Destination Guides


Liberia


General   Money   Entry Requirements   Health & safety   Weather   Embassies   Etiquette   Public Holidays   Attractions   Map  

Introduction

Bomi Lake ©Sahmeditor

One of the poorest nations in Africa, Liberia emerged in 2005 from a bloody civil war in which 300,000 died. It is a land boasting 350 miles (563km) of tropical beaches, with swathes of pristine wilderness and verdant rainforests. It may be on the mend under the highly regarded President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, re-elected in peaceful elections in 2011, but sadly, travel to Liberia is not generally recommended due to the political situation and lack of infrastructure. Travel experts like the UK Foreign Office currently advise against all travel to certain areas of the country.


Originally founded as a refuge for liberated American slaves, this struggling country is located just north of the equator on the western bulge of Africa, and there is still much evidence of its onetime link to the US. The capital of Monrovia is named after the fifth President of the United States, James Monroe, and the country's flag closely resembles its American counterpart.


There are several worthwhile attractions outside of the dilapidated capital. The city of Buchanan offers fine beaches, a modest selection of restaurants and a handful of guesthouses. A day trip to Robertsport is a must. Here, visitors can take a peek into the cultural history of Liberia and relax on some of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in the country. A tent camp for those wishing to spend the night on the beach has been set up by a group of South Africans while the UN also offers accommodation on a first-come basis.


Liberia's key attraction is the Sapo National Park, the largest untouched tract of rainforest in Western Africa, incorporating the Nimba Mountains, which are home to abundant wildlife such as elephants, leopards, buffalo, pygmy hippos and monkeys. It is also popular to go game viewing by boat along the Sinoe River.


Foreigners are advised to travel only in an organised tour and never venture out alone. Gangs of former combatants are known to walk around the poorer areas of Monrovia causing trouble, and women should prepare themselves for plenty of unwanted attention. Health care facilities are limited and diseases such as typhoid and malaria are common. Travellers are advised to take care with their personal hygiene, as there are many health risks involved in everyday situations.


Although it is not a popular tourist destination right now, when the political turmoil clears, Liberia is sure to be near the top of the list of West African destinations to visit due to its natural splendour and off-the-beaten-track allure.


Communications

Telecommunications infrastructure in Liberia was heavily damaged during the civil war and cellular phone networks are a far more popular and reliable means of communication than landlines. The international dialling code for Liberia is +231.


At least four GSM service providers operate in the country. Internet services are essentially limited to Monrovia, with poor service anywhere outside the capital.


Emergencies

The contact number for emergencies is 911. Travellers are still advised to note the police number for the city or region they are visiting.


Languages Spoken

31 languages are spoken by the local population of Liberia, but English is the official language.


Duty Free

Visitors to Liberia may import the following goods duty-free: 200 cigarettes/25 cigars/250g of tobacco, one litre of spirits and one litre of wine, 100g perfume, and gifts valued at US$125.


Electricity

Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Northern American non-grounded and grounded plugs are standard. Plugs in use are types A, B and F.


Climate Info

Liberia has a tropical climate, which means that it is hot and humid throughout the year and gets plenty of rain. While temperatures in Monrovia and along the Liberian coast generally range between 73°F and 89°F (23°C and 32°C), it is slightly hotter inland.


The humidity makes it seem hotter than it is, but there is an almost constant, refreshing breeze along the coast. The year can be divided into a wet and a dry season. Between late April and mid-November, it is hot, wet and cloudy, with frequent heavy rain showers. Between December and March, it is dry with hot days and cool nights.


Monrovia is one of Africa's wettest capital cities, with annual rainfall averaging about 4500mm, but rain seldom falls outside of the wet season. There is usually a dry spell of about two weeks during the rainy season, sometime in July or August, but it is hard to predict.


The best time to visit Liberia is in the dry season, between December and April. The dry season is characterised by the hot, sandy, Harmattan wind, which blows in from the Sahara Desert between December and March. However, this is seldom disruptive for travellers.


Passport

All foreign passengers to Liberia require a visa. Holders of a pre-arranged visa can obtain a visa on arrival, provided that: (i) they are entering from a country without diplomatic representation of Liberia; (ii) their visa has been pre-arranged and paid for by a local sponsor in Liberia; and (iii) the transporting carrier in Monrovia is informed of the following details: the passenger's name, nationality, document number, flight number, date of arrival, and address of stay in Liberia. Note that passengers should not be boarded unless a telex confirmation from the airline's station manager in Monrovia is stapled to the ticket. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Liberia. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.


Entry Requirements

US citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Liberia. A visa is required.

British citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Liberia. A visa is required.

Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Liberia. A visa is required.

Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Liberia. A visa is required.

South African citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Liberia. A visa is required.

Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Liberia. A visa is required.

New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Liberia. A visa is required.

Health

Liberia is one of three countries that were part of the Ebola outbreak in previous years, causing serious alarm in West Africa. However, the WHO officially declared Liberia Ebola transmission free on 9 June 2016. The FCO no longer advise against all but essential travel to Liberia. However, travellers are advised to familiarise themselves with the disease and current health and travel advice for the country. Some travel restrictions may still be in place due to the Ebola outbreak.


A yellow fever vaccination is required for all travellers to Liberia greater than one year of age. Vaccinations are also recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid. Malaria is a problem all over the country and prophylaxis of some kind should be taken in all areas. Those travellers who plan to spend a lot of time outdoors and may be at risk of animal bites, or in close contact with bats, should consider a rabies vaccination. Travellers are usually advised to be up to date on vaccinations for polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and tetanus-diphtheria.


Precautions should be taken with food and water: tap water should never be drunk unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected; fruit and vegetables should be peeled and cooked; no raw or uncooked meat or fish should be eaten; all cooked meals should be eaten while still hot; and food from street vendors is best avoided.


Medical facilities are extremely limited and even essential medicines and services are often unavailable. Travellers should ensure that they have comprehensive travel and health insurance and should bring all required medications with them, in the original packaging and accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.


Safety

Liberia is working with the UN and the international community to encourage development and stability, but the security situation remains fragile and it is still a dangerous travel destination. The UK Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to the Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties of Liberia, where armed groups are active. All political gatherings and street protests should be avoided and every precaution taken to ensure personal safety.


The US Department of State warns travellers that they must plan trips to Liberia carefully: arrangements for transport from the international airport to Monrovia as well as arrangements for accommodation at a reputable hotel should be made in advance as there is no reliable public transport and decent rooms can be scarce.


There is a high level of crime in Monrovia and although most crimes against foreigners are opportunistic and petty, there have been incidents of armed robbery as well.


The police force has very limited resources and cannot be relied upon. Crime levels are much higher after dark and travellers shouldn't walk anywhere in the city at night. There is a high incidence of rape in Liberia and there have been incidents of rape and attempted rape involving foreign women. Theft is common on public transport, in markets and other crowded areas such as in nightclubs and on beaches.


Emergency Phone Number

The contact number for emergencies is 911. Travellers are still advised to note the police number for the city or region they are visiting.



* For current safety alerts, please visit Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK or Travel.State.Gov

Money

The Liberian Dollar (LRD) is the official currency of Liberia, but the United States Dollar is still widely accepted. Although the US Dollar is the best foreign currency to carry, other major currencies, like the Euro, can also be exchanged. Money can be exchanged at the international airport, at foreign exchange bureaus in Monrovia and at some banks. Credit cards are seldom, if ever, accepted and there are very few ATMs.


Exchange Rate

Not available.

Embassies of Liberia



Foreign Embassies in Liberia

Customers

Travellers to Liberia should not be unduly worried about transgressing social etiquette. Avoid boisterous behaviour and ostentatious displays of wealth. Remember to make sure you smile at and greet people in the street, especially when they have made eye contact with you. Unfortunately, due to the extreme safety precautions one must exercise when visiting Liberia, foreigners may find it impossible to 'scratch under the surface' of Liberian society.


The country's reputation and the relative absence of foreigners makes it hard to relax in Liberia. But although the people may be curious about visitors, and the dangers are real, mostly travellers will find that the locals are friendly and hospitable. Lastly, never take photographs of military or government buildings and installations without asking permission.


The 'Liberian fingersnap handshake' is an integral part of the country's culture, the audible snap said to represent how slave owners would break slave's fingers. It is consequently a celebration of freedom in Liberia, seen throughout all levels of society.


Business

Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Recent civil war and government mismanagement have destroyed much of Liberia's economy, which has in the past relied on foreign direct investment, aid and the exportation of natural resources.


Lightweight suits or a shirt and tie are the ideal for meetings and etiquette tends to be quite formal. People should be addressed by title and surname unless instructed otherwise. The exchange of business cards and handshakes is usual upon greeting. Meetings seldom start punctually. Business hours are generally 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday.


Tipping

Tips are appreciated in Liberia, although not always expected. The culture was brought in by returning Liberian-American immigrants. Some restaurants add a service charge to the bill, but if they do not, a 10 percent tip is customary. Hotel service staff appreciate small amounts for good service.


Public Holidays in Liberia

20172018
New Years Day1 Jan1 Jan
Armed Forces Day11 Feb11 Feb
National Decoration Day15 March14 March
JJ Roberts Birthday15 Mar15 Mar
National Fast and Prayer Day14 Apr20 Apr
National Unification Day14 May14 May
Independence Day26 Jul26 Jul
Flag Day24 Aug24 Aug
Thanksgiving9 Nov8 Nov
President Tubmans Birthday29 Nov29 Nov
Christmas Day25 Dec25 Dec
Travel Guide powered by www.wordtravels.com, copyright © Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they're relying with the relevant authorities. Globe Media and UNIGLOBE Travel does not accept any responsibility for any loss or inconvenience to any person as a result of information contained above.

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