20-Mar-2005 -- The whole night over there were heavy tropical showers and thunderstorms, and this morning the air was quite clear for this usually very hazy area. On our way to Nigeria we are soon at Cape Palmas, in which vicinity there is 4N 8W.
Looking to NNE we see Fish Town, a small village that stands in the middle of a coconut plantation. In front of Fish Town there is a small trawler. The fishing grounds off the coast are among the best in West Africa. What we do see at Fish Town are of course no skyscrapers but several rocky points.
Looking further towards NE there is the town of Harper and Cape Palmas. Harper was founded in 1835. It lies on the mouth of Hoffman River and has a small port. The ship we see on the picture is the Malta registered "Aquadance", coming from Brazil with 25,000 tons of sugar and bound for Lagos (Nigeria).
Let's have a closer look to Cape Palmas. Cape Palmas is a rocky peninsula and connected to the mainland by a low sandy isthmus. There is a lighthouse, which can be seen on the right of the photo. The large white building in the centre of the picture is surmounted by a golden globe. I know and recall that because in the old pre-civil-war times we used to pass around Cape Palmas in a very short distance. Nowadays ships are advised to keep at least 30 nautical miles off the Liberian coast, as pirate attacks or seizure by rebels are not unlikely. Boats owned by the rebels can be recognized when flying the regular Liberian flag and additionally a red flag with a black scorpion on it.
Liberia was founded in 1817 as a result of the efforts of several American societies to send freed slaves back to Africa. The first settlements were made in 1822. The Independent Republic of Liberia was constituted in 1847 and is thus the oldest independent republic in Africa. The country has a constitution similar to that of the USA. The whole republic, however, is rather a caricature of the USA. Already the fact that it copied almost exactly the US flag is a sign for a remarkable tendency to a rather grotesque mimicry.
The present day Liberians are the descendants of freed slaves of many African nationalities. Since the existence of the republic the ruling minority are slaves, which did not originally come from this coast, but from the Congo area. Thus they are still called "Congos". Liberia is civil-war stricken since more than 25 years. The ruling "Congos" do not want to share the power with the others, a problem not uncommon in many African countries.
Liberia's coastal region is fairly well known for a depth of about 40 miles, but the rest of the country is mostly unexplored. Liberia is in general covered by an extremely dense forest and the mountains are thickly wooded up to their summits, which attain an altitude of about 1,500 m. The climate is unhealthy. In addition to "prickly heat" other common ailments include malaria and dysentery. Rubber is the most important crop. Iron ore mining is the major industry.