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Liberia: Country and Foreign Investment

History, Population, Language and Culture

The founding and establishment of a colony on the West Coast of Africa in the 1820s, which later became the Republic of Liberia, resulted from a number of initiatives in which freed slaves from the United States of America, through the instrumentality of the American Colonization Society, returned to Africa in an eventually successful attempt to create a republic on libertarian lines. The first settlement, around Cape Mesurado, was named Christopolis, later renamed Monrovia, after the American President, James Monroe, and the Colony as a whole was referred to as Liberia. Other colonization Societies soon followed, and established colonies in diverse parts including Buchanan, Sinoe, Harper, and Robertsport. In 1839, these colonies, except Harper and Sinoe merged and created the Commonwealth of Liberia, adopted a new Constitution and appointed a Governor. Sinoe joined the Commonwealth in 1842, and four years later, on July 26, 1847, Liberia declared its independence, thus becoming the first independent Black African nation.

For several years, Liberia existed side by side with its indigenous African tribes, and through a gradual process , involving agreements, purchase of territories, and extension of its authority, Liberia came to encompass a vast territory between Sierra Leone on the West, then under British Colonial domination, and Guinea and Ivory Coast on the North and East, respectively, both then under French Colonial domination. However, the relationship was marred at diverse times by bloody battles between the freed settlers and the indigenous tribal peoples on the one hand, and by encroachments upon Liberian territory by its neighbouring colonial powers on the other. Although Liberia maintained its sovereignty and territorial integrity, its political arrangement was to be the cause of its eventual instability. For 133 years, the settlers, although outnumbered by the indigenous tribal peoples, developed a hegemony through which they entrenched and completely dominated the political, economic and social spheres of Liberian, to the exclusion of the indigenous tribes.

So on April 12, 1980, the Americo-Liberian True Whig Party Government was toppled, and President William R. Tolbert , Jr. along with several of his Cabinet Minsters assassinated , in a bloody coup d'etat led by a relatively unknown Master Sergeant, Samuel Kanyan Doe. While this coup d'etat brought to an end 133 years of Americao-Liberian political dominance over Liberia, it, unfortunately, heralded a period of instability for several years to come.

Expecting a new era of democracy in Liberia, the hopes of many Liberians were dashed when the Government of Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyan Doe suspended the Constitution, banned political party politics, declared marshal law, and became increasingly characterized by gross and persistent human rights violations committed with impunity. Under internal pressure, the ban on political parties was lifted, a new Constitution adopted in 1986 and elections held in which the Master Sergeant Kanyan Doe was declarecd the winner amidst widespread fraud and irregularities.

In December 1989, Charles Ghangay Taylor, under the banner of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia(NPFL), launched an incursion into Liberia from the Ivory Coast, which in less than six months not only escalated into a full blown civil war, but led to the disintegration of the Doe Government, and became increasingly characterized by indiscriminate killings, destruction of property, and massive internal and external displacement of Liberians. It is estimated that over 250,000 persons were killed during the conflict. Concerned that the war in Liberia would have the potential of spilling over and undermining the peace and security of the subregion, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened in the conflict and deployed a peace keeping force (ECOMOG) to maintain law and order. An Interim Government was installed and after several peace agreements, under the banner of ECOWAS and the United Nations, elections were held in 1998. Charles Ghankay Taylor, the erstwhile leader of the NPFL, emerged as winner, and was inaugurated as Liberia's 23rd President for an initial six year term. However, Taylor's presidency was short lived.

In addition to widespread human rights abuses, Taylor demonstrated gross incapacity to address the deplorable and deteriorating social and economic conditions, of Liberia. His involvement in the conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone through the supply of arms to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in exchange for diamonds resulted in sanctions against him and his government. Unable to contain the advances by Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) (two waring groups), and under intense international pressure, Taylor resigned as President of Liberia on August 11, 2003, and paved the way for the establishment of a Transitional Government, which has now brought peace to Liberia.

Liberia's population is estimated at 3.88m (2011), 85% of whom are Christian, 12% Muslim, and 3% with indigenous beliefs.

English is the official language, but there are about 16 other indigenous languages, of which only a few can be written.



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