Politics and Economy of Liberia

State structure and political system of Liberia

Liberia is a republic. The Constitution is in force in 1986 (as amended in 1988).
Administratively, Liberia is divided into 15 counties: Bo-mi, Bong, Gparbolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, River Kess, River Gii, Sino. The largest cities are Monrovia, Buchanan, Greenville, Ganta, Grand Sess, Duabo, Kakata, Ma-no-River, Marshall, Njebele, Robertsport, Sag-leipie, Tappita, Harper, Chien. The government of Liberia is carried out by three branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial. The highest legislative body is the bicameral National Assembly, which consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The supreme body of executive power is the president, who is the head of state and head of government, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces. Government ministers are appointed by the President and then confirmed by the Senate. Check cancermatters for political system of Liberia.

The President is elected by popular vote for a term of 6 years. The Senate (26 members) is elected by popular vote for a term of 9 years, the House of Representatives (64 deputies) – for a term of 6 years.

Prominent political leaders of Liberia include:

William Wakanarat Shadrach Tubman – President of Liberia (1944-71), reformer, initiator of the “unification policy” aimed at uniting Americo-Liberians and the country’s indigenous people into one people – Liberians, the conductor of the “open door” policy that encouraged the inflow of foreign investment, champion the active inclusion of Liberia in the Commonwealth of African Peoples;

William R. Tolbert – President of Liberia (1971-80), initiator of a number of development programs, incl. “self-reliance”, liberalization of the economy, reduction of dependence on foreign aid.

There is a multi-party system. In addition to the ruling National Patriot Party, which has 21 seats in the Senate and 49 in the House of Representatives, the All-Liberian Coalition Party, the Liberian National Union, the People’s Party of Liberia, the National Democratic Party of Liberia, the People’s Democratic Party of Liberia, the True Whig Party, the Party unity, the United People’s Party and a number of other parties.

Trade unions are united in the Liberian Federation of Trade Unions.

The strength of the Armed Forces is 14,000 soldiers and officers (1999).

Liberia has diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation (established with the USSR on January 11, 1956).

Economy of Liberia

Liberia is an underdeveloped country with an agrarian and raw material specialization, which occupies one of the leading places in the world in the production and export of natural rubber and iron ore. A significant source of income for the country is the provision of a “flag of convenience” to foreign ships. The economy is dominated by foreign capital. The industrial infrastructure was undermined by the civil war of 1989–96, which predetermined the outflow of foreign capital from the country.

GDP 3.6 billion USD, i.e. OK. $1,100 per capita (2001). However, ok. 80% of the population is below the poverty line. The GDP growth rate of 5%, inflation of 8% (2001) testify to the post-war revival of the country’s economy.

In the sectoral structure of the economy, agriculture accounts for 60% of GDP (2001) and the vast majority of the economically active population – 70% (2000) is employed in agricultural production. For industry, these figures are 10 and 8%, respectively, for the service sector – 30 and 22%.

Liberia’s agriculture has been hard hit by the fighting, with a sharp decline in food crops, especially rice and cassava, leaving the population dependent on food imports, especially cereals. The war also undermined the production of commercial (export) crops: rubber, cocoa, coffee, oil palm products. Along with the outflow of the capital of foreign companies from the country, there is a redistribution of their investments in the production of export crops, as well as the overflow of foreign capital into the extraction of iron ore, diamonds, etc. Nevertheless, the American company Firestone, despite the sale in con. 1980s of its Liberian rubber operation of the Japanese company, continues to occupy a prominent position in the industry, retaining control of the hevea plantations.

Due to the spread of the tsetse fly, animal husbandry is poorly developed – the herd is represented by a small number of cattle, goats and sheep, as well as pigs.

The mining industries associated with the production of iron ore and diamonds are developed. However, the future of the industry depends on the stabilization of the political situation in the country.

The main type of transport is automobile, the length of roads is 10.6 thousand km, incl. 657 km of paved roads and 9943 km of unpaved roads (1996).

The total length of railways is 490 km, incl. 328 km with one track. 345 km have standard (1435 mm) and 145 km – narrow (1067 mm) gauge (2001).

Liberia has ports in Monrovia, Buchan, Greenville, Harper. In 2002, the country’s merchant fleet consisted of 1,513 ships with a displacement of 1,000 tons or more, incl. 1,425 foreign ships using the Liberian flag as “convenient”, incl. from Germany – 437, from Greece – 154, from the USA – 113, from Norway – 103, from Japan – 90, from Russia – 66, from Monaco – 56. The total displacement of the fleet is 51,912.2 thousand tons.

There are 47 airfields in the country, two of them have a paved runway (2001).

There are 7 ultra-shortwave and 2 shortwave radio stations, a television station and 4 low-power repeaters (2001), 790 thousand radio receivers and 70 thousand TV sets are in use (1997), there are 6.7 thousand telephone lines (2000), 2 Internet providers (2001) and 500 Internet Users (2000).

Liberia operates approx. 10 banks. At the head of the banking system is the Central Bank of Liberia. Liberia’s external debt is $3.5 billion (2003).

The state budget was (2000): revenues 85.4 million, expenditures 90.5 million US dollars.

Foreign trade is of the utmost importance to Liberia. Through its channels, in exchange for rubber, valuable wood, iron ore, diamonds, cocoa and coffee, the country receives machinery, equipment and vehicles, fuel, manufactured goods, food, primarily rice.

Science and culture of Liberia

38.3% of adult Liberians can read and write, incl. 53.9% male and 22.4% female (1995 est.). There are three institutions of higher education in Liberia: the State University of Liberia, the Anglican Cuttington University College and the Catholic College of Our Lady of Fatima.

Politics of Liberia