Republic of Liberia
LOCATION AND SIZE.
Liberia is situated on the West African coast, bordered by Sierra Leone to the northwest, Guinea to the north, and the Côte d'Ivoire to the east. Liberia also has 300 kilometers (186 miles) of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. Its land area is 111,370 square kilometers (43,000 square miles). The capital, Monrovia, is on the Atlantic coast.
Liberia's population was estimated at 3,255,837 in July of 2001, and in normal circumstances the country has had a high population growth rate of 3.3 percent (1980-87). However, the most recent estimate puts the figure at 2.3 percent for 1990-96 and just 1.92 percent for 2001, as war has lowered the birth rate and raised the mortality rate. An estimated 5 percent of the population died in the civil war of 1989-96.
Even before the war, the urban population was high at 40 percent, but during the conflict it rose to 46 percent, as people sought refuge in the towns. In early 1995, the capital's population stood at 1.3 million, a tripling of its size compared with 1986.
During the war about 1 million Liberians fled abroad, some of whom returned during the lulls in fighting, often to flee again as violence intensified in 1992, 1994, and 1996. Since the end of the war, further tensions have meant the refugees in neighboring countries have been reluctant to return, and an outflow has continued. In 1997, with international help, the government began resettling refugees.
The vast majority—95 percent—of Liberia's people are members of indigenous African tribes, with descendants of U.S. immigrants and Congolese both making up 2.5 percent of the population. Forty percent of the people practice indigenous religious beliefs, 40 percent are Christians, and 20 percent are Muslims.
Liberia has no territories or colonies.
Liberian dollar (L$). One dollar equals 100 cents. The dollar is equivalent to the U.S. dollar. There are coins of 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents and 1 and 5 dollars. No Liberian notes are in circulation, and U.S. notes are used as the paper currency.
Diamonds, iron ore and concentrates, natural rubber and gum, timber, coffee, cocoa.
Machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, food and live animals, mineral fuels, lubricants.
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:
US$3.35 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).
BALANCE OF TRADE:
Exports: US$55 million (f.o.b., 2000). Imports: US$170 million (f.o.b., 2000).