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Liberia Fast Facts

By CNN Library
updated 12:33 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014

(CNN) -- Here's a look at Liberia, a West African nation which borders the North Atlantic Ocean, and lies between Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire.

About Liberia:
(from the CIA World Factbook)
Area: 43,000 square miles (111,369 sq km); a little larger than Tennessee

Population: 4,092,310 (July 2014 est.)

Median age: 17.9 years

Capital: Monrovia (named for U.S. President James Monroe)

Ethnic Groups: Kpelle 20.3%, Bassa 13.4%, Grebo 10%, Gio 8%, Mano 7.9%, Kru 6%, Lorma 5.1%, Kissi 4.8%, Gola 4.4%, other 20.1% (2008 Census)

Religion: Christian 85.6%, Muslim 12.2%, Traditional 0.6%, other 1.6% (2008 Census)

GDP: $2.898 billion (2013 est.)

GDP per capita: $700 (2013 est.)

Unemployment: 85% (2003 est.)

Other Facts:
Independence Day is July 26.

English is the official language.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is known as Africa's "Iron Lady."

A U.N. report on Liberia's 14-year civil war (1989-2003) claims that more than 250,000 people died in the conflict and more than 1.3 million had been displaced from their homes.

Timeline:
1816-1817 - The American Colonization Society buys land in Liberia for the resettlement of freed slaves.

1822 - The first freed American slaves arrive in Liberia.

1847 - The American Colonization Society gives up control and Liberia gains its independence. Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a freed slave from Virginia, becomes the first president. For 133 years, Liberia is ruled by the True Whig Party, whose government and constitution are modeled after the United States.

1980 - Samuel Doe of the Krahn ethnic group takes power in a coup, overthrowing William Tolbert.

1989 - Charles Taylor leads a revolt that leads to Doe's execution and civil war among several factions. The country stays in a state of civil war until 2003.

1996 - The United Nations, United States, African Union and Economic Community of West African States mediate a peace deal of sorts.

1997 - Charles Taylor gains power in a special election.

July 2, 2003 - President Taylor is given an ultimatum to leave office within 48 hours.

July 20-August 11, 2003 - Liberian rebels, aided by U.S. military and U.N. peacekeepers, fight to remove Taylor from office.

August 11, 2003 - Taylor officially relinquishes his office in a ceremony at the presidential palace. Vice President Moses Blah is sworn in as Liberia's 22nd president. Taylor later leaves for Nigeria, which had offered him asylum.

August 12-18, 2003 - The primary rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), agrees to withdraw its troops from Monrovia and the nearby port, on Thursday, August 14, to a point 25 miles from the city. And it signs a comprehensive peace agreement with the Liberian government intended to end the civil war.

September 19, 2003 - U.N. Security Council Resolution 1509 establishes a peacekeeping force in Liberia.

October 14, 2003 - Gyude Bryant takes office in Liberia as the head of an interim government meant to disarm fighters and pave the way for elections in the West African country.

February 6, 2004 - At a U.N.-hosted donor conference, Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States is contributing $200 million in reconstruction and humanitarian aid to Liberia. In addition, as a U.N. member, the U.S. will pay another $245 million for U.N. peacekeeping operations.

January 6, 2006 - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf takes office as Liberia's first elected female president, promising to break the cycle of violence.

June 5, 2006 - The Liberian military announces that it will start recruiting female soldiers.

September 20, 2007 - The United Nations Security Council votes to reduce the number of peacekeeping forces (15,000 at the time) in Liberia by 2,450 troops and 498 police over the next several months.

2008 - Begins participation in a three-year Poverty Reduction Strategy program to improve the economy and get out of debt. The program ends in June 2011.

October 7, 2011 - President Johnson Sirleaf is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which she will share with Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni rights activist Tawakkul Karman. They are chosen "for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."

October 11, 2011 - Liberia's presidential election is held. Results show current President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf with 44 percent of votes and Winston Tubman with 32 percent of votes. A runoff is scheduled for November 8.

November 15, 2011 - Election officials announce that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is re-elected with 90.7 percent of the vote in the November 8 runoff.

April 26, 2012 - Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is found guilty of aiding and abetting rebels who raped, killed and mutilated civilians in neighboring Sierra Leone.

September 2012 - The United Nations passes Resolution 2066, which will reduce the number of U.N. troops to under 4,000 by 2015.

August 6, 2014 - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declares a 90-day state of emergency amid the deadly Ebola outbreak, in which more than 500 cases in Liberia have been reported.

August 19, 2014 - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declares a nationwide curfew beginning August 20 and orders two communities to be completely quarantined, with no movement in or out of the areas. More than 800 cases of Ebola have been reported in Liberia since March.

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