Liberia is an independent republic which lies on the on the bulge of Africa between Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire and forms part of the West African Region. The capital city and major port is Monrovia. Other major towns are Nimba and Harbel and the ports of Greenville and Buchanan.

The official language of Liberia is English but several local languages are more widely spoken. Owing to the continuing state of political instability in the country it is difficult to get reliable economic indicators for the country. The local currency is the Liberian dollar (L$) which is officially at par with the US$ and US notes and coins are legal tender in Liberia.

Until the civil war in Liberia broke out, about 70% of the population relied on agriculture, and the rubber industry was highly successful.

The iron ore deposits in the country attracted foreign investment, and the country was one of the largest exporters in the world. However, these developments failed to have an impact on the population as a whole, and was “characterised as growth without development”.

In 1980 a military coup overthrew the government and led to economic mismanagement and debt. A democratically elected government was elected in 1997; however, the war had severely damaged the economy through the loss of facilities and foreign investment.

The Liberian oil industry is a key element in the economy of the country, as all petroleum products have to be imported since the closure of the Monrovia refinery in the early 1980’s.

The mining industry is becoming an increasingly important sector with iron ore being the principal mineral produced.

The international time zone for Liberia is GMT and the international dialling code is +231. The airlines that fly to Liberia are Nigerian Airways and Air Guinea. As at January 1996 all visitors to Liberia require visas.

Cholera, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, and malaria may be contracted while travelling in Liberia. Travellers should be aware that advance payment for medical services may be required. Prescription medicines should be carried in their original containers together with the prescription. Vaccinations should be obtained before entering Liberia.

Shaun Bakamoso

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