Liberia — Overview
The historic beginning of the West African Republic of Liberia is one of the most unusual in the entire world, as its original inhabitants were freed slaves from the United States, sent to the country pre-Civil War by the American Colonization Society. Liberia is a wild country, as it is mostly undeveloped with Atlantic beaches, mangrove swamps, pristine equatorial rain forests, and dry, grassy plateaus.
Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, contains 25 percent of the country’s four million people, and is the extended version of an African township, crammed with street merchants slinging their wares and signs begging the population to support the country by paying their taxes. Southern Liberia holds a few glorious beaches and the country’s only national park, while remote Northern Liberia is home to semi-deciduous forests, grassy plains, the Guinea Highlands, and part of the West Africa Mountains.
Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a vast majority of the people living below the poverty line and the official unemployment rate at 85 percent. Even so, Liberians are welcoming and friendly, and respond well to smiles and attempts to get to know them. Hotels in the capital are safe as they employ guards, although many may not be up to Western standards and most ask for payment in cash (US dollars). Travel accommodations outside the capital is difficult to come by.
Outdoor activities such as horseback riding and exploring the sleepy, small towns such a Careysburg, founded in 1859 by freed slaves, make for interesting daytrips, and getting far, far away from it all in the rural areas gives the best insight into the country, although care should be taken in the remote areas. Basically, Liberia is not yet set up for organized tourism, but is an exciting destination for adventurous visitors looking for a very different vacation experience.
Getting around the country can be tricky as public transportation is not yet available. The one rail line runs from Bong Mine, providing intermittent services to the ports of Monrovia, Careysburg and a few other small townships. Bush taxis link Monrovia with other cities while minibuses also travel outside the capital, although they are less safe and more crowded than bush taxis. It’s also possible to travel up the coast by fishing boat, but they are overcrowded, uncomfortable and unsafe. Monrovia’s better hotels can arrange cars for rent, but roads are poor and often impassable. Expect to be stopped regularly by members of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission since tourists are a rarity.
- Explore Monrovia's small-town ambiance, markets and lively bar and restaurant scene
- Wander around the attractive township of historic Careysburg
- See Paynesville for its Blo Degbo rock formations
- Marvel at the pristine wilderness in Sapo National Park
- Relax on Silver Beach and neighboring stretches of sand around Monrovia
- See the world's largest Rubber Plantation, Firestone
- Explore Liberia’s mysterious jungles
- Catch a wave along the Atlantic coast