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Liberia is a small country located west coast of Africa, which was built through the use of the help of The American Colonization Society (ACS). The country was established so as to place all the freed blacks in the old times of the slavery which was in the United States of America during the 1800s. It was then that the government of Liberia was modeled, and Monrovia, which is Liberia’s capital, was named after James Monroe, who was the president of the U.S. This made the country to be a very significant historically for all the African Americans. Liberia was established by the black American slaves, who made the country to be a role model for all the African colonies which were seeking independence.

History

The country of Liberia (which means the land of the free) was believed to have been founded by the slaves who were freed from the United States of America in the year 1820. These people arrived to the country and were able to establish a settlement in a place which was called Christopolis (which is now called Monrovia), the capital city of Liberia since February 6,1820. These immigrants were able to form a settler population which was then referred to as the Republic of Liberia. Soon after, there were other groups of freed slaves who came to the country after they were freed from America, and after they were resettled with the help of the American Colonization Society. The Republic of Liberia then adopted the American life style and was also able to establish trade links with the neighboring countries (Clegg, 2004).

The Republic of Liberia was not very easy to form, since there were also oppositions which came from other African tribes, which in most cases resulted in bloody battles. The newly independent Liberia was then encroached by other colonial expansionists, who then took over the independent Liberian original territory forcefully.

The history of Liberia was very peaceful until the year 1980 when the 133 years of the Americo-Liberian domination was ended with the PRC (People’s Redemption Council) formation. In the year 1980, it was when Master Sergeant Samuel Doe, who was originally from the Krahn ethnic group in Liberia, was able to seize power by the use of a coup d’etat. Doe’s forces could appoint several executives who were of the Americo-Liberian descent and President William Tolbert. There was the rise in the ethnic tensions during Doe’s rule since the majority of the Krahn ethnic group had dominated the military and the political life in Liberia. These ethnic tensions led to hostilities between the Krahns and the other ethnic groups in the country.

The Liberian civil war caused the loss of more than 200,000 Liberian lives and very many were moved to refugee camps in the neighboring West African countries. This civil war had begun in 1989 when the rebels led by a former member of the administration of Doe were able to invade the country at the cost of innocent Liberian lives. The Mano and the Gio tribes were the ones, who associated with the rebels since they were very determined to overthrow Doe from power. The war had turned into a tribal war in the year 1990. Doe was killed in September 1990 by the rebel group that was out to overthrow him. The country has been experiencing political problems up to date.

When the eruption of the fight in Liberia begun in 1989, many people fled the country. There were very large Liberian movements which continued into the 1990s when the conflict was fully flared. Most of these Liberian refugees found themselves in danger as the war continued to hit the country, which was very torturing to the majority of them. People moved from one refugee camp to the other because after they settled in one refugee camp, they always found it, since war also spread to the refugee camps. This made them be stranded in most of the occasions because it was very hard for them to get a place where they could settle peacefully without the effects of war following them wherever they went to settle. Liberians were reported to flee more than one country where they faced a number of difficulties. The majority of people were forced to flee on foot to secure places.

KeyCities

The capital city of Liberia is called Monrovia. It is located at CapeMesurado on the AtlanticCoast and it lies in the commonly known popular Liberian county of Montserrado.  The city of Monrovia is the country’s political, cultural, and financial hub. It has a total population of 1.02 million as per the 2008 national census of Liberia (Population Reference Bureau, 2004).

Monrovia city was founded in the year 1822 and it was named in the honor of the President of the United States of America President James Monroe, who was known to be a great supporter of the Liberian colonization. The MonroviaCity was founded after Freetown and Sierra Leone after thirty years. During the World War II, the U.S army significantly expanded the city’s harbor and the main exports for Liberia like iron ore and latex. In the city there is the production of commodities like cement, food products, refined petroleum, bricks, tiles, furniture, and chemicals. The city harbor is a very good facility for the repairing and storing of vessels (Clegg, 2004).

The major cities and towns of Liberia are as follows

Place

Administrative Division

Latitude

Longitude

Harper

Maryland and Grand Kru

4.39°N

7.72°N

Buchanan

Grand Bassa

5.88°N

10.05°N

Monrovia

Montserrado

6.31°N

10.80°N

Zwedru

Grand Gedeh

6.07°N

8.13°N

Yekepa

Nimba

7.58°N

8.53°N

People

The population of Liberia was estimated to be about 3.5 million people by the Population Reference Bureau in the year 2004. A total of about 350,00 people, who are commonly termed as the Liberian refugees have been reported to live in the neighboring West African Countries as a result of a civil war, which lasted for 14 years and ended in 2003. Some of the Liberian refugees and immigrants are living in the United States, which makes a total of about 39,000 refugees and immigrants in the U.S, according to the 2000 U.S. Census (Population Reference Bureau, 2004).

Liberia has a small ethnically diverse population and it consists of a total of 18 ethnic groups, which has been reported to change as the years have progressed in the last national censuses. The Bassa and the Kpelle are the largest ethnic groups with the Kpelle being the largest in the country. Kpelle is about 20% of the total population in Liberia and the Bassa is 15% of the total population. The smallest ethnic groups are the Dey, Mende, and Belle, who make only 0.5% of the total population each. The ethnic group that is well represented in the United States is the Krahn which make a total of about 3.8% of the total population of Liberia. The population of Liberia is made up of two categories which are the Americo-Liberians and the Indigenous Liberians (Population Reference Bureau, 2004).

Economy

Liberia is one of the poorest nations and its market based economy is yet to recover from all the ravages of the civil war in 1989-1996 before the imposing of the UN sanctions. The average income per capita of the country is estimated at about $ 170 million which is a very small pre-war level fraction. The unemployment rate in the country is estimated at about 85% which shows that this number is also unevenly allocated. The country has a self-sufficiency in food and very rich natural resources at its disposal. The problem however is that the former combatants and the top government officials have been reported to use these resources, which are available exclusively to their own personal benefits. The UN Security Council was forced to impose sanctions against Liberia. These sanctions are usually a response to government policies that are unacceptable and most of the real victims of these sanctions are typically innocent people or poor nationals (Clegg, 2004).

Farming is one of the activities which are commonly practiced in Liberia and it is the greatest source of the country’s revenue with the majority of the people in the country working in farming. This economic activity supports about 68% of the total population because the majority of them often grow what they consume.

One of the commercial crops which is grown in Liberia is rubber because it employs about 50% of the population, who mainly work for monetary compensation. In 1904 the first plantation of rubber was established in the country by the British. It was later obtained from the British in the year 1926 by Firestone Tire and Rubber Company which was an American Company. Firestone helped in the expansion of the company until its operations were cut off in 1983.

Fishing and mining are very important industries in Liberia. The largest export in Liberia is the iron ore. The country also receives some income from foreign ships registration because quite a number of these ships often fly the Liberian flag to avoid taxes and other regulations. The industry of the country still remains to be underdeveloped because the country imports food, transportation equipment, and machinery.

The United States has played a very important role in helping Liberia economically. The main problem is that all the money supplied by the U.S. government to the government of Liberia ends up being misused. This has prompted the U.S. government to restrict its funds to Liberia and the decision has caused Liberia to experience great challenges and difficulties in its economy. The civil wars in Liberia were very expensive and they consumed most of the Liberia’s money, which made the country to fail to repay all its debts for some years. During these wars, businesses and homes were damaged and destroyed, farming, which involves the planting and harvesting of crops, was greatly disrupted and hunger threatened the population of Liberia.

GlobalizationinLiberia

The issue of globalization in Liberia has enhanced interaction and helped people to understand each other in a better way. It has been necessary in enhancing quick access to other parts of the country regardless of the distance separating the people. Some barriers separated people and maintained their natural heritage and identities. It has become an important issue, but the impacts are not limited to only the economic field of the country, it also reflect all aspects of life like the psychological, cultural, social and political issues.

Globalization is the aspect that refers to inexistence of the barriers of communication or access to different parts of the globe that all the nations have been facing because of suspicion, ambitions and mutual mistrust. Previously, many countries were different and were divided into diverse worlds. Such countries were unable to handle key challenges of life including the disasters and disease epidemics.

Culture is one of the key values of people in Liberia that have existed in the country for many years. Globalization has brought positive effects both in economic and industrial sectors, but people cannot ignore the adverse impacts that it has on the society and culture. In the present life, cities have developed their own cities to be similar to one other, but people from diverse cultural and societal backgrounds are converging to new and different collective forms of culture. The different cities which had a lot of culture and history in every part are significantly fading away as a result of globalization.

The roads to all the remote areas in Liberia were expanded in the 1950s with most of the existing roads being constructed to meet all the needs of the plantations other than meeting the needs of the small scale rural farmers. The railroad which is the only one in the country is solely operated by an iron ore company from a foreign country. In the early 1900s, there was the introduction of a radio and telephone communication system in Liberia, which was the first country in Africa to have telecommunication.

Due to globalization in Liberia, the traditional clothing and other traditional practices have stopped existing. These practices have brought in uniqueness that make people different and allows them to stand out from the rest. This was only possible due to a particular culture which is associated to a particular place and people of Liberia. Globalization has changed this and brought in a common culture, in different parts of the country hence hindering uniqueness based on cultural differences. In addition, cultural exchange and value has been fundamental to the treasure of the notion of a Liberian citizen. It should not mean that letting it go cancels the unique cultures of people in order to adopt a unified and a driven cultural and societal heritage.

Globalization has enabled the movement of capital and people from one country to another like it is the case of Liberians who move within the neighboring countries and to the United States. Through this movement, there is the diffusion of knowledge since one is able to move all over the world and interact with many people and through this interaction one is able to learn much and improve the skills. This is a very great advantage to the people of Liberia, since they are able to get the knowledge that is needed in the job market and it can help in decreasing the raising rates of illiteracy in the country.

Religion

In Liberia, the majority of the population who were the early settlers were American slaves were freed and they brought back with them the religion and the culture from the U.S. deep south, which was practiced during the slavery era. All of their descendants became the adherents of the protestant denominations where the Methodist church was the largest. In the year 2002, about 40% of the total population practiced Christianity or both traditional indigenous religions and Christianity.

The Christian denominations which are found in Liberia include the Pentecostal churches, Baptist, Presbyterian, United Methodist, Lutheran, AME (African Methodist Episcopal), Seventh-day Adventists, and the Roman Catholic. Christianity in Liberia has been practiced for a very long time. In Liberia, there is the freedom of religion, which is also provided by the constitution of the country, and the practice if respected and recognized by the government. This shows that a person living in Liberia has the right to make a choice on the religion that he/she wishes to follow and practice. There are also the cases of foreign missionary groups in Liberia who operate very openly in the country because it is the people’s choice to make decisions; and this shows the freedom of religion in the country.

In Liberia, Islamism is also practiced as a religion with the Muslim population being found among the Vai and the Mandigo ethnic groups. The Mandigo ethnic group is found all over the country, while the Vai ethnic community is found in the west. The population which practices Islam is estimated to be around 20% of the total population and the majority of them often live in eastern and northern counties. The Muslims in Liberia do not follow many practices, which are found in the majority of the Muslim communities in the rest of the world.  The Liberian Muslims do not practice the traditional Islamic laws and the sharia laws, which subjects the women to be forced to do practices like wearing of the veil in public places or the purdah, which is the general seclusion of the woman in their husbands compound. The Liberian Muslim women are allowed to pursue the freedom of movement and higher education like all the other non-Muslim women in the country.

There are also the majority of the ethnic groups, who also follow the traditional religious practices, which are of the Sande and the Poro secret societies. These traditional religious practices are things that deal with the secret societies where there is the belief that there is another world which is invisible and is very active. This world has ghosts and powerful beings, Liberians believe that there are some people who have the powers to cause harm to others like making them sick, people who can perform special magic and miracles which are defying to the laws of nature, or even other people who have the power to change themselves to animals and other creatures. These traditional believes have symbolic behaviors and rituals which are very complex and are beyond the understanding of a Christian of a Muslim (Clegg, 2004).

Culture

The Liberian culture reflects the country’s long history and diverse ethnicity.

Music

Liberia has a very wide West African heritage music that has its own ancient instruments and music, which is very distinct from all of its close neighboring countries. The traditional music played in the country has unique drums which are of different types. Drums are one of the most commonly used types of instruments, which are used in both formal and informal events that may include the naming ceremonies, weddings, graduations, and holidays among many others. Saasaa are beaded gourd rattles which are usually used to mainstream the music of many Liberian singers, ensembles, and musicians in the country. Music in Liberia is used to highlight the Liberian culture and also to educate the society on important issues which commonly ranged from human rights, history, to politics and culture.

Religious music is quite popular in the country with Christian music being influenced by the U.S. counterpart and the Muslims music was based on citations from the Quran. There is music called suku which is a music related to the daily life, and adhan. Traditional music, HiLife, and rap are also very popular in the country, especially among the young Liberians and the American aficionados, who are commonly heard in the discotheques, clubs, parties, and radios.

Art

Liberia is well known for its decorative miniature wood carvings, ornate and decorative masks made up of human faces that seem realistic, and enlarged sculptures of spoons and forks.. These sculptures are produced from both the cities and the countryside of Liberia. These Liberian wood curved sculptures are usually influenced by the ancient history, which helped in the bringing out of the artist’s observations and their actual connections to the objects or people who were sculpted.

Liberia has also been able to produce its own and original American influenced quilts because the strong relationship which exist between Liberia and the UnitedState. All the freed and the former U.S. Slaves, who were able to emigrate to Liberia, were able to bring along their quilting and sewing skills back to Liberia that were originally done in the country by the Americo-Liberians in the early 19th century.

Literature

In Liberia, there is a very rich literary tradition which has existed for more than a century. The European colonialists had labeled Liberia as a country which did not have a written tradition, where several authors were reported to have been writing and contributing to different writings of different genres. They included the writings on folk art, countryside everyday life, life in the city, the religion in the country, ancient proverbs, and other observation of their daily lives.

Poetry is one of the Liberian literature types that knows many authors, who have been able to present their poetic styles by the addition of their own unique perspectives. These writings often developed their own cultures, their African heritage, and their spiritual and political awareness, which disapproved the views that the Europeans had on the Africans as the nation lacking a written culture. These were the writings which inspired the Liberians, especially the upcoming authors up to date.

Cuisine

Rice is the staple food of the Liberian cuisine with pasta gaining importance due to the increasing prices of rice in the country. Thai rice has been imported into the country and is considered to be one of the best to consume by the people of Liberia. Liberia also produces other foodstuffs like the cassava, citrus fruits, bananas, coconut and plantains. The sweet potatoes are also important part of the Liberian cuisine, which are commonly eaten with yams, pineapples, mangoes, plantains, and other nuts like peanuts.

The Liberians commonly eat fish while meat is used for flavoring in the main dishes alongside with the smoked and dried fish. Stews, which are commonly called soups, are some of the commonest dishes in the country and they are usually flavored scotch bonnet and fiery hot habanero. The Liberian cuisine is atypical of the West African cookery since the country has its own traditions of baking.

Marriage

Monogamy and polygamy are allowed in Liberia. Monogamy is when a man has one wife and polygamy is when a man has two or more wives. They are both permitted and allowed in the country with monogamy being the ideal marriage form among the Liberians who have been western educated. Both monogamy and polygamy are practiced among the non-western educated Liberians. Polygamy has been considered to be very popular among the Mandigo tribes and very low among the Sapo and the Kru tribes in Liberia. The Americo-Liberians don’t usually practice polygamy.

For the western educated Liberians, mate selection is considered to be the determining factor where they believe that it is only through the romantic love that a man can meet a woman, know each other better by going on several dates, then finally finding themselves physically and personally attracted to each other and their compatibility being possible. The dating in this romantic love is what culminates the marriage proposal between the woman and the man which is then followed by the wedding very similar to the U.S. wedding style, which is considered to legitimize the marriage.

For the non-western educated Liberians, they believe in the marriage which is arranged by the families. The marriage in this case involves activities like the payment of the bridal price to the parents of the bride at the time the two families come together to make the marriage agreements. This bride price varies among the different ethnic groups of the country and it can vary greatly depending on several factors, which may involve things like the social standing of the parents, and the age. The suitor, who is the man, is supposed to make himself accepted by the parents of his fiancée by offering the girl’s parents several gifts.

Like for example in the Mano tradition, the initial marriage contract consisted of the suitor requesting a blacksmith to make him a very special knife. He was supposed to present the knife and a homespun cloth to the girl’s parent. If the parents kept the present, it symbolized that they gave their consent to the marriage, where they would then inform the young man’s family who would then proceed to the payment of the bride price. If the girl’s parents returned the gifts, it symbolized that they did not consent the marriage. Once the marriage was consented, the groom was supposed to help the in-laws in activities like farm work until the marriage. After the ceremony the help also supposed to continue.

In the traditional indigenous Liberians, the weddings were very festive like in the traditions of the Obandi tribe where at dawn there was the shooting of guns, which launched the festivities that were then supposed to proceed continuously for 2 days before the wedding feast actually took place and begun. Among the tradition of the Kpelle, only the immediate families of the bride and the groom were present at the wedding ceremony. The older people, especially the men, lectured the couple sternly about all the marital responsibilities, marital disputes, sexual fidelity, and the bride price repayment in case the marriage would not work between the couple or may lead to the divorce.

Family

There was a very great difference in the western-educated Liberians and the non-educated educated Liberians when it came to family matters. The western-educated Liberians often found a place of residence and the non-western educated Liberians often lived with the rest of the family especially the husband’s family. Women are considered to have a great influence in the majority of the family matters like the disciplining of the children especially the female children. Patriarchy is the most prevailing norm among almost all the groups of people in Liberia.

The Americo-Liberians often trace their ancestry and the property passes down to the both sexes of the young generation, both the female and the men of all the families. However, the non-western educated Liberians only pass down property inheritance to the male side and male young generation of the family.

In Liberia, the family is usually composed of the nuclear family, where the children live with their parents without the other family relatives, or even living in the extended family where there are two or more generations who are living together in the same dwelling, which in most cases is under the oldest male of the extended family. The nuclear families are very common among the western-educated Liberians and the extended families are very common in the non-western educated families in the country.

Festivities

The African American founders introduced three major festivities in the country, which are the Christmas day, the Independence Day, which was in July the 26th, and the New Year festivities. The Liberian Muslims also value the Eid ul Fitr festival, which is celebrated on the first day after they complete the Ramadhan, the official month of fasting for the Muslims all over the world. Each of these festivals in Liberia is usually celebrated with dancing, feasting, and merriment and they also give gifts.

In the urban areas, there is a very unique feature of the Christmas celebration where there is the involvement of the Santa Clause who was introduced by the African American founders. The person is considered to be greatly different from the Santa Claus of the U.S. since the performer is usually a street dancer who danced colorfully and is usually dressed in dance costumes and is known to move from one neighborhood to the other with a troupe of young dancers and their instruments, which are in most cases improvised bottles and cans. The work of the Santa Claus is to entertain all the people of the neighborhoods that he visits and receiving all the gifts that the people have to offer to them usually in the form of money (Clegg, 2004).

Clothing

The clothing that is worn by the Liberians differs greatly from the very heavy European clothing, the loin cloth which is usually worn by the village me, the urban sophisticates, and other different types of gradations attire. For a majority of the Liberians, the general attire for the men included the short or long pair of pants, and a voi shirt which is very simple and also inexpensive, short sleeved, with three buttons in the front, round necked, made from very brightly colored clothe, and with three pockets; one in the top left corner, and the other two on each side of the lower front. The typical dress for the Liberian woman consisted of a loppo, which is a two-yard cloth which was usually wrapped on the woman’s waist and a bubo, which is a short sleeved blouse loosely gathered with the sleeves at the top.

The current cloth which is worn by the Liberian people is imported and is called the country doth, which is a brightly colored material that replaced the homespun native cloth which was used in the country a long time ago. The high status persons and the chiefs in Liberia often wear gowns that in most cases are made up of a homespun cloth with a hole which is meant for the head in the center of the material. There are also tie and dye materials which are made in Liberia and are considered to be a very popular type of clothing in the country.

Language

English is the main language spoken in Liberia. Alongside English, there are more than twenty indigenous languages also spoken in the country with a few having very unique alphabets. Bassa and Vai are the most popular Liberian languages which are studied in the majority of schools and the universities in the country. The Mende, Loma, and the Kpelle tribes have their own unique alphabets but they are less studied in the schools and the universities in Liberia (Singler, 1990).

Dr. Thomas Narvin Lewis is the one who helped in the alphabeting of the Bassa in the early 20th century immediately after he attended several studies in the United States at the University of Syracuse. He was able to intermingle with the slaves in Brazil, who were of Bassa origin and were also in the West Indies, and who used the alphabet. Bassa and Vai are very distinct with Vai being an ancient well known script (Singler, 1990).

The Bassa Vah is a listed alphabet compared to include the Avesan, which was used in the Ancient Persia for writing of the sacred hymns of the Zoroastrianism, Armenian, the Coptic that was used by the Coptic Church and the Egyptian Coptic, the Gerrgian Language, the Meroitic alphabet which was of the Ancient Sudan and many other parts of the Nile Valley and the other ancient scripts, the Mongolian, the Cyrillic, and the Greek based alphabets. Some of the Vah letters were used to represent certain letters which were from the Ge’ez alphabets of Ethiopia that were commonly used to write the national language, Amharic, the N’ko of Guinea, and the Armenian alphabet (Singler, 1990).

The Vai syllabary has also been compared with the Katakana and the Hiragana scripts for the Japanese language. The Bassa and Vai languages are held by quite a number of linguists as being very unique African languages alongside the Tifinagh, which is used to write the Berber languages, the N’ko, and the Ge’ez. These languages are also believed to have been influenced by the Latin and the Western systems of writing.

In conclusion, Liberia is a West African country, which has only started with the migration of the tribal people and slave freeing being brought back to the country for family reunification and resettlement. It consists of quite a number of native groups who fought very hard for their independence, which explained why so many problems arose in the country. Very many Liberian farmers are small scale farmers because they do not grow foodstuffs and cash crops for export but they only grow for their own use. Iron ore, timber, and diamonds are still the main form of trade in the country. Liberia is a very interesting country.

Globalization is the representation of a world with no barriers for others, it resembles doom and destruction. It is considered to be a tool which is aimed at benefiting mankind and one should not only look at the negative side of globalization but he/she should also consider the positive aspects of it. Underdeveloped economies like the Liberian Economy is able to provide all the basic needs to their citizens through the country’s domestic production, which shows that globalization can help in the development of the country.

Liberia is a small country located west coast of Africa, which was built through the use of the help of The American Colonization Society (ACS). The country was established so as to place all the freed blacks in the old times of the slavery which was in the United States of America during the 1800s. It was then that the government of Liberia was modeled, and Monrovia, which is Liberia’s capital, was named after James Monroe, who was the president of the U.S. This made the country to be a very significant historically for all the African Americans. Liberia was established by the black American slaves, who made the country to be a role model for all the African colonies which were seeking independence.

History

The country of Liberia (which means the land of the free) was believed to have been founded by the slaves who were freed from the United States of America in the year 1820. These people arrived to the country and were able to establish a settlement in a place which was called Christopolis (which is now called Monrovia), the capital city of Liberia since February 6,1820. These immigrants were able to form a settler population which was then referred to as the Republic of Liberia. Soon after, there were other groups of freed slaves who came to the country after they were freed from America, and after they were resettled with the help of the American Colonization Society. The Republic of Liberia then adopted the American life style and was also able to establish trade links with the neighboring countries (Clegg, 2004).

The Republic of Liberia was not very easy to form, since there were also oppositions which came from other African tribes, which in most cases resulted in bloody battles. The newly independent Liberia was then encroached by other colonial expansionists, who then took over the independent Liberian original territory forcefully.

The history of Liberia was very peaceful until the year 1980 when the 133 years of the Americo-Liberian domination was ended with the PRC (People’s Redemption Council) formation. In the year 1980, it was when Master Sergeant Samuel Doe, who was originally from the Krahn ethnic group in Liberia, was able to seize power by the use of a coup d’etat. Doe’s forces could appoint several executives who were of the Americo-Liberian descent and President William Tolbert. There was the rise in the ethnic tensions during Doe’s rule since the majority of the Krahn ethnic group had dominated the military and the political life in Liberia. These ethnic tensions led to hostilities between the Krahns and the other ethnic groups in the country.

The Liberian civil war caused the loss of more than 200,000 Liberian lives and very many were moved to refugee camps in the neighboring West African countries. This civil war had begun in 1989 when the rebels led by a former member of the administration of Doe were able to invade the country at the cost of innocent Liberian lives. The Mano and the Gio tribes were the ones, who associated with the rebels since they were very determined to overthrow Doe from power. The war had turned into a tribal war in the year 1990. Doe was killed in September 1990 by the rebel group that was out to overthrow him. The country has been experiencing political problems up to date.

When the eruption of the fight in Liberia begun in 1989, many people fled the country. There were very large Liberian movements which continued into the 1990s when the conflict was fully flared. Most of these Liberian refugees found themselves in danger as the war continued to hit the country, which was very torturing to the majority of them. People moved from one refugee camp to the other because after they settled in one refugee camp, they always found it, since war also spread to the refugee camps. This made them be stranded in most of the occasions because it was very hard for them to get a place where they could settle peacefully without the effects of war following them wherever they went to settle. Liberians were reported to flee more than one country where they faced a number of difficulties. The majority of people were forced to flee on foot to secure places.

KeyCities

The capital city of Liberia is called Monrovia. It is located at CapeMesurado on the AtlanticCoast and it lies in the commonly known popular Liberian county of Montserrado.  The city of Monrovia is the country’s political, cultural, and financial hub. It has a total population of 1.02 million as per the 2008 national census of Liberia (Population Reference Bureau, 2004).

Monrovia city was founded in the year 1822 and it was named in the honor of the President of the United States of America President James Monroe, who was known to be a great supporter of the Liberian colonization. The MonroviaCity was founded after Freetown and Sierra Leone after thirty years. During the World War II, the U.S army significantly expanded the city’s harbor and the main exports for Liberia like iron ore and latex. In the city there is the production of commodities like cement, food products, refined petroleum, bricks, tiles, furniture, and chemicals. The city harbor is a very good facility for the repairing and storing of vessels (Clegg, 2004).

The major cities and towns of Liberia are as follows

Place

Administrative Division

Latitude

Longitude

Harper

Maryland and Grand Kru

4.39°N

7.72°N

Buchanan

Grand Bassa

5.88°N

10.05°N

Monrovia

Montserrado

6.31°N

10.80°N

Zwedru

Grand Gedeh

6.07°N

8.13°N

Yekepa

Nimba

7.58°N

8.53°N

People

The population of Liberia was estimated to be about 3.5 million people by the Population Reference Bureau in the year 2004. A total of about 350,00 people, who are commonly termed as the Liberian refugees have been reported to live in the neighboring West African Countries as a result of a civil war, which lasted for 14 years and ended in 2003. Some of the Liberian refugees and immigrants are living in the United States, which makes a total of about 39,000 refugees and immigrants in the U.S, according to the 2000 U.S. Census (Population Reference Bureau, 2004).

Liberia has a small ethnically diverse population and it consists of a total of 18 ethnic groups, which has been reported to change as the years have progressed in the last national censuses. The Bassa and the Kpelle are the largest ethnic groups with the Kpelle being the largest in the country. Kpelle is about 20% of the total population in Liberia and the Bassa is 15% of the total population. The smallest ethnic groups are the Dey, Mende, and Belle, who make only 0.5% of the total population each. The ethnic group that is well represented in the United States is the Krahn which make a total of about 3.8% of the total population of Liberia. The population of Liberia is made up of two categories which are the Americo-Liberians and the Indigenous Liberians (Population Reference Bureau, 2004).

Economy

Liberia is one of the poorest nations and its market based economy is yet to recover from all the ravages of the civil war in 1989-1996 before the imposing of the UN sanctions. The average income per capita of the country is estimated at about $ 170 million which is a very small pre-war level fraction. The unemployment rate in the country is estimated at about 85% which shows that this number is also unevenly allocated. The country has a self-sufficiency in food and very rich natural resources at its disposal. The problem however is that the former combatants and the top government officials have been reported to use these resources, which are available exclusively to their own personal benefits. The UN Security Council was forced to impose sanctions against Liberia. These sanctions are usually a response to government policies that are unacceptable and most of the real victims of these sanctions are typically innocent people or poor nationals (Clegg, 2004).

Farming is one of the activities which are commonly practiced in Liberia and it is the greatest source of the country’s revenue with the majority of the people in the country working in farming. This economic activity supports about 68% of the total population because the majority of them often grow what they consume.

One of the commercial crops which is grown in Liberia is rubber because it employs about 50% of the population, who mainly work for monetary compensation. In 1904 the first plantation of rubber was established in the country by the British. It was later obtained from the British in the year 1926 by Firestone Tire and Rubber Company which was an American Company. Firestone helped in the expansion of the company until its operations were cut off in 1983.

Fishing and mining are very important industries in Liberia. The largest export in Liberia is the iron ore. The country also receives some income from foreign ships registration because quite a number of these ships often fly the Liberian flag to avoid taxes and other regulations. The industry of the country still remains to be underdeveloped because the country imports food, transportation equipment, and machinery.

The United States has played a very important role in helping Liberia economically. The main problem is that all the money supplied by the U.S. government to the government of Liberia ends up being misused. This has prompted the U.S. government to restrict its funds to Liberia and the decision has caused Liberia to experience great challenges and difficulties in its economy. The civil wars in Liberia were very expensive and they consumed most of the Liberia’s money, which made the country to fail to repay all its debts for some years. During these wars, businesses and homes were damaged and destroyed, farming, which involves the planting and harvesting of crops, was greatly disrupted and hunger threatened the population of Liberia.

GlobalizationinLiberia

The issue of globalization in Liberia has enhanced interaction and helped people to understand each other in a better way. It has been necessary in enhancing quick access to other parts of the country regardless of the distance separating the people. Some barriers separated people and maintained their natural heritage and identities. It has become an important issue, but the impacts are not limited to only the economic field of the country, it also reflect all aspects of life like the psychological, cultural, social and political issues.

Globalization is the aspect that refers to inexistence of the barriers of communication or access to different parts of the globe that all the nations have been facing because of suspicion, ambitions and mutual mistrust. Previously, many countries were different and were divided into diverse worlds. Such countries were unable to handle key challenges of life including the disasters and disease epidemics.

Culture is one of the key values of people in Liberia that have existed in the country for many years. Globalization has brought positive effects both in economic and industrial sectors, but people cannot ignore the adverse impacts that it has on the society and culture. In the present life, cities have developed their own cities to be similar to one other, but people from diverse cultural and societal backgrounds are converging to new and different collective forms of culture. The different cities which had a lot of culture and history in every part are significantly fading away as a result of globalization.

The roads to all the remote areas in Liberia were expanded in the 1950s with most of the existing roads being constructed to meet all the needs of the plantations other than meeting the needs of the small scale rural farmers. The railroad which is the only one in the country is solely operated by an iron ore company from a foreign country. In the early 1900s, there was the introduction of a radio and telephone communication system in Liberia, which was the first country in Africa to have telecommunication.

Due to globalization in Liberia, the traditional clothing and other traditional practices have stopped existing. These practices have brought in uniqueness that make people different and allows them to stand out from the rest. This was only possible due to a particular culture which is associated to a particular place and people of Liberia. Globalization has changed this and brought in a common culture, in different parts of the country hence hindering uniqueness based on cultural differences. In addition, cultural exchange and value has been fundamental to the treasure of the notion of a Liberian citizen. It should not mean that letting it go cancels the unique cultures of people in order to adopt a unified and a driven cultural and societal heritage.

Globalization has enabled the movement of capital and people from one country to another like it is the case of Liberians who move within the neighboring countries and to the United States. Through this movement, there is the diffusion of knowledge since one is able to move all over the world and interact with many people and through this interaction one is able to learn much and improve the skills. This is a very great advantage to the people of Liberia, since they are able to get the knowledge that is needed in the job market and it can help in decreasing the raising rates of illiteracy in the country.

Religion

In Liberia, the majority of the population who were the early settlers were American slaves were freed and they brought back with them the religion and the culture from the U.S. deep south, which was practiced during the slavery era. All of their descendants became the adherents of the protestant denominations where the Methodist church was the largest. In the year 2002, about 40% of the total population practiced Christianity or both traditional indigenous religions and Christianity.

The Christian denominations which are found in Liberia include the Pentecostal churches, Baptist, Presbyterian, United Methodist, Lutheran, AME (African Methodist Episcopal), Seventh-day Adventists, and the Roman Catholic. Christianity in Liberia has been practiced for a very long time. In Liberia, there is the freedom of religion, which is also provided by the constitution of the country, and the practice if respected and recognized by the government. This shows that a person living in Liberia has the right to make a choice on the religion that he/she wishes to follow and practice. There are also the cases of foreign missionary groups in Liberia who operate very openly in the country because it is the people’s choice to make decisions; and this shows the freedom of religion in the country.

In Liberia, Islamism is also practiced as a religion with the Muslim population being found among the Vai and the Mandigo ethnic groups. The Mandigo ethnic group is found all over the country, while the Vai ethnic community is found in the west. The population which practices Islam is estimated to be around 20% of the total population and the majority of them often live in eastern and northern counties. The Muslims in Liberia do not follow many practices, which are found in the majority of the Muslim communities in the rest of the world.  The Liberian Muslims do not practice the traditional Islamic laws and the sharia laws, which subjects the women to be forced to do practices like wearing of the veil in public places or the purdah, which is the general seclusion of the woman in their husbands compound. The Liberian Muslim women are allowed to pursue the freedom of movement and higher education like all the other non-Muslim women in the country.

There are also the majority of the ethnic groups, who also follow the traditional religious practices, which are of the Sande and the Poro secret societies. These traditional religious practices are things that deal with the secret societies where there is the belief that there is another world which is invisible and is very active. This world has ghosts and powerful beings, Liberians believe that there are some people who have the powers to cause harm to others like making them sick, people who can perform special magic and miracles which are defying to the laws of nature, or even other people who have the power to change themselves to animals and other creatures. These traditional believes have symbolic behaviors and rituals which are very complex and are beyond the understanding of a Christian of a Muslim (Clegg, 2004).

Culture

The Liberian culture reflects the country’s long history and diverse ethnicity.

Music

Liberia has a very wide West African heritage music that has its own ancient instruments and music, which is very distinct from all of its close neighboring countries. The traditional music played in the country has unique drums which are of different types. Drums are one of the most commonly used types of instruments, which are used in both formal and informal events that may include the naming ceremonies, weddings, graduations, and holidays among many others. Saasaa are beaded gourd rattles which are usually used to mainstream the music of many Liberian singers, ensembles, and musicians in the country. Music in Liberia is used to highlight the Liberian culture and also to educate the society on important issues which commonly ranged from human rights, history, to politics and culture.

Religious music is quite popular in the country with Christian music being influenced by the U.S. counterpart and the Muslims music was based on citations from the Quran. There is music called suku which is a music related to the daily life, and adhan. Traditional music, HiLife, and rap are also very popular in the country, especially among the young Liberians and the American aficionados, who are commonly heard in the discotheques, clubs, parties, and radios.

Art

Liberia is well known for its decorative miniature wood carvings, ornate and decorative masks made up of human faces that seem realistic, and enlarged sculptures of spoons and forks.. These sculptures are produced from both the cities and the countryside of Liberia. These Liberian wood curved sculptures are usually influenced by the ancient history, which helped in the bringing out of the artist’s observations and their actual connections to the objects or people who were sculpted.

Liberia has also been able to produce its own and original American influenced quilts because the strong relationship which exist between Liberia and the UnitedState. All the freed and the former U.S. Slaves, who were able to emigrate to Liberia, were able to bring along their quilting and sewing skills back to Liberia that were originally done in the country by the Americo-Liberians in the early 19th century.

Literature

In Liberia, there is a very rich literary tradition which has existed for more than a century. The European colonialists had labeled Liberia as a country which did not have a written tradition, where several authors were reported to have been writing and contributing to different writings of different genres. They included the writings on folk art, countryside everyday life, life in the city, the religion in the country, ancient proverbs, and other observation of their daily lives.

Poetry is one of the Liberian literature types that knows many authors, who have been able to present their poetic styles by the addition of their own unique perspectives. These writings often developed their own cultures, their African heritage, and their spiritual and political awareness, which disapproved the views that the Europeans had on the Africans as the nation lacking a written culture. These were the writings which inspired the Liberians, especially the upcoming authors up to date.

Cuisine

Rice is the staple food of the Liberian cuisine with pasta gaining importance due to the increasing prices of rice in the country. Thai rice has been imported into the country and is considered to be one of the best to consume by the people of Liberia. Liberia also produces other foodstuffs like the cassava, citrus fruits, bananas, coconut and plantains. The sweet potatoes are also important part of the Liberian cuisine, which are commonly eaten with yams, pineapples, mangoes, plantains, and other nuts like peanuts.

The Liberians commonly eat fish while meat is used for flavoring in the main dishes alongside with the smoked and dried fish. Stews, which are commonly called soups, are some of the commonest dishes in the country and they are usually flavored scotch bonnet and fiery hot habanero. The Liberian cuisine is atypical of the West African cookery since the country has its own traditions of baking.

Marriage

Monogamy and polygamy are allowed in Liberia. Monogamy is when a man has one wife and polygamy is when a man has two or more wives. They are both permitted and allowed in the country with monogamy being the ideal marriage form among the Liberians who have been western educated. Both monogamy and polygamy are practiced among the non-western educated Liberians. Polygamy has been considered to be very popular among the Mandigo tribes and very low among the Sapo and the Kru tribes in Liberia. The Americo-Liberians don’t usually practice polygamy.

For the western educated Liberians, mate selection is considered to be the determining factor where they believe that it is only through the romantic love that a man can meet a woman, know each other better by going on several dates, then finally finding themselves physically and personally attracted to each other and their compatibility being possible. The dating in this romantic love is what culminates the marriage proposal between the woman and the man which is then followed by the wedding very similar to the U.S. wedding style, which is considered to legitimize the marriage.

For the non-western educated Liberians, they believe in the marriage which is arranged by the families. The marriage in this case involves activities like the payment of the bridal price to the parents of the bride at the time the two families come together to make the marriage agreements. This bride price varies among the different ethnic groups of the country and it can vary greatly depending on several factors, which may involve things like the social standing of the parents, and the age. The suitor, who is the man, is supposed to make himself accepted by the parents of his fiancée by offering the girl’s parents several gifts.

Like for example in the Mano tradition, the initial marriage contract consisted of the suitor requesting a blacksmith to make him a very special knife. He was supposed to present the knife and a homespun cloth to the girl’s parent. If the parents kept the present, it symbolized that they gave their consent to the marriage, where they would then inform the young man’s family who would then proceed to the payment of the bride price. If the girl’s parents returned the gifts, it symbolized that they did not consent the marriage. Once the marriage was consented, the groom was supposed to help the in-laws in activities like farm work until the marriage. After the ceremony the help also supposed to continue.

In the traditional indigenous Liberians, the weddings were very festive like in the traditions of the Obandi tribe where at dawn there was the shooting of guns, which launched the festivities that were then supposed to proceed continuously for 2 days before the wedding feast actually took place and begun. Among the tradition of the Kpelle, only the immediate families of the bride and the groom were present at the wedding ceremony. The older people, especially the men, lectured the couple sternly about all the marital responsibilities, marital disputes, sexual fidelity, and the bride price repayment in case the marriage would not work between the couple or may lead to the divorce.

Family

There was a very great difference in the western-educated Liberians and the non-educated educated Liberians when it came to family matters. The western-educated Liberians often found a place of residence and the non-western educated Liberians often lived with the rest of the family especially the husband’s family. Women are considered to have a great influence in the majority of the family matters like the disciplining of the children especially the female children. Patriarchy is the most prevailing norm among almost all the groups of people in Liberia.

The Americo-Liberians often trace their ancestry and the property passes down to the both sexes of the young generation, both the female and the men of all the families. However, the non-western educated Liberians only pass down property inheritance to the male side and male young generation of the family.

In Liberia, the family is usually composed of the nuclear family, where the children live with their parents without the other family relatives, or even living in the extended family where there are two or more generations who are living together in the same dwelling, which in most cases is under the oldest male of the extended family. The nuclear families are very common among the western-educated Liberians and the extended families are very common in the non-western educated families in the country.

Festivities

The African American founders introduced three major festivities in the country, which are the Christmas day, the Independence Day, which was in July the 26th, and the New Year festivities. The Liberian Muslims also value the Eid ul Fitr festival, which is celebrated on the first day after they complete the Ramadhan, the official month of fasting for the Muslims all over the world. Each of these festivals in Liberia is usually celebrated with dancing, feasting, and merriment and they also give gifts.

In the urban areas, there is a very unique feature of the Christmas celebration where there is the involvement of the Santa Clause who was introduced by the African American founders. The person is considered to be greatly different from the Santa Claus of the U.S. since the performer is usually a street dancer who danced colorfully and is usually dressed in dance costumes and is known to move from one neighborhood to the other with a troupe of young dancers and their instruments, which are in most cases improvised bottles and cans. The work of the Santa Claus is to entertain all the people of the neighborhoods that he visits and receiving all the gifts that the people have to offer to them usually in the form of money (Clegg, 2004).

Clothing

The clothing that is worn by the Liberians differs greatly from the very heavy European clothing, the loin cloth which is usually worn by the village me, the urban sophisticates, and other different types of gradations attire. For a majority of the Liberians, the general attire for the men included the short or long pair of pants, and a voi shirt which is very simple and also inexpensive, short sleeved, with three buttons in the front, round necked, made from very brightly colored clothe, and with three pockets; one in the top left corner, and the other two on each side of the lower front.

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