Liberia

Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West African coast. Liberia means “Land of the Free” in Latin.

The Republic of Liberia, beginning as a settlement of the American Colonization Society (ACS), declared its independence on July 26, 1847. The United States did not recognize Liberia’s independence until during the American Civil War on February 5, 1862. Between January 7, 1822 and the American Civil War, more than 15,000 freed and free-born Black Americans from United States and 3,198 Afro-Caribbeans relocated to the settlement. The Black American settlers carried their culture with them to Liberia. The Liberian constitution and flag were modeled after those of the United States. On January 3, 1848 Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a wealthy, free-born Black American from Virginia who settled in Liberia, was elected as Liberia’s first president after the people proclaimed independence.

Liberia is the only African republic to have self-proclaimed independence without gaining independence through revolt from any other nation, being Africa’s first and oldest republic. Liberia maintained and kept its independence during the European colonial era. During World War II, Liberia supported the United States war efforts against Germany and in turn the United States invested in considerable infrastructure in Liberia to help its war effort, which also aided the country in modernizing and improving its major air transportation facilities. In addition, President William Tubman encouraged economic changes. Internationally, Liberia was a founding member of The League of Nations, United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity. Political tensions from the rule of William R. Tolbert resulted in a military coup in 1980 that overthrew his leadership soon after his death, marking the beginning of years-long political instability. Five years of military rule by the People’s Redemption Council and five years of civilian rule by the National Democratic Party of Liberia were followed by the First and Second Liberian Civil Wars. These resulted in the deaths and displacement of more than half a million people and devastated Liberia’s economy. A peace agreement in 2003 led to democratic elections in 2005. Recovery proceeds but about 85% of the population live below the international poverty line.

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