Settlement of freed slaves from the US and the Caribbean in what is today Liberia began in 1822; by 1847, the Americo-Liberians were able to establish a republic. Officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north and Côte d’Ivoire to its east. It covers an area of 111,369 km² and is home to about 3.7 million people. From antiquity through the 1700s, many ethnic groups from the surrounding regions settled in the area, making Liberia one of Africa’s most culturally rich and diverse countries.
One of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars ensued, from 1989 to 1996 claiming the lives of more than 600,000 Liberians and displacing a million others into refugee camps in neighboring countries. Entire villages were emptied as people fled. Child soldiers committed atrocities, raping and murdering people of all ages. The senseless civil war claimed the lives of one out of every 17 people in the country, uprooted most of the rest, and destroyed a fragile economic. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened in 1990 and succeeded in preventing the rebels from capturing Monrovia.