In 1931 the League of Nations confirmed that Americo-Liberians were using native Africans for forced labor, tantamount to slavery. The ensuing scandal implicated the highest government officials; the president and vice presi...
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...otestant. Islam has made progress among the people of the interior, who have largely retained their animist religions. Altogether, about 70 percent of the people follow traditional religions and 20 percent are Muslim. English is Liberia's official language but is spoken by only about one-fifth of the people. The remainder speak various African languages which mainly belong to the Mande, West Atlantic, or Kwa linguistic groups.
Malaria, tuberculosis, yaws, and leprosy is prevalent in Liberia. In 2001 average life expectancy at birth was 53 years for women and 50 years for men; the infant mortality rate was 132 per 1,000 live births. Some hospitals are operated by the central government, but no national social-welfare system exists.
The Compulsory Education Act of 1912 provides for compulsory, free education for children between the ages of 6 and 16. However, government attempts to implement this law are hindered by a scarcity of educational facilities, and only 33 percent of primary school-aged children were receiving education in 1996. Just 71 percent of the population were literate in 2001. The University of Liberia, in Monrovia and several colleges provide higher education.
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