Country profile Liberia

Map of Liberia

Liberia is Africa’s oldest republic, but became known in the 1990s for its long, ruinous civil war and its role in a rebellion in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Although Liberia was founded by freed American and Caribbean slaves, it is primarily inhabited by indigenous Africans, with the descendants of the slaves making up 5% of the population.

Around 250,000 people were killed in the civil war in Liberia, and many thousands fled the fighting.

Major programs are underway to address the lack of electricity and running water.

Liberian President George Weah

Liberian President George Weah

Chairman: George Weah

Former soccer star George Weah secured a resounding runoff victory in December 2017 in the country’s first democratic transfer of power in decades.

Mr Weah succeeded Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who became President in 2006.

He played in top-flight football with Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan in the 1990s and briefly with Chelsea and Manchester City before entering politics in 2002.

Liberia’s media scene includes private and state media. Radio is the main source of news and there is a vibrant commercial sector.

There is real freedom of the media, says the watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

Some important events in Liberia’s history:

Ex-President William Tubman

President William Tubman, center, served from 1944 until his death in 1971. He introduced numerous reforms, including women’s suffrage

1847 – A constitution based on the American model is drawn up and Liberia becomes independent.

1917 – Liberia declares war on Germany and provides the Allies with a base in West Africa.

1926 – Rubber production becomes the backbone of Liberia’s economy after the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company opened a rubber plantation on government-granted land.

1936 – Forced labor practices abolished.

1943 – William Tubman elected President.

1958 – Racial discrimination prohibited.

1980 – Master Sergeant Samuel Doe conducts a military coup that ousts and publicly executes President William Tolbert and 13 of his aides.

1985 – Doe wins the presidential election a year after his regime allowed political parties to return after pressure from the United States and other creditors.

1989-2003 – Civil War. Up to 250,000 are killed while thousands more are maimed and raped, often by armies of drugged child soldiers led by ruthless warlords.

2005 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf becomes the first woman to be elected African head of state.

2013-2016 – Outbreak of deadly Ebola virus sweeps through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, killing 11,300, mostly in Liberia.

2017 – George Weah wins the presidential election, marking the first peaceful transfer of power in decades

Gunman confronts a man during Liberia's civil war

Liberia experienced more than a decade of civil war

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