Liberia is one of several countries across the world that uses a dollar currency. In this case it is simply known as the Liberian dollar. This is also sometimes called the unity dollar, so don’t be surprised if you hear this term as it does relate to the same currency.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
As you might expect from a dollar currency it is decimal in nature and each dollar is split into 100 cents. The Liberian currency has five coins available, with the 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent coins used alongside the one dollar coin.
There are a further five banknotes in use, which are the 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar notes. Each time you see the currency written down (such as when something is priced for sale for example) you’ll see the familiar dollar sign in use. However in this case it is preceded by an L to denote the Liberian dollar is being referred to.
From past to present – the history of the Liberian dollar
The history of the Liberian dollar goes back further than you might expect. In fact the dollar first came into existence way back in 1847. At the time the country used it in conjunction with the US dollar, but this ended in 1907. At this point they decided to bring in the British West African pound instead, which was on a par with the pound used in Britain.
Since the Liberian dollar came back into use in the Forties, it has gone through a number of tough periods. The economy has been fragile at times to say the least, but despite all the challenges the Liberian dollar is still in use today and looks set to hang around for some time yet.
How to get hold of the Liberian dollar
Liberia is not the easiest of countries to visit when it comes to getting hold of the local currency. For starters it’s not very likely that you’ll get any cash before you get there, since it is one of those currencies that isn’t really available outside of the country it is used in. No matter though, since you can change your money into the Liberian dollar once you touch down at the airport. This is one of your best options for changing your cash actually, although Monrovia is pretty well set up for providing you with bureaux de change to use. The ideal currency to bring in with you is US dollars, so make sure you get plenty of those before you depart your home country for Liberia.
Don’t be tempted to change cash on the streets though, even though you’ll likely come across opportunities to do so. Another point to note is that bringing any traveller’s cheques isn’t a great idea either. You’ll be hard-pushed to convert them anywhere.
You might be wondering whether credit or debit cards are useful to have. Well, in all honesty the answer is no. There are a few cash machines around but few will take foreign cards and the same is true of any outlet, shop or other business you might visit while you are in the country. The rule of thumb here is to take cash and plenty of it, and keep the excess safe while you are there.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Liberian dollar
You can look up this information on any good currency converter you come across. Not only can you convert from your own currency to the Liberian dollar, it might also be worth doing so from the US dollar as well. This is the best currency to take with you to exchange once you get there, so it makes sense to know what you could reasonably expect to have.
If you wish to find out more about Liberia it would be a great idea to visit the Embassy to the Republic of Liberia – or at least their website. The embassy itself is in London but you can visit the website at the following address – http://www.embassyofliberia.org.uk/.
Travelling safely with the Liberian dollar
As we all know, the situation with regard to safety can change in any country at any moment. At the time of writing the Ebola outbreak was confirmed to have affected Liberia, so everyone was being advised not to go to the country. The potential for terrorist activity was also heightened so this should be borne in mind before considering going there.
Another problem the country has is with crime. While petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching does go on here, more serious crimes are not uncommon either. You will be safer doing everything you can to reduce the odds of being affected if you ever visit the country by taking appropriate measures. For example many thieves pick easy targets so make sure you don’t make yourself one if you can help it. Don’t have your mobile phone out in public, keep all valuables out of sight and ideally in the hotel safe, and keep cash carried to a minimum.
Where to spend your dollars in Liberia – and what to spend them on
Look on any world map and you’ll find Liberia tucked away in the western portion of Africa. There are three countries sharing its borders. These are Sierra Leone to the north-west, Guinea to the north and the Ivory Coast to the east. The remainder of the border of Liberia – the stretch between the southernmost point and the far western reaches of the country – faces the Atlantic Ocean.
The capital of the country is Monrovia, and this is really the only area of the country that is reasonably safe to visit. However with that said the Ebola outbreak has made even this out of bounds at the moment. In the hope that this situation will be resolved in time, let’s explore the capital in a virtual sense to see what it has to offer the eager tourist.
The city itself is big and bustling and is a hive of activity with regard to big business. However there is much here for the tourist to appreciate as well. Since it sits near the Atlantic coastline the city also has an important link with commerce via the sea. This area is known as the Freeport of Monrovia. There is also the possibility to visit Ce Ce Beach. While beaches may not be the thing you’d immediately associate with Monrovia or with Liberia as a whole, this might change your point of view.
It’s common enough to want to learn more about the country you are visiting. If this is the case you might like to explore the Liberian National Museum, which just so happens to be located in the capital. This is now over half a century old and exists over three levels. You can see plenty of exhibits and learn much about the history of the country, supported by precious documents and items of all kinds. It makes for a fascinating few hours.
You might also consider visiting Gertylue Floral Park, which is in Congotown in the city. You can buy all manner of shrubs and plants here as well as simply wandering among the plants and trees appreciating their scent and appearance. It’s ideal if the city feels a little busy to you and you’d like to escape for a while!
You can also search for the Centennial Pavilion, a quite impressive building that is used to inaugurate presidents who serve the country. You can look for a notice that states when the monument was originally built. One former president also has his resting place here.
There are many other places in the country as a whole that are quite appealing if you are ready to pay them a visit. Obviously this depends on the situation within the country as a whole, but if it is deemed safe there are destinations such as Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve on offer. The reserve takes its name from the mountain range nearby called Mount Nimba. This sits on the border between Liberia and the Ivory Coast and Guinea, and while it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site it is said to have been endangered for many years.
Liberia is not without its challenges at this point in time. Clearly tourism is not number one on its schedule but it is important to remember this is a country that is very different from some of the others in Africa. While there are opportunities to see wildlife for example, such as in the nature reserve mentioned above, some of these areas are usually not safe for tourists to visit. This means there are real limits as to what you can see and enjoy there, if travel to the country should eventually be advised to be safe once more.
In short, if a trip to Liberia might be on the cards for the near future, do check the current travel situation before you consider making any bookings.