Capital | Monrovia
Population | 3,441,790 (July 2009 est.)
Area | 111,370 sq km
Official language | English
Holidays | Independence Day, 26 July (1847)
Currency | UTC+0
Time Zone | Liberian dollars (LRD)
Best time to visit | November to April, in the dry season.
Connecting with the Culture | Spotting elephants; pygmy hippos, chimpanzees and antelopes. Exploring Liberia’s stunning rainforest, covering around 40% of the country. Visiting the bustling town of Ganta (Gompa City) in Liberia’s mountainous interior. Dining on collard greens and sweet-potato pie at a tiny roadside `chop-bar’. Swinning in the vast Atlantic Ocean at Ellen’s Beach, near Monrovia. Experiencing the rich diversity and ceremonial cultures of over a dozen different ethnic groups.
Read | `Liberia: Portrait of a Failed State’ by John-Peter Pham, a sensitive, factual account of African politics and Western intervention.
Listen | to `Pavarotti and Friends-For the Children of Liberia’, a collection of extreme musical genres-including Bon Jovi and the Spice Girls-under the uplifting guidance of Luciano Pavarotti.
Watch | `Liberia: America’s Stepchild’, by Liberian filmmaker Nancee Oku Bright, a startling documentary about the settlement of freed American slaves in Liberia and their interactions with the indigenous peoples.
Eat | goat soup, the national soup, and traditional rice bread made with mashed bananas.
Drink | ginger beer, poyo (palm wine) and strong coffee.
In a word | Diamonds for sale.
Characteristics | Tidal lagoons; lush rainforest; amazing wildlife; rubber plantations; a nation of proud survivors; mangrove swamps; cassava and sweet potato; a founding member of the UN.
Surprises | Diamond rich Liberia is on the north coast of West Africa, bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. Monrovia is one of the wettest capitals in Africa with over 4500mm of annual rainfall and humidity of over 90%-phew.