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.