Liberia: A Brief History
On July 26, 1847 Liberia became Africa’s first independent state. In the 1840’s a significant number of blacks freed from slavery in America were allowed to settle in Liberia. These freed people, many of whom had become Christians, settled in the coastal areas of Liberia.
Monrovia, named after U.S. President James Monroe, became the capital. For many decades the people in inland Liberia (known as indigenous Liberians) remained isolated from the people, economy, education, culture and religion (Christianity) of Liberia.
Beginning in the 1970s various ethnic groups in the nation began to outwardly express their years of resentment toward the way they were treated by the minority government. In 1980, Liberia experienced a military coup accompanied by much violence and instability.
In 1989 the situation escalated into a tragic civil war, which lasted, off and on, for more than a decade. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed, and cities on the coast and inland villages were destroyed. Thousands of Liberians left the country and became refugees in the neighboring countries, and many were also granted asylum in the United States.
Liberian Soldiers: Many Were Children
In 2005, when a national democratic government was established, the major rebuilding of the country began.
- Liberia is a country of 3.5 million people.
Religion and ethnicity:
- There are sixteen major ethnic groups.
- 38% are Christian and 13% are Muslims.
- African traditional religions make up 48.33% of the population.
- About 45% of the population is between the ages of 0 - 14.
- 52% is between ages of 15- 64, and 3% is over the age of 64.
- Life expectancy is only 56 years of age
Impact of civil war (1989-2003):
- Since 1990, Liberia has become a desperate nation, an economically and physically deprived people.
- 150,000 to 200,000 have died due to fighting, starvation, or lack of medical facilities.
- About 750,000 people are homeless
- The literacy rate (those age 15 and over who can read and write) is 73.3% for boys and only 41.3% for girls.
- Many Liberian youth have completed only grade 9 or 10.