Dancer Liberia
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Dancer Liberia

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Liberia Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

99,067 sq km (38,250 sq miles).

Population

4 million (2013).

Population density

40.3 per sq km.

Capital

Monrovia.

Government

Republic. Declared independence in 1847.

Head of state

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf since 2006.

Head of government

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf since 2006.

Electricity

120 volts AC, 60Hz. Flat and round two-pin plugs (with or without grounding pin) are used.

They say all publicity is good publicity, but Liberia might argue otherwise. Africa’s oldest republic has barely been out of the headlines in recent decades, but for all the wrong reasons; reports from the country have been dominated by two civil wars and an outbreak of Ebola. Suffice to say tourists have stayed away.

But Liberia has come a long way since those dark days. The 2013 Ibrahim Index of African Governance proclaimed this small West African nation to be the most improved country on the continent – and many are hoping Liberia will continue in this vein.

Assuming it does, adventurous travellers will surely be tempted back to this small, coastal nation; a beautiful country characterised by windswept golden beaches, luscious rainforests and verdant savannahs, where twittering birds, screeching monkeys and stomping elephants provide a wild soundtrack.

But there’s more to this country than natural wonders. Founded by freed American and Caribbean slaves, Africa’s oldest republic is home to a staggering diversity of cultures; its four million odd inhabitants are comprised of more than 16 established peoples, and there’s a burgeoning Asian and Middle Eastern population, too.

Art has long played an important role in Liberian culture, and the country’s various ethnic groups are renowned for their ornate wooden sculptures, particularly wooden masks, which are said to connect the living with ancestral spirits and ancient deities. Like art, religion is also woven into the fabric of Liberian life; casual ceremonies with sacred catfish hold force even while churches and mosques are full.

Liberia’s tropical climate, with a long dry season from September to June and rains peaking in August, still decide everything from transport to working schedules. During the monsoon roads become rivers and, at times, the country feels very much at the mercy of nature.

Yet Liberia is very much the master of its own destiny and its emergence as a credible tourist destination will depend largely on whether peace prevails and whether there is significant investment in the country’s creaking infrastructure.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 29 September 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

Ebola

An outbreak of Ebola virus has been confirmed in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. British Airways have suspended flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia until 31 December due to the deteriorating public health situation. Air France has suspended flights to Sierra Leone and some other airlines have also suspended flights to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Due to the narrowing commercial options for flights and the impact on medical facilities, the FCO advise against all but essential travel to these countries, except for those involved in the direct response to the Ebola outbreak.

If you are a British national in these countries, you should stay in contact with your employer or host organisation about the support that they can provide to you while you are in the country or should you wish to leave. If you travel to Liberia to help in the relief effort, make sure you’re contracted to a reputable organisation. You should be aware that the narrowing range of commercial flight options and growing restrictions on travel in the region may make it difficult to leave, particularly at short notice, and consider your own plans in this context.

A nationwide curfew started on 20 August. No movement is allowed between the hours of 11pm and 6am. The Liberian authorities are setting up road blocks to restrict movement around the country (except for categories of essential workers) and using the security forces to enforce quarantine for certain areas including Lofa County. In Monrovia, authorities have now lifted the quarantine of West Point.

Travel restrictions enforced by the Liberian security forces are making it progressively difficult to move around the country. There have been outbreaks of violence associated with the Ebola outbreak. On 27 July, the government of Liberia announced that all borders of Liberia had been closed, with the exception of major entry points including the Roberts International Airport and James Spriggs Payne Airport. The Bo Waterside Crossing to Sierra Leone has subsequently been closed together with the Foya Crossing to Guinea, and remaining border crossings could be closed at minimal notice.

On 8 August, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a statement following a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee, declaring the Ebola outbreak a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’. This includes a recommendation that there should be no general ban on international travel or trade, and that in states with Ebola transmission:

  • the Head of State should declare a national emergency
  • the State should activate its national disaster/emergency management mechanisms
  • the State should conduct exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaports and major land crossings
  • there should be no international travel of Ebola contacts or cases, unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation

Although the chances of being infected remain low, there are measures you can take to prevent catching Ebola. You should also follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) to:

  • avoid contact with symptomatic patients and their bodily fluids
  • avoid contact with corpses and/or bodily fluids from deceased patients.
  • avoid close contact with live or dead wild animals
  • avoid consumption of ‘bush meat’
  • practice safe sex
  • follow strict hand washing routines

General medical facilities throughout Liberia are currently under severe strain due to the Ebola outbreak, and are unable to provide the same standard of healthcare as in the UK. Dedicated healthcare facilities for Ebola are overwhelmed, and are not accepting further cases at present. Many medical facilities expect to be paid up-front.

The Liberia Airport Authority has introduced enhanced screening measures for both inbound and outbound travellers at airport facilities.

For further details about this outbreak of Ebola, see the World Health Organization
website
, and this map showing the areas affected.

Anybody concerned that they might have been exposed to, or showing symptoms of Ebola should seek immediate medical advice. If in the UK call NHS on 111.

Other advice

Avoid travelling at night outside Monrovia, except to or from Roberts International Airport. Make sure you have pre-arranged transport from the airport.

The small British Embassy and Honorary Consul in Monrovia can only offer limited consular assistance.

There is a low threat from terrorism.

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