The World Factbook (1990)/Liberia

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World Factbook (1990) Liberia.jpg

See regional map VII


Total area: 111,370 km²; land area: 96,320 km²

Comparative area: slightly larger than Tennessee

Land boundaries: 1,585 km total; Guinea 563 km, Ivory Coast 716 km, Sierra Leone 306 km

Coastline: 579 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: 200 meters or to depth of exploitation
Territorial sea: 200 nm

Climate: tropical; hot, humid; dry winters with hot days and cool to cold nights; wet, cloudy summers with frequent heavy showers

Terrain: mostly flat to rolling coastal plains rising to rolling plateau and low mountains in northeast

Natural resources: iron ore, timber, diamonds, gold

Land use: 1% arable land; 3% permanent crops; 2% meadows and pastures; 39% forest and woodland; 55% other; includes NEGL% irrigated

Environment: West Africa's largest tropical rain forest, subject to deforestation


Population: 2,639,809 (July 1990), growth rate 3.4% (1990)

Birth rate: 45 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 14 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 2 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 126 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 54 years male, 58 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 6.6 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Liberian(s); adjective—Liberian

Ethnic divisions: 95% indigenous African tribes, including Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Grebo, Mano, Krahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma, Kissi, Vai, and Bella; 5% descendants of repatriated slaves known as Americo-Liberians

Religion: 70% traditional, 20% Muslim, 10% Christian

Language: English (official); more than 20 local languages of the Niger-Congo language group; English used by about 20%

Literacy: 35%

Labor force: 510,000, including 220,000 in the monetary economy; 70.5% agriculture, 10.8% services, 4.5% industry and commerce, 14.2% other; non-African foreigners hold about 95% of the top-level management and engineering jobs; 52% of population of working age

Organized labor: 2% of labor force


Long-form name: Republic of Liberia

Type: republic

Capital: Monrovia

Administrative divisions: 13 counties; Bomi, Bong, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Jide, Grand Kru, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, Rivercess, Sino

Independence: 26 July 1847

Constitution: 6 January 1986

Legal system: dual system of statutory law based on Anglo-American common law for the modern sector and customary law based on unwritten tribal practices for indigenous sector

National holiday: Independence Day, 26 July (1847)

Executive branch: president, vice president, Cabinet

Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly consists of an upper house or Senate and a lower house or House of Representatives

Judicial branch: People's Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Gen. Dr. Samuel Kanyon DOE (since 12 April 1980); Vice President Harry F. MONIBA (since 6 January 1986)

Political parties and leaders: National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL), Augustus Caine, chairman; Liberian Action Party (LAP), Emmanuel Koromah, chairman; Unity Party (UP), Carlos Smith, chairman; United People's Party (UPP), Gabriel Baccus Matthews, chairman

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: President—last held on 15 October 1985 (next to be held October 1991); results—Samuel Kanyon Doe (NDPL) 50.9%, Jackson Doe (LAP) 26.4%, others 22.7%;

Senate—last held on 15 October 1985 (next to be held 15 October 1991); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats (26 total) NDPL 21, LAP 3, UP 1, LUP 1;

House of Representatives—last held on 15 October 1985 (next to be held October 1991); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(64 total) NDPL 51, LAP 8, UP 3, LUP 2


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Eugenia A. WORDSWORTH-STEVENSON; Chancery at 5201 16th Street NW, Washington DC 20011; telephone (202) 723-0437 through 0440; there is a Liberian Consulate General in New York; US—Ambassador James K. BISHOP; Embassy at 111 United Nations Drive, Monrovia (mailing address is P. O. Box 98, Monrovia, or APO New York 09155); telephone [231] 222991 through 222994

Flag: 11 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a white five-pointed star on a blue square in the upper hoist-side corner; the design was based on the US flag


Overview: In 1988 and 1989 the Liberian economy posted its best two years in a decade, thanks to a resurgence of the rubber industry and rapid growth in exports of forest products. Richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture, Liberia is a producer and exporter of basic products. Local manufacturing, mainly foreign owned, is small in scope. Liberia imports primarily machinery and parts, transportation equipment, petroleum products, and foodstuffs. Persistent budget deficits, the flight of capital, and deterioration of transport and other infrastructure continue to hold back economic progress.

GDP: $988 million, per capita $395; real growth rate 1.5% (1988)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 12% (1989)

Unemployment rate: 43% urban (1988)

Budget: revenues $242.1 million; expenditures $435.4 million, including capital expenditures of $29.5 million (1989)

Exports: $550 million (f.o.b., 1989); commodities—iron ore 61%, rubber 20%, timber 11%, coffee; partners—US, EC, Netherlands

Imports: $335 million (c.i.f., 1989); commodities—rice, mineral fuels, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment, other foodstuffs; partners—US, EC, Japan, China, Netherlands, ECOWAS

External debt: $1.7 billion (December 1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 1.5% in manufacturing (1987)

Electricity: 400,000 kW capacity; 730 million kWh produced, 290 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: rubber processing, food processing, construction materials, furniture, palm oil processing, mining (iron ore, diamonds)

Agriculture: accounts for about 40% of GDP (including fishing and forestry); principal products—rubber, timber, coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava, palm oil, sugarcane, bananas, sheep, and goats; not self-sufficient in food, imports 25% of rice consumption

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $634 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $793 million; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $25 million; Communist countries (1970-88), $77 million

Currency: Liberian dollar (plural—dollars); 1 Liberian dollar (L$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Liberian dollars (L$) per US$1—1.00 (fixed rate since 1940); unofficial parallel exchange rate of L$2.5 = US$1, January 1989

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 480 km total; 328 km 1.435-meter standard gauge, 152 km 1.067-meter narrow gauge; all lines single track; rail systems owned and operated by foreign steel and financial interests in conjunction with Liberian Government

Highways: 10,087 km total; 603 km bituminous treated, 2,848 km all weather, 4,313 km dry weather; there are also 2,323 km of private, laterite-surfaced roads open to public use, owned by rubber and timber companies

Ports: Monrovia, Buchanan, Greenville, Harper (or Cape Palmas)

Merchant marine: 1,379 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 48,655,666 DWT/90,005,898 DWT; includes 11 passenger, 148 cargo, 26 refrigerated cargo, 18 roll-on/roll-off cargo, 42 vehicle carrier, 42 container, 4 barge carrier, 436 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 100 chemical, 63 combination ore/oil, 41 liquefied gas, 6 specialized tanker, 413 bulk, 2 multifunction large-load carrier, 26 combination bulk; note—a flag of convenience registry; all ships are foreign owned; the top four owning flags are US 17%, Hong Kong 13%, Japan 10%, and Greece 10%; China owns at least 20 ships and Vietnam owns 1

Civil air: 3 major transport aircraft

Airports: 76 total, 60 usable; 2 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 4 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: telephone and telegraph service via radio relay network; main center is Monrovia; 8,500 telephones; stations—3 AM, 4 FM, 5 TV; 2 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth stations

Defense Forces

Branches: Armed Forces of Liberia, Liberia National Coast Guard

Military manpower: males 15-49, 627,519; 335,063 fit for military service; no conscription

Defense expenditures: 2.4% of GDP (1987)