The now peaceful country of Liberia has not always been this way. With a population of roughly 3.5 million, Liberia’s domestic fighting led to a brutal civil war lasting 14 years (1989 – 2003) in which approximately 250,000 perished and over a million had to flee their homes. Liberia was founded by America’s ex slaves and has a constitution modeled after that of the United States. The first African nation to gain its independence in 1847, Liberia consists of 15 counties, over 16 ethnic groups and a reported 20 various ethnic dialects, although English is the official language. Situated on the western tip of Africa and bordering the Atlantic Ocean, iron ore, timber and rubber exports have fueled the nation’s economy and although the country is admired for having a vast array of natural resources, approximately 80% of the population lives below the poverty level at about two dollars a day, while human rights agencies list unemployment at 85%. Liberia, which represents Land of the Free, has a total land area of 43,000 square miles; 45% of the land is prime forest while the country also boasts 350 miles of sandy beaches.
Amidst all of the natural beauty that exist, and the optimism that Liberia is on the path to lasting peace, there are still very troubling signs that continue to persist. In 2007, the nation had the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the world while also reporting one of the highest population growth rates at 3.66%. Sadly though, illiteracy remains high at over 60%, and as alluded to earlier, roughly 85% of the population has no stable source of income. On his last visit to Liberia, former United States President George Bush stated, “One of the things I've learned, and I suspect the people of Liberia have learned- it's easier to tear a country down than it is to rebuild a country.”
With the attention of the world turning to our small West African nation, Liberia will once again be a great nation, but in order to get to that point, there is still plenty of work that needs to be done and plenty of help that is needed.
VARIOUS LIBERIAN FACTS AND STATISTICS
Capital City: Monrovia
Birth Rate: 42.92/1,000 population
Death Rate: 21.45 deaths/1,000 population
Infant Mortality Rate: Total; 143.89 deaths/1,000 live births. The fertility rate currently stands at 5.87 children born to every woman.
Life expectancy At Birth: 41.13 years
Unemployment: 85% (2003)
Population Below Poverty Line: 80% (2000)
Religions: Christianity 40%. Muslim 20%. Indigenous Beliefs 40%
Languages: The official language of Liberia is English but here are seventeen different tribal dialects that are also spoken. These include, Bassa, Belle, Gbandi, Gio, Grebo, Gola, Kissi, Kpelle, Kru, Lorma, Mano, Mandingo, Mende, Sapo, and Vai.
Institutions of Higher Learning:
Cuttington University was established by the Episcopal Church of the USA (ECUSA) in 1889. Its campus is currently located in Suakoko, Bong County (120 miles north of Monrovia). Undergraduate Degrees offered are Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Science in General Studies, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
United Methodist University commenced full operation in March of 2000. The University, at present, offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in the following major areas: Accounting, Economics, Management, Mass Communication, Political Science, Sociology, Peace Studies, History, Theology, Religious Education, Sacred Theology and Associate of Science in Nursing.
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 the northeast.
Natural Resources: Iron Ore, Timber, Diamonds, Gold, Hydropower
HIV/AIDS – Adult prevalence rate: 5.9%.
People Living With HIV/AIDS: 100,000
Executive Branch: The President is both the Chief of State and Head of Government and is elected to a six-year term. The next elections will be held in 2011.
Legislative Branch: The National Assembly consists of the Senate 30 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve nine-year terms and the House of Representatives 64 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms.
Only 54.4% of adults are literate
Only 39% of girls and 40% of boys are in primary school
Statistics are taken from UNESCO Institute of Statistics and the Central Intelligence Agency of America unless otherwise noted.
More Information about Liberia can be found on the following sites:
Liberian News Sites
AllAfrica.com - http://allafrica.com/liberia/