In more recent times, Liberia has unfortunately become better known for its two civil wars (1989 – 1996, and 1999-2003) that killed more than 200,000 people, left many more homeless, and destroyed much of the economy. Its then-President, Charles Taylor, went into exile in 2003 and was later convicted of war crimes at The Hague.
In 2005, Liberia elected the first female African head of state, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who in 2011 won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in promoting peace and justice in Liberia. But whilst Liberia is now at peace, the scars from the civil war remain; Liberia ranks close to the bottom of countries in the Human Development Index with almost 80% of the population engaged in vulnerable employment.
Liberia’s education system was all but destroyed during the civil war and remains behind most other African nations in nearly all education statistics. The country’s economic and political stability has also recently been threatened by a deadly Ebola virus epidemic, which has killed over 5,400 people in West Africa.