Liberia is a nation that, until 2003, was beset by long-running and fierce civil war. Approximately 250,000 people were killed in the civil war and the country was left devastated economically and replete with weaponry that often fell into the hands of unscrupulous individuals. Knowledge of this conflict is important for expatriates thinking of relocating there.
Liberia is home to around 4 million people in 2014, the population comprised of 16 indigenous ethnic groups. The largest of these is the Kpelle group that makes up 20.3% of the population, and the second largest, the Bassa people who make up 13.4% of the population. A significant number of Lebanese, Indians and other West African nationals are also present in the form of Liberia’s business community.
The official language of Liberia is English, and indeed, this language serves as the lingua franca of the nation. Another thirty-one indigenous languages are also spoken in Liberia, as well as dialects of English collectively called Liberian English.
The 2008 Liberian Census found that 85.5% of the population is practicing Christians, while Muslims comprise 12.2% of the population; the majority of the latter are from the Mandingo and Vai ethnic groupings. A minority of Liberian people practices a variety of other religions, indigenous or otherwise.
Liberia experiences a typical equatorial climate meaning that it is hot all year-round and has a rainy season between the months of May to October, notwithstanding a brief hiatus between mid-July and August. Most precipitation occurs in Cape Mount that is geographically continuous to the border with Sierra Leone.
To visit Liberia, all expats are required to have a visa, unless they are citizens of ECOWAS countries or South Korea. Visas can be obtained from Liberian embassies and consulates, and come in two types; Single Entry visa up to 3 months, and Multiple Journey, which is valid for one or two years, although US citizens can also get a three year visa. The cost of the visa differs based on the validity period and your nationality.
A proof of vaccination against yellow fever and a health insurance for the duration of the stay are requirements for all visas. For the long stay visas an invitation letter or proof of sponsorship is also needed. The processing times for visas are usually between five to seven business days, with some embassies offering the possibility to rush the visas in one or two days for an extra fee.