History of Liberia

Liberia is home to over 3 million people (as of 2008) and 43,000 square miles. Monrovia the capital city was once a thriving port founded and colonized by freed American slaves with the help of a private organization called the American Colonization Society. That was until a military led coup in 1980 overthrew then president, William Tolbert. This began a period of instability that eventually led to two civil wars that left hundreds of thousands of people dead and devastated the country’s economy. The war lasted for 14 years with more than 200,000 estimated killed. The eventual end to the war came from a peace movement called Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. Organized by social worker Leyha Gbowee, thousands of Christian and Muslim women staged silent protests and forced a meeting with President Charles Taylor and extracted a promise from him to attend peace talks in Ghana. Gbowee then led a delegation of Liberian women to Ghana to continue to apply pressure. They staged a sit in outside of the Presidential Palace, blocking all the doors and windows and preventing anyone from leaving the peace talks without a resolution. Their actions brought about an agreement during the stalled peace talks. As a result, the women were able to achieve peace in Liberia after 14 years and bring power to the country from it’s first female head of state President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf..

Today, Liberia is recovering from the lingering effects of the civil war and related economic dislocation. Statistics show that about 85% of the population live on less than $1.25 a day with a staggering rate of unemployment at 85%.