Liberia is a country with historical ties to the United States since it was founded by freed black slaves before the Underground Railroad, American Civil War era of the nineteenth century. The capital, Monrovia, was named after James Monroe. Liberia's flag closely resembles the American flag, reflecting the historical ties between the two countries.
Anthropological research shows the region of Liberia was inhabited at least as far back as the 12th century, perhaps earlier. Between 1461 and the late 17th century, Portuguese, Dutch and British traders had contacts and trading posts in Liberia. The Portuguese had named the area Costa da Pimenta, later translated as Grain Coast, because of the abundance of grains of melegueta pepper.
In 1822 the American Colonization Society, which was the primary vehicle for returning former Caribbean slaves to greater freedom in Africa, established Liberia as a destination for those formerly enslaved. This movement of black people by the ACS had broad support nationwide among white people in America. While the institution of slavery in America grew, reaching almost four million slaves by the mid 1800s, a growing population in the U.S. chose to emigrate to Liberia as well. African-Americans gradually migrated to the colony and became known as Americo-Liberians, from whom many present day Liberians trace their ancestry. On 26 July 1847, Americo-Liberian settlers declared independence of the Republic of Liberia.
Liberia retained its independence during the Scramble for Africa, but lost its claim to extensive territories that were annexed by Britain and France. Economic development was hindered by the decline of markets for Liberian goods in the late 19th century and by indebtedness on a series of loans, payments on which drained the economy.
On 12 April 1980, a successful military coup was staged by a group of non-commissioned army officers led by Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe. The soldiers were a mixture of the various ethnic groups that claimed marginalization at the hands of the minority Americo-Liberian settlers. In late 1989, the First Liberian Civil War began and the country was in state of war to varying degrees until 2003. Liberia is recovering from a devastating civil war that ended with a ceasefire in August 2003. An outbreak of Ebola, widely reported in 2014, has now ended.
While the country is now on the mend, it has not yet redeveloped the necessary infrastructure to sustain a large increase in tourism, with little for the average visitor outside Monrovia. Towns like Buchanan and Ganta, etc, are little more than a collection of shanty houses with no decent hotels or food. Monrovia in general is calmer than the more far-flung areas although the situation countrywide is improving with the presence of UN Peacekeepers. Fear should not stop you enjoying your visit but act with caution. Travel outside Monrovia is very difficult and not advisable on your own.
The equatorial climate is hot year-round with heavy rainfall from May to October with a short interlude in mid-July to August. During the winter months of November to March dry dust-laden harmattan winds blow inland causing many problems for residents.
Liberia officially has 16 ethnic groups that make up the country's population of Kpelle, the largest group, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Grebo, Mandingo, Mano, Krahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma, Kissa, Vai and Bella.
Americo-Liberians are the descendants of free-born and formerly enslaved African Americans.
A letter of invitation and a yellow fever vaccination certificate are necessary to apply for a Liberian visa. For US citizens, a 3-month visa costs US$131, for all others the fee is US$100. One, two & three year multiple-entry visas are also available. The embassy in Conakry has been moved out of town to the town of Kipe. At the Freetown embassy service is next day and no hassle. They will stamp the duration of your stay in your passport when travelling overland so be sure not to give too few days when they ask or else you will have to go to immigration office in Broad Street in Monrovia to extend your visa for US$20 (though they will probably ask for more).
All travelers will need to extend their visa within 30 days of arrival at the immigration office on Broad Street, regardless of visa validity.
Roberts International Airport (IATA: ROB) (often called Roberts International Airport or RIA) is located some 60 km from the city center at Robertsfield.
Brussels Airlines has flights on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Air France has flights from Paris (Tuesday and Friday) and Conakry. You can check in the day of your flight, at their city center location. It is easier, and faster than checking in at the airport.
The trip from the airport to the city was once infamous. Today, the situation has improved significantly with the restoration of peace and order. The road is now fully protected by UNMIL and safe.
By far the best way to travel, but helicopter flights are restricted to UN personnel. Poor weather in the rainy season often forces helicopters to return especially from Voinjama.
There is no real train service. One track, which had belonged to a mine, has been opened for tourists . It travels to the Bong mines, a massive, defunct ore-mining and processing plant once German-run.
The roads linking Roberts Airport to Monrovia and from Monrovia to the Sierra Leone border at Bo (Waterside) are paved and in excellent condition as of February 2010. Road conditions in some other areas are poor, so a 4x4 may be necessary for travel. During the rainy season, travel times are increased dramatically. Traffic through Monrovia can be slow, due to numerous traffic bottlenecks and damaged sections of road. Gas is sold in US gallons, not litres. Most distances and speed limits are posted in miles per hour.
There are no long distance buses for tourists. A few buses for public travel are usable for travel under the National Transit Authority (NTA) guidance with their main terminal in the Gardnerville suburb. An inter-city transportation is ongoing to cities like: Buchanan, Gbarnga, Tubmanburg, Kakata & Robertsport; with plans to extend to cities like Zwedru, Ganta, and Bopolu. Tourist coaches are arranged for chartered express. The NTA criss-crosses Monrovia by providing transportation to suburbs and the downtown area. Also private buses serve the suburbs and the central business district including: Lizard company & individual transportations. Be careful how you board buses and avoid rushing to get on-board because thieves, locally called "rogue", take advantage to steal. Stand in the queue at bus stops & terminals. Buses are also overloaded with passengers, so bring a fan along or sit near a window.
The best way to get around Monrovia. Most Monrovia taxis on the streets will pick up several passengers en route, and are therefore often jam-packed. Ask people you trust if they know of a reliable taxi driver to contact, as getting robbed in a taxi is a possibility. If you are unable to find one, consider hiring a taxi to your destination for your own use exclusively.
Long distance shared taxis leave from "Douala Station" in a northern suburb of Monrovia for destinations around the country. They are typically older yellow Nissan station wagons that leave when 10 passengers have purchased tickets. Fares for shared taxis are reasonable. For example, the three hour journey from Monrovia to Robertsport costs L$350 as of February 2010.
Alternatively, a "charter" taxi can be arranged for individual travel at a much higher price.
You can board a boat from the St. Paul River to Robertport other destinations will be made available soon.
Liberia is a multilingual country where more than thirty languages are spoken. The official language is English, with Kreyol - an English-based pidgin language - serving as the lingua franca in Liberia's interior. English is spoken by most Liberians but, especially if you are travelling to more remote areas, a local guide will be useful.
There are plenty of beaches around Monrovia. Out towards the airport after ELWA junction is ELWA beach, set inside a compound there is a marked safe swimming area, clean beach and plenty of families at the weekends. No facilities though. Further on is Thinkers (pronounced Tinkers) with a food and drinks service, though the waves are a bit rough here, and it is not safe to walk up or down the beach too far. CE CE beach out the other way, over the bridge out to Hotel Africa is very well set up with palm umbrellas, drinks service and a buffet, and a well protected swimming area.
For an interesting day trip, Robertsport offers a glimpse of Liberia's cultural history as well as clean, beautiful beaches. A group of South Africans has set up a tent camp for those wishing to spend the night on the beach and the UN also offers accommodations on a first-come basis. Beware the strong tides.
The city of Buchanan, a several hour car ride from Monrovia, also offers sublime beaches and a selection of restaurants and guest houses.
Immerse yourself in the local culture. Liberia has a thriving music scene, known as hip co, which blends hip hop with colloquial Liberian English. Artists like Takun J, Santos, Mr. Smith, Soul Smiter, and Nasseman are popular. In the dry season, especially, concerts are regularly held at venues across the country.
Liberia also has several nightclubs. While places like Deja Vu cater to a largely expat crowd, explore places more popular with locals. 146 on Carey Street features Liberian music, freestyle sessions, and live performances from Liberia's most popular musicians.
The currency of the country is the Liberian dollar, denoted by the symbol "$" or "L$" (ISO currency code: LRD). It is divided into 100 cents.
There are limited ways to use credit cards. Bring US dollars in cash with you (most transactions at Western businesses are done in US dollars) or transfer money through Moneygram or Western Union. Ecobank on Randall Street is used by many foreigners. If someone gives you Liberian dollars in change, accept it because it will be useful to have some on hand for very small purchases, but once you have a little, be sure to get dollars back (except when your change is less than a dollar, they use local currency in lieu of coins).
All Ecobank ATMs in Liberia take Mastercard/Visa card for cash withdrawal.
Liberia can be very expensive or very inexpensive for a tourist depending on what amenities you want.
Liberia is well known for its beautiful masks. Masks are on sale around hotels and UN centres. After haggling, they will cost you about L$25 (depending on the size, etc.)
There is beautiful printed fabric in Liberia. It is sold in lapas (usually 2), one lapa is 2 yards. 3 lapas of the best quality, real wax, will cost about L$15. There are a series of modern and technological Supermarkets or malls: the Abi Jaoudi, Xclusive superstore, located downtown, the ERA Mall, Stop n Shop, Payless Center & the Sinkor Xclusive, all in the Sinkor Suburb, & the Save Way Supermarket at the ELWA Junction. The Sinkor Suburb is lined with top hotels & restaurants and has become Monrovia's new mid-town.
Eating Liberian food can be enjoyable and easy on the pocketbook. Liberian meals like palm butter, cassava leaf, potato greens, chock rice, and jollof's rice will barely leave a dent in your budget (US$2-3 with a soda). Portions are usually enormous. Another popular local dish is fufu (fermented dough made from the cassava plant) and soup (the most common are goat soup and pepper soup). And for those who like to eat on the go, fruit and snacks can be bought from street vendors throughout Monrovia. Peanuts, fried plantain chips, roasted ears of corn or plantains, bananas, mangos, and other fruits can be had for L$5-20 (or US$0.10-0.30). Especially delicious are the various breads sold freshly baked in the morning. Some breads resemble banana bread, other breads are more like corn bread. All are delicious although somewhat oily.
Club beer is the staple drink, served everywhere. Local gin is also available.
Bagged water is sold on most street corners. While it is supposed to be filtered and safe, it is not guaranteed to be. Stick with bottled water to be sure. You can buy bottled water at any supermarket, restaurant, or at the Total gas stations.
Usually hotels are considered quite safe as the owners will employ guards. However, don't be complacent and make sure that you are aware of your security also in the hotels. Be prepared to pay your entire bill in cash (US dollars).
Liberia has just come from devastating war, so the learning curriculum is not the best at all. As a tourist personally, you can learn about many attractions in Monrovia. You can personally learn a lot about Liberia's culture, art, design,etc. It would be easy if you associated with trusted foreigners to give a personal tour and as a tourist, you can learn about this poor but interesting historical country.
Almost every international NGO operates in Liberia. It is very possible to find voluntary (unpaid) work here, if you are willing to stay for a bit. Paid work is almost exclusive through international organisations. Most of these organisations require foreign staff to be recruited abroad, so it is unlikely that you would be hired just because you managed to make it to Liberia.
Liberia has very high rates of unemployment. If you are in the country for longer, try to encourage local production and employment by buying local goods and paying for services.
Do not walk around at night, and make sure that your car doors are locked when you drive around. Thieves will often reach into a car when stopped and grab whatever they can, so keep the glass up especially in busy areas of Monrovia (redlight). Rape and armed robbery are common and on the rise. Hotels etc. have private guards and are rather safe.
There are some gangs of former combatants, armed with machetes, who walk around poorer areas of Monrovia (Redlight). There are also former combatants in the Palm Grove Cemetery on Center Street. Do not walk there alone at all.
The corner of Randall and Carey is also considered dangerous and supposedly a hang-out for drug dealers.
Avoid any desolate places, and stay in groups.
Keep an eye on the locals, if they are carrying on as normal and you see plenty of women and children about, it is unlikely that there will be major sources of concern. If, however, people have disappeared from a usually busy location, or you find yourself surrounded only by youths, you should try and make a hasty retreat.
UNMIL has calmed the country (in general) but it is already now anticipated that when UNMIL leaves the security situation will be worse.
It is advisable to inform your embassy that you are in the country in case of evacuation.
Furthermore, learn as much about the security situation as you can. Locals are a key source of information. Be careful, however, not to believe everything you hear. Rumours spread like wildfire in Monrovia as they are the main source of news. Details, however, are often inaccurate.
Local newspapers are interesting reads. Daily Observer has the largest circulation but there are also several others. You can buy them in the street.
Rape is on the increase so be hesitant to walk by yourself in previously unknown or remote areas. Men on the whole will treat women with respect. They may tell you how beautiful you are, that they "love you" or ask you to marry them (more for the status rather than the money), but will not grab hold of you or be in any way improper.
HIV, while still low, is on the increase. Prostitution is rampant.
Typhoid, malaria, and worms are very common. In general Liberia is a hotbed for infectious diseases so disinfectants and gels are advisable (especially as handshakes are the norm).
There are few doctors usable by international travellers so getting medical help may pose problems. There is apparently a Jordanian wing at the Kennedy hospital for private patients. MSF will also see a traveller, but only in dire cases.
Bagged water is sold on most street corners. While it is supposed to be filtered and safe, it is not guaranteed to be. Stick with bottled water to be sure. You can buy bottled water at any supermarket, restaurant, or at the Total gas stations.
Liberia experienced a terrible Ebola outbreak in 2014 and 2015 but was declared completely Ebola-free. However, there has been a single case of the disease afterwards.
Liberians are very friendly and sociable. However, they do not take kindly to being ignored and will call you "rude". Make sure that you greet as many people as possible and smile when you do so. Make friends with any guard, cleaner, etc., that you come across, introduce yourself and remember their names. Your security will also improve as the locals will warn you of security threats if they know you and know that they can talk to you.
Handshaking is the normality, usually followed by a finger snap. Shake hands with people you meet, even fruit sellers.
As Liberia is incredibly poor, you will inevitably be asked for money or help of some kind. Usually the most persistent beggars are former combatants. Giving money to the elderly or the physically disabled will not go amiss. However, with most children and others, it's best to spend a little time with them, play a game, take digital photos (loved here) and then possibly give something as a gift to your friends. Liberians are proud people and their desperate need is no reason to treat them as beggars.
School fees are expensive (up to a US$100/year) so often foreigners are asked to pay for school, but this can also be used as a ploy.
Most people in Monrovia, with the exception of internally displaced people, are relatively well-off in Liberian terms. The worst conditions are in the countryside, where help is also most needed.
Rather than saying "no" to the requests, considered rude here, say "later" or "tomorrow" or "I will see what I can do". Do not ignore people. However, be assertive when answering as they'll often pester you and call you "boss" until you give in.
It is advisable to bring some business cards. They are given out at every function.
The wars of the 1990s and 2000s are very fresh in many people's minds so it is advisable to stay away from the topic.
The higher the social status of an individual, the more respect is due to them, even though that does not mean you don't give any respect to the extremely poor or bathe the wealthy with gifts of gratitude.
Liberia has made a giant leap into the technological or digital age with the arrival of many mobile phone companies; like Lonestar/MTN Cell (the nation's largest mobile company), Cellcom, Comium, Libercell formerly AWI (Atlantic Wireless Inc) & the government own Libtelco. Mobile phone usage is the leading medium of contact to the outside with some (Lonestar and Cellcom) offering GPRS/internet modem usage. So when you arrive, visiting or staying, you need a GSM mobile phone. You will need to purchase a GSM SIM card (US$1) and prepaid recharge cards (most commonly in denominations of US$1 and US$5), called "Scratch Card" locally. The only exception is Libtelco, that is done by paying monthly bills. Landlines are used only at offices. It is managed & owned by the government also, Libtelco.
The most common access to the internet is by GPRS/HSPA+ or restaurants, pubs, bars & hotels that offer free internet services to customers or for a small charge. With the installation of the undersea fiber-optic cable in November 2012 internet access is much improved. GPRS/HSPA USB adapters are commonly available from the mobile companies for US$50-60, with data plans ranging from US$1/hr or $0.12/MB to USD125/mo for unlimited data and up to 21MBps (1-2MBps is realistic on HSPA+).
DHL operates in Liberia. Expedited Mail Service promises 5 day delivery to the US. EMS counter is at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication on MacDonald Street.
The regular post office has just started to operate. The post office is at the very end of Randall Street by Waterside market. Post cards will cost L$30 to send, and will probably arrive at their destination. Packages are packed on the premises.
To receive mail, you must get a locked box together with a P.O. box number at the Randall Street post office. Do not send anything of value through the Liberian postal service. Many people have reported items being stolen while at the post office; in Liberia the postal system is new and very corrupt.
In her famous TED talk, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warned viewers of “The Danger of a Single Story.” She tells a poignant story of her experience living with her American college roommate in the United States to illustrate her point:
“My roommate had a single story of Africa. A single story of catastrophe. In this single story there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her, in any way. No possibility of feelings more complex than pity. No possibility of a connection as human equals.[…] If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves, and waiting to be saved, by a kind, white foreigner… The single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
How can you make sure that you too don’t get trapped in a single story of Africa? Here are a few suggestions:
Africa is bigger than the United States, China, India and all of Europe combined. And yet too often, a negative news story about simply one of Africa’s fifty-four countries ends up negatively affecting the whole continent. For example, a BBC article reported that when the Ebola epidemic hit Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, even countries in sub-Saharan Africa lost tourist revenue: advance bookings for 2015 in Tanzania were 50% lower. Tourists couldn’t understand that cities like Rome and Madrid were closer to the center of the of Ebola outbreak than Tanzania was. Instead they simply assumed that any country in Africa was automatically more dangerous.
It’s way too simplistic to focus only on the bad news coming out of Africa, particularly when there are plenty of things Africa does better than the States: According to data by the World Bank, Rwanda leads the world in female representation in their government (64% of their government officials are female. In the United States, that number is 18%). Unlike the United States, African countries offer paid maternal leave. Countries like the Central African Republic, Chad, Namibia all also have higher voter turnout rates than we do.
As Courtney Martin wrote, “single stories are born, not just from inadequately seeing real people (although that is sometimes the case), but inadequately writing real people — creating caricatures rather than characters.” This happens too often when Westerners attempt to portray African people in their art.
Check out this viral Youtube video made by an organization called Mama Hope, which points out the various stereotypes African men are tired of seeing in Hollywood movies. And check out Binyavanga Wainaina’s video instructing Westerners “How not to write about Africa”:
Keep these videos and idea in mind anytime you’re reading books or watching movies about the continent and its people.
In 2013, the #SomeoneTellCNN controversy in Kenya showed how Western new outlets reporting on Africa can often get the story wrong. Journalists get lazy and write pieces that don’t give the story the actual nuance (or even accuracy) it deserves.
To make sure you’re getting the full context of a story, check out news outlets that actually feature African journalists on the ground. Here are a few:
A brief yet detailed report on the country of Liberia with updated information on the map, flag, history, people, economics, political conditions in government, foreign affairs, and U.S. relations.
The first and only full length travel guide book exclusively dedicated to Liberia. Over 260 pages packed with tips, facts and tales on every one of Liberia’s counties. It covers towns from Harper to Foya, Zwedru to Bo Waterside. It is a guide created for those seeking to explore the forests of Gola, creep along the monkey bridges of Loma, climb the iron mountain at Lisco, swim in the waterfalls of Nimba, see the house art of the Kpelle, understand secret societies and extend a heart and foot firmly into the land of the lone star. Those caught by the rain or roads can dig into the In Depth Section which covers Liberia’s ecology, geography, history, culture, belief systems and more. Haven’t gone yet? Get a freebie and look inside the book to find the handy ‘What to Pack’ Section at the beginning.Finish up by being the expert in negotiating slow motorbike lifts, finding accommodation in tiny villages and understanding the significant of places, phrases and rituals. Weekends just got bigger.
From the preface: Liberia is the name given to a colony of free negroes who have lately been transported from America to the coast of Africa. This colony seems little known except by name in this country; but as it appears destined to hold a distinguished place in promoting the civilization and improvement of Africa, a short account of its early history cannot, I think, fail to be read with interest. I have been enabled to furnish this account by the kindness of an American gentleman from Virginia, who supplied me with several publications relating to this subject. It is from these the contents of the following pages are compiled.* In addition to the account of the origin and early history of the Colony of Liberia, the publications referred to contain some information respecting the state of slavery in the slave-holding states of America, which will probably be new to many readers in this country. Thus it appears that in these states a slave-holder is prevented by law from emancipating a slave, however much he may be disposed to do so, unless he at the same time send him out of the country. The reason is, that in many cases the free negroes are a great annoyance to the community, often living by pilfering the property of their neighbors. This circumstance has proved so far favorable to the Colonization Society, as it has been found that several persons have been willing to emancipate some of their negroes, if the Society will take upon them the expense of transporting them to Africa. In addition to this, as will be afterwards seen, there are many thousands of free negroes in the United States, many of whom are willing to go to Africa, and it costs about L. 8 sterling to transport a colonist to that country, while this includes a grant of 30 acres of land to each emigrant. Where an intelligent negro can be found, it is not easy to discover a way in which so much good might be effected by so small a sum.Respecting Liberia itself, it will be seen that from very small beginnings, when the colonists had a mere spot of ground on which to erect their habitations, they have now extended along the coast 280 miles; and though it appears from some recent communications that they have not yet been so successful in putting a stop to the slave trade in the neighborhood, beyond their own limits, as they could wish, it is obvious that, as the colony increases in strength, it will powerfully tend to check the operation of this iniquitous traffic, if not entirely to abolish it.The colonists have already been the means of introducing agriculture and the arts of civilized life among the tribes placed in their neighborhood. These have seen with astonishment how many comforts may be obtained by men of the same colour with themselves by honest industry, whether exercised in agriculture or in mercantile pursuits, and they are beginning to aspire after the possession of those comforts themselves through this channel. Some of the neighboring tribes have already requested to be taken under the protection of the colony, and are anxious to have their children taught in their schools.The preservation of this infant institution under two separate attacks of their enemies with most overwhelming numbers, cannot fail to be read with the deepest interest. Indeed, when we consider the very great disproportion between the number of the assailants and that of the colonists at the time referred to, between six and nine hundred being opposed to thirty-five effective men, their preservation appears little less than miraculous, and the account of it would seem more to belong to the world of fiction than that of reality.There are other circumstances besides this in the history of the colonists, which very strikingly mark the interposition of Divine Providence in their behalf, and it cannot fail .
As Charles Taylor begins a 50-year sentence for his role in the brutal civil war in Liberia, Theodore Dalrymple’s memoir of a visit to the country, and its capital Monrovia, makes fascinating reading.Founded in 1822 as a refuge for freed African slaves from America, Liberia is a curiosity which became a catastrophe.For well over 100 years, it was a civilised and relatively prosperous country under the rule of Americo-Liberians, but it was thrown into chaos in 1980 when Samuel Doe led a revolution of those considering themselves ‘natives’.The incumbent president was murdered in his bed, and his cabinet ministers paraded naked through the streets of Monrovia before being summarily executed by firing squad on the beach.Doe – a brutal and incompetent tribalist (also, say some, a cannibal) – was himself overthrown by Charles Taylor in 1990.Dalrymple arrives in Monrovia the following year, where giggling Liberians show him a videotape of Doe’s torture and murder at the hands of Taylor’s rival, the majestically self-titled Brigadier-General Field-Marshal Prince Y Johnson. In the film, Johnson – now a Liberian senator – calmly sips a Budweiser as the naked Doe’s ears are hacked off. Unsurprisingly, Dalrymple forms the professional opinion that Johnson is a psychopath.Monrovia was once a peaceful and reasonably ordered city; now, it has been almost completely sacked. Burnt-out cars are everywhere; doors have been chopped up for firewood; rubble lines the streets, with the vandalism forming a systematic attempt to destroy every vestige of the old regime (and, the author speculates, of civilisation itself). The destruction of the university and library, for instance, seems to be little more that the revenge of the ignorant upon the educated. In a local hospital (once the pride of West Africa, now long ruined and abandoned), the professor of surgery’s office has been ransacked, and medical books and papers have been ripped up; in another, infant welfare records have been smeared with faeces. In the wrecked Centennial Hall, the body of a beautiful Steinway grand piano lies on the floor, its legs senselessly sawn off. In a Lutheran church, Dalrymple finds the floor covered in the blood silhouettes of 600 Liberians massacred by Doe’s soldiers.Dalrymple – who achieves the near-impossible by making a book about such barbarism at times amusing – lays much of the blame for what happened at the feet of Western intellectuals and their African counterparts.Monrovia Mon Amour is a profoundly moving and interesting book about a country which is little-understood and less visited.
City Maps Monrovia Liberia is an easy to use small pocket book filled with all you need for your stay in the big city. Attractions, pubs, bars, restaurants, museums, convenience stores, clothing stores, shopping centers, marketplaces, police, emergency facilities and the list goes on and on. This collection of maps is up to date with the latest developments of the city. This city map is a must if you wish to enjoy the city without internet connection.
A life worth living is worth recording, and what better place than this journal? These lined pages crave your scribbled notes, thoughts, ideas, experiences, and notions. Fill the lines, remember your life, don't lose your ideas, and keep reaching higher to live the best life you can. It all starts here, folks, but you'll need your own pen or pencil. Write on!
This work is a general introduction to Liberia. It is comprehensive in scope covering a wide range of subjects from a historical and contemporary perspective. It is intended for members of the general public. But some members of the academic community may also find this work to be useful in their fields. Subjects covered include an overview of the country and its geography including all the regions - known as counties - and the different ethnic groups who live there. The work is also a historical study of Liberia since the founding of the country by freed black American slaves. One of the subjects covered in the book is the conflicts - including wars - the new black American settlers had with the indigenous people. The freed slaves who, together with their descendants, came to be known as Americo-Liberians, dominated the country and excluded the indigenous people from the government and other areas of national life for almost 160 years until the Americo-Liberian rulers were overthrown in a military coup in 1980. It was one of the bloodiest military coups in modern African history. The soldiers who overthrew the government were members of native tribes and were hailed as liberators by the indigenous people who had been dominated and had suffered discrimination at the hands of Americo-Liberians throughout the nation's history. Some of them were even sold into slavery in Panama by the Americo-Liberian rulers in the 1930s, prompting an investigation of the labour scandal by the League of Nations. Others were forced to work on various projects within Liberia itself and became virtual slaves in their own country. Americo-Liberians saw the natives as inferior to them and treated them that way. The mistreatment of the members of native tribes by the Americo-Liberians was one of the main reasons native soldiers of the Liberian army decided to overthrow the government. The book also covers the Liberian civil war which destroyed the country in the 1990s and early 2000s, a conflict which also had historical roots. The conflict is attributed to the inequalities between Americo-Liberians and the indigenous people which existed throughout the nation's history. But its immediate cause was the brutalities Liberians suffered under the military rulers who overthrew the Americo-Liberian-dominated government. Another major subject covered in the book is the ethnic composition of Liberia. The work looks at all the ethnic groups in the country and their home regions - counties - as well as their cultures, providing a comprehensive picture of life in contemporary times in Africa's oldest republic. The national culture of Liberia in general is also another subject addressed in the book. The author has also addressed another very important subject: indigenous forms of writing invented by the members of different tribes or ethnic groups in Liberia. The indigenous scripts are a major contribution to civilisation and Liberia stands out among all the countries on the African continent as the country which has the largest number of these forms of writing. People going to Liberia for the first time, and anybody else who wants to learn about this African country, may find this work to be useful.
"Cracking the Code: The Confused Traveler’s Guide to Liberian English" is the brainchild of John Mark Sheppard, who moved with his family from the United States to Liberia when he was just three years old. He learned Liberian English as a second language as he spent his childhood and teen years immersed in the Liberian culture. After college in the United States, John Mark returned to Liberia and began a more formal study of Liberia’s history, customs and languages. In this truly fascinating book, John Mark combines his training in linguistics with an extensive knowledge of the language he has grown to love. Besides the more than one thousand helpful explanations of specific words or phrases, "Cracking the Code: The Confused Traveler’s Guide to Liberian English" includes a fascinating history of the people groups and languages of the region, a pronunciation guide, a list of Liberian proverbs and practical, how-to-avoid-embarrassing-yourself advice for Westerners.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Liberia’s civil war ended in 2003. The United Nations mission (UNMIL) that was deployed to Liberia to facilitate the peaceful transition is still there. This presence helps to establish a climate that fosters stability. Police forces are going through a restructuring process and have limited presence on the ground. The national police can be overextended, particularly when demonstrations and other crowd movements occur.
Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world. A high degree of poverty increases the likeliness of criminality, and crime levels in Liberia are high, including in the capital. Muggings, armed assaults and theft are prevalent. Avoid walking alone and displaying any signs of affluence in public, and do not leave valuables or bags unattended. Residential armed break-ins are also common. Crime significantly increases at night due to the lack of electricity in some parts of the capital.
Violent crimes, including aggravated sexual assault and murder, routinely occur and have involved foreigners. Police forces can rarely offer protection and do not have the capacity to investigate and prosecute.
Large demonstrations, often politically motivated, have happened in the past and there could be more. The tension that accompanied the presidential and legislative elections in October and November 2011 has subsided and has given way to a more stable environment. However, violence could still occur during public demonstrations. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
The UNMIL force provides national authorities with support and guarantees of limited security on major roads as well as around Monrovia and the main population centres. However, security problems persist throughout the country, including in Monrovia and many outlying regions.
Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in this country. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
Roberts International Airport (RIA) is located 56 kilometres outside Monrovia. Daytime air service is very limited. With the supervision of UNMIL, the airport is accessible, but expect frequently crowded and disorganized conditions. Since public transportation to Monrovia is not reliable, arrange to be met upon arrival at the airport and dropped off on departure by reliable contacts. If transportation is not arranged, you are advised to hire cars and drivers from reputable security providers with respect to journey management.
Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
None of the railways in Liberia are in operation.
During the day, travellers may circulate safely on the country’s roads, as well as in the capital, Monrovia, however, renting a car and driving yourself is not recommended. Overland travel can be hazardous and should only be undertaken in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Roads are generally in poor condition and rarely paved outside Monrovia. Moreover, their condition deteriorates significantly during the rainy season.
Travel after dark is particularly dangerous and is not recommended. There are no operating traffic lights and all roads are unlit; exercise caution when approaching intersections. Overloaded vehicles frequently stop without signalling, pedestrians routinely dodge traffic and roaming animals pose a hazard.
Drivers may be required to pull off the road with headlights turned off when high-speed car convoys carrying government officials announce their presence. It is advisable to wait a few minutes after the convoy passes before resuming your journey.
The number of UNMIL security checkpoints has significantly decreased and they are much less obstrusive than in the past. However, they can still cause significant delays.
Secure tourist facilities and accommodations are very limited in Monrovia and there is little to no infrastructure outside the capital. Travel outside Monrovia and in rural areas is generally inadvisable. There is no landline telephone system in the country. Mobile telecommunications exist in Monrovia and other major towns, however many remote areas and stretches of road between major towns have no coverage. North American cell phones do not always work in Liberia.
Water is not commercially available in Monrovia and there is no functioning sewage system. However, bottled water is available from many businesses.
Fuel shortages are common and transportation services are severely limited or inadequate in rural areas.
When visiting the beach, swimmers should be aware of dangerous currents.
You should carry valid official photo identification with you at all times, preferably a certified copy of your passport’s identification page. Ensure that you always maintain sufficient supplies of food, water and other essentials.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.
Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.
Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in West Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in West Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.
Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
In some areas in West Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasite spread through the bite of an infected female blackfly. Onchocerciasis often leads to blindness if left untreated. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from blackfly bites, which are most common during the daytime and close to running water. There is no vaccine available for onchocerciasis although drug treatments exist.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in West Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.
Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.
Importation of rough diamonds is subject to strict international trade laws. Seek legal advice before engaging in commercial transactions involving rough diamonds. Penalties for illegally exporting diamonds include imprisonment.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Possession of pornographic material is illegal.
Homosexual activity is illegal in Liberia. Local officials may refuse entry those attempting to enter Liberia as a same-sex couple. For more information, contact the Liberian government office accredited to Canada.
Photography of military installations, airports and seaports, bridges and important government buildings is prohibited.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
The currency is the Liberian dollar (LRD). The economy is cash-based. U.S. dollars are widely accepted and easily converted into local currency. Traveller’s cheques, credit and debit cards are not accepted anywhere in Liberia. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are unavailable. You are advised to carry sufficient funds in U.S. dollars to cover expenses.
The rainy season extends from May to November. Heavy rains may result in localized flash flooding and roads may become impassable in affected areas.
During the dry season, which extends from December to March, the country is affected by the harmattan, a seasonal wind that blows large amounts of sand and dust into the air and can severely limit visibility. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.