Liberia is located on the west coast of Africa and was founded by freed slaves returning from the United States. A special history, making it one of only two African countries that were never colonized.
The former slaves from the United States built a permanent settlement on the coast. They called it Liberia, from the Latin “Liber” meaning “Free”. The name of the capital, Monrovia, was derived from the then American president, James Monroe.
Of course, Liberia was not empty before the migrants arrived from the United States. The original population was – for a long time – seen as second-class citizens and the two groups lived separate lives.
This division, combined with poor economic choices by various leaders, proved to be the ultimate breeding ground for the Liberian Civil War, which began in 1989 under the leadership of rebel leader Charles Taylor. The violent, traumatic conflict resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. In 2003, peace talks were held in the Ghanaian capital Accra, and Charles Taylor resigned the presidency under great pressure. He has since been convicted and imprisond for the war crimes he carried out in neighboring Sierra Leone. In 2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became president of Liberia for two terms. She was the first female president in Africa. In 2017 former soccer star George Weah took over the presidency after democratic elections.
Liberia (96 thousand km2) consists largely of tropical rainforest and is blessed with phosphorus-rich soil, ideal for growing a variety of crops, fruits and grains.
The country grows a large number of food crops including rice, plantain, eddoes, sweet potato, banana, pineapple, mangos, cereals, pepper, sugar, palm oil, cocoa and cassava.
The country is also rich in minerals such as iron ore, diamonds and gold. Liberia’s natural resources should allow the country to be self-sufficient. But unfortunately, the reality is that Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Food is still imported and many local industries, especially concessions for iron ore, rubber, palm oil and wood, are mainly in foreign hands.
Unfortunately, corruption, high unemployment, poverty, tribal disputes, and crime still remain an ongoing threat to political and economic stability.
Liberia is suffering from the effects of civil war and health crises. The result is a grounded economy and an unstable society.
Successive governments have been unable to change this situation. Due to the unstable situation, there is no international investment. As a result, economy shows no growth and long term expectations are poor.
Our team in Liberia sees the consequences of this situation every day:
- The unemployment rate is high.
- Families have limited income and can hardly invest in their children’s education or in their own education.
- The population is not well educated.
- Government education programmes are outdated and do not lead to better prospects for young people.
- A large part of the population lacks initiative.
- Girls and women are disadvantaged.
- Due to the lack of alternatives, a large group of young people are at risk of dropping out and seeking refuge in drugs and prostitution.
The solution must come from within Liberia itself. This will only succeed if the young population is properly educated and empowered to take control of their own lives.
For more information about Liberia, see:
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