Settlement and Relationship with the US

Liberia has a unique history among African states and a special bond with the United States. The relationship between the two nations stretches back nearly 200 years. In 1822, the American Colonization Society established Liberia as a place to send freed African-American slaves. African-Americans gradually migrated to the colony and became known as Americo-Liberians. Hence, the country was named Liberia, which stands for "liberty". In 1847, the Americo-Liberian settlers declared the independence of the Republic of Liberia.

The Americo-Liberians established a nation that in many ways reflected the country they had left. Monrovia is named after the 5th American President James Monroe, who sent aid to the freed slaves. The flag recalls the U.S. flag with contrasting red and white stripes and a blue square in the corner with one white star.

The country's constitution and political structure were closely based on the American model. Liberia's bank note has been also modeled after the US dollar.

After the settlement by the American Colonization Society, the United States kept economic and military ties with Liberia throughout the 20th century. During the 1900s, U.S. companies exploited Liberian resources. Liberia provided much of the needed rubber as the U.S. automobile industry grew. The United States used Liberia, which was strategically located, as a staging point for supplying troops during World War II and for the prevention of communism in Africa in the 1980s. Recently, approximately 225 U.S. Marines and Navy troops intervened to stop the widespread violence in Liberia during summer of 2003. The United States has always had a great influence on Liberian culture, customs and celebrations (see the section on Liberian culture for more details).

Ethnic Tensions and Civil Wars

The Americo-Liberians regarded Africa as a "Promised Land", but they did not integrate into an African society. Once in Africa, they referred to themselves as "Americans" and were recognized as such by local Africans. The symbols of their state - its flag, slogan, and seal - and the structure of government they chose mirrored their American background and Diaspora experience. Anyway, the area was already inhabited by various indigenous ethnic groups who had occupied the region for centuries. The introduction of a new ethnic group resulted in ethnic tensions with the sixteen existing ethnicities. In 1980, the government was reversed in a military rebellion and from 1989 to 2003 Liberia witnessed two civil wars, the First Liberian Civil War (1989-1996), and the Second Liberian Civil War (1999-2003). The wars displaced hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed the country's economy. In 2006, a new administration was established with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as president. However, Liberia still copes with increasing challenges, and rebuilding has been slow.

Consequences of the War

Years of conflict have had devastating consequences for the humanitarian situation in Liberia, which is currently ranked 174 out of 175 counties by the UN World Human Development Index, which measures health and living conditions. The Liberian civil war had horrific consequences on the Liberian people. The 14-year civil conflict left more than 100,000 people dead. Mostly innocent civilians were murdered, and hundreds of thousands became refugees or displaced throughout the region. One of the tragic consequences of the Liberian-Civil war was the use of children as soldiers. An estimated 15,000 children fought in Liberia's civil war. Most of them are now vulnerable and are suffering from "drug addiction", and "post-traumatic stress syndrome". Women and girls were reported to have suffered the most: they were raped and murdered with impunity by all the fighting groups.

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