Counties of Liberia

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Updates: 

Update 10 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes (formerly FIPS 10-4) is dated 2012-12-31. It adds four new counties and assigns them codes. I have already reported those same codes for those same counties. This is a case where the board is reconciling changes made in one place but not in another.

I replaced provisional 2008 census data with the final figures.

River Gee county was created in 2000, and Gbarpolu county in ~2001. FIPS Publication Change Notice No. 10, affecting FIPS PUB 10-4, was issued on 2006-03-23. It assigned new FIPS codes to the two new counties, and changed the codes for the old counties from which they were formed. ISO 3166-2's second edition, dated 2007-12-15, contains ISO codes for the two new counties.

Country overview: 

Short nameLIBERIA
ISO codeLR
FIPS codeLI
LanguageEnglish (en)
Time zone+0
CapitalMonrovia

 

Liberia has been an independent country during the entire 20th century.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Liberia
  2. Dutch: Liberia, Republiek Liberia (formal)
  3. English: Republic of Liberia (formal)
  4. Finnish: Liberia
  5. French: Libéria, Liberia m
  6. German: Liberia n
  7. Icelandic: Líbería
  8. Italian: Liberia f
  9. Norwegian: Liberia, Republikken Liberia (formal)
  10. Portuguese: Libéria, República f da Libéria f (formal)
  11. Russian: Республика Либерия (formal)
  12. Spanish: Liberia, República f de Liberia (formal)
  13. Swedish: Liberia
  14. Turkish: Liberya Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

Latin liber: free + -ia (suffix for country); founded by freed American slaves

Primary subdivisions: 

Liberia is divided into fifteen counties.

CountyHASCISOFIPSPopulationArea(km.²)Area(mi.²)Capital
BomiLR.BMBMLI1582,0361,955755Tubmanburg
BongLR.BGBGLI01328,9198,0993,127Gbarnga
GbarpoluLR.GPGPLI2183,7587,7232,982Bopolu
Grand BassaLR.GBGBLI11224,8398,7593,382Buchanan
Grand Cape MountLR.CMCMLI12129,0555,8272,250Robertsport
Grand GedehLR.GDGGLI19126,14617,0296,575Zwedru
Grand KruLR.GKGKLI1657,1062,299888Barclayville
LofaLR.LFLOLI20270,11411,6374,493Voinjama
MargibiLR.MGMGLI17199,6893,2631,260Kakata
MarylandLR.MYMYLI13136,4043,0521,178Harper
MontserradoLR.MOMOLI141,144,8062,7401,058Bensonville
NimbaLR.NINILI09468,08812,0434,650Sanniquellie
RivercessLR.RIRILI1865,8624,3851,693Cestos City
River GeeLR.RGRGLI2267,318Fish Town
SinoeLR.SISILI10104,93210,2543,959Greenville
15 counties3,489,07299,06538,250

Postal codes: 

Liberia uses four-digit postal codes. They don't seem to be in regular use.

Further subdivisions:

See the Districts of Liberia page.

Origins of names: 

Source [5]

  1. Bomi: Gola for "light".
  2. Bong: named after Mount Bong.
  3. Gbarpolu: portmanteau of Gbarma and Bopolu, the statutory districts from which it was formed.
  4. Grand Bassa: named for the Bassa ethnic group.
  5. Grand Cape Mount: named after a cape, which was named Cape du Mont in 1461 by Portuguese navigator Pêro de Sintra.
  6. Grand Kru: named for the Kru ethnic group.
  7. Margibi: portmanteau of Marshall and Gibi, the territories from which it was formed.
  8. Montserrado: named after the Messurado River.
  9. Nimba: named after Neinbaa Tohn, its highest mountain, whose name is Mano for "a mountain on which sisters slip".
  10. Rivercess: named after the Cestos River. Cestos is Portuguese for "baskets".

Change history: 

Reference: source [2]

  1. 1839-01-05: Under the Constitution adopted on that date, Liberia was divided into two counties: Grand Bassa and Montserrado.
  2. ~1843: Sinoe county created.
  3. 1847-07-26: Under the Constitution of 1847, Liberia was divided into Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Maryland, Montserrado, and Sinoe counties; Marshall territory; and Central, Eastern, and Western provinces. The three provinces have generally been referred to collectively as the interior region; the rest of the country is the coastal region. For the most part, territories are not mentioned in lists of primary administrative divisions of Liberia. They appear to be subordinate to counties; that is, each territory is contained within a county and is administered from that county's capital. Marshall territory was subordinate to Montserrado county.
  4. 1857: Maryland became a county of Liberia. This area was founded in 1834-02-12 by the Maryland State Colonization Society as another place for freed African-American slaves to settle. (Apparently the 1847 Constitution was indulging in wishful thinking when it included Maryland as one of the counties.)
  5. 1887: River Cess district created within Grand Bassa county.
  6. 1911: Liberia ceded Kailahun territory (part of Western province?) to Sierra Leone in exchange for a strip south of the Mano River, which was annexed to Grand Cape Mount county. Now the country consisted of five counties and three provinces. The provinces were each completely divided into districts; one of the counties contained a territory. This table shows the divisions.
DivisionTypePopulationCapitalDistrict or territory (t)
Centralp550,857GantaGbanka, Kakata, Sanniquellie, Tappita
Easternp153,077TchienTchien, Webbo
Grand Bassac202,104Buchanan
Grand Cape Mountc46,299Robertsport
Marylandc114,896Harper
Montserradoc1,230,832MonroviaMarshall (t; pop. 28,543)
Sinoec88,030Greenville
Westernp273,859KolahunKolahun-Voinjama, Suehn-Bopolu
8 divisions2,659,954
  • Type: county (c, coastal region) or province (p, interior region).
  • Population: 1947 estimates.
  1. 1955-02-19: Status of River Cess changed from district to territory.
  2. ~1960: The 1964 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas says there were four territories. In 1955, there were only two (Marshall and River Cess). Therefore, two more must have been formed around 1960.
  3. 1964: The Liberian Supreme Court ruled in 1960 that the division into counties and provinces had resulted in unconstitutional unequal representation. President Tubman announced a reorganization in 1963. County boundaries were adjusted, mainly by extending the coastal counties into the interior. The remainder of Central province split into Bong and Nimba counties. The remainder of Eastern province became Grand Gedeh county. The remainder of Western province became Lofa county. The regions were abolished. The territories, still contained within counties, remained. Secondary divisions called districts were formed, overlapping the county boundaries. The new legislature based on this set of divisions first met on 1964-07-26.
  4. ~1970: Capital of Grand Gedeh county renamed from Tchien to Zwedru.
  5. ~1982: Gibi territory formed from part of Montserrado county.
  6. 1984: At about the beginning of this year, there were six territories. Bomi, Gibi, and Marshall territories were subordinate to Montserrado county; Rivercess territory was subordinate to Grand Bassa county; and Kru Coast and Sass Town territories were subordinate to Maryland county. The census was taken from 1984-02-01 to 1984-02-14. The new constitution was being drawn up, although it didn't come into effect until 1986-01-06. I have two sources for the 1984 census returns. One of them, The Statesman's Year-Book, shows that Bomi, Margibi, and Rivercess counties had all been created. The other, the Europa World Year Book, shows Bomi and Rivercess as counties, but instead of Margibi county it lists the two territories, Marshall and Gibi. Because of this uncertainty in the sequence of events, I list the results of the 1984 census with counties separated from territories.
DivisionTypePop-84Pop-74Area(km.²)Area(mi.²)
Bomit66,42062,140Montserrado
Bongc255,813194,1869,4503,650
Gibit66,802Montserrado
Grand Bassac159,648123,40013,2605,100
Grand Cape Mountc79,32256,6015,8302,250
Grand Gedehc102,81071,82317,1006,575
Kru Coastt35,26727,115Maryland
Lofac247,641180,73719,4507,475
Marshallt31,19020,732Montserrado
Marylandc85,26764,4834,3401,675
Montserradoc544,878357,1196,6002,550
Nimbac313,050249,69210,4004,000
Rivercesst37,84927,746Grand Bassa
Sasstownt11,5249,952Maryland
Sinoec64,14757,64210,4004,000
15 divisions2,101,6281,503,36896,83037,275
  • Type: county (c) or territory (t).
  • Pop-84: 1984-02-01 census.
  • Pop-74: 1974-02-01 census.
  • Area: estimate from source [2]. Areas of territories included
    in counties.
  1. 1984: Bomi territory promoted to county, thus splitting it from Montserrado county.
  2. ~1984: Grand Kru county split from Maryland county. It consisted of Kru Coast and Sasstown territories. (One source says 1984, another says 1985. Source [5] says 1980-04-12, but this may refer only to a decree establishing the boundaries of Grand Kru.)
  3. 1985: Margibi county split from Montserrado county. It consisted of Marshall and Gibi territories.
  4. 1985-04-18: Rivercess territory promoted to county, thus splitting it from Grand Bassa county. The resulting divisions were as follows:
CountyISOFIPSPopulationArea(km.²)Area(mi.²)Capital
Bomi BMLI1567,3001,955755Tubmanburg
Bong BGLI01268,1008,0993,127Gbarnga
Grand Bassa GBLI11166,9008,7593,382Buchanan
Grand Cape MountCMLI1283,9005,8272,250Robertsport
Grand Gedeh GGLI02109,00017,0296,575Zwedru
Grand Kru GKLI16  Barclayville
Lofa LOLI05261,00019,3607,475Voinjama
Margibi MGLI17104,0003,2631,260Kakata
Maryland MYLI13137,7005,3512,066Harper
Montserrado MOLI14582,4002,7401,058Bensonville
Nimba NILI09325,70012,0434,650Sanniquellie
Rivercess RILI1839,9004,3851,693Rivercess
Sinoe SILI1065,40010,2543,959Greenville
13 counties2,211,30099,06538,250
  • ISO: County codes from ISO/DIS 3166-2. For full identification in a
    global context, prefix "LR-" to the code (ex: LR-NI represents Nimba).
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Population: 1989 estimate from source [4].
  1. Source [6] (1988) says, "The country is divided into 13 counties and the district of Careysburg." At present, Careysburg is just another district in Montserrado county, and I don't have any other evidence to suggest that it was ever independent of a county.
  2. Source [1] shows 1984 and 2008 populations for the 15 counties that existed in 2008. It notes, "The populations used were those that were derived for the respective counties after accounting for boundary changes between 1984 and 2008." By comparing these 1984 population figures to the ones originally published, I can deduce that some territory was transferred from Maryland to Grand Kru at some time during that period - territory that had a 1984 population of 16,000 (about 19% of the total population of Maryland). Similarly, some territory whose 1984 population was 53,800 must have been transferred from Montserrado to Margibi, accounting for about 10% of the population of Montserrado at that time.
  3. 2000-06: River Gee county split from Grand Gedeh (former HASC code LR.GG, FIPS code LI02). This change was approved by House of Representatives in 1998-06, and by the Senate on 2000-03-07.
  4. ~2001-01: Gbarpolu county split from Lofa (HASC LR.LO, FIPS LI05). The new county was created by the Senate on 2000-09-14, with an effective date in 2001. Some information on this split was found in source [3]. Source [5] says the county was created in 2003.
  5. ~2007: Name of the capital of Rivercess county changed from Rivercess to Cestos City.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Bomi: Bomy (variant)
  2. Grand Cape Mount: Cape Mount (variant)
  3. Grand Gedeh: Grand Geddeh, Grand Jide (variant)
  4. Lofa: Loffa (variant)
  5. Maryland: Cape Palmas (variant)
  6. Sinoe: Sino, Sinu (variant)

Sources: 

  1. [1] "2008 National Population and Housing Census: Preliminary Results ", Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-information Services, Monrovia, 2008-06. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
  2. [2] "Liberia in Maps: Graphic Perspectives of a Developing Country", Stefan von Gnielinski, Africana Publishing Co., N.Y. 1972.
  3. [3] The Liberia Contemporary Voice (http://www.republicofliberia.com/vol3_no10.htm#newcounty, retrieved 2002-05-13) said that Gbarpolu had a population of about 200,000 and an area of 2,982 mi.² (7,723 km.²).
  4. [4] "Ershiyi (21) Shiji Shijie Diming Lu", Beijing, 2001.
  5. [5] "County Development Agendas ", County Development Committee, 2008-07-18. Retrieved 2009-01-21.
  6. [6] The Statesman's Year-Book 1988-89. St. Martin's Press, New York, 1988.
  7. [7] The Statesman's Year-Book 1991-92. Macmillan Press, London, 1991.
  8. [8] L'Évaluation des effectifs de la population des pays Africains, Tome I. Groupe de Démographie Africaine, Paris, 1982.
  9. [9] 1979 Demographic Yearbook , 31st Ed. Statistical Office, United Nations, New York, 1980 (retrieved 2011-12-28).
  10. [10] 2008 Population and Housing Census : Final Results. Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-information Services, Monrovia, Liberia, 2009-05 (retrieved 2011-12-28).
  11. [11] Europa World Year Book 2001. Europa Publications, London, 2001.
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