25 interesting facts about Liberia

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The most interesting facts about Liberia, from Africa’s oldest republic to pygmy hippos known as “water cows”.

A pygmy hippo in Liberia
Interesting facts about Liberia include the pygmy hippo (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Liberia
Capital city: Monrovia
Population: 5,073,296
Area: 111,369 sq km
Major languages: English, various regional languages
Time zone: UTC 0 (GMT)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Liberia

1. Liberia is the only Black state in Africa never subjected to colonial rule.
– Source: Britannica

2. Liberia is also Africa’s oldest republic, established on land acquired for freed US slaves by the American Colonization Society in 1821.
– Source: Britannica

3. The first European to visit what would become Liberia was Portuguese sailor Pedro de Sintra who reached the Liberian coast in 1461.
– Source: Encyclopedia.com

4. The area was known as the Grain Coast or Pepper Coast to Europeans because the valuable grain of Melegueta pepper was the principal item of trade in the region.
– Source: The Journal of African History, Volume 21, Issue 1 (1980) Cambridge University Press

5. The territory was named Liberia in 1824 and Liberian independence was officially proclaimed in 1847.
– Source: Britannica

The Liberian cabinet in the 1880s
The Liberian cabinet in the 1880s (Library of Congress, Washington DC)

6. From 1989 to 2003, a ruthless civil war killed 250,000 people, while thousands more were mutilated and raped, often by armies of drugged child soldiers led by warlords.
– Source: BBC News

7. In 2012, former Liberian leader Charles Taylor was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to 50 years in jail. His crimes included terrorism, rape, murder and the use of child soldiers by rebel groups in Sierra Leone.
– Source: BBC News

8. Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the first woman to be elected head of state of an African country. She was Liberia’s president from 2006 to 2018.
– Source: Nobel Prize

9. Johnson Sirleaf won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her work as part of a “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
– Source: Nobel Prize

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Shutterstock)

10. From 2013 to 2016, there was a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Around 11,300 people died, mainly in Liberia.
– Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

11. Liberia’s name comes from the Latin word “liber” meaning “free” as the country was created as a homeland for liberated African-American slaves.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

12. The country’s capital city, Monrovia, was named after James Monroe, the fifth president of the USA and supporter of the colonisation of Liberia by freed slaves.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

13. Monrovia is one of two national capitals named after an American president, the other being Washington DC in the USA.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

14. Liberia’s flag is modelled on the USA’s. A single star symbolises Liberia’s status as the only independent Western-style state in Africa. The 11 stripes represent the number of men who signed the Liberian Declaration of Independence.
– Source: Britannica

Flag of Liberia
The flag of Liberia (Shutterstock)

15. Approximately, one in ten of the world’s ships are registered in Liberia and fly its flag in order to avoid taxes and stricter employment regulations. The practice is known as “flag of convenience”. Only Panama has more ships registered under its flag.
– Source: The Economist

16. Liberia is one of the world’s hungriest countries, considered to be suffering from serious levels of hunger.
– Source: Global Hunger Index

17. Liberia has one of the youngest populations in the world with the median age of its citizens just 18 years.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

18. Liberia is one of 27 countries that doesn’t have any UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, it does have two properties on the Tentative List (properties intended to be submitted for nomination).
– Source: UNESCOThe Telegraph

19. Former professional footballer George Weah became Liberia’s president in 2018. Weah played for Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Chelsea before entering politics in 2002.
– Source: The Guardian

President George Weah signs footballs EU Council President Donald Tusk
President George Weah signs footballs EU Council President Donald Tusk (Shutterstock)

20. Liberia only has one national park, the Sapo National Park. Lonely Planet says it is “one of West Africa’s best national parks” and contains “some of West Africa’s last remaining primary rainforest”.
– Source: Lonely Planet, Lonely Planet

21. The endangered pygmy hippopotamus, or pygmy hippo, can be found in Sapo National Park. Liberians call it a “water cow”.
– Source: Zoological Society of London, Britannica

22. Liberia is emerging as one of Africa’s leading surf destinations. The fishing village of Robertsport, with beautiful beaches and excellent waves, is at the centre of the developing surfing community.
– Source: Time Magazine

23. The world’s largest rubber plantation is located in Liberia. The Firestone Rubber Plantation, a subsidiary of tyre-maker Bridgestone, has operated in Liberia since 1926.
– Source: Public Radio International (The World)

24. Liberia is the seventh poorest countries in the world when measured by GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP).
– Source: World Bank

25. Liberia is one of only three countries that doesn’t use the metric system of measurement. The other two are Myanmar and the USA.
– Source: Smithsonian


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