Liberia was founded by Americans so that freed slaves could resettle back in Africa. Monrovia was named after U.S. President James Monroe, and was founded during his term by the American Colonization Society. The first town was established in 1822 on Providence Island. The settlers, or the Americo-Liberians, were engaged in a number of disputes with the indigenous population for many years. In recent years, Liberia has been recovering from fierce fighting lasting 14 years.
Under severe attacks of the liberation groups Lurd and Model, and after pressure from the International Community Liberian President Charles Taylor resigned as leader on August 11 2003. The day before Taylor delivered a defiant farewell speech in which he blamed the country's problems on the United States. At 6.15 p.m. he left Liberia to exile in Nigeria.
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was elected President of Liberia at the November 2005 elections and becomes the first ever female president of Liberia and Africa. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, also known as the ‘Iron Lady’, announced her intention to stand as senatorial candidate in the 1985 elections during the military rule of Samuel Doe. For a brave speech heavily critical of Doe, she was sentenced to ten years imprisonment, of which she served two short periods of detention, one before and one after the 1985 election, before fleeing the country. The years in exile until returning for the presidential race as standard-bearer of the Unity Party in 1997, gave her considerable international experience at the Citibank in Nairobi, the UNDP and the World Bank. She held the post of Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa at the UNDP, formulating development strategies for African economies, and was Senior Loans Officer at the World Bank. Although initially giving support to Charles Taylor’s 1989 invasion to oust Samuel Doe, Johnson-Sirleaf has been an implacable opponent ever since. Her non-involvement in the war and her financial expertise were a mainstay of her campaign message and she endeavoured to put across the image of an untainted, maternal figure.