Capital : Monrovia
Size: 43 000 sq m Popn: 2 580 000
This was the first independent republic in Africa and was never directly colonised although the American Colonization Society, among others, bought land and settled over 16 000 freed slaves on the coast between 1822 and 1892. Many died but the survivors dominated the country and exploited the indigenous people.
Liberia became an independent republic in 1847 and the True Whig Party, founded in 1868, was in power, despite financial difficulties, until the military coup of 1980. The American company, Firestone, moved into Liberia in 1926 to such a scale that it was nicknamed the Firestone Republic. President William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman broke the monopoly after 1944 and tried to encourage other investors. His successor, William R. Tolbert, continued the friendly relations with the U.S.A. but political stability ended when he raised rice prices in 1979 to encourage production. Massive protests were harshly subdued, prompting, in 1980, a military coup under Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe, in which Tolbert was killed.
This was the first time for 160 years that the country had not been ruled by the descendants of the Black American settlers. Doe banned political parties, suspending the constitution and ruling through the People's Redemption Council. It approved a new constitution in 1983 and this was confimed by a national referendum in 1984. Due to only three of the eleven parties registering in time, Doe won a clear election majority in 1986 and military rule ended with Doe becoming President. There were nine coup attempts during the 1980s, and a major rebellion in Nimba province under Charles Taylor in 1989 during which Doe was killed. Civil war continued between Taylor's group, Doe's remaining supporters, another rebel group led by Prince Johnson and a force from Monrovia trying to restore peace.
Amos Sawyer became the head of an interim government and was re-elected president in 1991 after a UN force contributed to by several African nations helped to establish a peace agreement. Although this was rejected by Raleigh Seckie and the guerrilla group United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy, the agreement was upheld but fighting continued and Taylor's rebel forces besieged Monrovia.
Ethnic groups are Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru and Vai as well as the descendants of settlers, English is the official language and Mande is also spoken and the religions are Christianity, Islam and traditional beliefs.
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
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