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Geography and People

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Liberia is located along the Atlantic Coast of West Africa, between Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea. The territory is divided into 15 administrative counties. The capital, and by far the largest town, is Monrovia, located in Montserrado County, with a population of one million. The rest of the country is mainly agricultural or forested, with other major towns having only around 50,000 inhabitants, namely the port town of Buchanan (Grand Bassa County) and the inland town of Gbarnga (Bong County).

Figure 1:  Map of Liberia

 Map of Liberia

In 2010 Liberia had a population of around 4 million people, comprising 17 major ethnic groups, most of whom migrated to the region from different parts of Africa at different times, starting in 6000 BCE. Each has a different language and culture, and many have links across borders or with communities in other parts of Africa. The Mandingo, for example, are descendants of the Malian empire, and have links to related tribes across West Africa. The last to arrive, in the 1800’s, were the Americo-Liberians, who now number about 5% of the population.[1]

[1] Estimates vary – see, accessed June 10, 2011.