The sixteen Tribes of Liberia

There are 16 ethnic groups that make up Liberia’s indigenous population: indigenous African tribes 95% (including Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Grebo, Mandingo , Mano, Krahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma, Kissi, Vai, and Bella), Americo-Liberians 2.5% (descendants of immigrants from the U.S. who had not been slaves), Congo People 2.5% (descendants of immigrants from the Caribbean who had not been slaves); About 5,000 persons of European descent.

The Kpelle in central and western Liberia is the largest ethnic group. Americo-Liberians, who are descendants of free-born and formerly enslaved African Americans that arrived in Liberia from 1822 onward, make up an estimated 5% of the population. There also is a sizable number of Lebanese, Indians, and other West African nationals who make up a significant part of Liberia’s business community. Because of the civil war and its accompanying problem of insecurity, the number of Westerners in Liberia is low and confined largely to Monrovia and its immediate surroundings. The Liberian constitution restricts citizenship only to people of Negro descent.

Liberia was traditionally noted for its hospitality and academic institutions, iron mining and rubber industry booms, cultural skills and arts and craft works. But political upheavals beginning in the 1980s and the two civil wars (1989-96 and 1999-2003) brought about a steep decline in the living standards of the country, including its education and infrastructure.

The Kpelle people (also known as the Guerze, Kpwesi, Kpessi, Sprd, Mpessi, Berlu, Gbelle, Bere, Gizima, or Buni) are the largest ethnic group in Liberia. They are located primarily in an area of central Liberia extending into Guinea. They speak the Kpelle language, which belongs to the Mande language family.
Ethnic groups. There are officially 17 ethnic groups that make up Liberia’s indigenous African population, making up maybe 95% of the total: Kpelle, the largest group; BassaGio, Kru, often fishermen; Grebo, Mandingo, often in trade and transport; ManoKrahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma, Kissi, Vai, Belleh, Mende and Dey.

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