A map of Liberia Liberia’s name means “free land”. It was set up in 1820 by an American organization as a place for freed African American slaves to live. A green, hilly plateau makes up most of the country’s land; it is covered by a mixture of grassland and rainforest. Nearer the coast, the land flattens to marshy lowlands, crossed by rivers and streams. Swampy mangrove forests and lagoons fringe the coast. Liberia has a hot, tropical climate with a rainy season between May and October. Between November and March, a dry, cool wind called the harmattan blows over the land, bringing dust and sand from the Sahara Desert.
There are 16 different ethnic groups in Liberia. Only a small number—about 3%—are descendants of the African Americans who arrived in the 1800s; these people are known as Americo-Liberians. Because there are so many different local languages, people from different communities use English to speak to one another. The capital, Monrovia, is the only large city in Liberia. Outside it, nearly everyone lives in small villages and makes a living from farming. As well as growing crops to feed their families, some people work on commercial plantations growing coffee, cocoa or rubber.
Founded in 1847, Liberia is Africa’s oldest independent republic.
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