Liberia 1997Liberia

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Liberia - Introduction 1997
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Background: Years of civil strife have destroyed much of Liberia's economic infrastructure, made civil administration nearly impossible, and brought economic activity virtually to a halt. The deterioration of economic conditions has been greatly exacerbated by the flight of most business people with their expertise and capital. Civil order ended in 1990 when President Samuel Kenyon DOE was killed by rebel forces. In April 1996, when forces loyal to faction leaders Charles Ghankay TAYLOR and Alhaji KROMAH attacked rival ethnic Krahn factions, the fighting further damaged Monrovia's dilapidated infrastructure. Fighting waned in late May 1996, allowing West African peacekeepers to regain control of Monrovia. The Abuja II peace accord was signed in August 1996 replacing the Chairman of the ruling Council of State, Wilton SANKAWULO, with Ruth PERRY. National elections were scheduled for 30 May 1997, but long-term prospects for peace will remain poor unless the warring factions can overcome their greed, mutual suspicions and ethnic hatreds.

Liberia - Geography 1997
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Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone

Geographic coordinates: 6 30 N, 9 30 W

Map referenceAfrica

Total: 111,370 km²
Land: 96,320 km²
Water: 15,050 km²
Comparative: slightly larger than Tennessee

Land boundaries
Total: 1,585 km
Border countries: (3) Guinea 563 km; , Cote d'Ivoire 716 km; , Sierra Leone 306 km

Coastline: 579 km

Maritime claims: territorial sea:200 nm

Climate: tropical; hot, humid; dry winters with hot days and cool to cold nights; wet, cloudy summers with frequent heavy showers

Terrain: mostly flat to rolling coastal plains rising to rolling plateau and low mountains in northeast

Extremes lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Extremes highest point: Mount Wuteve 1,380 m

Natural resources: iron ore, timber, diamonds, gold
Land use

Land use
Arable land: 1%
Permanent crops: 3%
Permanent pastures: 59%
Forests and woodland: 18%
Other: 19% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 20 km² (1993 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

Natural hazards: dust-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to March)


Liberia - People 1997
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Population: 2,602,068 (July 1997 est.)
Growth rate: 6.92% (1997 est.)

Noun: Liberian(s)
Adjective: Liberian

Ethnic groups: indigenous African tribes 95% (including Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Grebo, Mano, Krahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma, Kissi, Vai, and Bella), Americo-Liberians 5% (descendants of former slaves)

Languages: English 20% (official), about 20 tribal languages, of which a few can be written and are used in correspondence

Religions: traditional 70%, Muslim 20%, Christian 10%

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: 45% (male 584,918; female 579,728)
15-64 years: 52% (male 689,376; female 657,029)
65 years and over: 3% (male 43,868; female 47,149) (July 1997 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 6.92% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 42.3 births/1000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 11.53 deaths/1000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate: 38.39 migrant(s)/1000 population (1997 est.)
Note: until domestic peace is restored, many Liberian refugees will not return from exile

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: tropical rain forest subject to deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; pollution of rivers from the dumping of iron ore tailings and of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.93 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (1997 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 105.6 deaths/1000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 59.02 years
Male: 56.43 years
Female: 61.69 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.16 children born/woman (1997 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 38.3%
Male: 53.9%
Female: 22.4% (1995 est.)

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Liberia - Government 1997
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Country name
Conventional long form: Republic of Liberia
Conventional short form: Liberia

Government type: republic

Capital: Monrovia

Administrative divisions: 13 counties; Bomi, Bong, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, River Cess, Sinoe

Dependent areas

Independence: 26 July 1847

National holiday: Independence Day, 26 July (1847)

Constitution: 6 January 1986

Legal system: dual system of statutory law based on Anglo-American common law for the modern sector and customary law based on unwritten tribal practices for indigenous sector

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state: Chairman of the Council of State Ruth PERRY (since NA August 1996); note - chairman of the Council of State is both the chief of state and head of government
Head of government: Chairman of the Council of State Ruth PERRY (since NA August 1996); note - chairman of the Council of State is both the chief of state and head of government
Cabinet: Cabinet selected by the leaders of the major factions in the civil war
Elections: last presidential election held 15 October 1985 (next to be held 19 July 1997); results - Samuel Kanyon DOE (NDPL) 50.9%, Jackson DOE (LAP) 26.4%, other 22.7%
Note: constitutional government ended in September 1990 when President Samuel Kanyon DOE was killed by rebel forces; civil war ensued and in August 1996 the Abuja II peace accord was signed by the major warring factions; a transitional coalition government under Ruth PERRY was formed in August 1996; presidential elections are scheduled for 19 July 1997

Legislative branch: unicameral Transitional Legislative Assembly, the members of which are appointed by the leaders of the major factions in the civil war
Note: the former bicameral legislature no longer exists and is unlikely to be reconstituted soon

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders

International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, NAM, OAU, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO

Diplomatic representation
In the us chief of mission: Ambassador Konah K. BLACKETT
In the us chancery: 5,201 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20,011
In the us telephone: [1] (202) 723-0437
In the us consulates general: New York
From the us chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Chief of Mission William MILAM
From the us embassy: 111 United Nations Drive, Monrovia
From the us mailing address: P. O. Box 100,098, Mamba Point, Monrovia
From the us telephone: [231] 226-370
From the us FAX: [231] 226-148

Flag descriptionflag of Liberia: 11 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a white five-pointed star on a blue square in the upper hoist-side corner; the design was based on the US flag

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Liberia - Economy 1997
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Economy overview: Civil war since 1990 has destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially the infrastructure in and around Monrovia. Businessmen have fled the country, taking capital and expertise with them. Many will not return. Richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests and a climate favorable to agriculture, Liberia had been a producer and exporter of basic products, while local manufacturing, mainly foreign owned, had been small in scope. Political and economic instability - including the stripping of resources by local warlords - threatens prospects for reconstruction as well as the repatriation of an estimated 750,000 Liberian refugees who have fled to neighboring countries. The continued political turmoil has prevented restoration of normal economic life, including the re-establishment of a strong central government with effective economic development programs.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: 0% (1995 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 30%
Industry: 36%
Services: 34%

Agriculture products: rubber, coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, sugarcane, bananas; sheep, goats; timber

Industries: rubber processing, food processing, construction materials, furniture, palm oil processing, iron ore, diamonds

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Labor force
Total: 510,000 including 220,000 in the monetary economy
By occupation agriculture: 70.5%
By occupation services: 10.8%
By occupation industry and commerce: 4.5%
By occupation other: 14.2%
Note: non-African foreigners hold about 95% of the top-level management and engineering jobs
Labor force

Unemployment rate: NA%

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $225 million
Expenditures: $285 million, including capital expenditures of $N/A (1994 est.)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Total value: $667 million (f.o.b., 1995 est.)
Commodities: diamonds, iron ore, rubber, timber, coffee
Partners: US, EU, Netherlands, Singapore

Total value: $5.8 billion (f.o.b., 1995 est.)
Commodities: mineral fuels, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods; rice and other foodstuffs
Partners: US, EU, Japan, China, Netherlands, ECOWAS, South Korea

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $2.1 billion (1994 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: Liberian dollars (L$) per US$1 - 1.0000 (officially fixed rate since 1940; market exchange rate:Liberian dollars (L$) per US$1 - 50 (October 1995), 7 (January 1992; market rate floats against the US dollar

Liberia - Energy 1997
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 1.05 billion kWh (1991)

Electricity consumption
Per capita: 384 kWh (1991 est.)

Electricity exports

Electricity imports

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Liberia - Communication 1997
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: telephone and telegraph service via microwave radio relay network; main center is Monrovia; most telecommunications services inoperable due to insurgency
Domestic: NA
International: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Liberia - Military 1997
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $14 million (1993)
Percent of gdp: 2.9% (1993)

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Liberia - Transportation 1997
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 36 (1996 est.)
With paved runways total: 30
With paved runways over 3047 m: 1
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 1
With paved runways under 914 m: 28 (1996 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 6
With unpaved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 2
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 4 (1996 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 30
Over 3047 m: 1
15-24 to 2437 m: 1
Under 914 m: 28 (1996 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 6
15-24 to 2437 m: 2
914 to 1523 m: 4 (1996 est.)



Total: 490 km (single track); note - three rail systems owned and operated by foreign steel and financial interests in conjunction with Liberian Government; one of these, the Lamco Railroad, closed in 1989 after iron ore production ceased; the other two have been shut down by the civil war
Standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
Narrow gauge: 145 km 1.067-m gauge



Merchant marine
Total: 1,616 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 60,081,452 GRT/99,395,792 DWT
Ships by type: barge carrier 3, bulk 418, cargo 121, chemical tanker 117, combination bulk 29, combination ore/oil 58, container 151, liquefied gas tanker 83, multifunction large-load carrier 1, oil tanker 450, passenger 36, refrigerated cargo 68, roll-on/roll-off cargo 29, short-sea passenger 1, specialized tanker 11, vehicle carrier 40
Note: a flag of convenience registry; includes ships from 56 countries among which are Germany 179, US 176, Norway 166, Japan 154, Greece 147, Hong Kong 120, China 45, UK 40, Monaco 39, and Cyprus 33 (1996 est.)

Ports and terminals

Liberia - Transnational issues 1997
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Disputes international: none

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs: increasingly a transshipment point for Southeast and Southwest Asian heroin and South American cocaine for the European and US markets

Fidel Crest

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