Liberia covers 43,000 square miles (111,000 sq.km.) and is situated on the West Coast of Africa. It is bounded on the East by the Ivory Coast, on the West by Sierra Leone, the North by the Republic of Guinea, and the South by the Atlantic Ocean. The climate is particularly warm and humid. There are two distinct seasons – a rainy season and a dry season. The rainy season last from May to November and the dry season is from December to April. Thunderstorms and lightning storms occur during the rainy months.
The population is estimated at about 3. 5 million. Ninety-five per cent of the total population consist of sixteen indigenous ethnic groups. The other five per cent are descendants of settlers from the United States and other freed slaves. Although English is the official language and is taught in the schools, there are some eighteen dialects spoken in the country. There is freedom of worship and religion in Liberia. Although the population is predominantly Christian, the Muslim proportion of the population is also substantial. In addition, a number of indigenous African religions are practiced in the country.
Liberia was founded in 1821 by the American Colonization Society. On the 26 of July 1847 Liberia declared herself as an Independent nation, proclaiming as a free, sovereign and independent nation. Liberia thus became the first black independent state on the African continent. Liberia is also a member of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS), the Lome Convention, the Non-Aligned Movement and is one of the founding members of the United Nations and the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) now the African Union (AU). Liberia is basically an agricultural country and almost 80 percent of its population is involved in some form of agriculture. The majority are small-scale “subsistence” farmers, operating under the system of shifting cultivation. The basic crops are rice and cassava, which form the staple foods. In addition, cash crops such as coffee, cocoa, oil palm and citrus are grown on small plots. Rubber was by far the most important agricultural commodity produced; until the war it was the country’s second largest earner of foreign exchange, after iron ore. There are many species of good quality timber in Liberian forests, also which contributed an average about 14 per cent of total export revenue per year. Other mineral deposits include bauxite, copper, diamonds, manganese, gold and zinc. The extent and quality of these deposits has not yet been fully determined. Among the major industrial enterprises in Liberia, are factories producing cement, plastic utensils, foam mattresses, soft drinks, matches, and a brewery.
The present business Community comprises mostly Lebanese and Indians who operate most of the large stores and commercial enterprises, with a large number of Guineans, Sierra Leoneans and Ghanaians.
Rice is the staple food in Liberia. It is eaten with a variety of sauces made from green vegetables. Also popular is palm butter, a dish from Eastern Liberia made from palm nuts. The dishes highly spiced. Soup, made from a combination of meat, fish and chicken is another very popular main dish and is often served with fufu or dumboy – made from fermented and pounded cassava, respectively. Most of the food consumed by foreign residents in Liberia is imported and can be found in local supermarkets. Fresh fruits are available in season and include bananas, citrus fruits, watermelon, pineapples, mangoes, papayas, and guavas. Locally produced vegetables include lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, string beans, corn, cabbage, okra, potato greens, eggplants, avocados and others.A wide selection of imported drinks and fruit juices is available in good supply. A variety of soft drinks as well as one brand of beer (CLUB) is produced locally. There is usually a good choice of different brands of imported beer.
The educational system is centralized and all schools, whether public or private, operate under the control and direct supervision of the Ministry of Education. Schooling consists of six years of elementary education (official age of admission is six years) and six years of secondary education, which is completed in two stages- Junior High School and Senior High School. Each of these two stages is of three years duration. The University of Liberia (UL), African Methodist Episcopal University, United Methodist University and Cuttington University College in Suakoko, Bong County provides four-year courses leading to bachelor’s degrees. In addition, the University of Liberia offers a masters degree programme in Regional Planning and International Relations. The University of Liberia also operates a Law School, and School of Medicine (A. M. Degliotti) both of which accept only degree holders.