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Liberia

 

Liberia is Africa's oldest republic, which became better known in the 1990s for its long, ruinous civil war and its role in a rebellion in neighbouring Sierra Leone. Although founded by freed American and Caribbean slaves, Liberia is mostly made up of indigenous Africans, with the slaves' descendants comprising 5% of the population This West African country is bordered by Sierra Leone in the West, Guinea in the North and the Côte d’Ivoire in the East. The country possesses 40% of the remaining Upper Guinean rainforest.

The “Pepper Coast” was inhabited as early as the 12th century, and then Portuguese explorers established contacts with the area in 1461 and named it the “Grain Coast” because of the abundance of "grains of paradise" (Malegueta pepper seeds). In 1663, the British installed trading posts on the Grain Coast, but the Dutch destroyed these posts a year later. There were no further reports of European settlements along the Grain Coast until the arrival of freed slaves in the early 1800s.

Liberia, "land of the free," was founded by free African-Americans and freed slaves from the United States in 1820. An initial group of 86 immigrants, who came to be called Americo-Liberians, established a settlement in Christopolis (now Monrovia). Thousands of freed American slaves and free African-Americans arrived during the following years, leading to the formation of more settlements and culminating in a declaration of independence of the Republic of Liberia in 1847. Today, Liberia is recovering from the lingering effects of the civil war and related economic dislocation, with about 85% of the population living below the poverty line. Monrovia, the capital and largest city (named after U.S. President James Monroe), has a population of over one million.

 

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