Bordered bySierra Leone,Guinea,Côte d’Ivoireand the Atlantic Ocean, the West African country ofLiberia- once a settlement for freed slaves from theUS- is still recovering economically and socially after years of civil war and political instability. It is Africa’s oldest republic and exports materials like iron ore and rubber as well as natural resources like timber.
POPULATION: 3,9 million
CAPITAL CITY: Monrovia
CURRENCY: Liberian Dollar
CLIMATE: Liberia is generally hot all year round, with an average temperature of about 21 degrees Celsius. There is only a slight variation between day and night and between seasons, but the temperature never exceeds 37 degrees Celsius. The wet season runs from May to October and the dry from November to April. However, there are dry periods during the rainy season usually in July or August, lasting about two weeks. During the winter months of November to March, dry, dust-laden winds blow inland.CapeMount usually receives the most rain.
VISAS: South African passport holders are required to obtain a visa to enterLiberia. Single-entry visas, valid for ten to 30 days, cost R600, while multiple-entry visas, valid for three months, cost R1 200. Processing time for visas is normally two to three working days.
BUSINESS HOTELS: There are a few hotels that are suited to the needs of business travellers. The country’s capital,Monrovia, offers a range of business hotels and guest houses. The Royal Hotel offers luxury accommodation, while the Urban Hotel is only 10 minutes from the city centre and offers free Internet access in its rooms. Many of the hotels inLiberia are not well maintained, so travellers should be careful when booking.
BUSINESS RESTAURANTS: The Liberian capital ofMonrovia features a number of restaurants, catering to every taste. The Royal Hotel’s Living Room Restaurant serves popular western dishes, including sushi, while restaurants like La Point, Mama Sheriff and Evelyn’s serve West African cuisine. Most hotels and restaurants serve a variety of American, European, Asian, Lebanese and African dishes. The smaller towns are where travellers can sample more traditional Liberian fare including goat soup, cabbage cooked with bacon and pig fat, palm nuts with shrimps and rice bread made with mashed bananas. All are usually served with rice. Imported wines and beverages are available, butLiberia produces its own alcoholic drinks. Ginger beer and palm wine are also popular.
LEISURE ACTIVITIES: Monrovia is the hive of activity inLiberia, offering various activities and places of interest. There are several nightclubs, restaurants and bars, mainly centred aroundGurley Street. During the day, tourists can spend some time on one of the sandy beaches nearby or visit theSapoNational Park. The beaches, which include Bernard’s Beach, Caesar’s Beach,ElwaBeach andSugarBeach, all charge a small entrance fee.LakePiso is ideal for fishing and water sports.Monrovia has a private golf club. The capital’s side streets are crowded with tailors waiting to transform brightly coloured tie-dyed material into African or European clothes. There are also a number of elegant boutiques and shops as well as modern, air-conditioned supermarkets. Shopping hours are Monday to Saturday, 08h00 to 13h00 and 15h00 to 18h00.
AIRLINES: Liberia no longer has a national carrier, but other airlines that operate flights into Monrovia are Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Royal Air Maroc.
AIRPORTS: The only airport inLiberia allowing for international flights is Roberts International, which is about 60 km fromMonrovia.SpriggsPayneAirport is sometimes used for internal flights.
GETTING AROUND: Other than taxis, which can be unreliable at times, there is no public transport available. Travellers can hire a car or chauffeured car inMonrovia. There are 60 airfields for small aircraft, and tourists can also make use of the passenger service that travels via water between the ports inMonrovia and Buchanan. There is also a boat service which runs between Harper andGreenville.
LANGUAGE: The official language is English, but the main local languages include Bassa, Dan, Kpelleh, Kru, Lorma and Mano.
TRIBES: Liberia comprises a number of ethnic groups including Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Grebo, Mano, Krahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma, Kissi, Vai, Dei, Bella, Madingo and Mende. A small percentage of the population is made up of Americo-Liberians and Congo People, who are descendants of the freed slaves from theUS and Caribbean.
CONNECTIVITY: International roaming is available through Vodacom, MTN and Cell C. Internet access is available at selected hotels.
HEALTH: Travellers need to have their yellow fever vaccinations before travelling toLiberia and will be required to present the certificate on arrival. Vaccinations against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and typhoid fever are also recommended. Travellers should also take anti-malaria medication, use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants to prevent being bitten. Only bottled water should be consumed and tourists should be wary of buying food from street vendors. Diarrhoea medicine should also be taken.
CONTACTS: Embassy of theRepublic ofLiberia,Schoeman Street, Hatfield,Pretoria,South Africa. +27(0)12 342 2733