Liberia is a country in West Africa bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire. It covers an area of 43,000 sq. mi. - slighly larger than Tennessee - and is home to about 4 million people. English is the
official language and over 30 indigenous languages are also spoken
within the country. Its coastline is composed mostly of mangroves,
while its more sparsely populated inland consists of forests opening
onto a plateau of drier grasslands. The climate is hot and equatorial,
with significant rainfall during the May-October rainy season and harsh harmattan winds the remainder of the year.
Liberia is the only country in Africa founded by United States colonization while occupied by native Africans. Beginning in 1820, the region was colonized by blacks from the United States, most of whom were freed slaves. These immigrants established a new country with the help of the American Colonization Society, a private organization whose leaders thought former slaves would have greater opportunity in Africa. African captives freed from slave ships by the British and Americans were sent there instead of being repatriated to their countries of origin. In 1847, this new country became the Republic of Liberia, establishing a government modeled on that of the United States and naming its capital city Monrovia after President James Monroe.
In 1980 a military coup overthrew the Americo-Liberian leadership, marking the beginning of political and economic instability and two successive
civil wars. These resulted in the deaths of approximately 250,000 people and devastated the country's economy. A peace agreement in 2003 led to democratic elections in 2005. Today, Liberia is recovering from the lingering effects of the civil wars and their consequent economic upheaval, but about 80% of the population continues to live below the international poverty line.
(sources: Embassy of the Republic of Liberia, wikipedia, CIA World Factbook)