May 20, 2018
Abidjan – Monrovia
Flight distance: 404 nm | Hours in the air: 1.40
Liberia – the “Land of the Free”
After having mostly moved towards west the last few days and with going into our fourth trip week we now are already heading slowly northwards towards Europe again.
Once on the ground Liberia could go by as a Central American or Caribbean country given its street scene and laid back folks. People seem relaxed here as is traffic even though is clear that the poverty and jobless level is very high.
The government buildings are the nicest ones while the normal people live modestly in simple structures or houses. The streets are basic, yet relatively clean compared to other African nations. Monrovia, with 1.8 million inhabitants remains a “big village”.
Taking a tour around town did not require more than one hour and the most prominent building is a relict of the past. The ruins of the Ducor Palace Hotel, formerly part of the Intercontinental chain, was the most renowned and first five star hotel in West Africa. It has welcomed many leaders and celebrities in the past, including Idi Amin who apparently has swum in its pool while carrying his gun! The building has fallen into extensive disrepair and was occupied by squatters who were removed before a failed effort at a Libyan-funded renovation.
Our dinner was dominated by the Hockey World Cup final which the Swiss ended up loosing in overtime, too bad. We almost did not notice that finally we were not the only white people around!
👉 YouTube Playlist TransAfrica 2018
Country facts & figures
The “Land of the Free”, a tropical country in West Africa with a spectacular coastline at the North Atlantic Ocean. The country was known for some time as the Pepper Coast and later as the Grain Coast. It is surrounded by Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. Liberia covers an area of 111,369 km² making it somewhat larger than Bulgaria. The country has a population of about 4.5 million people (in 2015). Capital and largest city is Monrovia, (named after James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States, 1817–1825).
The country’s major cities are located along the coast like the port cities of Harper and Buchanan. Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world with a high unemployment rate (85%) and rampant corruption at almost every level of the Liberian government. The country is recovering from a 14-year civil war where 250,000 people were killed and many thousands more fled the fighting. In 2014 the country was also affected by the worst Ebola epidemic in history.
Eight years of civil strife were brought to a close in 1997 when free and open presidential and legislative elections were held. President TAYLOR held strong executive power with no real political opposition. Years of fighting, coupled with the flight of most businesses, have disrupted formal economic activity. An unsettled domestic security situation has slowed the process of rebuilding the social and economic structure of this war-torn country.
In 2001, the UN imposed sanctions on Liberian diamonds, along with an arms embargo and a travel ban on government officials, for Liberia’s support of the rebel insurgency in Sierra Leone. Renewed rebel activity has further eroded stability and economic activity. An August 2003 peace agreement ended the war and prompted the resignation of 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 will take many years.
The Republic of Liberia began as a settlement of the American Colonization Society (ACS), who believed black people would face better chances for freedom and prosperity in Africa than in the United States.
The country declared its independence on July 26, 1847. The U.S. did not recognize Liberia’s independence until during the American Civil War on February 5, 1862. Between January 7, 1822, and the American Civil War, more than 15,000 freed and free-born black people who faced legislated limits in the U.S., and 3,198 Afro-Caribbeans, relocated to the settlement. The black settlers carried their culture and tradition with them to Liberia.
The Liberian constitution and flag were modeled after those of the U.S. On January 3, 1848, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a wealthy, free-born African American from Virginia who settled in Liberia, was elected as Liberia’s first president after the people proclaimed independence.
Liberia was the first African republic to proclaim its independence, on July 26, 1847, and is Africa’s first and oldest modern republic. Liberia retained its independence during the Scramble for Africa. During World War II, Liberia supported the United States war efforts against Germany and in turn the U.S. invested in considerable infrastructure in Liberia to help its war effort, which also aided the country in modernizing and improving its major air transportation facilities. In addition, President William Tubman encouraged economic changes. Internationally, Liberia was a founding member of the League of Nations, United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity.