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Liberty

Go buy yourself something nice.

Go buy yourself something nice.

In the same way that the Liberian flag is similar to the US flag, the currency here in Liberia mirrors that of the US. Liberia’s currency is also called the “dollar,” and like the US dollar it comes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 (although there are no coins).  But the similarities stop there – the the Liberian dollar doesn’t look anything like the US dollar.

US dollars are also in widespread usage here because the Liberian economy is highly dollarized. To avoid confusion in what is meant by a “dollar,” people often refer to Liberian dollars as “LD” or “liberty.”

Most large purchases are made with US dollars for practical reasons. Whereas the Liberian dollar used to be pegged to the US dollar at par, nowadays one US dollar buys about 71 Liberian dollars. So to pay for anything of value with liberty (which is denominated in 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 LD notes), you’ll end up handing over a whole wad of notes.

And those notes have been around – a lot of the liberty in circulation is more than ten years old and has passed through a lot of sweaty hands, leaving it all faded and crumpled and stinky. This is especially true of the 5 LD note (equivalent to 7 US cents) which is widely used for the smallest day-to-day purchases – a bag of water, a donut, a small banana, or a cookie all cost 5 LD.

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About Home Strange Home

I first left the US in 1999, when I was 18 years old. Since then, I’ve spent 13 years living abroad - 3 in Canada, 7 in Europe, and 3 in Africa. Now I've finally returned to the US on a one-way plane ticket. I arrived home in late January 2014 and set foot in the US for the first time in nearly 2.5 years. In Home Strange Home, I blog about the ups and downs of my re-acculturation experience.

One response to “Liberty

  1. Glen ⋅

    Sounds like there is a lack of faith in the currency, and that the government needs to issue higher denomination banknotes and some coins.

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