Photos of Liberia

A view of Waterside Market, a district of Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.

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 US began sending freed enslaved people and other people of color to Liberia to establish settlements. In 1847, these settlers declared independence from the US, 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 1989, Charles TAYLOR launched a rebellion 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. A 2003 peace agreement ended the war and prompted TAYLOR’s resignation. He 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 2005, 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 after 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 struggled to improve the country’s economy. In 2023, former Vice President Joseph BOAKAI was elected president, edging out WEAH by a thin margin, the first time since 1927 that an incumbent was not re-elected after one term. 

 

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

comparison ranking: total 104

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Virginia

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

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

People and Society

Population

total: 5,437,249

male: 2,711,324

female: 2,725,925 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 121; male 120; total 121

Nationality

noun: Liberian(s)

adjective: Liberian

Ethnic groups

Kpelle 20.2%, Bassa 13.6%, Grebo 9.9%, Gio 7.9%, Mano 7.2%, Kru 5.5%, Lorma 4.8%, Krahn 4.5%, Kissi, 4.3%, Mandingo 4.2%, Vai 3.8%, Gola 3.8%, Gbandi 2.9%, Mende 1.7%, Sapo 1%, Belle 0.7%, Dey 0.3%, other Liberian ethnic group 0.4%, other African 3%, non-African 0.2% (2022 est.)

Languages

English 20% (official) and 27 indigenous languages, including Liberian English (encompassing several varieties of English spoken by Liberians)

Religions

Christian 84.9%, Muslim 12%, Traditional 0.5%, other 0.1%, none 2.6% (2022 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 as of 2020 – 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. Between 2011 and 2022, more than 300,000 Ivoirian refugees in Liberia have been repatriated; as of year-end 2022, less than 2,300 Ivoirian refugees were still living in Liberia.

Age structure

0-14 years: 38.9% (male 1,064,100/female 1,052,556)

15-64 years: 57.9% (male 1,566,263/female 1,579,835)

65 years and over: 3.2% (2024 est.) (male 80,961/female 93,534)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 79.7

youth dependency ratio: 73.7

elderly dependency ratio: 6

potential support ratio: 16.7 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 19.9 years (2024 est.)

male: 19.8 years

female: 20 years

comparison ranking: total 207

Population growth rate

2.32% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 28

Birth rate

32.4 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 20

Death rate

8.3 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 79

Net migration rate

-0.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 139

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: 53.6% of total population (2023)

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

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

1.678 million MONROVIA (capital) (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.1 years (2019/20 est.)

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

Maternal mortality ratio

652 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 6

Infant mortality rate

total: 55.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 61 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 50.2 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 12

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 61.6 years (2024 est.)

male: 59.9 years

female: 63.3 years

comparison ranking: total population 217

Total fertility rate

3.93 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 26

Gross reproduction rate

1.94 (2024 est.)

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.)

Current health expenditure

9.5% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.05 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

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 (2023)

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

vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and sexually transmitted diseases: hepatitis B (2024)

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

aerosolized dust or soil contact diseases: Lassa fever

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

9.9% (2016)

comparison ranking: 141

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 3.12 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.38 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.44 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 2.28 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0.02 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 109

Tobacco use

total: 8.2% (2020 est.)

male: 14.3% (2020 est.)

female: 2% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 148

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

10.9% (2019/20)

comparison ranking: 54

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 5.8% NA

women married by age 18: 24.9% NA

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

Education expenditures

2.7% of GDP (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 170

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 48.3%

male: 62.7%

female: 34.1% (2017)

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

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: 53.6% of total population (2023)

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

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Food insecurity

severe localized food insecurity: due to high food prices and economic downturn - levels of acute food insecurity are expected to increase in 2023 associated with high food prices due to high international commodity prices and elevated transportation costs, exacerbated by the unfolding effects of the war in Ukraine on international trade and commodity prices; food availability and access are likely to remain limited by high food prices and below‑average imports; an expected further slowdown in economic domestic growth in 2023 is likely to compound food insecurity conditions for the most vulnerable households; in the June to August 2023 lean season period, over 531,000 people are projected to face acute food insecurity (2023)

Revenue from forest resources

13.27% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 2

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 151

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 35.8 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 1.39 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 6.56 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

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

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 80 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 50 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 10 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

232 billion cubic meters (2020 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 Joseph BOAKAI (since 22 January 2024) 

head of government: President Joseph BOAKAI (since 22 January 2024)

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 2023 with a runoff on 14 November 2023 (next to be held in October 2029) note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

election results: 2023: Joseph BOAKAI elected president in second round; percent of vote in first round - George WEAH (CDC) 43.8%, Joseph BOAKAI (UP) 43.4%, Edward APPLETON (GDM) 2.2%, Lusinee KAMARA (ALCOP) 2%, Alexander B. CUMMINGS, Jr. (CPP) 1.6%, Tiawan Saye GONGLOE (LPP) 1.4%, other 5.6%; percentage of vote in second round - Joseph BOAKAI 50.6%, George WEAH 49.4%

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 10 October 2023 with half the seats up for election (next to be held in October 2029)
House of Representatives - last held on 10 October 2023 (next to be held in October 2029)

 



election results: Senate - percent of vote by party/coalition - CDC 34.3%, UP 12.0%, MDR 7.1%, LRP 1.5%, independent 24.3%; seats by party/coalition - CDC 6, UP 1, MDR 1, LRP 1, independent 6; composition- men 27, women 3, percentage women 10%

House of Representatives - percent of vote by party/coalition - CDC 22.1%, UP 13.1%, CPP 7.6%, MDR 2.8%, PUP 4.3%, ALP 2.5%, LINU 2.3%, MPC 1.0%, NDC 1.0%, VOLT 0.8%, LRP 0.8%, Independent 25.7%; seats by party/coalition - CDC 25, UP 11, CPP 6, MDR 4, PUP 2, ALP 1, LINU 1, MPC 1, NDC 1, VOLT 1 LRP 1, independent 19; composition- men 65, women 8, percentage women 11%; total Parliament percentage women 10.6%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): 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

All Liberian Party or ALP [Benoni UREY]
Alliance for Peace and Democracy or APD (vacant)
Alternative National Congress or ANC [Alexander B. CUMMINGS, JR]
Coalition for Democratic Change [George WEAH] (includes CDC, NPP, and LPDP)
Collaborating Political Parties or CPP [collective leadership] (coalition includes ANC, LP; CPP dissolved in April 2024)
Congress for Democratic Change or CDC [George WEAH]
Liberia Destiny Party or LDP [Nathaniel BARNES]
Liberia National Union or LINU [Dr. Clarence K. MONIBA]
Liberia Transformation Party or LTP [Kennedy SANDY]
Liberian People Democratic Party or LPDP [Alex J. TYLER]
Liberian People's Party or LPP [Henry FAHNBULLEH, JR] 
Liberian Restoration Party or LRP [Gabriel SALEE]
Liberty Party or LP [Charles BRUMSKINE]
Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction or MDR [Prince Y. JOHNSON]
Movement for Economic Empowerment [Joseph JONES]
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 [Josephe BOAKAI]
United People's Party [MacDonald WENTO]
Victory for Change Party or VCP [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, NAM, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNISFA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Jeff Gongoer DOWANA, Sr. (since 12 December 2022)

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

telephone: [1] (202) 723-0437

FAX: [1] (202) 723-0436

email address and website:
info@liberianembassyus.org

http://www.liberianembassyus.org/

consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant) Chargé d'Affaires Catherine RODRIGUEZ (since 11 August 2023)

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

low-income West African economy; food scarcity, especially in rural areas; high poverty and inflation; bad recession prior to COVID-19 due to Ebola crisis; growing government debt; longest continuously operated rubber plantation; large informal economy

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$7.747 billion (2022 est.)
$7.391 billion (2021 est.)
$7.04 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 169

Real GDP growth rate

4.81% (2022 est.)
4.99% (2021 est.)
-2.98% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 85

Real GDP per capita

$1,500 (2022 est.)
$1,400 (2021 est.)
$1,400 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 214

GDP (official exchange rate)

$4.001 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

23.56% (2018 est.)
12.42% (2017 est.)
8.83% (2016 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 203

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 34% (2017 est.)

industry: 13.8% (2017 est.)

services: 52.2% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 167; industry 189; agriculture 15

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, rice, sugarcane, oil palm fruit, bananas, rubber, vegetables, plantains, taro, maize (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage

Industries

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

Industrial production growth rate

4.02% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 96

Labor force

2.418 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 120

Unemployment rate

3.03% (2022 est.)
3.96% (2021 est.)
4.12% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 44

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 3.2% (2021 est.)

male: 3.2%

female: 3.2%

comparison ranking: total 197

Population below poverty line

50.9% (2016 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

35.3 (2016 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 94

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.9%

highest 10%: 27.1% (2016 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population

Remittances

8.65% of GDP (2022 est.)
9.87% of GDP (2021 est.)
11.39% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $5 million (2019 est.)

expenditures: $6 million (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-4.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 161

Public debt

34.4% of GDP (2017 est.)
28.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 157

Taxes and other revenues

12.46% (of GDP) (2013 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 168

Current account balance

$64.806 million (2022 est.)
-$101.746 million (2021 est.)
-$274.971 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 63

Exports

$1.22 billion (2022 est.)
$1.041 billion (2021 est.)
$731.658 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 176

Exports - partners

Switzerland 28%, France 8%, Germany 8%, UK 8%, Poland 6% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

gold, ships, iron ore, rubber, refined petroleum (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars

Imports

$1.961 billion (2022 est.)
$1.739 billion (2021 est.)
$1.371 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 178

Imports - partners

China 42%, South Korea 23%, Japan 15%, Germany 5%, Brazil 3% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

ships, refined petroleum, additive manufacturing machines, centrifuges, rice (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$599.66 million (2022 est.)
$700.829 million (2021 est.)
$340.966 million (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 171

Debt - external

$826 million (2019 est.)
$679 million (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 168

Exchange rates

Liberian dollars (LRD) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
152.934 (2022 est.)
166.154 (2021 est.)
191.518 (2020 est.)
186.43 (2019 est.)
144.056 (2018 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

population without electricity: 4 million (2020)

electrification - total population: 29.8% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 49.5% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 8% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 196,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 292 million kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 26 million kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 172; transmission/distribution losses 34; imports 197; exports 196; consumption 181

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 40.5% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0.5% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 59.1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 9,200 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 139

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 160

Refined petroleum products - imports

8,181 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 152

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

1.346 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 1.346 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 166

Energy consumption per capita

3.79 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 176

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 6,000 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: (2021 est.) less than 1

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 201

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 1.653 million (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 32 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 156

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Liberia has a telecom market which is mainly based on mobile networks; this is due to the civil war which destroyed much of the fixed-line infrastructure; to facilitate LTC Mobile’s market entry, the government in January 2022 set in train amendments to telecom legislation; internet services are available from a number of wireless ISPs as well as the mobile operators; the high cost and limited bandwidth of connections means that internet access is expensive and rates are very low; additional bandwidth is available from an international submarine cable but considerable investment is still needed in domestic fixed-line infrastructure before end-users can make full use of the cable (2022)

domestic: fixed-line less than 1 per 100; mobile-cellular subscriptions are 32 per 100 persons (2021)

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)

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: 1.768 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 34% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 138

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 13,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.3 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 175

Transportation

Airports

19 (2024)

comparison ranking: 138

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

comparison ranking: total 117

Roadways

total: 10,600 km

paved: 657 km

unpaved: 9,943 km (2021)

comparison ranking: total 135

Merchant marine

total: 4,821 (2023)

by type: bulk carrier 1,895, container ship 1,013, general cargo 170, oil tanker 1,038, other 705

comparison ranking: total 5

Ports

total ports: 4 (2024)

large: 0

medium: 0

small: 1

very small: 3

ports with oil terminals: 3

key ports: Buchanan, Cape Palmas, Greenville, Monrovia

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL): Army, Liberian Coast Guard, Air Wing; Ministry of Justice: Liberia National Police, Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (2024)

note: the AFL Air Wing was previously disbanded in 2005 and has been under redevelopment since 2019; the Liberian National Police and the Liberian Drug Enforcement Agency are under the Ministry of Justice

Military expenditures

0.8% of GDP (2022 est.)
0.7% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.5% of GDP (2020 est.)
0.6% of GDP (2019 est.)
0.5% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 139

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 2,000 active personnel (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military has a limited inventory; in recent years, it has received small quantities of equipment, including donations, from countries such as China and the US (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-35 years of age for men and women for voluntary military service; no conscription (2023)

Military - note

the AFL is responsible for external defense but also has some domestic security responsibilities if called upon, such as humanitarian assistance during natural disasters and support to law enforcement; it is a small, lightly equipped force comprised of two combat infantry battalions and supporting units; the infantry battalions were rebuilt with US assistance in 2007-2008 from the restructured AFL following the end of the second civil war in 2003 when military and police forces were disbanded and approximately 100,000 military, police, and rebel combatants were disarmed

the first militia unit established for defense of the colony was raised in 1832; the 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

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 (2023)

Transnational Issues

Illicit drugs

not a significant transit country for illicit narcotics bound for the United States or Europe; not a key producer of illicit drugs; proximity to major drug transit routes contribute to trafficking cocaine and heroin, to and through Liberia and other West African countries; local drug use involves locally grown cannabis, heroin (mostly smoked), cocaine (snorted), and more recently kush (Cannabis Indic’s type flower), mixed with different substances including heroin or synthetic DMT