Thursday, April 11, 2013

The origins of Liberia

Liberia was one of the few African territories to remain free of the European imperialism after Berlin Conference. The name of the country means "land of the free" and it was founded by freed African slaves from the USA in 1820. The promoters of the resettlement of former slaves in Africa were the members of the American Colonization Society, an organization of white clergymen, abolitionists and slave owners. The name of its capital city, Monrovia, comes from James Monroe, the president of the USA in the early 1820s, when the resettlement of freed slaves started. 

File:Coat of arms of Liberia.svg
Liberia's coat of arms

In 1847 Liberia proclaimed its independence and became a republic. By the end of the American Civil War (1861-1865) around10,000 former slaves had settled down in Liberia. But the former slaves. But the former slaves took advantage of the situation to submit the indigenous Africans, black like them, but considered to be inferior. For example, the indigenous Africans who lived in Liberia were excluded from citizenship until 1904 and were also exploited by the Americo-Liberian elite, who monopolized political and economic power and restricted the indigenuos people´s rigth to vote.

The Liberian political system drew inspiration from the USA Constitution, but there was one only party, the True Whig Party, founded in 1869. This party held power until 1980, when a coup d' État removed them from power. A period of ethnic tensions and wars started:  two civil wars (1990-1996 and 1999-2003) with around 250,000 people killed. and one million refugees. In 2005 Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was elected Africa's first female president and started the difficult reconstruction of the country. 

If you want to learn more about Liberia, here you have some extra links:

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