It is believed that the first residents of Liberia, paleonegritics devoted essentially to hunting and fishing, settled in the plateau towards the end of the Neolithic; they were then pushed to the most unhealthy coastal areas by the Sudanese populations, farmers, who came down from the northern savannahs. Liberia was among the African lands most affected by the slave trade transported to America, and the first group of former slaves returned from the United States and laid the foundations of what would become, twenty-five years later, the first African republic. However, the migratory current from America to Liberia was very weak (about 20,000 people in a century); nevertheless it is the descendants of the Afro-American community who still constitute the elite culture and politics of the country. They therefore form a real caste, in many respects similar to that represented by the whites who ruled the regions subject to them for centuries with a colonial spirit. There are many other ethnic groups: kpelle (19%), low (13%), grebo (10%), gio (7%), kru (7%), mano (6%), loma (5%), kissi (4%) and others (29%); on the whole they form the very large majority of the population, but for a long time they did not recognize the authority of the government of Monrovia, thus creating a decisive and dangerous fracture in the social fabric of the State, and precluding, moreover, the possibility of effectively opposing the hegemony of the most advanced Africans born or raised in America. The same language adopted, English, does not reflect the cultural reality of a state in which the ethnic groups are distinguished from each other by the language used. In particular, the division between populations of the Kwa language, settled on the coastal strip and including the Bassa, the Kru, the Grebo, the Gola, and the Mande language is fundamental., in the interior, among which the Kpelle, the Vai, the Dan prevail. Liberia is not very populated, although it has registered a moderate demographic increase in recent years, passing from 1,016,443 residents at the 1962 census at 2,101,628 in 1984 and 3,154,000 in 2000; the density is 31 residents / km². The population lives mostly distributed in villages or crowded around the Hevea plantations, in particular in the strip of territory that goes from Monrovia to the Nimba mountains. Cities now welcome almost 60% of the population (2005), and the capital hosts almost a quarter. The city, built on the Mesurado peninsula, developed according to a square plan. In the center there are the buildings that house the headquarters of the government, the administration and the diplomatic corps, as well as the residences of the ruling class; in the suburbs, on the other hand, the less affluent social classes have settled in makeshift homes, often built with recycled materials. Since 1948, the capital has been the country’s main seaport as a free port. Other important centers are: Buchanan, for the port through which iron and rubber ores pass for export; Greenville and Harper,
The vegetation of Liberia is strongly connected to the climatic conditions that, in the coastal strip, favor the formation of the rainforest, with tall trees including mahogany, but in which today there are plantations (of palm trees, Hevea, coffee, banana trees and pineapples) and which on the coast is fringed by mangroves. Going into the inland areas and going up the slopes of the plateau there are wide savannah expanses, arborate and herbaceous, and along the streams the evergreen forest gives way to gallery forests. The wildlife is very varied, among the many species present in the area we find large predators such as lions and herbivores such as gazelles, zebras, antelopes, elephants and numerous monkeys from chimpanzees to baboons. Rivers are the kingdom of hippos and crocodiles, and snakes and mongooses are also very popular. Deforestation, soil erosion and the consequent loss of biodiversity are among the most serious environmental problems facing the country. Protected areas are 4.7% of the territory and include 4 national parks, the most important of which is Sapo National Park in the southeastern region of the country.
At the end of the century. XIX, according to loverists, the traditional oral literature in the vernacular (low and Mande) was accompanied by writings in English. Dominant was the figure of EW Blyden (1832-1912), originally from the West Indies but Liberian by adoption, who, in many essays (African Life and Customs, 1908; Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race, 1887), fought for the defense and re-evaluation of African culture, affirming the importance of the African contribution, of a spiritual nature, to the construction of a universal civilization, and proposed a pan-African union of the West African states. In the sec. XX the poem had at first a religious or patriotic character. In 1947 the collective work Echoes from the Valley revealed three poets of good standing: HT Carey, RT Dempster (1910-1965), aedo of the regime, and Bai T. Moore (1916-1988), who was also the author of novels, a collection of traditional songs and poems in Vai language. In the seventies and eighties, the verses of K. Khasu (b. 1942), who is also a novelist and well-known theatrical author, give a pessimistic image of Liberian life. Notable is the non-fiction production, above all historical-biographical, which, however, had a setback with the civil war.
Liberia is known as the homeland of the “classic” African wooden mask; the artistic skill of its sculptors is widely recognized. Many masks are commissioned by the secret societies Poro and Sande to use them in various initiation rites; some can be seen and used only by initiates, others are brought to public manifestations. The variety of shapes produced by the sculptors is impressive, as is the continuity of some styles over time. Other interesting art forms are wall paintings and ceramics.