Liberia is a developing West African country about the size of Tennessee with a population of approximately 3.7 million. Despite its political, economic and social troubles, Liberia was the only free republic in Africa until 1980 when a military coup led to nearly a decade of authoritarian rule.
In 1989, civil war broke out in Liberia. Liberia is struggling to recover from 14 years of civil war (1989-2003) that destroyed much of the economy and infrastructure. Democratic elections held in 2005 brought to power President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The process of rebuilding the social and economic structure of the country is slowly taking place.
Geographically speaking Liberia packs a wide variety of scenery in a small package. Along the coastline is flat or gently rolling, often swampy land leading into the interior. The dense tropical jungle of the interior opens up to the plains and low mountains of the northeast. The Sapo National Park, a main attraction, is one of the dense tropical rain forests inhabited by chimpanzees, elephants, pygmy hippos, leopard and other rare animals and birds. Liberia is blessed with natural resources such as iron ore, rubber, timber and diamonds.
Monrovia is the capital city; there are 15 counties that serve as administrative divisions. Forty percent of the population is Christian, 20 percent Muslim and 40 percent follow indigenous beliefs. English is the official language, but there are some 20 ethnic group languages as well. The unemployment rate is estimated at 85 percent with 80 percent of the population below poverty.