July 26, 2020 marked the 174th anniversary of its independence.  Some will claim that Liberia was a US colony, but that is not true.  A private US-based group founded settlements in Western Africa for free slaves and free-born black Americans.  The US provided military protection when Europeans threatened the area, but the US did not provide any diplomatic recognition of this area.  In 1847, the people in Liberia declared a new nation which was recognized by most major world powers. 

The linkage to the US led the new Liberian country pegged its own Liberian dollars to the US dollar.  It used the Liberian dollar until 1907 when it began using the West African pound which was pegged to the UK pound.  This remained true until 1935 when Liberia decided to use US paper money as it official currency and Liberian coins.  A coup in 1980 changed all of this.  The coup led to large quantities of USD to leave the country.  The new government minted new $5 coins to help with a shortage that was created.  Sadly, Liberia endured a 15-year civil war when USD, Liberian coins were used in different parts of the country.

Liberia 50 Cents | 1876 | P-11A
Source: Banknote World Educational

In 1999, Liberia introduced its 1st series of banknotes.  Like the US, they made their denominations $L5, $L10, $L20, $L50 and $L100.  These banknotes had a design concept similar to US currency.  They also placed portraits of their early Presidents on the currency. 

Liberia 50 Dollars| 1999 | P-24
Source: Banknote World Educational

A second series was issued in 2016 but the designs still look very US-like.  They also added a $L500 since the value of the Liberian dollar has dropped significantly.  To make things a bit confusing, US dollars are also generally accepted in the country and especially in the capital Monrovia.

Liberia 500 Dollars | 2015 | P-NEW
Source: Banknote World Educational

The history and present day in Liberia is something few are taught.  It has a unique history both of its establishment, it people and its currency. 

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