As of the 2008 national census, Liberia was home to 3,476,608 people. Of those, 1,118,241 lived in Montserrado County, the most populous county in the country and home to the capital of Monrovia, with the Greater Monrovia district home to 970,824 people. Nimba County is the next most populous county with 462,026 residents. As revealed in the 2008 census, Monrovia is more than four times more populous than all the county headquarters combined. Prior to the 2008 census, the last census had been held in 1984 and listed the country's population as 2,101,628. The population of Liberia was 1,016,443 in 1962 and increased to 1,503,368 in 1974. As of 2006, Liberia has the highest population growth rate in the world (4.50% per annum). Similar to its neighbors, it has a large youth population, with half of the population under the age of 18.
The population includes 16 indigenous ethnic groups and various foreign minorities. Indigenous peoples comprise about 95% of the population, the largest of which are the Kpelle in central and western Liberia. Americo-Liberians, who are descendants of African-American settlers, make up 2.5%, and Congo people, descendants of repatriated Congo and Afro-Caribbean slaves who arrived in 1825, make up an estimated 2.5%. There is also a sizable number of Lebanese, Indians, and other West African nationals who make up a significant part of Liberia's business community. A small minority of Liberians of European descent reside in the country. The Liberian constitution restricts citizenship to only people of black African descent.
31 indigenous languages are spoken within Liberia, none of which are a first language to more than a small percentage of the population. English is the official language and serves as the lingua franca of the country. Liberians speak a variety of dialects collectively known as Liberian English.
Liberia is divided into 15 counties, which are subdivided into districts, and further subdivided into clans. The oldest counties are Grand Bassa and Montserrado, both founded in 1839 prior to Liberian independence. Gbarpolu is the newest county, created in 2001. Nimba is the largest of the counties in size at 4,460 square miles, while Montserrado is the smallest at 737 square miles. Montserrado is also the most populous county with 1,144,806 residents as of the 2008 census.
Historically, the Liberian economy has depended heavily on foreign aid, foreign direct investment and exports of natural resources such as iron ore, rubber and timber. Following a peak in growth in 1979, the Liberian economy began a steady decline due to economic mismanagement following the 1980 coup. This decline was accelerated by the outbreak of civil war in 1989; GDP was reduced by an estimated 90% between 1989 and 1995, one of the fastest declines in history.
Liberia - Did You Know?
80% Unemployement Rate
AVG Earnings: >$1.00/day
Size: 43,000 sq mi
Population: < 3.7mil
Over 16 indigenous ethic groups
Official Language: English
July 26th is National Liberia Day