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About Liberia

General Information

by Dr. Timothy Nevin, Cuttington Universtiy, Liberia

Population: 4.8 million (2015 UN estimate)

Languages: English is the national language. Liberian Vernacular English (LVE) is widely spoken and is the lingua franca. 16 other African languages are also spoken in addition to many local dialects of those languages. These include Kpelle, Bassa (Bassoh), Vai (Vey), Lorma (Loma), Dey (Dei), Mano, Gio (Dan), Mandingo (Malinke), Belle, Kruan (Kru), Glebo (Grebo), Krahn, Kissi (Gissi), Mende (Mendi), Gbandi and Gola. These West African languages belong to the Mande, Kwa (Kru) and Mel (West Atlantic) language families which are part of the Niger-Congo group of  African languages. Within the largely ex-patriot business community (Lebanese) Arabic, Hindi and French are also spoken.

Ethnic groups: There are 16 main ethnic groups within Liberia’s indigenous population, the Kpelle being the largest (~20%), with the Bassa ethnic group a close second (~19%). Americo-Liberians, descendants of freed enslaved Africans from the Americas who arrived on the West African coast in the early 19th century, make up an estimated 5% of the population, but have heavily intermarried with indigenous African ethnic groups.