Tropical rainforest reflected in a pond in Liberia
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Tropical rainforest reflected in a pond in Liberia

© Creative Commons / gbaku

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.

Liberia, Africa's oldest republic, is one of the continents most history-rich yet cash-poor nations. It is struggling to get back on its feet after almost 14 years of civil war, which led to the deaths of 250,000 people. In 2006, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was elected president, becoming Africa's first female ruler. She faces the daunting task of rebuilding the country, which has a presence of 15,000 UN troops.

Travellers are currently advised against all but essential travel to Liberia outside of the capital, Monrovia. But if this nation recovers enough to open up to tourists, intrepid travellers will have the opportunity to explore the sprawling capital, relax on the beach or venture into the pristine wilderness of Sapo National Park.

The most evocative description of Liberia can be found in Graham Greene's Journey without Maps, an account of his overland trip across the country in 1935. Although it can now hardly pretend to be an up-to-date guide-book, the descriptions and the atmosphere of the country it creates (particularly when dealing with the mysterious and jungle-rich interior) make the book a valuable and entertaining introduction for anyone planning to visit the country.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 27 August 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.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all but essential travel to the whole of Liberia, except Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport.

Ebola

A state of emergency has been declared due to the Ebola outbreak. Since 20 August a nationwide curfew is being enforced by the security forces from 9pm to 6am every night when no movement is allowed. 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, West Point has been sealed off by the army and police and placed under quarantine.

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 26 August, British Airways announced that they were extending the suspension of flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone until 31 December 2014 due to the deteriorating public health situation. Some other airlines have suspended flights to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. You should carefully assess your need to travel to these countries. If you do decide to travel, you should make sure you have adequate arrangements in place for onward travel/exit and have adequate emergency health provision.

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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