This chapter provides a brief historical background and a description of major events in Liberia. It also provides basic political, economic, and social data arranged in the following categories: polity, economy, population, purchasing power parities, life expectancy, ethnic groups, capital, political rights, civil liberties, and status. The chapter discusses the progress and decline of political rights and civil liberties in Liberia. Liberia was settled in 1821 by freed slaves from the United States and became an independent republic in 1847. Americo-Liberians dominated the country until 1980 when army Sergeant Samuel Doe led a bloody coup and murdered President William Tolbert. The government in May said foreign journalists wishing to report in Liberia needed to give at least 72 hours' notice in writing to be allowed into the country. Following months of threats, the United Nations in May 2001 imposed additional sanctions on Liberia because of the government's alleged arms-for-diamonds trade with the rebel Revolutionary United Front in neighbouring Sierra Leone.