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Liberia Travel Information

The Basics

Time

No GMT offset.

Electricity

Electrical outlets in Liberia usually supply electricity at between 110 and 120 volts. Northern American non-grounded and grounded plugs are standard.

Language

More than 30 languages are spoken by the local population of Liberia, but English is the official language.

Travel Health

A yellow fever vaccination is required for all travellers to Liberia greater than one year of age. Vaccinations are also recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid. Malaria is a problem all over the country and prophylaxis of some kind should be taken in all areas. Those travellers who plan to spend a lot of time outdoors and may be at risk of animal bites, or in close contact with bats, should consider a rabies vaccination. Travellers are usually advised to be up to date on vaccinations for polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and tetanus-diphtheria.

Precautions should be taken with food and water: tap water should never be drunk unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected; fruit and vegetables should be peeled and cooked and no raw or uncooked meat or fish should be eaten; all cooked meals should be eaten while still hot; food from street vendors is best avoided.

Medical facilities are extremely limited and even essential medicines and services are often unavailable. Travellers should ensure that they have comprehensive travel and health insurance and should bring all required medications with them, in the original packaging and accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.

Tipping

Tips are appreciated in Liberia, although not always expected. Some restaurants add a service charge to the bill, but if they do not a 10 percent tip is customary. Hotel service staff appreciate small amounts for good service.

Safety Information

Liberia is becoming increasingly stable and is working with the UN and the international community to encourage development, but the security situation remains fragile and it is still a dangerous travel destination. The UK Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to the Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties of Liberia, where armed groups are active. All political gatherings and street protests should be avoided and every precaution taken to ensure personal safety.

The US Department of State warns travellers that they must plan trips to Liberia carefully: arrangements for transport from the international airport to Monrovia, and arrangements for accommodation at a reputable hotel should be made in advance as there is no reliable public transport and decent rooms can be scarce.

There is a high level of crime in Monrovia and although most crimes against foreigners are opportunistic and petty there have been incidents of armed robbery as well. The police force has very limited resources and cannot be relied upon. Crime levels are much higher after dark and travellers shouldn't walk anywhere in the city at night. There is a high incidence of rape in Liberia and there have been incidents of rape and attempted rape involving foreign women. Theft is common on public transport, in markets and other crowded areas, in nightclubs and on the beaches.

Local Customs

Travellers to Liberia should not be unduly worried about transgressing social etiquette. Avoid boisterous behaviour and ostentatious displays of wealth, and make sure to smile at and greet people in the street (especially when they have made eye contact with you). Unfortunately, due to the extreme safety precautions one must exercise when visiting Liberia, foreigners may find it impossible to 'scratch under the surface' of Liberian society. The country's reputation and the relative absence of foreigners makes it hard to relax in Liberia, but although the people may be curious about visitors, and the dangers are real, mostly travellers will find that the locals are friendly and hospitable. Never take photographs of military or government buildings and installations without asking permission.

Business

Civil war and government mismanagement have destroyed much of Liberia's economy, but the country actually ranks more highly than most others in West Africa for ease of doing business, according to the World Bank. Lightweight suits or a shirt and tie are the ideal for meetings and etiquette tends to be quite formal: people should be addressed by title and surname unless instructed otherwise. The exchange of business cards and handshakes is usual upon greeting. Meetings seldom start punctually. Business hours are generally 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Communications

Telecommunications infrastructure in Liberia was heavily damaged during the civil war and cellular phone networks are a far more popular and reliable means of communication than landlines. The international dialling code for Liberia is 231. At least four GSM service providers operate in the country. Internet services are essentially limited to Monrovia.

Duty Free

Visitors to Liberia may import the following goods duty-free: 200 cigarettes/25 cigars/250g of tobacco, one litre of spirits and one litre of wine, 100g perfume, and gifts valued at US$125.

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