Liberia

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 17, 2011
Flag of Liberia
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Liberia
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Map of Liberia
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Introduction

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Settlement of freed slaves from the US in what is today Liberia began in 1822; by 1847, the Americo-Liberians were able to establish a republic. William TUBMAN, president from 1944-71, did much to promote foreign investment and to bridge the economic, social, and political gaps between the descendents of the original settlers and the inhabitants of the interior. In 1980, a military coup led by Samuel DOE ushered in a decade of authoritarian rule. In December 1989, Charles TAYLOR launched a rebellion against DOE's regime that led to a prolonged civil war in which DOE himself was killed. A period of relative peace in 1997 allowed for elections that brought TAYLOR to power, but major fighting resumed in 2000. An August 2003 peace agreement ended the war and prompted the resignation of former president Charles TAYLOR, who faces war crimes charges in The Hague related to his involvement in Sierra Leone's civil war. After two years of rule by a transitional government, democratic elections in late 2005 brought President Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF to power. The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) maintains a strong presence throughout the country, but the security situation is still fragile and the process of rebuilding the social and economic structure of this war-torn country continues.
 
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Geography

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Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone
 
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6 30 N, 9 30 W
 
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total: 111,369 sq km
country comparison to the world: 104
land: 96,320 sq km
water: 15,049 sq km
 
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slightly larger than Tennessee
 
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total: 1,585 km
border countries: Guinea 563 km, Cote d'Ivoire 716 km, Sierra Leone 306 km
 
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579 km
 
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territorial sea: 200 nm
 
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tropical; hot, humid; dry winters with hot days and cool to cold nights; wet, cloudy summers with frequent heavy showers
 
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mostly flat to rolling coastal plains rising to rolling plateau and low mountains in northeast
 
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lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Wuteve 1,380 m
 
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iron ore, timber, diamonds, gold, hydropower
 
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arable land: 3.43%
permanent crops: 1.98%
other: 94.59% (2005)
 
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30 sq km (2008)
 
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232 cu km (1987)
 
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total: 0.11 cu km/yr (27%/18%/55%)
per capita: 34 cu m/yr (2000)
 
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dust-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to March)
 
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tropical rain forest deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; pollution of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage
 
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation
 
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facing the Atlantic Ocean, the coastline is characterized by lagoons, mangrove swamps, and river-deposited sandbars; the inland grassy plateau supports limited agriculture
 
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People and Society

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noun: Liberian(s)
adjective: Liberian
 
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Kpelle 20.3%, Bassa 13.4%, Grebo 10%, Gio 8%, Mano 7.9%, Kru 6%, Lorma 5.1%, Kissi 4.8%, Gola 4.4%, other 20.1% (2008 census)
 
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English 20% (official), some 20 ethnic group languages few of which can be written or used in correspondence
 
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Christian 85.6%, Muslim 12.2%, Traditional 0.6%, other 0.2%, none 1.4% (2008 census)
 
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3,786,764 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
 
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0-14 years: 44.3% (male 843,182/female 834,922)
15-64 years: 52.7% (male 989,623/female 1,007,577)
65 years and over: 2.9% (male 56,189/female 55,271) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 18.3 years
male: 18.2 years
female: 18.3 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.663% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 20
 
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37.25 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 20
 
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10.62 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 45
 
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0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 96
 
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urban population: 48% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 3.4% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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MONROVIA (capital) 882,000 (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.03 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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990 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 5
 
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total: 74.52 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 19
male: 78.96 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 69.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 57 years
country comparison to the world: 194
male: 55.44 years
female: 58.6 years (2011 est.)
 
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5.13 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 16
 
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3.9% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 167
 
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0.014 physicians/1,000 population (2008)
country comparison to the world: 191
 
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0.7 beds/1,000 population (2009)
country comparison to the world: 160
 
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improved:
urban: 79% of population
rural: 51% of population
total: 68% of population
unimproved:
urban: 21% of population
rural: 49% of population
total: 32% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 25% of population
rural: 4% of population
total: 17% of population
unimproved:
urban: 75% of population
rural: 96% of population
total: 83% of population (2008)
 
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1.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
 
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37,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
 
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3,600 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 44
 
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degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
aerosolized dust or soil contact disease: Lassa fever
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)
 
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20.4% (2007)
country comparison to the world: 35
 
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2.7% of GDP (2008)
country comparison to the world: 144
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 57.5%
male: 73.3%
female: 41.6% (2003 est.)
 
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total: 11 years
male: 13 years
female: 9 years (2000)
 
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total: 4.7%
country comparison to the world: 123
male: 5.7%
female: 3.7% (2007)
 
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Government ::LIBERIA

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conventional long form: Republic of Liberia
conventional short form: Liberia
 
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republic
 
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name: Monrovia
geographic coordinates: 6 18 N, 10 48 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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15 counties; Bomi, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, River Cess, River Gee, Sinoe
 
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26 July 1847
 
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Independence Day, 26 July (1847)
 
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6 January 1986
 
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mixed legal system of common law (based on Anglo-American law) and customary law
 
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accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
 
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18 years of age; universal
 
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chief of state: President Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF (since 16 January 2006); note - the President is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF (since 16 January 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); elections last held on 11 October and 8 November 2011 (next to be held in 2017)
election results: Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF re-elected president; percent of vote, second round - Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF 90.7%, Winston TUBMAN 9.3%
 
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bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (30 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve nine-year terms) and the House of Representatives (73 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held on 11 October 2011 (next to be held in 2020); House of Representatives - last held on 11 October 2011 (next to be held 1n 2017)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UP 10, NPP 6, CDC 3, ADP 2, NUDP 2, LDP 1, LP 1, NDC 1, NDP 1, independents 3 ; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UP 30, CDC 11, LP 7, NUDP 6, NDC 5, ADP 3, NPP3, MPC 2, LDP1, LTP 1, NRP 1, independents 9
 
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Supreme Court
 
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Alliance for Peace and Democracy or APD [Togba-na TIPOTEH]; Congress for Democratic Change or CDC [George WEAH]; Liberty Party or LP [Charles BRUMSKINE]; National Patriotic Party or NPP [Roland MASSAQUOI]; Unity Party or UP [Varney SHERMAN]
 
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other: demobilized former military officers
 
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ACP, AfDB, AU, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires William V. BULL
chancery: 5201 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011
telephone: [1] (202) 723-0437
FAX: [1] (202) 723-0436
consulate(s) general: New York
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Linda THOMAS-GREENFIELD
embassy: 111 United Nations Drive, P. O. Box 98, Mamba Point, 1000 Monrovia, 10
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [231] 7-705-4826
FAX: [231] 7-701-0370
 
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11 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a white five-pointed star appears on a blue square in the upper hoist-side corner; the stripes symbolize the signatories of the Liberian Declaration of Independence; the blue square represents the African mainland, and the star represents the freedom granted to the ex-slaves; according to the constitution, the blue color signifies liberty, justice, and fidelity, the white color purity, cleanliness, and guilelessness, and the red color steadfastness, valor, and fervor
note: the design is based on the US flag
 
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white star
 
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name: "All Hail, Liberia Hail!"
lyrics/music: Daniel Bashiel WARNER/Olmstead LUCA
note: lyrics adopted 1847, music adopted 1860; the anthem's author would become the third president of Liberia
 
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Economy

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Liberia is a low income country heavily reliant on foreign assistance for revenue. Civil war and government mismanagement destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially the infrastructure in and around the capital, Monrovia. Many businesses fled the country, taking capital and expertise with them, but with the conclusion of fighting and the installation of a democratically-elected government in 2006, several have returned. Liberia has the distinction of having the highest ratio of direct foreign investment to GDP in the world. Richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture, Liberia had been a producer and exporter of basic products, primarily raw timber and rubber and is reviving those sectors. Local manufacturing, mainly foreign owned, had been small in scope. President JOHNSON SIRLEAF, a Harvard-trained banker and administrator, has taken steps to reduce corruption, build support from international donors, and encourage private investment. Embargos on timber and diamond exports have been lifted, opening new sources of revenue for the government and Liberia shipped its first major timber exports to Europe in 2010. The country reached its Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative completion point in 2010 and nearly $5 billion of international debt was permanently eliminated. This new status will enable Liberia to establish a sovereign credit rating and issue bonds. Liberia's Paris Club creditors agreed to cancel Liberia's debt as well. Rebuilding infrastructure and raising incomes will depend on generous financial and technical assistance from donor countries and foreign investment in key sectors, such as infrastructure and power generation.
 
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$1.691 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 191
$1.608 billion (2009 est.)
$1.537 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$974 million (2010 est.)
 
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5.1% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
4.6% (2009 est.)
7.1% (2008 est.)
 
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$500 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 226
$400 (2009 est.)
$400 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 76.9%
industry: 5.4%
services: 17.7% (2002 est.)
 
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1.372 million (2007)
country comparison to the world: 133
 
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agriculture: 70%
industry: 8%
services: 22% (2000 est.)
 
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85% (2003 est.)
country comparison to the world: 198
 
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80% (2000 est.)
 
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lowest 10%: 2.4%
highest 10%: 30.1% (2007)
 
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38.2 (2007)
country comparison to the world: 74
 
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revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA
 
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34.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
 
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-0.7% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
 
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7.3% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183
7.4% (2009 est.)
 
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14.3% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
14.183% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$289 million (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 170
$260.1 million (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$398.6 million
country comparison to the world: 179
$343.6 million
 
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$1.334 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
$1.269 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$NA
 
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rubber, coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, sugarcane, bananas; sheep, goats; timber
 
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rubber processing, palm oil processing, timber, diamonds
 
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NA%
 
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335 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166
 
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311.6 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
 
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4,500 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 173
 
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23 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
 
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4,552 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
 
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0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88
 
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0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
 
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-$692.5 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
-$541.1 million (2009 est.)
 
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$207 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
$180 million (2009 est.)
 
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rubber, timber, iron, diamonds, cocoa, coffee
 
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South Africa 26.9%, US 18.1%, Spain 7.8%, Denmark 5.4%, Venezuela 4.8%, Malaysia 4.3% (2010)
 
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$726.7 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 181
$559 million (2009 est.)
 
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fuels, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods; foodstuffs
 
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South Korea 37.2%, China 26.3%, Singapore 17.3%, Japan 11.5% (2010)
 
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$399.8 million (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
$372.5 million (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$1.66 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
$3.2 billion (2005 est.)
 
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$NA
 
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$NA
 
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Liberian dollars (LRD) per US dollar -
NA (2007)
59.43 (2006)
53.098 (2005)
54.906 (2004)
59.379 (2003)
 
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Communications

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5,900 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 210
 
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1.571 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 142
 
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general assessment: the limited services available are found almost exclusively in the capital Monrovia; fixed-line service stagnant and extremely limited; telephone coverage extended to a number of other towns and rural areas by four mobile-cellular network operators
domestic: mobile-cellular subscription base growing and teledensity reached 25 per 100 persons in 2009
international: country code - 231; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2009)
 
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3 private TV stations; satellite TV service is available; 1 state-owned radio station; about 15 independent radio stations broadcasting in Monrovia, with another 25 local stations operating in other areas; transmissions of 2 international broadcasters are available (2007)
 
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.lr
 
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8 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 225
 
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20,000 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 194
 
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Transportation

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29 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 116
 
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total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 27
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 14 (2010)
 
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oil 4 km
 
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total: 429 km
country comparison to the world: 115
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 84 km 1.067-m gauge
note: most sections of the railways were inoperable because of damage suffered during the civil wars from 1980 to 2003, but many are being rebuilt (2010)
 
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total: 10,600 km
country comparison to the world: 135
paved: 657 km
unpaved: 9,943 km (2000)
 
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total: 2,512
country comparison to the world: 2
by type: barge carrier 3, bulk carrier 507, cargo 136, carrier 1, chemical tanker 232, combination ore/oil 6, container 875, liquefied gas 93, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 509, refrigerated cargo 109, roll on/roll off 2, specialized tanker 10, vehicle carrier 25
foreign-owned: 2,356 (Angola 1, Argentina 3, Australia 2, Belgium 1, Bermuda 4, Brazil 20, Canada 4, Chile 7, China 10, Croatia 2, Cyprus 7, Denmark 4, Finland 2, Germany 1049, Gibraltar 5, Greece 454, Hong Kong 47, India 1, Indonesia 4, Isle of Man 19, Israel 31, Italy 48, Japan 102, Latvia 9, Lebanon 1, Monaco 10, Netherlands 35, Nigeria 4, Norway 42, Poland 13, Qatar 5, Romania 3, Russia 108, Saudi Arabia 24, Singapore 27, Slovenia 5, South Korea 1, Sweden 10, Switzerland 17, Syria 1, Taiwan 88, Turkey 15, UAE 27, UK 25, Ukraine 16, Uruguay 1, US 39, Vietnam 3)
note: this country allows large numbers of ships owned by foreign entities to be registered in its national shipping registry and to fly its flag; these ships operate under the laws of the flag state (2010)
 
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Buchanan, Monrovia
 
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Military

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Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL): Army, Navy, Air Force
 
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18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2010)
 
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males age 16-49: 815,826
females age 16-49: 828,484 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 524,243
females age 16-49: 544,349 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 36,585
female: 38,516 (2010 est.)
 
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1.3% of GDP (2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 112
 
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Transnational Issues

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although civil unrest continues to abate with the assistance of 18,000 UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) peacekeepers, as of January 2007, Liberian refugees still remain in Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and Ghana; Liberia, in turn, shelters refugees fleeing turmoil in Cote d'Ivoire; despite the presence of over 9,000 UN forces (UNOCI) in Cote d'Ivoire since 2004, ethnic conflict continues to spread into neighboring states who can no longer send their migrant workers to Ivorian cocoa plantations; UN sanctions ban Liberia from exporting diamonds and timber
 
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refugees (country of origin): 12,600 (Cote d'Ivoire)
IDPs: 13,000 (civil war from 1990-2004; IDP resettlement began in November 2004) (2007)
 
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current situation: Liberia is a source, transit, and destination country, principally for young women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; most trafficking victims originate from within the country's borders and are subjected to domestic servitude, forced begging, forced labor in street vending, on rubber plantations, and alluvial diamond sites, or sex trafficking; victims of cross-border trafficking come to Liberia from Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, and Nigeria and are subjected to the same types of exploitation as internally trafficked victims
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - the government has not shown evidence of increased efforts to prosecute and to punish trafficking offenders and to protect trafficking victims; the Liberian Government has never convicted a trafficking offender using its 2005 anti-trafficking law; it reported conducting two investigations of trafficking cases during the year, but did not initiate any prosecutions or convict any traffickers; it also did not provide training to law enforcement officials or magistrates (2011)
 
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transshipment point for Southeast and Southwest Asian heroin and South American cocaine for the European and US markets; corruption, criminal activity, arms-dealing, and diamond trade provide significant potential for money laundering, but the lack of well-developed financial system limits the country's utility as a major money-laundering center
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