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 Past and Present of Africa's
 Oldest Republic




Cape Mesurado 1890  



The author's blog Liberian Perspectives

'Tribute to a fallen friend Stephen Byron Tarr, 1943 - 2017' by Elwood Dunn  - Updated November 4, 2017

War Crimes - Latest News:

'Dutch fugitive' Guus Kouwenhoven  / Mohammed Jabbateh a.k.a. Jungle Jabbah  / Moses Thomas /
Agnes Reeves Taylor / Martina Johnson / Alieu Kosiah / Tom Woewiyu / Chuck Taylor


Update March 16, 2018  PRESENT: George M. Weah, Liberia's 25th President




Trustee R.M. McGill 1846


National Symbols:

The flag
The seal
The anthem: text
The anthem: sound


Religion and superstition:

History  of ritutal killings in Liberia;
Ritual killings continue to be a plague.

But  not only  in Liberia.
South America 


The Author's publications
on Liberia

  • 'Liberia:  From the Love of Liberty to Paradise Lost'
    (African Studies Centre, ASC, 2015)
    Click here to order the book.
    Also available in open access: download here

    Dutch version
  • ‘Comments on Arthur Knoll's "Firestone's Liberian Investment (1922-1932)" ‘, in: Liberian Studies Journal, Vol. XIV, no. 1, 1989, pp. 118-123.
  • ‘The Open Door Policy: Past, Present and Perspectives of the Liberian concept of Foreign Investment’, in: 'Liberia. Underdevelopment and political rule in a peripheral society' (Kappel/Korte/Mascher, eds., Hamburg, 1986), pp. 150 - 191.
  • ‘The Open Door Policy of Liberia - An Economic History of Modern Liberia’, 2 volumes, 703 pp. (Bremen, 1983).
  • ‘Firestone in Liberia’ , in: 'Dependence, Underdevelopment and Persistent Conflict' (Hinzen/Kappel, eds., Bremen, 1980), pp. 199 – 266. 

Recommended  Reading


Introduction: The Pepper Coast before 1822

According to the traditions of many African tribes their ancestors were persons of small size. Although no trace of their existence was ever discovered in West Africa they are well-known to the peoples of this subregion. The Sousou in what is now Guinea call them ‘Doki’, the Ouolofs in Senegal call them ‘Kondrong’ while in Liberia they are called ‘Jinna’.

It is generally believed that before 1822 there were 16 different tribes living in what was called the ‘Pepper Coast’, ‘Grain Coast’ or ‘Malaguetta Coast’.
One of them was (...)

The Colony

About the author    contact

Click on map to zoom in on
Google map of Liberia

George M. Weah
Liberia's first democratically elected indigenous President

George M. Weah
Liberia's 25th President.

Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor Autobiography

Jewel Howard Taylor
From First Lady to Vice President.


Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 1st  elected female African President
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Liberia's 24th President
  Former Liberian President Charles Taylor (front L) sits in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court before the hearing of witnesses in his trial in The Hague January 7, 2008.
Picture from The Analyst
The Special Court for Sierra Leone: The final verdict: 50 years jail
September 26, 2013
Charles Taylor 1st African Head of State on War Crimes Tribunal
background information related to his arrest, trial and conviction.
The Truth and Reconciliation Committee
Liberia and the United Nations
Security Council Committee    established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003)
  Panel of Experts 2001 - 2013
  Resolutions 2003 - 2013
  Annual Reports 2004 - 2013
  Travel Ban List     
Last updated December 23, 2013
  Assets Freeze List
Last updated December 23, 2013

  Arms Last updated January 14, 2014
UN timber embargo lifted June 20, 2006
UN diamond embargo lifted Nov. 1, 2009
UNML (UN site)
  UNMIL (Wikipedia)
  UNMIL on Facebook
  UNMIL Radio - FM 91.5 - Monrovia
The United Nations in Liberia:
The UN is represented by UNMIL, as well as 16 agencies, funds, programs, and IMF and World Bank (also see below)


Liberia and the international donor community
Liberia and the UN

Liberia and UNDP

Liberia and UNHCR

Liberia and the FAO

Liberia and the ILO

Liberia and the WHO

Liberia and the IMF

Liberia and the World Bank

Liberia and the IFC

Liberia and the AfDB Group


UNHCR Liberia: 2013 in review

Under construction 1

Under construction 2 

Under construction 3

Under construction 4


Human Rights
Human Rights Watch

Liberia: August 17, 2016
Amnesty International USA

Liberia: February 2017
(Regularly updated)
United Nations Human Rights

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Overview 2017

US Department of State

Liberia: 2015 Human Rights Report
released April 13, 2016

US Embassy Monrovia

African Commission on Human and People's Rights (AU)

Liberia: Initial and Combined Periodic Reports, 1982 - 2012
submitted November 6, 2012

Republic of Liberia
Independent National Commission on Human Rights

INCHR Act, approved March 11, 2005

Amendment to the 2005 INCHR Act

INCHR Liberia website

INCHR Liberia facebook

INCHR Contacts

Liberia and Foreign Investments

Under construction 1
Under construction 2.
Under construction 3


Partly Sunny
The Weather in Monrovia




Publications quoted /
additional reading





The Republic
Liberia after 1847

Images of 19th century colonists ('Americo- Liberians') and the stories behind them.

Liberia in 1856 as seen by Rev. Harvey Newcomb:

Political History   

One dollar banknote Liberia 1862, signed by Vice-President Daniel Bashiel Warner.



Economic History

The original publication of the
"Open Door Policy of Liberia -
An Economic History of
Modern Liberia" (1983)
now as  pdf-file available.

The study covers the prelude,  introduction, growth and zenith of
foreign investments in Liberia.
After the Doe Administration (1980 - 1990) and two civil wars (1989 - 1997; 1999 - 2003) Liberia had to start from scratch. To make things worse, in 2014 the country was struck by the Ebola epidemic, which devastated an already weak public health system.
The lessons of the past should not be forgotten.
  • Volume 1 (460 pp.)
    Chapter 1: The Pepper Coast Before 1847
    Chapter 2: The origin of the Closed Door and Open Door Policies 1847 - 1947
    Chapter 3-10: Agriculture, Mining, Forestry (Firestone, Lamco etc.)
    Chapter 10-13: Analysis of impact (Fiscal contribution, transfer of technology, transport and communication)
    Chapter 13: The change from a subsistence economy into a developing economy 1900 - 1979
    Chapter 14: Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Volume 2  (234 pp.)
    (Annexes, Bibliography, Footnotes, Index)

Buy the book:


Foreign investments:

The subsistence economy:

President Tubman and Queen Juliana during a State visit to the Netherlands in 1956.

International Relations
Liberia and the Netherlands:

  • A Dutch account of the Pepper Coast
    in the 17th c.


  • Relations between Liberia and the Netherlands

  • Visit of His Royal Highness Prince Bernard of the Netherlands to Liberia in 1958 (Dutch language spoken)
    vidcamera001.gif (233 bytes)

  • In 2000, the United Nations reported that Guus Kouwenhoven, a Dutch businessman, belonged to then President Charles Taylor's 'inner circle'. Guus Kouwenhoven - in Liberia known as 'Mr Gus' - is accused of illegal arms trading and war crimes in Liberia during the country's civil war. He was arrested in the Netherlands in 2005, convicted (2006), acquitted (2008), acquittal overturned (2010). In February 2017 his trial re-opened in the Netherlands.

    On April 21, 2017 the Appeal Court found him guilty and sentenced him to 19 years in prison. The court ordered his immediate arrest. Guus Kouwenhoven, 75, did not attend his trial and awaited the outcome of his trial in South Africa.

    Interpol South Africa arrested Kouwenhoven in Cape Town, South Africa, on December 8, 2017. The Dutch authorities want him extradited.

    On December 19, 2017 Magistrate Vusi Mhlanga of the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court granted the fugitive Dutch war criminal release on bail, under strict conditions.

    In a reaction, State Advocate Dave Damerell said that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRC) had received a new extradition request from the Dutch authorities. The case was postponed until January 12, 2018. On that day,  Kouwenhoven briefly appeared in court. The magistrate again decided to postpone the case till February 27, 2018.

    To the surprise of many, on Febr. 27 the magistrate again (!) decided to postpone the case as Justice Minister Michael Masutha had yet to sign the extradition order requested by the Dutch, Cape Town Magistrate Court was told. No reason for the delay was given. The case was postponed till April 20, 2018. The Kouwenhoven saga continues... meanwhile the convicted war criminal is allowed to stay in his US$ 8 million mansion in Fresnay, Cape Town, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

    Read more here

Colony of Liberia coin issued 1833 American Colonization Society




Monetary development 

The decision of President Edwin Barclay (1930-1944) to adopt the US dollar as the sole legal tender in Liberia as from December 31, 1943 very clearly symbolizes the political orientation of the first African Republic as well as it's financial and economic dependence. (more)


1743 map by Professor Johann Matthias Haas (or Hasias), Heirs of Homann
The Colony of Maryland
(1831-41) became Maryland in Liberia (1841-57) which was admitted into the Republic of Liberia on February 28, 1857, ten years after the creation of the first African republic.

Maps Liberia

Colony of Liberia

Maryland in Liberia


Republic of Liberia




Territorial Changes and Urban Growth

8½" solid brass ring known as 'waterspirit' or 'nitien', sometimes called Kru money. Weighs nearly 9 lbs.
Collected 1975 near Tchien, Grand Gedeh County




Ritual object or 'Kru money'? 
The origin of these objects is not known with certainty. They were used among the Kru and the Grebo in southeastern Liberia. They call them 'Dwin', 'tien' or 'nitien', meaning water spirits, or 'Gods of water'. (more)

Liberian Music

Songs of the African Coast: Liberian Café Music

ARTHUR ALBERTS: Songs of the African Coast: Cafe Music of LiberiaArthur Alberts recorded music throughout Africa and in 1950 released the landmark 78 rpm set "Tribal, Folk and Cafe Music of West Africa". The music on this release included a mix of genres as well as detailed notes by leading academics. The recording showed the intricate connections between African and American music. Read more on the website of and listen to all the tracks.

"President Tubman" by Ali Ganda and the Sierra Leone Crackers Band.

Tubman Goodtype Songs of Liberia by
Congress-Woman Malinda Jackson Parker
More sounds from Liberia


More sites on Liberia

 19th century scenery at the Kru coast    


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