REGION: West Africa
POPULATION: 3,241,000
LAND AREA: The size of Virginia

Liberia was founded during the first half of the 19th century by freed black slaves from the United States and has remained independent ever since. Tragically, however, civil war engulfed Liberia from 1989 until 2003, with only brief interludes of peace. Some 250,000 people were killed. Nearly two million fled their homes to escape the violence. And war left the country in ruins — roads, buildings, health clinics, communications networks, farms and factories were almost totally destroyed. Yet postwar recovery is progressing. Africa’s first elected female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, won Liberia’s presidency in late 2005 and took office in 2006. Political stability and economic revival are among the new government’s top priorities. Liberia is richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests and a climate favorable to agriculture. Raw timber and rubber have been among the country’s primary exports.

Country Stats

Life expectancy: 44.7 years (USA: 77.9)

Under-5 child mortality: 235/1,000 live births (USA: 7/1,000)

HIV prevalence, ages 15-49: [2.0 – 5.0]% (USA: [0.4 – 1.0]%)

Physicians per 100,000 people: 3 (USA: 256)

People undernourished: 50% (USA: 0%)

People with access to safe drinking water: 61% (USA: 100%)

Adult literacy: 51.9% (USA: 99%)

Annual income, one way to look at it (GDP per capita, PPP US$): Not available (USA: $41,890)

Annual income, another way to look at it (GDP per capita): $167 (USA: $41,890)

People living on less than $1 a day: Not available (USA: 0%)

(HIV prevalence statistics, UNAIDS. All other statistics, 2007/2008 Human Development Report, UNDP)