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Location of Liberia

Liberia (/lˈbɪəriə/ ), officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West African coast. It is bordered by Sierra Leone to its northwest, Guinea to its north, Ivory Coast to its east, and the Atlantic Ocean to its south and southwest. It has a population of around five and one-half million and covers an area of 43,000 square miles (111,369 km2). The official language is English. Over 20 indigenous languages are spoken, reflecting the country's ethnic and cultural diversity. The capital and largest city is Monrovia.

Liberia began in the early 19th century as a project of the American Colonization Society (ACS), which believed black people would face better chances for freedom and prosperity in Africa than in the United States. Between 1822 and the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, more than 15,000 freed and free-born African Americans, along with 3,198 Afro-Caribbeans, relocated to Liberia. Gradually developing an Americo-Liberian identity, the settlers carried their culture and tradition with them while colonizing the indigenous population. Led by the Americo-Liberians, Liberia declared independence on July 26, 1847, which the U.S. did not recognize until February 5, 1862.

Liberia was the first African republic to proclaim its independence and is Africa's first and oldest modern republic. Along with Ethiopia, it was one of the two African countries to maintain its sovereignty and independence during the European colonial "Scramble for Africa". During World War II, Liberia supported the United States war effort against Germany, and in turn received considerable American investment in infrastructure, which aided the country's wealth and development. President William Tubman encouraged economic and political changes that heightened the country's prosperity and international profile; Liberia was a founding member of the League of Nations, United Nations, and the Organisation of African Unity.

The Americo-Liberian settlers did not relate well to the indigenous peoples they encountered. Colonial settlements were raided by the Kru and Grebo from their inland chiefdoms. Americo-Liberians formed into a small elite that held disproportionate political power, while indigenous Africans were excluded from birthright citizenship in their own land until 1904.

In 1980, political tensions from the rule of William R. Tolbert resulted in a military coup, marking the end of Americo-Liberian rule and the seizure of power of Liberia's first indigenous leader, Samuel Doe. Establishing a dictatorial regime, Doe was assassinated in 1990 in the context of the First Liberian Civil War which ran from 1989 until 1997 with the election of rebel leader Charles Taylor as president. In 1998, the Second Liberian Civil War erupted against his own dictatorship, and Taylor was overthrown by the end of the war in 2003. The two wars resulted in the deaths of 250,000 people (about 8% of the population) and the displacement of many more, with Liberia's economy shrinking by 90%. A peace agreement in 2003 led to democratic elections in 2005. The country has remained relatively stable since then. (Full article...)

Simplified Ebola virus epidemic situation map

The 2013–2016 epidemic of Ebola virus disease, centered in Western Africa, was the most widespread outbreak of the disease in history. It caused major loss of life and socioeconomic disruption in the region, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The first cases were recorded in Guinea in December 2013; later, the disease spread to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone, with minor outbreaks occurring in Nigeria and Mali. Secondary infections of medical workers occurred in the United States and Spain. In addition, isolated cases were recorded in Senegal, the United Kingdom and Italy. The number of cases peaked in October 2014 and then began to decline gradually, following the commitment of substantial international resources.

It caused significant mortality, with a considerable case fatality rate. By the end of the epidemic, 28,616 people had been infected; of these, 11,310 had died, for a case-fatality rate of 40%. , the World Health Organization (WHO) and respective governments reported a total of 28,646 suspected cases and 11,323 deaths (39.5%), though the WHO believes that this substantially understates the magnitude of the outbreak. On 8 August 2014, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern was declared and on 29 March 2016, the WHO terminated the Public Health Emergency of International Concern status of the outbreak. Subsequent flare-ups occurred; the epidemic was finally declared over on 9 June 2016, 42 days after the last case tested negative on 28 April 2016 in Monrovia.

The outbreak left about 17,000 survivors of the disease, many of whom report post-recovery symptoms termed post-Ebola syndrome, often severe enough to require medical care for months or even years. An additional cause for concern is the apparent ability of the virus to "hide" in a recovered survivor's body for an extended period of time and then become active months or years later, either in the same individual or in a sexual partner. In December 2016, the WHO announced that a two-year trial of the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine appeared to offer protection from the variant of EBOV responsible for the Western Africa outbreak. The vaccine is considered to be effective and is the only prophylactic which offers protection; hence, 300,000 doses have been stockpiled. rVSV-ZEBOV received regulatory approval in 2019. (Full article...)

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A 1960 Liberian vehicle license plate.

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