Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia is a state in West Africa. It borders Sierra Leone to the west, Guinea to the north, and Ivory Coast to the east. The capital is Monrovia.

The official language is English. The monetary unit is the Liberian dollar.

The country survived the coup d'état on April 12, 1980, the military dictatorship of Sergeant Samuel Doe from 1980-1989, and the two civil wars that followed, in 1989-1996 and in 1999-2003, which claimed tens of thousands of lives and had a disastrous effect on the economy of the country.

Liberia is the poorest country in West Africa and the ninth poorest country in the world. In addition, Liberia has an unemployment rate of 85% of the population. This unemployment rate is one of the highest in the world.



In 1822, the United States, on the lands acquired in Africa, founded a colony - an independent state of freeborn and freed African Americans, and in 1824 called it "Liberia" (from Latin liber - "free, independent"). In 1847 the Republic of Liberia was proclaimed.



Native tribes 1200-1800

Anthropological and archaeological studies show that the territory of Liberia has been inhabited since at least the 12th century.

The Mende-speaking peoples moved west, forcing many small ethnic groups to move south towards the Atlantic Ocean. Dei, Bassa, Kru, Gola and Kissi were among the first settlers. This influx increased with the onset of the decline of the western Sudanese Mali Empire in 1375 and the Songhai Empire in 1591. In addition, the interior regions were subjected to desertification and their inhabitants were forced to move to wetter coastal regions. These settlers brought skills in cotton spinning, weaving, iron smelting, rice and sorghum cultivation, and socio-political institutions from the Mali and Songhai empires.

Shortly after the conquest of the region by the Mane tribe (former warriors of the Empire of Mali), there was a migration of the Vai people to the Grand Cape Mount region. The Vai were part of the Mali Empire but were forced to migrate to the coastal regions when the empire collapsed in the 14th century. The Kru peoples resisted the influx of the Wai into their territory. An alliance between the Mane and the Kru stopped their advance, but the Vai remained in the Grand Cape Mount region (where the city of Robertsport is currently located).

The population of the intertidal zone built canoes and traded with other inhabitants of West Africa from Cape Verde to the territory of modern Ghana. Later, European merchants began to trade with the locals by hauling their canoes aboard ships. Initially, the Kru traded only goods with Europeans, but later they actively participated in the African slave trade.

The Kru left their territories to work as paid laborers on plantations and in construction. Some of them even worked on the construction of the Suez and Panama Canals.

Another ethnic group in the region were Grebo[en]. As a result of the conquest of the Mane, the Grebos were forced to move to that part of the coast that later became Liberia.

Between 1461 and the end of the 17th century, Portuguese, Dutch and British traders had trading posts in what is now Liberia. The Portuguese called this region Costa da Pimenta (Pepper Coast), later translated as Grain Coast because of the abundance of Meleget peppercorns.


Immigrants from the USA

The history of the statehood of Liberia begins with the arrival of the first black American settlers - Americo-Liberians, as they called themselves, to Africa - on the coast of which they founded a colony of "free men of color" in 1822 under the auspices of the American Colonization Society. By agreement with the leaders of local tribes, the settlers acquired territories with an area of ​​more than 13 thousand km² - for goods worth 50 US dollars.

In 1824, this colony was named Liberia, its constitution was adopted. By 1828, settlers captured the entire coast of modern Liberia (about 500 km long), and then also occupied parts of the coast of modern Sierra Leone and Côte d'Ivoire.

On July 26, 1847, American settlers declared the independence of the Republic of Liberia. The settlers perceived the continent from which their ancestors were taken into slavery as the "promised land", but did not seek to join the African community. Arriving in Africa, they called themselves Americans and, both the natives and the British colonial authorities of neighboring Sierra Leone, were considered Americans. The symbols of their state (flag, motto and seal), as well as the chosen form of government, reflected the American past of the Americo-Liberians.

Religion, customs and sociocultural standards of the Americo-Liberians were based on the traditions of the pre-war American South. Mutual distrust and enmity between the "Americans" from the coast and the "natives" from the hinterland gave rise throughout the history of the country to the (rather successful) attempts by the Americo-Liberian minority to dominate the local blacks, whom they considered barbarians and people of the lower class.

The founding of Liberia was sponsored by private American groups, mainly the American Colonization Society, and the country also received informal support from the US government. Liberia's government was modeled after the American one, and was democratic in form but not always in substance. After 1877, the True Whig Party monopolized power in the country, and all important positions were held by members of this party.


Three problems facing the Liberian authorities - territorial conflicts with neighboring colonial powers, Britain and France, hostilities between settlers and local residents, and the threat of financial insolvency - called into question the sovereignty of the country. Liberia retained its independence during the colonial division of Africa, but lost in the late 19th and early 20th centuries a significant part of the territory it had previously captured, which was annexed by Britain and France. In 1911, Liberia's borders with the British and French colonies were officially established along the Mano and Cavalli rivers. Economic development at the end of the 19th century was hampered by the lack of markets for Liberian goods and by debt obligations on a variety of loans, the payment of which drained the economy.

At the beginning of the First World War, Liberia declared its neutrality, hoping to maintain trade relations with Germany, which by 1914 accounted for more than half of Liberia's foreign trade turnover. However, in 1917, Liberia declared war on Germany, for which its capital was bombed by the Germans in 1918.


Significant events of the middle of the XX century

In 1926, American corporations provided Liberia with a large loan of $5 million.

In the 1930s, Liberia was accused of complicity in the slave trade, as such it was considered allowing labor to be recruited into Liberian territory for plantations in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon; recruited workers were subjected to ill-treatment and were practically in the position of slaves. Because of these accusations, then-President Charles King was forced to resign, and the UK even raised the issue of establishing guardianship over Liberia. The Commission of the League of Nations confirmed the main points of the accusations.

After the outbreak of World War II, Liberia again declared neutrality, but its territory was used to transfer American troops to North Africa. In 1944, Liberia officially declared war on Germany.

After World War II, the US provided loans to Liberia, and soon Liberia became a major exporter of rubber and iron ore. In 1971, President William Tubman, who had served five terms in this post, died, his place was taken by William Tolbert, who had been vice president for 19 years. Continuing the foreign policy of his predecessor, Tolbert maintained close ties with the United States, but at the same time sought to increase the role of Liberia in African affairs, opposed apartheid, while improving relations with the socialist countries. His economic reforms produced some positive results, but corruption and poor governance offset them. In the 1970s, political opposition to Tolbert developed, and the deteriorating economic situation led to an increase in social tension. Rising prices, and this led to numerous "rice riots". The largest of these occurred in April 1979, when President Tolbert ordered fire on a rioting crowd, which eventually led to riots and a general strike.


1980 Samuel Doe coup

On April 12, 1980, a coup d'état took place in Liberia. The President of the Republic, William Tolbert, was killed, his associates were executed, and Sergeant Samuel Doe, a representative of the Krahn tribe, seized power in the country, who assumed the rank of general. If at first the change of power was perceived positively by the citizens, then the constant efforts of Samuel Doe to strengthen his power and the ongoing economic downturn led to a drop in his popularity and a whole series of unsuccessful attempts at military coups. In 1985, Liberia formally returned to civilian rule, the October elections were officially won by Samuel Doe, who had previously credited himself with one year to meet the stated minimum age of 35 for the president, and carried out widespread fraud and fraud; however, according to independent polls, the opposition candidate won with about 80% of the vote. On November 12, 1985, an unsuccessful coup attempt took place, used by the president as an excuse to crush all dissenters. During the repressions that followed, about 1,500 people, mostly civilians, died.

Already on May 3, 1986, in a speech on television, S. Dow said that the country's economy was on the verge of collapse. US representatives were invited to key ministries and financial institutions for "joint decision-making".

Doe was killed in September 1990 by field commander Prince Johnson, who brought him to one of the buildings of the largest port in West Africa (Freeport), and then brutally killed him - they first broke his arms, then they castrated him, cut off his ear and forced him to eat, and then were killed, and at the same time, video filming was carried out, which was then presented to the whole world (in 2007, Johnson received the post of senator in the government of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first woman president in Africa, and in 2011 he unsuccessfully ran for the presidency of the country, having received only about 12 % of votes).


Civil wars 1989-2003

In the early 90s, a large-scale conflict took place in the country, in which several factions took part, divided along ethnic lines. Neighboring states were involved in the conflict, supporting various groups for various reasons; in particular, at the first stage of the war, Charles Taylor's group was supported from the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire, from the remote countries of Togo and Libya. As a consequence, the countries-opponents of these states supported Taylor's opponents. For neighboring Sierra Leone, this led to the outbreak of civil war on its territory, to which Taylor made significant efforts, de facto becoming the founding father of the Revolutionary United Front. Military operations were carried out with great cruelty, torture was used en masse. According to the most conservative estimates, the war caused the passage of more than half a million refugees to neighboring countries. The result of the first round was the signing of a peace agreement and the election of the President of the Republic in 1997, which was won by Charles Taylor. The world community chose to ignore the electoral fraud and massive violence against the opposition.

After the elections, the opponents of Charles Taylor organized a small-scale insurrectionary war, several times invaded the territory of Liberia from neighboring countries. In 2002, with the active help and support of Guinean President Lansana Conte, a large opposition movement, LURD, was created, which, after a year and a half military campaign, managed to overthrow Taylor and expel him from the country.


Transitional government and elections

In the presidential elections held in 2005, the famous football player George Weah was considered the favorite, who won the first round by a narrow margin, but the victory in the second round was won by a Harvard graduate, a former employee of the World Bank and many other international financial institutions, the Minister of Finance in the government of Charles Taylor - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.


Presidency of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Her victory in the elections was officially announced on November 23, 2005. She is the first female president of an African country. Former Liberian finance minister Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the country's presidential election. According to the results announced on November 23 by the election commission, she received 59.4 percent of the vote in the second round of the presidential elections.


Extradition and trial of Charles Taylor

On December 4, 2003, Interpol issued an arrest warrant for Charles Taylor on charges of crimes against humanity and violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention. His name was placed on the list of the most wanted criminals. Nigeria, where Charles Taylor was at the time, refused to comply, but agreed to transfer him to Liberia if requested by the country's president. On March 17, 2006, such a request was received. On 25 March, Nigeria only agreed to release him so that he could stand trial in Sierra Leone. Three days later, Taylor disappeared from the seaside villa Calabar, Nigeria, where he was being held in exile, but on March 29, he was caught trying to cross the border into Cameroon in a car with Nigerian diplomatic plates. From there, he was taken first to Liberia and then to Sierra Leone, where he was charged. An agreement was soon reached to transfer Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which found Charles Taylor guilty on 26 April 2012 of 11 counts of crimes against humanity, violations of the Geneva Convention and other international laws. On May 30, 2012, he was sentenced to 50 years in prison.