I arrived in Liberia six days ago and I have nothing but good things to say. I think the name “Liberia” – like Somalia, Rwanda, or Sierra Leone – just has such a negative connotation from years of bad press that my expectations were very low. Well, it turns out Liberia is way, way nicer than it sounds!
I am living in Monrovia, the coastal capital city of this West African country. Monrovia happens to be named after U.S. President James Monroe (I’ll write more about the fascinating “colonial” history of Liberia in future blog posts). It is home to about 1.1 million of the country’s 3.7 million inhabitants.
Compared to other African cities I’ve visited, it’s very clean, doesn’t smell, is relatively un-chaotic, and has a good system of roads (laid out in a grid pattern like an American city). The central artery of the city is Broad Street, a wide, tree-lined avenue that gives a nice open feeling.
The city centre is compact and walk-able. And in fact, I find it a pleasure to walk through – most streets have sidewalks that are generally in good condition, avoiding the need to always watch your step; the street names are marked (in white letters on green signs mounted on poles, American-style), making for easy navigation; and people are for the most part friendly and relaxed, so you can stroll undisturbed.