If you are like us, you probably read the news, a lot. And lately, you know that Liberia has dominated the news with reports on its battle against Ebola. But do you know these 25 little nuggets of truth about the country?
1. Starting a Business
It is easier to start a business in Liberia than it is in the UK, the US, and South Africa. According to the World Bank’s 2014 Doing Business Report, Liberia ranked 30th in the ease of starting a business while the UK, US, and South Africa were ranked 45, 46, and 61 respectively.
2. Life Expectancy
Liberia has a higher life expectancy at birth (62 years) than Sierra Leone (46), Nigeria (54), and South Africa (59).
3. Child Mortality
Liberia is one of six other countries in Africa to have attained the MDG 4 of reducing child mortality. The country has now reduced infant mortality by 50% since 1986.
4. National Currency
The national currency, Liberian Dollars, still plays an undersized role in the economy. US Dollars accounted for a 72% share of all money in Liberia in 2013.
Only 9.2 percent of Liberian exports in 2013 were headed for other African countries. Asia and Europe hold the majority of the export share.
Liberia’s total debt in 2007 was $5.2 billion (USD). However, as of December 2010, it was $504 million (USD).
Monrovia is the wettest capital city in the world. The Economist reports that, in July alone, the city receives almost twice the amount of rainfall as London does in an entire year.
Liberia has West Africa’s largest primary rainforest. As deforestation increased in other West African countries, Liberia now has “nearly two-thirds” of the region’s rainforests, most of which are virgin forests.
9. Unprecedented Logging
The Liberian government gave permits to logging companies to cut down trees on 30% of the country’s landmass and 58% of its primary rainforests. In 2012, 63 companies owned the right to log on 12,800 square miles of the country. Luckily, after many news organizations reported on the issue, 29 of the 63 licenses were withdrawn and 34 were in the process of being canceled.
10. Champion Against Deforestation
Liberia in 2014 became the first African nation to agree to completely stop logging in an effort to halt deforestation.
11. Native African Scripts
Liberia is home to the creation of at least two of Africa’s native scripts. Both were developed in the 19th century, therefore they are not as old as Ethiopia’s Ge’ez script, which may have originated as early as the 4th century BC. Although the Vai script is still in use, the Bassa (Vah) alphabet has fallen out of use. The Bassa alphabet was discovered to be in use in Brazil by descendants of slaves. Contrary to popular belief, the author M. D. W. Jeffreys claims that “No known alphabet was ever invented by a European.”
12. African Unity
Liberia is the birthplace of African unity. The presidents of Ghana, Guinea, and Liberia met in Sanniquellie, Nimba in 1959 for talks that led to the founding of the Organization for African Unity, the predecessor to the African Union.
13. Chimpanzee Haven
Liberia has the second largest number of western chimpanzees in the world, at 7,000.
14. Trailblazer in Female Leadership
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was actually the second female head of state in Africa. Ruth Sando Perry was Africa’s first female head of state when appointed as head of the National Transitional Government of Liberia in 1996. However, Sirleaf is the first elected female head of state.
15. Ship Registry
Liberia has the second-largest ship registry in the world, after Panama. The registry was established by a U.S. Secretary of State in 1948 and is headquartered in the U.S. state of Virginia.
16. Legal System
United States law can be used as a precedent in Liberian courts whenever a Liberian precedent is not available.
17. Africa’s Best Football Player
Liberia’s George Weah is the only African football player to have been presented with the FIFA World Player of the Year (Ballon d’Or), an award he received in 1995.
18. Michael Jackson
The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, wrote “Liberian Girl,” about a possibly fictional romantic encounter with a girl from Liberia. In its opening lines, the song actually uses Swahili, a language not spoken in Liberia.
Solomon Carter Fuller, the first black psychiatrist in the US, was born and raised in Liberia.
20. Prenatal Care
Approximately 96% of Liberian pregnant women receive prenatal care from a skilled health care provider.
21. Measurement System
Liberia, Myanmar (formerly Burma), and the US are the only three countries that still use the British Imperial system of measurement.
22. Thanksgiving Day
Liberia is one of the few countries, along with the US, that celebrates Thanksgiving Day. In Liberia, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the 1st Thursday of November while in the US, it is the 4th Thursday.
23. Nobel Laureates
Two out of the three African female Nobel laureates are from Liberia.
24. Oprah Winfrey
African-American billionaire Oprah Winfrey has traced her DNA ancestry to be partly from Liberia’s Kpelle ethnic group.
25. American Presidents
Twelve of Liberia’s presidents were born in the US; only two are of full ‘native’ descent.
Featured image courtesy of Travis Lupick