Time for a bit of Liberia's unique history:
"In the early 19th century, the US abolitionist movement designated Liberia’s coast as the spot to resettle freed American slaves. It is said that officials of the American Colonization Society forced a treaty upon a local king at Cape Mesurado (present-day Monrovia).
And so Liberia was founded in 1847 by Black American settlers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given their own brutal past, the former slaves went on to monopolize Liberian politics for two centuries. This laid the groundwork for inequalities so deep, that they triggered the 1989-2003 civil war." (From Hala Hanna's blog: http://halahanna.com/2011/06/03/identity/)
The Americo-Liberians' (distinctive by their surnames - e.g. Jackson/ Smith...our driver Johnny is Johnny Jackson, a 34 year old Liberian man with an infectious optimism...but more on this later) monopoly was challenged by Sergeant Samuel Doe who triggered a military coup in Monrovia. Ellen Johnson, then acting as Finance Minister under Doe assisted Charles Taylor and the rebels to escape (till today, a point of controversy). Two rival rebel factions under Taylor and Prince Johnson then battled for power in Monrovia, resulting in the two civil wars. (you can Wikipedia the entire history).
...which brings me to 'fun' facts (Courtesy: Barefoot Safaris):
1. Liberia, founded in 1822 was Africa’s first independent black nation and the world’s second (after Haiti).
2. The constitution of Liberia is based on the constitution of the United States of America.
3. It was founded and colonized by freed American slaves.
4. Liberia has 16 different indigenous tribes, all with their own dialect.
5. English is the main language spoken in Liberia; however most Liberians speak ‘Liberian English’ which is a unique interpretation of standard English.
6. Liberia has 315 miles of coast line and offers some of the best and most undiscovered surfing spots in Africa