Capital city: Monrovia
Languages: English and ethnic group
Population: Abt. 4.2 million
Area: 96,320 sq. km
GDP per capita: 374 in 2011
GDP current US$: 2 in 2011
Ease of Business Ranking: 149 in 2013
Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north and Côte d'Ivoire to its east. It covers an area of 111,369 km2 (43,000 sq mi) and is home to about 3.7 million people.
English is the official language and over thirty indigenous languages are also spoken within the country. Its coastline is composed mostly of mangroves, while its more sparsely populated inland consists of forests opening onto a plateau of drier grasslands. The climate is hot and equatorial, with significant rainfall during the May–October rainy season and harsh harmattan winds the remainder of the year. The country possesses about forty percent of the remaining Upper Guinean rainforest.
Liberia is the only country in Africa rooted in U.S. colonization. Beginning in 1820, the region was colonized by blacks from the United States, most of whom were freed slaves. These immigrants established a new country with the help of the American Colonization Society, a private organization which believed that former slaves would have greater freedom and equality in Africa. African captives freed from slave ships were also sent there instead of being repatriated to their countries of origin. In 1847, this new country became the Republic of Liberia, establishing a government modeled on that of the United States and naming its capital city Monrovia after James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States and a prominent supporter of the colonization. The colonists, known as Americo-Liberians, led the political and economic sectors of the country.
The country began to modernize in the 1940s following investment by the United States during World War II and economic liberalization under President William Tubman. Liberia was a founding member of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity. A military coup overthrew the Americo-Liberian leadership in 1980, marking the beginning of political and economic instability and two successive civil wars that left approximately 250,000 people dead and devastated the country's economy. A peace agreement in 2003 led to democratic elections in 2005. Today, Liberia is recovering from the lingering effects of the civil wars and their consequent economic upheaval, although about 85% of the population continue to live below the international poverty line.