Customs and traditions
Greeting is an important social lubricant in
Liberia. One should rather visit a little too often than
infrequently, even if it comes to complete strangers who
happen to be in the same room or happen to meet in a
To a stranger it is enough with a "hello" or a
friendly nod, to a closer acquaintance, the initial
greeting must be followed by a "how are you" or a
request for the family. The small conversation that may
follow belongs to the greeting ritual. It is impolite to
abruptly throw yourself into a "more important" subject.
Overview of the capital city of Liberia, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Very special for Liberia is the "handshake button".
It happens that when two people have shaken hands in the
usual way, they pull back their hands until only the
middle fingers meet, and then both snap their fingers
against the other so that a clear snap is heard. After a
firm and heartfelt handshake, people can stand and hold
each other's hands for several minutes during friendly
small talk, before ending the greeting with the
characteristic button. This little gesture is said to
have arisen as a mark of the joy of having escaped
Traditionally, an invitation has been needed to greet
an acquaintance. The doors have been left open and it
has never been considered an intrusion to show up at any
moment until noon, when the food has obviously been
shared with the newly arrived. In more modern
environments in the cities, a dinner invitation can be
made more formal, but if the guest has a visiting
relative or close friend who happens to be hungry, the
host does not feel bad. The basic rule is that whoever
shares it with them.
Gifts occur in more solemn contexts, such as when you
meet an acquaintance for the first time in a long time,
or come home from a trip, when a city dweller visits his
or her home town or a villager visits immigrant
relatives in the city. City dwellers who go out into the
countryside are conveniently carrying goods that are
difficult to obtain in the village, such as a
factory-made shirt, kitchen equipment or sweets for the
children. Rural residents bring fruit or vegetables, a
chicken or perhaps a home-woven fabric to the city.
Usually everyone eats from the same dishes and bowls.
With your hand or a spoon you take from your own part of
the dish. In the cities, you now usually have your own
plate, which, like the glass, is placed upside down to
mark that it has not been used since it was washed.
Rice is the basis of almost all meals. It is
supplemented with sauces made from vegetables, root
vegetables or peanuts as well as meat or fish of those
who can afford. Spicy peppers are the most common spice,
and when everything is cooked after an hour or two, palm
oil is usually added.
Palm wine and yeast sugar cane juice are the most
common traditional alcoholic beverages. Beer and Western
spirits are most common in cities.
Official events, which a visiting Westerner can end
up with, are usually strict and require formal and
cluttered attire, no matter how hot it is.
In social interaction, it is important to remember
that Liberia is an authority-bound society, where elders
and superiors should be shown the utmost respect and
addressed with titles or Mr / Mrs plus surname. To call
a person who is higher in rank than one by the first
name is considered unfair. Otherwise, the social tone is
usually unforced, almost intimate. Body contact is
normal (during the Ebola crisis of 2014–2015, however,
this practice changed), close and long eye contact as
well, both towards one's own and the opposite sex.
In deeply religious Liberia, all Christian holidays
are celebrated, although not all are official holidays.
The second Wednesday in March is Decoration Day, when
you decorate the ancestors' tombs. Among the
non-religious weekends are the Armed Forces Day on
February 11, the First President Joseph Jenkins
Roberts's birthday on March 15, the African Day on May
25 on the anniversary of the African Unity
Organization's OAU Founding 1963, Independence Day on
July 26, Thanksgiving Day the first Thursday in
November, a custom that the first released slaves
brought from the United States, and William Tubman's
(see Older History) birthday on November 29. Tubman was
the country's president from 1944 to 1971.
The Liberian flag, which is also honored with its own
holiday on August 24, shows the country's close
historical ties to the United States. It's like the
American one, but with eleven red and white horizontal
bands instead of the US 13, and just a white star in the
blue bar on the top left. The stripes symbolize the men
(they were really twelve) who signed the Declaration of
Independence, red for courage and white for moral
raising. The white star marks the freedom from slavery
and the blue field symbolizes the African continent. See
what the flag looks like on the Landguide homepage for
The text of the national anthem, All Hail, Liberia
Hail !, was written at the independence of 1847 by
Daniel Bashiel who then became Liberia's third
Large parts of the communication network in
Liberia were destroyed during the war, which is still an
obstacle to economic development in the country. The
roads, which were previously poorly developed, are often
in miserable condition. Unpaved roads are often
difficult to reach during the rainy season. Since 2007,
however, a general overhaul of the road network has been
ongoing. In central Monrovia, most of the streets have
been repaired after the civil war.
Prior to the war, Liberia had 49 kilometers of
railroad on three routes from Monrovia and Buchanan for
freight services to and from mining inland. The traffic
was closed down in 1990 when the mines were closed and
the railways were sold as scrap. However, since the
mining was reopened some time in the 2000s, the steel
company ArcelorMittal has restored the freight rail from
the Yekepa mine to Buchanan, while the China Union
undertook to restore and modernize the line from the
Bong mines to Monrovia.
The most important ports are the free port of
Monrovia, Buchanan, Greenville and Harper. Even in the
case of the two first (and largest), ArcelorMittal and
China Union have undertaken to expand and modernize
these. The Danish-owned APM Terminals was given a
25-year assignment in 2010 to operate and expand the
port operations in Monrovia.
Robertsfield International Airport a few miles
southeast of Monrovia was closed in 1990 but reopened in
1997. In 2014, all air traffic to Liberia was canceled
due to the outbreak of Ebola. A large part of this
traffic - but not all - was resumed in mid-2015.
Mining agreement secured
Steel giant ArcelorMittal signs an agreement on
investments in new mines. The agreement is worth at
least SEK 7 billion.
The first post office after the war opens
At the same time, the first stamps are printed for
Wood exports are allowed again
The UN Security Council repeals the ban on Liberian
A Truth and Reconciliation Commission is formed
Its mission is to investigate war crimes and promote
peace and reconciliation. The Commission will start work
Ex-President is extradited from Nigeria
Former President Charles Taylor is sent to Sierra
Leone to stand trial for involvement in that country's
Johnson Sirleaf takes over as president
Economist Ellen Johnson Sirleaf takes over as