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Holidays in Liberia

Understanding Liberia

Liberia is a country with historical ties to the United States It was founded by freed black slaves during the pre-Civil War antebellum era of the nineteenth century The capital, Monrovia, was named after James Monroe Liberia's flag closely resembles the American flag, reflecting the historical ties between the two countries


Anthropological research shows the region of Liberia was inhabited at least as far back as the 12th century, perhaps earlier Between 1461 and late 17th century, Portuguese, Dutch and British traders had contacts and trading posts in Liberia The Portuguese had named the area Costa da Pimenta, later translated as Grain Coast, because of the abundance of grains of melegueta pepper

In 1822, the American Colonization Society which was the primary vehicle for returning black Americans to greater freedom in Africa, established Liberia as a place to send people who were formerly enslaved This movement of black people by the ACS had broad support nationwide among white people in America While the institution of slavery in America grew, reaching almost four million slaves by the mid 1800's, a growing population in the US chose to emigrate to Liberia as well African-Americans gradually migrated to the colony and became known as Americo-Liberians, from whom many present day Liberians trace their ancestry On July 26, 1847, Americo-Liberian settlers declared independence of the Republic of Liberia

Liberia retained its independence during the Scramble for Africa, but lost its claim to extensive territories that were annexed by Britain and France Economic development was hindered by the decline of markets for Liberian goods in the late 19th century and by indebtedness on a series of loans, payments on which drained the economy

On April 12, 1980, a successful military coup was staged by a group of noncommissioned army officers led by Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe The soldiers were a mixture of the various ethnic groups that claimed marginalization at the hands of the minority Americo-Liberian settlers In late 1989, the First Liberian Civil War began and the country was in state of war to varying degrees until 2003 Liberia is recovering from a devastating civil war that ended with a ceasefire in August 2003

While the country is now on the mend, it has not yet redeveloped the necessary infrastructure to sustain a large increase in tourism, with little for the average visitor outside Monrovia Towns like Buchanan, Ganta etc are little more than a collection of shanty houses with no decent hotels or food Monrovia in general is calmer than the more far-flung areas although the situation coutrywide is improving with the presence of UN Peacekeepers Fear should not stop you enjoying your visit but act with caution Travel outside Monrovia is very difficult and not advisable on your own


The equatorial climate is hot year-round with heavy rainfall from May to October with a short interlude in mid-July to August During the winter months of November to March dry dust-laden harmattan winds blow inland causing many problems for residents

Talking in Liberia

English is spoken by most Liberians but especially if you are travelling to more remote areas, a local guide will be useful

What to see in Liberia

  • 'Blo Degbo' Human face rock in Paynesville, near Monrovia Note: this is not a developed tourist destination, so make sure it is a safe place to visit
  • Rain forests are usually found in remote areas, most are unique and have many attractive feautures,but on the other hand some are risky because of their wildlife

There are plenty of beaches around Monrovia Out towards the airport after ELWA junction is ELWA beach, set inside a compound there is a marked safe swimming area, clean beach and plenty of familes at the weekends No facilites though Further on is Thinkers pronounced Tinkers with a food and drinks service, though the waves are a bit rough here, and it is not safe to walk up or down the beach too far CE CE beach out the other way, over the bridge out to Hotel Africa is very well set up with palm umbrellas, drinks service and a buffet, and a well protectd swimming area

For an interesting day trip, Robertsport offers a glimpse of Liberia's cultural history as well as clean, beautiful beaches A group of South Africans has set up a tent camp for those wishing to spend the night on the beach and the UN also offers accommodations on a first-come basis Beware the strong tides

The city of Buchanan, a several hour car ride from Monrovia, also offers sublime beaches and a selection of restaurants and guest houses

Buying stuff in Liberia

Liberia is well-known for its beautiful masks Masks are on sale around hotels and UN centres After haggling, they will cost you about $25 depending on the size etc

There is beautiful printed fabric in Liberia It is sold in lapas usually 3, a lapa is rougly equivalent to 2 yards 3 lapas of the best quality, real wax, will cost about $15

Money & Banking

No bank transfers are possible to Liberia at this point, and there is no way to use credit cards Bring US dollars in cash with you most transactions are done in USD or transfer money through Moneygram or Western Union Ecobank on Randall Street is used by many foreigners You can cash travellers cheques, although you need proof of purchase-paper If someone gives you Liberian Dollars in change, accept it because it will be useful to have some on hand for very small purchases, but once you have a little, be sure to get dollars back except when your change is less than a dollar, they use local currency in lieu of coins

There are a few ATM's being installed in the city, but they have restricted hours, only work for Liberian bank accounts ie can't draw from your bank account back home if home is not Liberia and often do not work As of May 2009, there is no way to access non-African bank accounts for the purpose of withdrawing cash

As of May, 2009, there is an Ecobank ATM inside the Cape Hotel in Mamba Point that accepts Visa ATM cards, so you can now withdraw money directly from your account in your home country


Liberia is a very expensive country for a tourist There are no cheap and safe alternatives Expect to pay what you would in NY or even more There are now several ATMs in central Monrovia that issue US dollars for VISA card holders

Food and eating in Liberia

Eating Liberian food can be enjoyable and easy on the pocketbook Liberian meals like palm butter, casava leaf, potato greens, chock rice, and jollof's rice will barely leave a dint in your budget US$2-3 with a soda Portions are usually enormous Another popular local dish is fufu fermented dough made from the casava plant and soup the most common are goat soup and pepper soup Fried or roasted fish, especially snapper, can be delicious And for those who like to eat on the go, fruit and snacks can be bought from street vendors throughout Monrovia Peanuts, fried plantain chips, roasted ears of corn or plantains, bananas, mangos, and other fruits can be had for LD$5-20 or US$010-030 Especially delicious are the various breads sold freshly baked in the morning Some breads resemble banana bread, other breads are more like corn bread All are delicious although somewhat oily

Drinking in Liberia

Club beer is the staple drink, served everywhere Local gin is also available

Accommodation in Liberia

Usually hotels are considered quite safe as the owners will employ guards However, don't be complacent and make sure that you are aware of your security also in the hotels

Working in Liberia

Almost every international NGO operates in Liberia It is very possible to find voluntary unpaid work here, if you are willing to stay for a bit Paid work is almost exclusive through international organisations Most of these organisations require foreign staff to be recruited abroad, so it is unlikely that you would be hired just because you managed to make it to Liberia

Liberia has very high rates of unemployment If you are in the country for longer, try to encourage local production and employment by buying local goods and paying for services

Cities in Liberia

bensonville  buchanan  ganta  gbarnga  harper  monrovia  robertsport  tubmanburg  yekepa  zwedru  

What do you think about Liberia?

How expensive is Liberia?
Meal in inexpensive restaurant5.51 USD
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)32.16 USD
McDonalds meal8.25 USD
Local beer (0.5 draft)2.76 USD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 2.76 USD
Cappuccino3.06 USD
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)2.22 USD
Water (0.33 bottle)1.38 USD
Milk (1l)2.2 USD
Fresh bread (500g)1.86 USD
White Rice (1kg)1.38 USD
Eggs (12) 2.77 USD
Local Cheese (1kg) 22.06 USD
Chicken Breast (1kg) 11.09 USD
Apples (1kg) 4.42 USD
Oranges (1kg) 3.32 USD
Tomato (1kg) 5.55 USD
Potato (1kg) 1.94 USD
Lettuce (1 head) 0.74 USD
Water (1.5l)2.21 USD
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 9.99 USD
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)1.67 USD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 1.49 USD
Cigarettes1.1 USD
Taxi 1km1.5 USD
Gasoline (1 liter) 2.13 USD
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 11.02 USD
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 1049.75 USD, your travel companion

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