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Liberia Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT (UTC+0)

Electricity

Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Northern American non-grounded and grounded plugs are standard. Plugs in use are types A, B and F.

Language

Thirty three 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 occurs all over the country and it's recommended that 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; no raw or uncooked meat or fish should be eaten; all cooked meals should be eaten while still hot; and 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. The culture was brought in by returning Liberian-American immigrants. 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 has become increasingly stable since the internal conflict ended in 2003, and the country is working closely with the UN and the international community to encourage further development and stability. Political protests and gatherings do take place in Monrovia on occasion and should be avoided.

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. Theft is common on public transport, in markets and other crowded areas such as in nightclubs and on beaches.

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. The US Department of State warns travellers that they must plan trips to Liberia carefully: arrangements for transport from the international airport to Monrovia as well as 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.

Local Customs

Travellers to Liberia should not be unduly worried about transgressing social etiquette. They should avoid boisterous behaviour and ostentatious displays of wealth, and remember to make sure they smile at and greet people in the street, especially when they have made eye contact with them.

The country's reputation and the relative absence of foreigners make it hard to relax in Liberia. Although people may be curious about visitors, travellers will mostly find that the locals are friendly and hospitable. Lastly, visitors shouldn't take photographs of military or government buildings and installations without asking permission.

The 'Liberian fingersnap handshake' is an integral part of the country's culture, the audible snap said to represent how slave owners would break slave's fingers. It is consequently a celebration of freedom in Liberia, seen throughout all levels of society.

Business

Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Internal conflict and government mismanagement have destroyed much of Liberia's economy, which has in the past relied on foreign direct investment, aid and the exportation of natural resources.

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. Internet services are essentially limited to Monrovia, with poor service anywhere outside the capital. Visitors can purchase local SIM cards.

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 $125.

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