Liberia Demography and Economic Geography

Liberia Demography and Economic Geography

West African state. With a growth rate of 3.8% per year (2005-10 period) and 2.6% per year (2010-15) and a low life expectancy (60.6 years, 2013), the population (3,476.608 residents at the 2008 census; 4.396.873 residents in 2014, according to an estimate by UNDESA, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs), 49% urban, is concentrated above all in the agglomeration of the capital Monrovia (1,021,762 residents at the 2008 census; 1,224,000 residents in 2014, according to an estimate by UNDESA). In the ten years that have passed since the end of the second civil war that affected the country (1999-2003), living conditions have generally improved (literacy from 43% to 48%; access to water from 65% to 75%; GDP) per capita with purchasing power parity, PPA, from 473 $ to 901 in 2014), but Liberia remains among the last 15 countries in the world for human development index (175th place).

In this context, the Ebola epidemic (which started from Guinea in February 2014), which caused the infection of 7,719 people and the death of 3,177 (data from WHO, World Health Organization, December 2014), risks having socio-economic consequences dramatic for a country where 82% of people live in a state of poverty, there are about 53,000 refugees from the Ivory Coast, AIDS / HIV (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome / Human Immunodeficiency Virus) affects 1% of the population. The World Bank estimates that currently, due to the epidemic and the measures taken to contain the spread of the virus, half of Liberian workers are unable to carry out normal activities (especially in the public sector), affecting sectors that in recent years fueled 10-11% economic growth: investments in infrastructure and public works; recovery and expansion of mining activities (iron, 1,300,000 t; diamonds, 41,900 carats; 2011); resumption of rubber production (14th world producer in 2011 with 63,000 t) and timber. More limited are the consequences on agriculture, which remains the main economic sector both in terms of workforce and GDP. Stability and security, including food security, are also at risk.

History. – According to indexdotcom, the arrest of former President Charles Taylor in Nigeria, his extradition, first to Sierra Leone (March 2006) and then to the Netherlands (June), to be tried by the International Criminal Court (allegedly sentenced in 2012) , the establishment of a Commission for truth and reconciliation (February 2006), on the model of the South African one, the suspension of the embargo on the export of wood (June 2006) and diamonds (April 2007) seemed to open the first chinks towards some normalization and in the direction of a possible economic recovery of the country. The UN also, in December 2007, made available to Monrovia a fund of 15 million dollars to support the process of democratization and national reconciliation.

In October 2011, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf received the Nobel Peace Prize, amid much controversy over the support she had admitted and publicly apologized for initially given to Taylor. The Nobel Prize was awarded in conjunction with the legislative and presidential elections, held in October-November, and won by Johnson-Sirleaf in the second round, but boycotted by her rival, Winston Tubman. Despite the undoubted progress achieved in the economic field and in the fight against endemic corruption, Liberia remained one of the poorest countries in the world, with a structure still heavily dependent on international aid. Starting from the spring of 2014, an already so fragile reality was severely tested by the spread of the Ebola virus (v. pandemics), which resulted in over 4,800 deaths. On 9 May 2015, the country was declared free from the epidemic by the World Health Organization, although new cases (three were registered in the following month of July) could not be excluded given the particularly critical regional situation. In foreign policy, Liberia established a privileged relationship with the United States, as witnessed by the visits in February 2008 by George W. Bush and in August 2009 by the new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but it started a solid collaboration with China which became a few years the main donor country.

Liberia Demography