Liberia, the land of the free, is unique in several aspects. It is a land of many stories with several of them untold. It is a land of hope and great opportunities but it is also a land of pain, poverty and despair.
The Republic of Liberia is located along the western coast of Africa and borders the Republic of Sierra Leone to the west, the Republic of Guinea to the north and the Republic of Ivory Coast to the east.
The Republic of Liberia is very unique in the sense that, it was founded mostly by "free borns" and freed slaves from America (The Americo-Liberians). The Settlement of freed slaves from the United States in what is today Liberia, began in 1822. By 1847, the settlement had developed into a Republic. (NB. There were several local communities living in the interior parts of the country before the arrival of the freed slaves from America).
The Republic of Liberia has a total land area of about 111,369 squared kilometers (with about 579km of coastline). Just about 3.4% of this total land area remains arable (land good for farming). Liberia currently has an estimated population of 5.6 million people with the population growth rate hovering around 2.7%. About 49% of the total population of Liberia lives in urban areas in major cities and towns such as Harbel, Buchanan, Greenville, Zwedru, Robertsport and Monrovia. The metropolitan area of Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, contains about 1.7 million people (as of 2023) which is about 30% of Liberia's total population.
The Republic of Liberia just like its neighboring countries, is a culturally rich country consisting of a beautiful blend of several ethnic and racial groups. Kpelle, the most populous ethnic group, make up about 20.3% of the total population. Followed by the Bassa (about 13.4% of the total population), the Grebo ( about 10%), the Gio (about 8% of the total population), the Mano (about 7.9%), the Kru (about 6%), the Lorma (about 5.1%), the Kissi (about 4.8%), the Gola (about 4.4%), the Krahn (about 4%), the Vai (about 4%), the Mandingo (about 3.2%), the Gbandi (about 3%), the Mende (about 1.3%) and the Sapo (about 1.3%). Other minority groups (including other Africans and non-Africans) form the remaining fraction of the population.
Liberia is a predominantly Christian nation with about 85.6% of the population identifying as Christians. Muslims form about 12.2% of the total population. Traditional believers and other religious groups form the remaining 2.2% of the total population.
Although English is the official language, just about 20% of the population speaks and understands English. Besides English, there are several other languages spoken in Liberia today including some 20 ethnic group languages few of which can be written or used in correspondence.
The Republic of Liberia, just like its neighboring countries, is blessed with abundance of natural resources such as iron ore, timber, diamonds, gold, hydropower, etc. However, despite the abundance of natural and human resources, Liberia remains one of the poorest countries in Africa today.
Liberia's shaky economy depends heavily on foreign assistance. Several conflicts, especially the two civil wars between 1989 and 1996, and also between 1999 and 2003, destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially the infrastructure in and around Monrovia the capital. Many local and foreign businesses fled the country taking capital and expertise with them. However, with the end of the war, the return of peace, and the installation of a democratically-elected government in 2006, several of these companies and investors have returned to the country, helping rebuild Liberia for the better. However, much more work needs to be done.
Liberia has a literacy rate of just 60.8% for the entire population with the female literacy rate hovering around 56.8%. In other words, just about 60.8% of Liberia's population above the age 15, can read and write. Also, quality education which helps a lot in building strong economies, is something quite lacking in Liberia today. Children of school-going age are often seen hawking and petty trading along the streets of major towns and cities. Most of Liberia's rural and sub-urban communities lack proper educational facilities.
Lack of well-equipped hospitals and health centers, etc. remain a major problem in Liberia today. Most rural and sub-urban communities lack health facilities and most hospitals and health centers in the urban areas are not well-equipped. Several people continue to die from preventable and curable diseases and illnesses in Liberia due to the lack of health facilities.
Lack of good drinking water and water for domestic purposes remain a major problem in Liberia today. Most rural communties and towns lack access to good drinking water and most water bodies in the urban areas are polluted due in part to improper sewage disposals, industrial and agricultural runoffs, etc.
HIV/AIDS continues to wreak havoc in Liberia today. In fact, the National AIDS Commission of Liberia has reported an increase in the number of persons living with HIV in Liberia from about 33,000 persons (in 2010) to 43,200 persons (in 2017) with HIV/AIDS adults prevalence rate hovering around 2.1% (used to be 1.5% in 2009). Besides HIV/AIDS, the deadly ebola (NB: Liberia is now ebola-free), malaria, etc. continue to threaten several lives in Liberia today.
Rampant deforestation of the tropical rain forest, pollution of the coastal waters, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, etc. remain some of the major environmental issues facing Liberia today.
Just like in most other African countries, corruption and poor governance continue to threaten several lives and properties in Liberia today. Most of Liberia's government officials, religious leaders, health personnels, men and women in uniforms and other public figures, are very corrupt.