Liberia, is a country in West Africa, bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north and Ivory Coast to its east. It covers an area of 111,369 square kilometres (43,000 sq mi) and is home to about 4 million people. English is the official language; 15 indigenous languages are also spoken within Liberia. 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. Liberia possesses about forty percent of the remaining Upper Guinean rainforest.
Beginning in 1822, the area was settled by African Americans, most of whom were free blacks. The settlers established a new home with the help of the American Colonization Society, a private organization whose leaders encouraged African Americans to resettle in Africa.
In 1847, the settlers disbanded from the support of American Colonization Society and formalized their settlement as 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 American Colonization Society. The colonists and their descendants, known as Americo-Liberians, led the political, social, cultural and economic sectors of the country and ruled the nation for over 130 years as a dominant minority.
Liberia 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 League of Nations, United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity. In 1980 a military coup led by Samuel K. Doe overthrew the True-Whig Party leadership, marking the beginning of political instability. After five years of military rule by the People Redemption Council and five years of civilian rule by the National Democratic Party of Liberia, the Republic fell into civil war – two successive civil wars. The war ended 1997 when Charles Taylor was overwhelming elected president. While Doe’s administration was characterized as corrupt and brutal, Taylor’s was no better. As president, he inherited a nation that had virtually no health care system and a capital without electricity or running water. However, his time was spent supporting revolutionaries trying to overthrow the government of Sierra Leone, for which he was handsomely compensated. Unfortunately for Liberia, his work only resulted in UN sanctions against the country. A peace agreement in 2003 led to democratic elections in 2005. African and Liberia first female president was elected. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is a Harvard-educated economist who worked at the World Bank. Today, about 85% of the population live below the international poverty line. Liberia’s economic and political stability has recently been threatened by a deadly Ebola virus epidemic which originated in Guinea in December 2013 and entered Liberia in March 2014.
Liberian Education overview
In 2010, the literacy rate of Liberia was estimated at 60.8% (64.8% for males and 56.8% for females). In some areas primary and secondary education is free and compulsory from the ages of 6 to 16, though enforcement of attendance is lax. In other areas children are required to pay a tuition fee to attend school. On average, children attain 10 years of education (11 for boys and 8 for girls). The country’s education sector is hampered by inadequate schools and supplies, as well as a lack of qualified teachers.