Liberia is a country on the West African coast. It shares a border with Guinea to the north, Ivory Coast to the east and Sierra Leone to the west. It also has a coastline along the North Atlantic Ocean to the south.
Liberia is a fascinating and vibrant country whose culture and traditions have been shaped by its difficult history. Here are few interesting facts about Liberia:
Interesting facts about Liberia
1. ‘Liberia’ is actually Latin and translates to ‘Land of the Free’. The country was created for freed slaves by the American Colonization Society in 1821. The capital city of Monrovia was named after the former US President James Monroe who was a supporter of freed slaves returning to Africa. The country later declared independence in 1847 and became the first African Republic to do so.
2. The flag of Liberia is similar to that of the United States. The main difference is that the Liberian flag has one large white star instead of 50 small ones, and instead of 13 stripes like the American flag the Liberian flag also has 11 stripes.
3. Liberia is a heaven for surfers. The beaches here have built a name as one of the best surf sights in Africa. Some beaches have golden untouched sands, clear waters and perfectly formed waves.
4. Liberia is the first country in Africa which had a female president. Known as Africa’s Iron Lady, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took office as Liberia’s 24th president in 2006. She also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
In 2018, George Weah emerged the president of Liberia. What has made him popular is the fact that he used to play football for Monaco, PSG, AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City and Marseilles.
5. Liberia is home to the rare and endangered Pygmy Hippopotamus. These cute and adorable hippos are in a threat due to loss of habitat as fewer than 3000 Pygmy hippos remain in the wild.
The country is also a bird-haven. Liberia has 700 bird species which include a bird that is a slightly larger than a honey bee. Many of the birds are there all year around whilst some travel to find more favourable weather conditions.
6. Even though Liberia is an underdeveloped nation, it has the second largest commercial fleet of ships on the planet. This is due to the lax maritime laws in the country. About 12 percent of the world’s ships fly the flag of Liberia.
7. Liberia is an ethnically diverse nation. There are sixteen ethnic groups (tribes) that make up Liberia’s indigenous population. These groups include the Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Grebo, Mandingo, Mano, Krahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma Kissi, Vai, Belleh, Mende, and Dey people.
8. In 1960 Liberia became the first black African country to be elected to the Security Council of the United Nations.
9. There is a town in Liberia called “Smell No Taste”. This funny name has a little dark origin. During the Second World War, the United States positioned thousands of soldiers to guard the military flights and rubber plantations. The smell of the soldiers’ food cooking would often drift into the town, but the citizens weren’t allowed to enter the soldiers’ base so they could only smell the food and never taste it. And that’s how the town was named.
10. According to the country’s constitution, you must have dark skin to be a Liberian citizen. The main reason for this is the Liberian people’s traumatic history of enslavement. The country is afraid of being dominated by foreigners, so they currently only allow people with dark skin to become citizens.
11. Liberians have a fun handshake known as the Liberian finger snap. To do a Liberian finger snap, two people touch hands as if doing a regular handshake and then mutually snap their fingers when they release to make a snapping sound. The handshake was created by freed slaves in reference to the practice of slave owners breaking workers’ fingers. Again a dark origin!
12. The medical resources are very limited in the country. Recent statistics show that there is only 1 doctor for every 15,000 patients in Liberia, a total of 298 doctors overall.
Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting Liberia:
Ride the surf waves in Liberia. The miles of untouched golden sands, the clear waters and, most importantly, the rhythmic pounding of perfectly-formed waves make the country one of the best surfing places in the world. Momba Beach, Fisherman Beach and Robertsport are some of the famous surf spots.
Explore Sapo National Park which contains some of West Africa’s last remaining primary rainforest. The wildlife here consists of elephants, pygmy hippos, chimpanzees, antelopes and many birds
Enjoy the city life of Monrovia. The capital city is a mix of modernity and ruins from different eras. The museums here will give you an insight in the history of the country.