Foreign policy and defense
Liberia had long ties with the United States and
received extensive US support after the Second World
War. Politically dominated by Americanized slave
settlements, the country had for a long time had a
relatively limited exchange with its West African
Following Samuel Do's takeover of power in 1980, US
financial support increased, including for the CIA
intelligence service to use Liberia to counter Libya's
influence in Africa and to promote Israel's interests on
the continent. During the 1990s civil war, the United
States mainly provided military and financial support to
the world's peace efforts.
Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Liberia for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
The post-1989 conflicts in Liberia had links to the
entire region and affected developments in several
countries. The West African Economic Cooperation
Organization Ecowas sent a military squad, called
Ecomog, in 1990 to try to make peace in
Liberia. Ecomog was dominated by soldiers from the
former British colonies of Nigeria and Ghana and
eventually grew to about 13,000 men.
But while Ecomog protected the Liberian interim
government, it came to be perceived by the rebels as a
belligerent party. In addition, Nigeria's dominant role
was debated, as the country at the same time seemed to
act as both peacemaker and arms supplier. A direct
result of Ecomog's intervention was that NPFL Rebels
leader Charles Taylor helped his Sierra Leonean friend
Foday Sankoh to form the Ruf rebel movement, which in
1991 took up arms against the army in Sierra Leone. This
was Taylor's revenge for Sierra Leone's participation in
Ecomog, which had prevented the NPFL from conquering
Monrovia and taking power. In response to Taylor's
participation in the Sierra Leonean civil war, the
neighboring government helped Liberian refugees fight
In 2000, the EU held promised aid of the equivalent
of almost half a billion as a penalty for Taylor, who
was then president, providing support to Ruf. The
Liberian government was accused of holding guerrillas
with new weapons and helping it smuggle out illegally
broken diamonds. In 2001, the UN Security Council
imposed sanctions on the Liberian government for its
support for Ruf. Arms sales to Liberia were banned, as
were diamonds and later timber exports from Liberia.
Following the democratically elected government in 2006,
the Security Council decided in June that year to lift
the ban on timber exports. In 2007, the sanctions
against diamond exports were also abolished.
Charles Taylor stayed during his country escape in
the 1980s (see Modern History), among others in Libya
and Burkina Faso, and built close ties with the
governments there. NPFL received most of its weapons
from both countries, which were smuggled in via the
Ivory Coast. The French state and the arms industry also
had good relations with Taylor for a long time. As Ruf
weakened and the illegal trade with Sierra Leone was
made more difficult by the United Nations, Taylor
increasingly turned to the Ivory Coast, where he
cultivated contacts with regime-critical groups in the
military, among others. Liberian soldiers took part in
the armed uprising that erupted in Ivory Coast in 2002
and the regime there is considered to have played a
major role in the formation of the Model Rebel movement
(see Modern History), who joined the rebellion against
Taylor in early 2003.
Guinea was also drawn into the conflict in Liberia.
Guinea received large numbers of Liberian refugees in
the early 1990s and, like Sierra Leone, supported the
militia that fought Taylor. Following the new outbreaks
in northwestern Liberia in 1999, according to the UN and
other sources, the Lurdre rebels (see Modern History)
received significant support from the Guinean state.
Following the fall of the Taylor regime in 2003,
Liberia's relations with neighboring countries have been
However, unrest has occurred in the border area
between Liberia and Ivory Coast. Liberian mercenaries
have been beaten on both sides during the violence in
the neighboring country in the 21st century. In 2012
came reports that forces loyal to former Ivorian
President Laurent Gbagbo were building new militia
groups in eastern Liberia that made raids into the Ivory
Coast (see also Ivory Coast: Calendar). In the autumn of
the same year, the two countries' governments agreed to
work together to end this.
Compared to many other African countries, China has
only had a limited presence in Liberia. However, since
the Ebola epidemic began to erupt, China has promised to
build new roads and several government buildings.
After Samuel Doe's death in 1990, Liberia had long
lacked a national army in the real sense. During the
first civil war of 1989-1996, the Armed Forces of
Liberia (AFL) were in practice only a militia among
others, and during Taylor's time in power, the army
consisted largely of former NPFL soldiers.
A new national defense force has begun to be built up
and in mid-2015 consisted of approximately 2,500 men.
The hope is that from mid-2016 it will be able to take
over UNmil's tasks. Until then, the order is maintained
primarily by the UN force, which, after gradual cuts in
the autumn of 2015, consisted of 3,590 soldiers and
close to 1,500 police. Unmil came to Liberia in
September 2003 and is mandated by the Security Council
to stay until June 30, 2016; after that, only a small
troop force remained in the country (see Calendar). At
most, Unmil consisted of nearly 15,000 soldiers and a
thousand police officers. From March 2004 to November
2006, Sweden contributed a heavily equipped mechanized
army band of approximately 230 men.
A significant feature of all armed groups in Liberia
during the war years was the large proportion of child
FACTS - DEFENSE
2,000 men (2017)
50 men (2017)
Military expenditure's share of GDP
0.6 percent (2017)
Military spending's share of the state budget
1.7 percent (2017)
An anti-corruption commission is formed.
Court for crimes against women
A special court for violence against women is set up.
Premiere for census
The first census since 1984 is implemented.