Liberia has 16 indigenous ethnic groups and several foreign minorities. Indigenous groups account for 95% of the population. The recognized ethnic groups include: the Gio (or Dan), Mano, Bassa, Kpelle, Grebo, Vai, Gola, Kru, Krahn, Mandingo (or Mandinka), Fante, Dei (or Dewoin), Bella, Mende, Loma, and the Americo-Liberians or Congo people.
The largest group is the Kpelle, who are concentrated in central and western Liberia. Americo-Liberians are descendants of African American and West Indian people and account for 2.5% of the population. The Congo people are descendants of repatriated Congo and Afro-Caribbean slaves and make up 2.5% of the population.
Liberia also has a sizable population of Lebanese, Indians, and West African nationals. There are high rates of marriage between ethnic Liberians and Lebanese in the country, which has created a large mulatto population around Monrovia.
Liberia Religion, Economy and Politics
Although there is no official state religion in Liberia, it is a largely Christian nation with 85.5% practicing one form of the faith or another. Protestants make up the vast majority of Christians in Liberia, 7.2% of people are Catholic. Non-Protestant denominations were brought to the area by freed slaves that were relocated to the area. 12.2% of the population are Muslim, most of which are Malikite Sunnis. Shia and Ahmadiyya minorities are also present. Most people that identify as neither Christian nor Muslim identify with no faith at all.
As one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world, the economy of Liberia is likewise not very strong. During the 1980s Liberia had a much more optimistic fiscal situation which was virtually destroyed by years of civil war. Although the country is rich in natural resources, the infrastructure is not there to sustain a strong economy. Forestry is the most significant industry in Liberia, with timber and rubber being the main exports from the area. The rest of the nation's income comes largely comes from mining and foreign aid.
The United States had a large role in the development of Liberia after they sent freed slaves to the area, and their government is organized very much in the same way. The judicial system is made up of the Supreme Court, and appeals court, magistrate courts, and criminal courts. There is a democratically elected president who is both the head of state and government. Liberia is different from the US in that it has a multi-party system instead of a two-party one.
Liberia Population History
Much of the population in Liberia was brought to the country after there were emancipated from slavery in the United States. Because of their deep ties with the US, their constitution and political system are very similar. Liberia became a completely independent country in July 1947.
Like many other nations at the time, Liberia declared war on Germany in 1917, which gave the Allies a base in West Africa. Again in 1944, the Liberian government declared war on the Axis powers.
In 1980, Master Sergeant Samuel Doe from the Liberian military carried out a coup against the government, publicly killing President Tolbert and his 13 aides. Doe went on to win the next presidential election in 1985, but karma came around to get him a few years later when the National Patriotic Front of Liberia rose against the government and executed Doe.
In 1999, Liberia was accused of supporting Revolutionary United Front rebels in Sierra Leone by both Ghana and Nigeria, causing a suspension of foreign aid from the US and Britain. Soon after in 2001, the UN Security council imposed an arms embargo because it was believed that the president of Liberia was trading weapons for diamonds in Sierra Leone. These two measures caused much internal strife and by 2002 more than 50,000 Liberians fled the area to get away from the fighting.