Liberia is a country founded by former American slaves who relocated to Africa with the help of the American Colonization Society, beginning in the 1820s. The republic was founded in 1847, but the transplanted Americo-Liberians, who comprise only about 5% of the population, institutionalized some of the same forms of discrimination they had experienced in the United States. Indigenous Liberians did not achieve citizenship until 1904, and the government remained dominated by Americo-Liberians until late in the twentieth century.
This situation helped lead to a coup by Samuel K. Doe in 1980, followed by a multi-factional civil war in the years between 1989 and 2003. The country has made great strides in the last few years and is seeing huge progress under the leadership of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first democratically-elected female president of an African state. Nevertheless, with as many as 10% of children having been conscripted into the armed forces of one faction or another and 80% of Liberians living below the poverty line, Liberia still has a long way to go.