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Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the west coast of Africa, bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Côte d'Ivoire. Liberia, which means "Land of the Free", was founded as an independent nation with support of the American government, for free-born and formerly enslaved Blacks and thus, is only one of two nations in Africa (along with Ethiopia) that didn't fall under European domination.
It is believed that many of the indigenous peoples of Liberia migrated there from the north and east between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries AD. The area of West Africa which later became Liberia was invaded in the sixteenth century by Mane, Malian Soldiers tribes from what is now the interior of Ivory Coast and Ghana. The Manes partitioned the conquered territories and their peoples among Mane leaders with one chieftain over all. The supreme chief resided in the Grand Cape Mount region.
Shortly after the Manes conquered the region there was a migration of the Vai people into the region of Grand Cape Mount. The Vai were part of the Mali Empire that were forced to migrate when the empire collapsed in the fourteenth century. The Vai chose to migrate to the coastal region.
The Kru opposed the migration of the Vai into their region. An alliance of the Manes and Kru were able to stop the further migration of the Vai but the Vai remained in the Grand Cape Mount region (where the city of Robertsport is now located).
The Kru became involved with trading with Europeans. Initially the Kru traded in non-slave commodities but later became active participants in the slave trade. Kru traders also engaged in a surprising form of trade. Kru traders and their canoes would be taken on board European ships and would engage in trade along the coast. At some agreed upon point the Kru traders and their canoes would be put off the ship and the traders would paddle back to their home territory.
Kru laborers left their territory to work on plantations and in construction as paid laborers, some even worked building the Suez and Panama Canals.
Another tribal group in the area was the Glebo. The Glebo were driven, as a result of the Manes invasion, to migrate to the coast of what later became Liberia.
Settlers from America
In 1821, the American Colonization Society established Liberia as a place to send freed African-American slaves. African-Americans gradually immigrated to the colony and became known as Americo-Liberians, where many present day Liberians trace their ancestry. Despite many feeling the pain and injustice of slavery in America, the freed African American slaves were responsible for the enslavement of the local Africans by the thousands. Ironically, the former African American slaves became slave owners to the local black population, even though they knew personally and first hand how despicable the institution of slavery is. Native African slaves were often raped by their African American masters and many current day Liberians can trace their lineage to these unions. This portion of American and Liberian history is excluded from many, if not most textbooks. On July 26, 1847, the Americo-Liberian settlers declared the independence of the Republic of Liberia. The settlers regarded Africa as a "Promised Land", but they did not integrate into an African society except for buying thousands of local black African slaves. Once in Africa, they referred to themselves as "Americans" and were recognized as such by local Africans and by British colonial authorities in neighbouring Sierra Leone. The symbols of their state — its flag, motto, and seal — and the form of government that they chose reflected their American background and diaspora experience. Lincoln University (founded as Ashmun Institute for educating young blacks in Pennsylvania in 1854) played an important role in supplying Americo-Liberians leadership for the new Nation. The first graduating class of Lincoln University, James R. Amos, his brother Thomas H. Amos, and Armistead Miller sailed for Liberia on the brig Mary C. Stevens in April, 1859 after graduation.
The religious practices, social customs and cultural standards of the Americo-Liberians had their roots in the antebellum American South. These ideals strongly influenced the attitudes of the settlers toward the indigenous African people. The new nation, as they perceived it, was coextensive with the settler community and with those Africans who were assimilated into it. Mutual mistrust and hostility between the "Americans" along the coast and the "Natives" of the interior was a recurrent theme in the country's history, along with (usually successful) attempts by the Americo-Liberian minority to dominate people whom they considered uncivilized and inferior. They named the land "Liberia," which in Romance languages, and in Latin in particular, means "Land of the Free," as an homage to their freedom from slavery.
Sources: Wikipedia and CIA World Factbook
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