The Republic of Liberia is a country on the West African coast. Liberia means "Land of the Free" in Latin. It covers an area of 43,000 sq miles and has a population of 4,503,000 people. Over 20 indigenous languages are spoken, representing the numerous tribes who make up more than 95% of the population.
Liberia is the only African republic to have self-proclaimed independence without gaining independence through revolt from any other nation, being Africa's first and oldest modern republic. Liberia maintained and kept its independence during the European colonial era. During World War II, Liberia supported the United States war efforts against Germany and in turn the U.S. invested in considerable infrastructure in Liberia to help its war effort, which also aided the country in modernizing and improving its major air transportation facilities. In addition, President William Tubman encouraged economic changes.
Political tensions from the rule of William R. Tolbert resulted in a military coup in 1980 that overthrew his leadership soon after his death, marking the beginning of years-long political instability. Five years of military rule by the People's Redemption Council and five years of civilian rule by the National Democratic Party of Liberia were followed by the First and Second Liberian Civil Wars. These resulted in the deaths and displacement of more than half a million people and devastated Liberia's economy. A peace agreement in 2003 led to democratic elections in 2005.