According to COUNTRYAAH, Liberia’s economy is largely focused on primary production and is therefore greatly affected by variations in world market prices. however, growth of about 1.5 percent per year. The civil war of 1989-96 led to a sharp decline, especially in the period 1990-94. After a substantial recovery period in the second half of the 1990s, growth declined again after the outbreak of the war in 1999. Since 2004, Liberia has again shown an annual growth of 5-10 percent.
The country is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Mano River Union, both of which are striving for increased regional economic cooperation. The civil war meant a significant destruction of the country’s economic infrastructure, not least around the capital Monrovia. However, depreciation of central government debt and large investments from abroad in recent years have improved the country’s economic conditions.
Agriculture and fishing
The agricultural sector employs most of the working population. Natural rubber, coffee and cocoa are the most important crops, rice and cassava are the most important food crops. However, Liberia is not self-sufficient in food and is forced to import food.
In addition to agriculture, fishing is important for the livelihood of the population.
Liberia has large forest reserves, comprising about 3 million ha. Harvesting for exports has increased since the 1960s, but after uncontrolled harvesting during the civil war in 2003, the UN Security Council banned the export of timber from Liberia, a ban that was lifted in 2006. Still, a large part of the harvested forest is used as firewood and it is still relatively common the sweat industry destroys large areas annually.
In 1951, the first iron ore mine was opened at Bomi Hills, and since then the mineral sector has been important to Liberia’s economy. During the 1960s, iron ore replaced rubber as the most important export commodity, and during the 1970s Liberia was one of the world’s largest iron ore exporters. However, the decline in international demand for iron ore during the 1980s had a very negative impact on production and export revenue. Liberia’s largest iron ore deposit, on the Mano River on the border with Sierra Leone, began to be utilized in 1961. The deposit includes more than 1,000 million tonnes of ore, of which 235 million tonnes are estimated to be high-grade ore. Further iron ore deposits are found at Nimba by the Lamco consortium and in the Bong Mountains, both of which began to be used in the 1960s. However, the iron ore mining was stopped by the civil war,
In Liberia there are also diamonds, discovered in 1957 on the river Lofa, and gold, which is mined in the area around the town of Tchien (Zwedru). Diamonds and gold were the only minerals mined to a greater extent during the civil war. Due to extensive smuggling, the United Nations Security Council banned diamond exports from Liberia in 2001, but since the ban was lifted in 2007, exports have resumed. There are also deposits of bauxite, copper, lead, manganese, tin and zinc. Economically interesting deposits of the mineral barite have also been discovered near Kakata.
Wood and charcoal are the most important energy source for the majority of the population; oil and electricity account for only a small proportion. Before the civil war, water accounted for just over a third of the electricity, but production ceased almost entirely during the war. At the end of the war in 2003, the electricity grid and the power plants were so poorly accessed that no electricity could be produced at all. Parts of the capital Monrovia have now regained their electricity supply through foreign aid, but electricity generation is still very small. The country’s largest hydropower plant, Mount Coffee in the Saint Paul River, has not been fully operational since 1990.
- According to AllCityPopulation, the capital city of Liberia is Monrovia with a population of 1.3 million residents (2015 estimate). Other major cities include Buchanan, Gbarnga, Zwedru.
The industrial sector is dominated by smaller manufacturing companies, such as small mechanical workshops, sawmills and repair workshops. Industrial companies are largely concentrated in the capital Monrovia, although most of these were destroyed during the war. The sector is characterized by a large import dependency: more than 95 per cent of the raw materials are imported into industry.
Liberia had surpluses in its trade balance during the 1980s. Exports are dominated by primary products from the mineral and agricultural sectors. With the exception of smuggling of diamonds and gold, foreign trade basically ceased completely during the civil war. For a few years, the UN banned the export of both diamonds and timber, but these have been lifted. Rubber is also expected to be an important part of resumed exports. Imports are a significant part of fuel, chemicals, machinery and food. Dominant trading partners for imports are Singapore, China and South Korea and for exports Germany, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.