Another view of Kpatawee Waterfall in Bong County.
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Introduction

Background

With 28 ethnic groups and languages, Liberia is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. For hundreds of years, the Mali and Songhai Empires claimed most of Liberia. Beginning in the 15th century, European traders began establishing outposts along the Liberian coast. Unlike its neighbors, however, Liberia did not fall under European colonial rule. In the early 19th century, the United States began sending freed enslaved people and other people of color to Liberia to establish settlements. In 1847, these settlers declared independence from the United States, writing their own constitution and establishing Africa’s first republic.

Early in Liberia’s history, tensions arose between the Americo-Liberian settlers and the indigenous population. In 1980, Samuel DOE, who was from the indigenous population, led a military coup and ushered in a decade of authoritarian rule. In December 1989, Charles TAYLOR launched a rebellion against DOE's regime that led to a prolonged civil war in which DOE was killed. A period of relative peace in 1997 permitted an election that brought TAYLOR to power. In 2000, fighting resumed. An August 2003 peace agreement ended the war and prompted President TAYLOR’s resignation. TAYLOR was later convicted by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague for his involvement in Sierra Leone's civil war. In late 2005, President Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF became president after two years of transitional governments; she was the first female head of state in Africa. In 2011, JOHNSON SIRLEAF won reelection but struggled to rebuild Liberia's economy, particularly following the 2014-15 Ebola epidemic, and to reconcile a nation still recovering from 14 years of fighting. In 2017, former soccer star George WEAH won the presidential runoff election, marking the first successful transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another since the end of Liberia’s civil wars. Like his predecessor, WEAH has struggled to improve the country’s economy. The next presidential election is scheduled for 2023.

 

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone

Area

total: 111,369 sq km

land: 96,320 sq km

water: 15,049 sq km

country comparison to the world: 104

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Virginia

<p>slightly larger than Virginia</p>

Land boundaries

total: 1,667 km

border countries (3): Guinea 590 km; Cote d'Ivoire 778 km; Sierra Leone 299 km

Coastline

579 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm

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 northeast

Elevation

highest point: Mount Wuteve 1,447 m

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

mean elevation: 243 m

Natural resources

iron ore, timber, diamonds, gold, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 28.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 5.2% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 20.8% (2018 est.)

forest: 44.6% (2018 est.)

other: 27.3% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

30 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

more than half of the population lives in urban areas, with approximately one-third living within an 80-km radius of Monrovia as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

dust-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to March)

Geography - note

facing the Atlantic Ocean, the coastline is characterized by lagoons, mangrove swamps, and river-deposited sandbars; the inland grassy plateau supports limited agriculture

Map description

Liberia map showing major cities as well as parts of surrounding countries and the North Atlantic Ocean.

 

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Liberian(s)

adjective: Liberian

Ethnic groups

Kpelle 20.3%, Bassa 13.4%, Grebo 10%, Gio 8%, Mano 7.9%, Kru 6%, Lorma 5.1%, Kissi 4.8%, Gola 4.4%, Krahn 4%, Vai 4%, Mandingo 3.2%, Gbandi 3%, Mende 1.3%, Sapo 1.3%, other Liberian 1.7%, other African 1.4%, non-African .1% (2008 est.)

Languages

English 20% (official), some 20 ethnic group languages few of which can be written or used in correspondence

Religions

Christian 85.6%, Muslim 12.2%, Traditional 0.6%, other 0.2%, none 1.5% (2008 est.)

Demographic profile

Liberia’s high fertility rate of nearly 5 children per woman and large youth cohort – more than 60% of the population is under the age of 25 – will sustain a high dependency ratio for many years to come. Significant progress has been made in preventing child deaths, despite a lack of health care workers and infrastructure. Infant and child mortality have dropped nearly 70% since 1990; the annual reduction rate of about 5.4% is the highest in Africa.

Nevertheless, Liberia’s high maternal mortality rate remains among the world’s worst; it reflects a high unmet need for family planning services, frequency of early childbearing, lack of quality obstetric care, high adolescent fertility, and a low proportion of births attended by a medical professional. Female mortality is also increased by the prevalence of female genital cutting (FGC), which is practiced by 10 of Liberia’s 16 tribes and affects more than two-thirds of women and girls. FGC is an initiation ritual performed in rural bush schools, which teach traditional beliefs on marriage and motherhood and are an obstacle to formal classroom education for Liberian girls.

Liberia has been both a source and a destination for refugees. During Liberia’s 14-year civil war (1989-2003), more than 250,000 people became refugees and another half million were internally displaced. Between 2004 and the cessation of refugee status for Liberians in June 2012, the UNHCR helped more than 155,000 Liberians to voluntarily repatriate, while others returned home on their own. Some Liberian refugees spent more than two decades living in other West African countries. Liberia hosted more than 125,000 Ivoirian refugees escaping post-election violence in 2010-11; as of mid-2017, about 12,000 Ivoirian refugees were still living in Liberia as of October 2017 because of instability.

Age structure

0-14 years: 43.35% (male 1,111,479/female 1,087,871)

15-24 years: 20.35% (male 516,136/female 516,137)

25-54 years: 30.01% (male 747,983/female 774,615)

55-64 years: 3.46% (male 89,150/female 86,231)

65 years and over: 2.83% (2020 est.) (male 70,252/female 73,442)

This is the population pyramid for Liberia. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 77.6

youth dependency ratio: 71.7

elderly dependency ratio: 5.9

potential support ratio: 17 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 18 years

male: 17.7 years

female: 18.2 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 215

Birth rate

36.64 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 11

Death rate

6.62 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 131

Net migration rate

-2.74 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 176

Population distribution

more than half of the population lives in urban areas, with approximately one-third living within an 80-km radius of Monrovia as shown in this population distribution map

Urbanization

urban population: 53.1% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 3.41% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

1.623 million MONROVIA (capital) (2022)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.1 years (2019/20 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality ratio

661 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 10

Infant mortality rate

total: 44.57 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 48.68 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 40.34 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 27

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 65.45 years

male: 63.19 years

female: 67.78 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 201

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 96.2% of population

rural: 70.6% of population

total: 84% of population

unimproved: urban: 3.8% of population

rural: 29.4% of population

total: 16% of population (2020 est.)

Physicians density

0.04 physicians/1,000 population (2015)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 68% of population

rural: 25.2% of population

total: 47.5% of population

unimproved: urban: 32% of population

rural: 74.8% of population

total: 52.5% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

aerosolized dust or soil contact diseases: Lassa fever

note: on 21 March 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Africa; Liberia is currently considered a high risk to travelers for circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV); vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV) and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus; this means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an “infected” person who received oral polio vaccine; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Child marriage

men married by age 18: 8.4% (2020 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 48.3%

male: 62.7%

female: 34.1% (2017)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 2.3%

male: 2.4%

female: 2.2% (2016 est.)

Environment

Environment - current issues

tropical rain forest deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; hunting of endangered species for bushmeat; pollution of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage; pollution of rivers from industrial run-off; burning and dumping of household waste

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 17.19 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 1.39 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 6.56 megatons (2020 est.)

Climate

tropical; hot, humid; dry winters with hot days and cool to cold nights; wet, cloudy summers with frequent heavy showers

Land use

agricultural land: 28.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 5.2% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 20.8% (2018 est.)

forest: 44.6% (2018 est.)

other: 27.3% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 53.1% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 3.41% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Revenue from forest resources

forest revenues: 13.27% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 2

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 128

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

aerosolized dust or soil contact diseases: Lassa fever

note: on 21 March 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Africa; Liberia is currently considered a high risk to travelers for circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV); vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV) and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus; this means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an “infected” person who received oral polio vaccine; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 564,467 tons (2007 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 80.2 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 53.4 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 12.3 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

232 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Liberia

conventional short form: Liberia

etymology: name derives from the Latin word "liber" meaning "free"; so named because the nation was created as a homeland for liberated African-American slaves

Government type

presidential republic

Capital

name: Monrovia

geographic coordinates: 6 18 N, 10 48 W

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: named after James Monroe (1758-1831), the fifth president of the United States and supporter of the colonization of Liberia by freed slaves; one of two national capitals named for a US president, the other is Washington, D.C.

Administrative divisions

15 counties; Bomi, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, River Cess, River Gee, Sinoe

Independence

26 July 1847

National holiday

Independence Day, 26 July (1847)

Constitution

history: previous 1847 (at independence); latest drafted 19 October 1983, revision adopted by referendum 3 July 1984, effective 6 January 1986

amendments: proposed by agreement of at least two thirds of both National Assembly houses or by petition of at least 10,000 citizens; passage requires at least two-thirds majority approval of both houses and approval in a referendum by at least two-thirds majority of registered voters; amended 2011, 2020

Legal system

mixed legal system of common law, based on Anglo-American law, and customary law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Liberia

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 2 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President George WEAH (since 22 January 2018); Vice President Jewel HOWARD-TAYLOR (since 22 January 2018); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President George WEAH (since 22 January 2018); Vice President Jewel HOWARD-TAYLOR (since 22 January 2018)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president, confirmed by the Senate

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 6-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 10 October 2017 with a run-off on 26 December 2017) (next to be held on 10 October 2023); the runoff originally scheduled for 7 November 2017 was delayed due to allegations of fraud in the first round, which the Supreme Court dismissed

election results: George WEAH elected president in second round; percent of vote in first round - George WEAH (Coalition for Democratic Change) 38.4%, Joseph BOAKAI (UP) 28.8%, Charles BRUMSKINE (LP) 9.6%, Prince JOHNSON (MDR) 8.2%, Alexander B. CUMMINGS (ANC) 7.2%, other 7.8%; percentage of vote in second round - George WEAH 61.5%, Joseph BOAKAI 38.5%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Assembly consists of:
The Liberian Senate (30 seats; members directly elected in 15 2-seat districts by simple majority vote to serve 9-year staggered terms; each district elects 1 senator and elects the second senator 3 years later, followed by a 6-year hiatus, after which the first Senate seat is up for election)
House of Representatives (73 seats; members directly elected in single-seat districts by simple majority vote to serve 6-year terms; eligible for a second term)

elections: Senate - general election held on 8 December 2020 with half the seats up for election (next election 2023)
House of Representatives - last held on 10 October 2017 (next to be held in October 2023)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - Collaborating Political Parties 40.27%, Congress for Democratic Change 28.02%, People's Unification Party 6.40, Movement for Democracy and Reconstructions 4.30%, All Liberia Coalition 1.09%,Rainbow Alliance 1.09%, Liberia Restoration Party 0,82%, Liberia National Union 0.77%, Movement for Progressive Change 0.74%, United People's Party 0.66%, Liberia Transformation Party 0.16%, National Democratic Coalition 0.07%, Movement for One Liberia 0.01; seats by coalition/party- CPP 13, CDC 5, PUP 2, MDR 1, NDC 1   
 
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party/coalition - Coalition for Democratic Change 15.6%, UP 14%, LP 8.7%, ANC 6.1%, PUP 5.9%, ALP 5.1%, MDR 3.4%, other 41.2%; seats by coalition/party - Coalition for Democratic Change 21, UP 20, PUP 5, LP 3, ALP 3, MDR 2, independent 13, other 6; composition - men 64, women 9, percent of women 12.3%; total Parliament percent of women 11.7%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of a chief justice and 4 associate justices); note - the Supreme Court has jurisdiction for all constitutional cases

judge selection and term of office: chief justice and associate justices appointed by the president of Liberia with consent of the Senate; judges can serve until age 70

subordinate courts: judicial circuit courts; special courts, including criminal, civil, labor, traffic; magistrate and traditional or customary courts

Political parties and leaders

Alliance for Peace and Democracy or APD [Marcus S. G. DAHN]
All Liberian Party or ALP [Benoi UREY]
Alternative National Congress or ANC [Orishil GOULD]
Coalition for Democratic Change [George WEAH] (includes CDC, NPP, and LPDP)Congress for Democratic Change or CDC [George WEAH]
Liberia Destiny Party or LDP [Nathaniel BARNES]
Liberia National Union or LINU [Nathaniel BLAMA]
Liberia Transformation Party or LTP [Julius SUKU]
Liberian People Democratic Party or LPDP [Alex J. TYLER]
Liberian People's Party or LPP
Liberty Party or LP [J. Fonati KOFFA]
Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction or MDR [Prince Y. JOHNSON]
Movement for Economic Empowerment [J. Mill JONES, Dr.]
Movement for Progressive Change or MPC [Simeon FREEMAN]
National Democratic Coalition or NDC [Dew MAYSON]
National Democratic Party of Liberia or NDPL [D. Nyandeh SIEH]
National Patriotic Party or NPP [Jewel HOWARD TAYLOR]
National Reformist Party or NRP [Maximillian T. W. DIABE]
National Union for Democratic Progress or NUDP [Victor BARNEY]
People's Unification Party or PUP [Isobe GBORKORKOLLIE]
Unity Party or UP [Varney SHERMAN]
United People's Party [MacDonald WENTO]
Victory for Change Party [Marcus R. JONES]

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AU, ECOWAS, EITI (compliant country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSMA, NAM, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNISFA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador George S.W. PATTEN, Sr. (since 11 January 2019)

chancery: 5201 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011

telephone: [1] (202) 723-0437

FAX: [1] (202) 723-0436

email address and website:
info@liberiaemb.org

http://www.liberianembassyus.org/

consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Michael A. MCCARTHY (since 22 January 2021)

embassy: 502 Benson Street, Monrovia

mailing address: 8800 Monrovia Place, Washington DC  20521-8800

telephone: [231] 77-677-7000

FAX: [231] 77-677-7370

email address and website:
ACSMonrovia@state.gov

https://lr.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

11 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a white five-pointed star appears on a blue square in the upper hoist-side corner; the stripes symbolize the signatories of the Liberian Declaration of Independence; the blue square represents the African mainland, and the star represents the freedom granted to the ex-slaves; according to the constitution, the blue color signifies liberty, justice, and fidelity, the white color purity, cleanliness, and guilelessness, and the red color steadfastness, valor, and fervor

note: the design is based on the US flag

National symbol(s)

white star; national colors: red, white, blue

National anthem

name: All Hail, Liberia Hail!

lyrics/music: Daniel Bashiel WARNER/Olmstead LUCA

note: lyrics adopted 1847, music adopted 1860; the anthem's author later became the third president of Liberia

Economy

Economic overview

Liberia is a low-income country that relies heavily on foreign assistance and remittances from the diaspora. It is richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture. Its principal exports are iron ore, rubber, diamonds, and gold. Palm oil and cocoa are emerging as new export products. The government has attempted to revive raw timber extraction and is encouraging oil exploration.

 

In the 1990s and early 2000s, civil war and government mismanagement destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially infrastructure in and around the capital. Much of the conflict was fueled by control over Liberia’s natural resources. With the conclusion of fighting and the installation of a democratically elected government in 2006, businesses that had fled the country began to return. The country achieved high growth during the period 2010-13 due to favorable world prices for its commodities. However, during the 2014-2015 Ebola crisis, the economy declined and many foreign-owned businesses departed with their capital and expertise. The epidemic forced the government to divert scarce resources to combat the spread of the virus, reducing funds available for needed public investment. The cost of addressing the Ebola epidemic coincided with decreased economic activity reducing government revenue, although higher donor support significantly offset this loss. During the same period, global commodities prices for key exports fell and have yet to recover to pre-Ebola levels.

 

In 2017, gold was a key driver of growth, as a new mining project began its first full year of production; iron ore exports are also increased as Arcelor Mittal opened new mines at Mount Gangra. The completion of the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydroelectric Dam increased electricity production to support ongoing and future economic activity, although electricity tariffs remain high relative to other countries in the region and transmission infrastructure is limited. Presidential and legislative elections in October 2017 generated election-related spending pressures.

 

Revitalizing the economy in the future will depend on economic diversification, increasing investment and trade, higher global commodity prices, sustained foreign aid and remittances, development of infrastructure and institutions, combating corruption, and maintaining political stability and security.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$6.85 billion (2020 est.)

$7.05 billion (2019 est.)

$7.21 billion (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 169

Real GDP growth rate

2.5% (2017 est.)

-1.6% (2016 est.)

0% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 110

Real GDP per capita

$1,400 (2020 est.)

$1,400 (2019 est.)

$1,500 (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 223

GDP (official exchange rate)

$3.071 billion (2019 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 34% (2017 est.)

industry: 13.8% (2017 est.)

services: 52.2% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 128.8% (2016 est.)

government consumption: 16.7% (2016 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 19.5% (2016 est.)

investment in inventories: 6.7% (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 17.5% (2016 est.)

imports of goods and services: -89.2% (2016 est.)

Agricultural products

cassava, sugar cane, oil palm fruit, rice, bananas, vegetables, plantains, rubber, taro, maize

Industries

mining (iron ore and gold), rubber processing, palm oil processing, diamonds

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 70%

industry: 8%

services: 22% (2000 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 2.3%

male: 2.4%

female: 2.2% (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 180

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.4%

highest 10%: 30.1% (2007)

Budget

revenues: 553.6 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 693.8 million (2017 est.)

Public debt

34.4% of GDP (2017 est.)

28.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 154

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$627 million (2017 est.)

-$464 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 129

Exports

$550 million (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$530 million (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$359 million (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 190

Exports - partners

Guyana 32%, Poland 10%, Switzerland 8%, Japan 7%, China 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

ships, iron, gold, rubber, crude petroleum (2019)

Imports

$1.24 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$1.25 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$2.118 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 184

Imports - partners

China 41%, Japan 21%, South Korea 18% (2019)

Imports - commodities

ships, refined petroleum, iron structures, boat propellers, centrifuges (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$459.8 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$528.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 154

Debt - external

$826 million (2019 est.)

$679 million (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 168

Exchange rates

Liberian dollars (LRD) per US dollar -

109.4 (2017 est.)

93.4 (2016 est.)

93.4 (2015 est.)

85.3 (2014 est.)

83.893 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 12% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 18% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 6% (2019)

Electricity - production

300 million kWh (2016 est.)

note: according to a 2014 household survey, only 4.5% of Liberians use Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) power, 4.9% use a community generator, 4.4% have their own generator, 3.9% use vehicle batteries, and 0.8% use other sources of electricity, and 81.3% have no access to electricity; LEC accounts for roughly 70 million kWh of ouput.

country comparison to the world: 184

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 6,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 202

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 2.66 million (2018)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 55.57 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 142

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: due to history of civil war and ruin of infrastructure, almost entirely wireless telecom market; good competition for mobile services; high cost and limited bandwidth means Internet access is low; additional investment needed for increased submarine cable access; progress in creating an attractive business-friendly environment is hampered by a weak regulatory environment, corruption, lack of transparency, poor infrastructure, and low private sector capacity; rural areas have little access; fixed-line service is stagnant and extremely limited; operators introducing e-commerce; importer of broadcast equipment from China (2020)

domestic: fixed-line less than 1 per 100; mobile-cellular subscription base growing and teledensity approached 57 per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 231; landing point for the ACE submarine cable linking 20 West African countries and Europe; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

8 private and 1 government-owned TV station; satellite TV service available; 1 state-owned radio station; approximately 20 independent radio stations broadcasting in Monrovia, with approximately 80 more local stations operating in other areas; transmissions of 4 international (including the British Broadcasting Corporation and Radio France Internationale) broadcasters are available (2019)

Internet users

total: 1,314,996 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 26% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 140

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 13,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.26 (2020 est.) less than 1

country comparison to the world: 175

Transportation

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2

over 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2021)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 27

1,524 to 2,437 m: 5

914 to 1,523 m: 8

under 914 m: 14 (2021)

Pipelines

4 km oil (2013)

Railways

total: 429 km (2008)

standard gauge: 345 km (2008) 1.435-m gauge

narrow gauge: 84 km (2008) 1.067-m gauge

note: most sections of the railways inoperable due to damage sustained during the civil wars from 1980 to 2003, but many are being rebuilt

country comparison to the world: 117

Roadways

total: 10,600 km (2018)

paved: 657 km (2018)

unpaved: 9,943 km (2018)

country comparison to the world: 135

Merchant marine

total: 3,942

by type: bulk carrier 1,487, container ship 878, general cargo 131, oil tanker 851, other 595 (2021)

country comparison to the world: 5

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Buchanan, Monrovia

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL): Army, Liberian Coast Guard, Air Wing (2021)

note(s) - the AFL Air Wing was previously disbanded in 2005 and has been under development since 2019; the Liberian National Police and the Liberian Drug Enforcement Agency are under the Ministry of Justice

Military expenditures

0.7% of GDP (2021 est.)

0.5% of GDP (2020 est.)

0.6% of GDP (2019 est.) (approximately $25 million)

0.5% of GDP (2018 est.) (approximately $20 million)

0.4% of GDP (2017 est.) (approximately $19 million)

country comparison to the world: 152

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 2,000 personnel (2021)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the AFL is poorly armed; it has received limited quantities of equipment since 2010, including donations, from countries such as China and the US (2021)

Military service age and obligation

18-35 years of age for voluntary military service (men and women); no conscription (2021)

note - as of 2020, women made up about .4% of the active military

Military deployments

160 Mali (MINUSMA) (Feb 2022)

Military - note

the first militia unit established for defense of the colony was raised in 1832; the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) traces its origins to the 1908 establishment of the Liberia Frontier Force, which became the Liberian National Guard in 1965; the AFL was established in 1970; at the end of the second civil war in 2003, military and police forces were disbanded and approximately 100,000 military, police, and rebel combatants were disarmed; the AFL began to rebuild in 2003 with US assistance and the first infantry battalion of the restructured AFL was re-activated in late 2007; a second battalion was added in 2008

the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was established in 2003 as a peacekeeping force; at its height, UNMIL was comprised of about 15,000 personnel, including more than 3,000 troops absorbed from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peacekeeping mission; Liberian forces reassumed full control of the country’s security in June of 2016, and the UNMIL mission was ended in 2018

as of 2021, the AFL was comprised mostly of a small ground force consisting of 2 infantry battalions, while the Coast Guard had only a few small patrol boats; the AFL had no aircraft

Maritime threats

the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea remain a very high risk for piracy and armed robbery of ships; in 2021, there were 34 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea region; although a significant decrease from the total number of 81 incidents in 2020, it included the one hijacking and three of five ships fired upon worldwide; while boarding and attempted boarding to steal valuables from ships and crews are the most common types of incidents, almost a third of all incidents involve a hijacking and/or kidnapping; in 2021, 57 crew members were kidnapped in seven separate incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, representing 100% of kidnappings worldwide; Nigerian pirates in particular are well armed and very aggressive, operating as far as 200 nm offshore; the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2022-001 - Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom) effective 4 January 2022, which states in part, "Piracy, armed robbery, and kidnapping for ransom continue to serve as significant threats to US-flagged vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea"

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

as the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) continues to drawdown prior to the 1 March 2018 closure date, the peacekeeping force is being reduced to 434 soldiers and two police units; some Liberian refugees still remain in Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and Ghana; Liberia shelters 7,811 Ivoirian refugees, as of February 2022

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 5,365 (Cote d'Ivoire) (2022)

Illicit drugs

not a significant transit country for illicit narcotics but proximity to major drug routes contribute to trafficking; not a significant producer of illicit narcotics; local drug use involves marijuana, heroin, cocaine, the synthetic opioid tramadol, and amphetamine-type stimulants