1. In 1968, Liberia overtook the UK as the country with the highest number of registered ships in the world. This might seem a little bit strange until you find out more about the murky business of ‘flags of convenience’. First used by US companies, who starting registering their ships in Panama in the 1920’s, in an effort to keep costs down, there are now quite a few countries around the world that allow foreign companies to register ships in their country and fly their national flag. Liberia, Panama and the Marshall Islands are the top three countries of this type – other countries that are seen to operate ‘flags of convenience’ are the Bahamas, Barbados, Cyprus, Honduras, Mongolia (despite the fact that it’s a landlocked country), North Korea and Sri Lanka
|Downtown Monrovia by David Sasaki|
3. Before its foundation in the early 19th century, the area which is now Liberia was known as the ‘Pepper coast’ and also as the ‘Grain coast’, in reference to the melegueta pepper which grows there. As a spice, melegueta pepper was also known as ‘grains of paradise’
4. Liberia adopted the British West African pound as its national currency, in 1907. The British West African pound was originally used by Liberia’s English-speaking neighbours in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Ghana. Liberia switched to the US dollar in 1943 and this was the country’s main currency until 1982. Liberians now use their own currency and one US dollar currently buys around 80 Liberian dollars
|The Mamba Point motorcycle shot by David Sasaki|
6. Although I read a lot about the Liberian ex-pat community in Staten Island, I learned that there are also substantial Liberian diasporas in Minneapolis and Providence, Rhode Island.
7. Charles Taylor’s son was nicknamed ‘Chuckie’ Taylor and lived in Florida until he was seventeen. He developed a fearsome reputation as a commander in his father’s 'anti-terrorist unit' and is currently serving a jail sentence in the US, for his role in human rights violations
|Liberian fisherman by David Sasaki|
9. The Liberian constitution still discriminates on the basis of race, in that, only ‘black’ African inhabitants can claim Liberian citizenship – people from other races, including the 4,000 or so people of Lebanese descent, cannot claim Liberian citizenship or exercise the right to vote, even if they were born in Liberia or come from generations of Liberian-born immigrants
10. Sanniquellie, in Nimba county, is often referred to as ‘the birthplace of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU)’. In 1959, the political leaders of Liberia, Guinea and Ghana met to discuss the different paths to African unity. The talks later moved to Addis Ababa, where the organisation was officially founded in 1963
For this blog post, I wanted to highlight the photography of Flickr member oso, a.k.a. David Sasaki. Originally from Seattle, David is now based in San Diego. You can see more of his work on his photo stream. Thanks David for sharing these images with us using the Creative Commons license.