (2007 est.); total infant mortality rate at 110.73 deaths/1,000 live births and life expectancy at 40.39 years; Liberia is placed amongst the world’s “least livable” countries due to the extreme rate of poverty and poor quality of life of its citizens; living on less than a dollar a day (UN-2009 Country Report 2009 and LDHS, 2007).
The absence of other essential socio-economic infrastructures such as the limited supply of electricity, inadequate supply of safe drinking (Pipe borne) water, limited garbage and sewage collection systems; deplorable roads; limited schools and hospitals amongst other essential needs; threaten the daily livelihood of Liberians.
Considering the aforementioned, there is a genuine need to mobilize resources, both human and material, to address the challenges faced by Liberians as a result of the 14-year quagmire. Liberia is a rich and wonderful country and we, Liberians, can make our country better and livable again for all of its citizens, if we all work together.
Population: 3,955,000 (2009)
National language(s): English (official), some 20 ethnic group
Per capita income: US$ 160/year (2009)
Life expectancy: 59 (2009)
% of population using
improved drinking water sources: 68% (2008)
% of population using
adequate sanitation facilities: 17% (2008)
Under 5 Mortality Rate: 112/1,000 live births (2009)
Source: UNICEF: The State of the World's Children Report
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