1. Liberia is Africa’s oldest independent republic

The American Colonization Society founded Liberia as a haven for freed slaves who wanted to return to Africa. Around 10,000 men, women and children made their way across the Atlantic between 1821 and 1847; the year Liberia declared independence. This makes it the continent’s oldest republic. The original name of Liberia’s capital, Christianopolis, changed to Monrovia after US president James Monroe. He was a supporter of the American Colonization Society’s cause: to allow free African-Americans to return to Africa as an alternative to emancipation in the US.

  1. Liberia’s first president was a freed slave

Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a freed slave from Virginia, became the country’s first president in 1847. He served until 1856. Later, he became Liberia’s seventh president (1872 to 1876). Upon his death, less than two months after his second presidential stint, Roberts left $10,000 and his estate to his country’s educational system. Liberia’s main airport, Roberts International Airport, and various other landmarks are named him.

  1. Liberia gave Africa its first female president

In 2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became Liberia’s 24th president and Africa’s first female head of state. She served until 2018. In 2011, Johnson Sirleaf won the Nobel Peace Prize together with fellow countrywoman Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman from Yemen. The trio received the shared prize for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.

  1. Liberia has a huge unexplored iron ore potential

Besides gold and diamonds, Liberia has a large iron ore potential: approximately 65% of the country is underlain by Archean rocks. This is a key source of iron ore. Liberia, at the moment, has the 22nd-highest iron ore production in the world (5,103 thousand tonnes).

Approximately 65% of Liberia is underlain by Archean rocks. This is a key source of iron ore
  1. Children were at the heart of Liberia’s civil war

Like in Sierra Leone, diamonds played a huge rol in Liberia’s civil war, which killed around 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003. Thousands more are mutilated and raped by rebels headed by Charles Taylor, who recruited thousands of children as soldiers. It is estimated that more than 38,000 children were forced to take part in the war as fighters, porters, ammunition carriers, cooks, and sex slaves. In 2012, Taylor was found guilty of war crimes including rape, murder, and sexual slavery and convicted to a 50-year jail sentence.

See also: 5 things you didn’t know about Sierra Leone