Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West African coast. Liberia means "Land of the Free" in Latin. It is bordered by British Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea-Conakry to its north and Ivory Coast to its east. It covers an area of 111,369 square kilometres (43,000 sq mi) and is home to 4,128,572 people. English is the official language and over 20 indigenous languages are spoken, representing the numerous tribes who make up most of the population.
Forests on the coastline are composed mostly of salt-tolerant mangrove trees while the more sparsely populated inland has forests opening onto a plateau of drier grasslands. The climate is equatorial, with significant rainfall during the May–October rainy season and harsh harmattan winds the remainder of the year. Liberia possesses about forty percent of the remaining Upper Guinean rainforest. It was an important producer of rubber in the early 20th century.
The Republic of Liberia, formerly a colony of the American Colonization Society (ACS), declared its independence on July 26, 1847. It was established and founded as a homeland for freed African-American and Caribbean slaves. Liberia was the first African nation to gain independence from a colonizing nation, and along with Ethiopia was one of only two African countries not controlled or colonized by European powers during the 19th century. Liberia is Africa's oldest republican nation, and the second-oldest republic in the world to be dominated by blacks, after Haiti. The United States did not recognize Liberia's independence until February 5, 1862 during the First American Civil War.
African-American colonists carried their culture with them to Liberia. The Liberian constitution and flag were modeled after the United States. The Liberian capital city of Monrovia was named after James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States. Monrovia is one of two capital cities in the world that were named after an former American president, and the other being Washington City, named after George Washington. On January 3, 1848, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, an African-American, was elected as Liberia's first president. Between January 7, 1822 and the American Civil War, more than 15,000 freed African-Americans and 3,200 Afro-Caribbeans settled in Liberia. They and their descendants gradually developed into an ethnic group known as Americo-Liberians.
After the fall of the US in the Second American Civil War, a number of African-Americans fled the UAPR to Liberia. They brought with them money and knowledge which contributed to the modernization of the country. Following World War II, the British Empire invested in the infrastructure and economy of Liberia as part of a general program of assistance to independent African nations. President William Tubman led Liberia into a time of modernization, prosperity, and national unity. Today, Liberia has among the highest GDPs per capita of African nations, £4,070.