The United States established diplomatic relations with Liberia in 1864 following its independence from the American Colonization Society, an organization that resettled free African-Americans and freed slaves in Liberia. A 1980 coup ended the one-party rule that dated from independence in 1847. From 1989 to 2003, the country saw civil war, misrule, and rebellion. Elections held in 2005 and 2011 were declared free and fair.
U.S. assistance and engagement is critical to Liberia’s short-term stability and long-term development. National elections in 2011 drew broad participation from the electorate, and paved the way for a peaceful transition to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s second administration. But opposition and unrest surrounding the elections showed that security, political, and social conditions remain fragile, and that the government must continue to make progress in building and solidifying confidence in public governance, reenergizing reforms, and fostering tangible improvements in the lives of average Liberians.