Counties in the senate | Montserrado

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Montserrado County is a county in the northwestern portion of the West African nation of Liberia containing its national capital, Monrovia. One of 15 counties that comprise the first-level of administrative division in the nation, it has 17 sub political districts. As of the 2022 Census, it had a population of 1,920,914, making it the most populous county in Liberia.[2][3] The area of the county measures 738.5 square miles (1,913 km2), the smallest in the country.[4] Bensonville serves as the capital.

Created in 1847 at the foundation of the Liberian republic, the county is the oldest in Liberia. Previously, it had been the site of the colony of Kentucky in Liberia. Montserrado’s County Superintendent is Nyenekon Beauty Snoh-Barcon.[3][5] The county is bordered by Bomi County to the west, Bong County to the north, and Margibi County to the east. The southern part of Montserrado lies on the Atlantic Coast.


Early plan for monroviaOn December 11, 1821, officials from the United States arrived aboard the vessel Alligator under the command of Captain Robert F. Stockton at Mesurado Bay. Stockton and Dr. Eli Ayers negotiated to acquire the land in and around the bay from the native chiefs for a settlement by free people of color before sailing to Sierra Leone to pick up these colonists.

On January 7, 1822, free people of color arrived and settled on Providence Island on the Mesurado River under the auspices of the American Colonization Society (ACS), and by April they had moved to the mainland. A Kentucky state affiliate of the ACS was formed in 1828, and members raised money to transport Kentucky blacks—freeborn volunteers as well as slaves set free on the stipulation that they leave the United States—to Africa. The Kentucky society bought a 40-square-mile (100 km2) site along the Saint Paul River and named it Kentucky in Africa. Clay-Ashland was the colony’s main town.

Within the next two decades, approximately 3,200 free people of color arrived in the Montserrado County area from Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Jamaica. As opportunities increased, these people moved through Grand Cape Mount, Bomi County, Montserrado, and Margibi County to seek employment and prosperity. Many of the communities in the county are named for the pioneers who settled the area and their former homes in America.

The Liberian Herald began printing in 1830 in Monrovia and was the first newspaper in Liberia. In 1832, the Dey-Golah War erupted between the colonists and the native tribes. There was one battle, with the colonists from Monrovia defeating the Dey and Golah (Gola) combined group. In 1847, the colony declared its independence and Montserrado was the first of the Republic of Liberia’s counties to sign the Declaration of Independence on July 26, 1847.At the time of creation, the county was composed of three administrative districts in Bomi, Gibi, and Marshall with Monrovia as the county capital. In 1885, the first municipal water supply system was completed in Monrovia.

The first County Inspector was appointed in 1949 by President Tubman, followed by President Tolbert’s appointment of the first County Superintendent in 1973. A railroad was constructed in the mid-1960s from Monrovia’s port to Todee District by the Bong Mining Company.[11] The Mount Coffee Hydropower Project’s first phase was completed in 1966. Rubber and palm oil plantations were started in the 1960s and 1970s, while a factory for producing clothing was built in 1979 in Bentol City

In 1974, the county capital was moved by President Tolbert from Monrovia to his hometown of Bensonville. In 1976, an Assistant Superintendent was added to focus on development in Montserrado County. Bomi Territory in the western portion of the county became Bomi County in 1983. In 1984, Marshall and Gibi territories were combined and became neighboring Margibi County to the east.

Virginia saw the construction of the Unity Conference Center and Hotel Africa in 1979. During the civil strife of the 1980s into the early 2000s much of the county’s infrastructure was looted and left unmaintained. In July 2008, parts of the county received the worst flooding in its recorded history.


Located on the coast in the northwestern third of Liberia, Montserrado County is bordered by three counties.The Atlantic Ocean makes up the county’s southern border, while Bomi County lies on the western border. Bong County is to the north and Margibi County to the east. The land is mainly alluvial soils, primarily clay, washed seaward from the streams and rivers of the interior valleys. In the lowlands on the coast grow palm trees, mangrove woods, and savanna grasslands with tropical forest covering the interior hills and valleys. Rivers include the St. Paul, Mesurado, Du, and Po.

The climate is tropical with dry and wet seasons. Annual precipitation measures approximately 75 inches (190 cm). From May to November is the rainy season, followed by the dry season from December through April. During the dry season winds from the Sahara Desert called the Harmattan create wild temperature fluctuations from December to the beginning of March.


The 2008 Liberian census showed that Bomi County had a population of 84,119, making it the eleventh most populous county in Liberia. The County had at that time a population density of 113 persons per square mile (44 persons per km2).

Bomi contains five chiefdoms and 18 clans. The County’s principal ethnic groups are Gola, Dei, Mandinka and Kpelle.

Resources and Economics

The county contains the most and the largest markets in the entire country.[11] One of these is the Red Light market in Paynesville where a variety of consumer goods are sold out of wheelbarrows and old intermodal containers.[12] Markets include daily markets, primarily for food, and weekly markets.[11] The Red Light market and the Duala markets serve as distribution markets for incoming goods from the rural parts of Liberia.[11]

Due to a lack of formal employment, many engage in informal businesses and trading.[11] As of October 2006, employment in the county is primarily self-employment with only 17% of households having members that were salaried employees.[7] The largest income generation activity was through petty trade or small business, with 46% of households engaged in these activities.[7] This was followed by 25% for making charcoal, 19% for temporary employment, and 18% for palm oil/nut production and sales.[7] The national government is the county’s single largest employer.[5]


Agriculture is a small part of the economy, with the main crops consisting of cassava (90% of all crops), rice (16%), other vegetables (18%), corn (16%), sweet potatoes or eddoes (8%), plantain or bananas (8%), and pulses (1%).[5] Livestock is mainly pigs, chickens, and ducks.[5] Commercial crops grown include cocoa, coconuts, sugarcane, pineapple, kola nuts, palm oil, and rubber.[5] Some palm oil is produced on government-owned farms in Mt. Coffee and Fendell.[5]

Rubber plantations are located in the Todee and Careysburg districts.[5] These include the Morris American Rubber Company in Todee which employs 600 and the Liberia Resources Corporation in Careysburg with 300 employees.[5] Overall rubber production accounts for eight percent of household income in Montserrado County.[5] Small scale mineral extraction occurs for gold and diamonds. Other resource extraction activities include logging and fishing.[5]

The Central Bank of Liberia is located in Monrovia, with other commercial banks also operating in Montserrado County, including the International Bank.[5] The main port is the Freeport of Monrovia, the country’s busiest port.[13] The port has one wharf and four piers, though one pier cannot be used due to a sunken ship.[13] Air travel available at Spriggs Payne Airport in Monrovia and Roberts International Airport in Robertsfield.[13] Roberts is the only international airport in Liberia, and Payne along with Roberts have the only paved runways in the nation.[13] Limited public transportation is available in the capital via the Monrovia Transit Authority. Passenger and freight rail service is available from the private company Geoservices between Monrovia and the Bong mines.

Administrative Districts

Careysburg District and Todee District are the two statutorily created districts in the county.[5] Commonwealth District, Greater Monrovia District and St. Paul River District are also recognized, but are not officially recognized as administrative districts.[5] There are 21 townships, seven cities, one borough, and two chiefdoms contained within these districts. Administration varies by subunit with a governor running the borough, mayors in charge of cities, commissioners administering townships, and superintendents controlling districts.[5]

Commonwealth’s population is 11,876.[3]

Careysburg’s population is 29,712.[3] The main ethnic groups are Kpelle, Bassa, Mano, Kissi, Loma, and Gola.[5] Both the White Plains Water Treatment Plant and the Mount Coffee Hydropower Project are in the district.[5]

Todee District’s population is 33,998 with farming the primary economic activity.[3] The district is run by chiefdoms and clan systems, as the county contains a large number of native African communities.[5]

The most populous district in the county and the nation, Greater Monrovia District, is home to 970,824 people.[3] Employment is mainly informal, small-scale trade and government employment through the national government or foreign governments.[5] The population has members of each of Liberia’s 16 main tribes.[5]

St. Paul River District is the second most populous district in the county with 71,831 residents.[3] Residents are primarily Christians and a member of the Bassa, Dey, or Kpelle tribes.[5] Farming and fishing are the main economic activities along with some small-scale trading.[5] The district has one paved road.