Demographics of Liberia

The demographics of Liberia are examined on this page, including Liberia's population density, ethnic groups, education level, population health, economic status, religious affiliations and other demographic information.

As of 2006, Liberia has the highest population growth rate in the world (4.50% per annum).[1] 43.5% of Liberians were below the age of 15 in 2010.[2]

With recent civil wars being fought along ethnic lines, Liberia is a multiethnic and multicultural country. Diversity has always been celebrated in Liberian culture - ethnically based civil wars aside - in regard to cuisine, music, fashion, language and people.Despite individuals at power claim that 80% of the population is Christian, most of the population follow traditional African belief system and an other significant portion belong to Islamic faith.


Liberia's population from 1961-2013.[3] Liberia's population tripled in 40 years.[3]

According to the 2010 revision of the World Population Prospects, Liberia's total population was 3,994,000 in 2010. This is compared to 911,000 in 1950.[2]

43.5% of Liberians were below the age of 15 in 2010.[2] 53.7% were between 15 and 65 years of age, while 2.8% were 65 years or older.[2]

As of 2006, Liberia has the highest population growth rate in the world (4.50% per annum).[1]

Total population (x 1000) Population aged 0–14 (%) Population aged 15–64 (%) Population aged 65+ (%)
1950 91141.055.93.0
1955 99741.156.12.8
1960 1 11641.455.92.7
1965 1 26243.054.32.6
1970 1 44044.153.32.6
1975 1 65844.852.62.6
1980 1 92345.551.92.6
1985 2 21245.951.52.6
1990 2 12745.652.82.6
1995 2 09544.552.82.6
2000 2 84743.653.82.6
2005 3 18343.354.02.7
2010 3 99443.553.72.8

Vital statistics

Registration of vital events is in Liberia not complete. The Population Departement of the United Nations prepared the following estimates. [2]

Period Live births per year Deaths per year Natural change per year CBR* CDR* NC* TFR* IMR*
1950-1955 45 000 27 000 17 00046.728.818.06.27224
1955-1960 51 000 29 000 22 00048.
1960-1965 58 000 30 000 28 00048.625.423.26.47194
1965-1970 65 000 32 000 33 00048.423.624.76.59181
1970-1975 76 000 34 000 41 00048.922.126.86.80169
1975-1980 88 000 37 000 51 00049.020.828.26.93158
1980-1985 101 000 43 000 58 00048.820.828.06.96159
1985-1990 102 000 46 000 57 00047.
1990-1995 95 000 45 000 50 00045.
1995-2000 109 000 49 000 60 00044.019.824.26.01155
2000-2005 128 000 46 000 82 00042.415.427.15.69116
2005-2010 145 000 43 000 102 00040.512.028.55.4289
* CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births; TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman)

Fertility and Births

Liberia's population pyramid, 2005. 43.5% of Liberians were below the age of 15 in 2010.[2]

Total Fertility Rate (TFR) (Wanted Fertility Rate) and Crude Birth Rate (CBR):[4][5]

Year CBR (Total) TFR (Total) CBR (Urban) TFR (Urban) CBR (Rural) TFR (Rural)
2007 37,6 5,2 (4,6) 32,5 3,8 (3,3) 40,4 6,2 (5,6)
2009 40,3 5,9 33,5 4,2 45,9 7,5
2013 34,4 4,7 (4,0) 31,1 3,8 (3,3) 38,5 6,1 (5,1)

Ethnic communities of Liberia


The indigenous ethnic groups of Liberia can be linguistically divided into three groups who speak;

to which must be added the immigrant communities;

The Gola ethnic group originated somewhere in central Africa. During the Empire of Ancient Ghana they were involved in the land-surveying and jurisprudence of the empire.

The other ethnic groups that fall under the Mande-Tan, Mande-Fu were also members of Ancient Ghana. Because of their influence in the judicial aspects of the Ghana, the Gola's social structure dominated through the Poro.

With the influx of Islam many groups adopted it while others resisted. The Golas fought three wars with pro-Islamic elements in a changing Ghana. These wars were known as the Kumba Wars. The Golas lost the third of these wars and were forced to retreat toward Sierra Leone. They were pursued by the Mende, Gbandi and Loma. Their battles with the Mende in Sierra Leone forced them to retreat yet again and settle finally in Liberia where they encountered the Dei.

Immigrants from Mali

The Kpelle, Gio, Mano, Mandingo and Vai groups migrated from the Empire of Mali for various reasons, some escaping political intrigue, others looking for a better life. The Vais, settled in Grand Cape Mount county in the west of Liberia, were the first to invent a form of writing in 1833 or 1834. The reported inventor was Dwalu Bukele of Bandakor along the Robertsport (provincial capital) highway.

Immigrants from Côte d'Ivoire

In the 16th century; Kru (Tajuasohn), Bassa, Belleh, Krahn, Grebo.

19th century

Immigrants from Lebanon

In the late 19th century to early 20th century Lebanese merchants, families and businessmen began arriving in Liberia. Lebanese currently own many major businesses such as supermarkets, restaurants, textiles, construction works, factories and other production based companies across the country. Despite living in the country, Lebanese are denied citizenship rights due to Liberia's nationality law and are seen in a political view as foreigners.


Main article: Religion in Liberia

Religion in Liberia (2008)[9]

  Christianity (85.6%)
  Islam (12.2%)
  None (1.4%)
  Traditional (0.6%)
  Others (0.2%)

According to the 2008 National Census, 85.5% of Liberia's population practices Christianity.[10] Muslims comprise 12.2% of the population, largely coming from the Mandingo and Vai ethnic groups.[10] The vast majority of Muslims are Malikite Sunni, with sizeable Shia and Ahmadiyya minorities.[11] Traditional indigenous religions are practiced by 0.5% of the population, while 1.8% subscribe to no religion.[10]

CIA World Factbook demographic statistics

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15–64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.03 male(s)/female
total population:1 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 57 years
male: 55.44 years
female: 58.6 years (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups

Ethnic groups in Liberia (2008)[9]
Ethnic groups

There are officially 16 ethnic groups that make up Liberia's indigenous African population, making up maybe 95% of the total: Kpelle, the largest group; Bassa, Gio, Kru, often fishermen; Grebo, Mandingo, often in trade and transport; Mano, Krahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma, Kissi, Vai,Belleh,Mende and Dey.

There are also more or less nomadic groups like the Fula, who engage mostly in trade, and the Fanti, who are often fishermen or traders of fish, usually from Ghana, living seasonally and more and more often permanently in Liberia.

Then there are Americo-Liberians, who are descendants of free-born and formerly enslaved African Americans who arrived in Liberia from 1822 onward and Congo People (descendants of immigrants from the Caribbean), making up an estimated 5% of the population. They used to dominate political life in Liberia and still have a lot of influence.

There are about 5,000 people of European descent, many of them having settled down as miners, missionaries, business people, and so on. There also is a sizeable number of Lebanese, Indians, and other people with Asian roots who make up a significant part of Liberia's business community. Because of the civil war and its accompanying problem of insecurity, the number of non-Africans in Liberia is low and confined largely to Monrovia and its immediate surroundings. The Liberian constitution restricts citizenship to people of African descent.


Main article: Languages of Liberia

English 20% (official), some 20 ethnic group languages, of which a few can be written and are used in correspondence.


Literacy in Liberia, as defined as age 15 and over and can read and write, is:
total population: 38.3%
male: 53.9%
female: 22.4%[12]
note: these figures are increasing because of the improving school system

See also



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