Liberia seems bent on destroying itself with a series of horrific internal conflicts. Just as the country appeared poised to begin recovery from a bloody civil war, gunfire broke out again in early 2002, spiraling it into yet another political and humanitarian crisis. Rebel attacks on and around the capital in mid-2003 further worsened the situation.

In August 2003, Liberian President Charles Taylor went into exile in Nigeria, opening the way for a transitional government to take the reins and for disarmament to begin. Now, thanks in large part to the presence of U.N. peacekeepers, Liberia's situation is vastly improved.

Yet, the peace is still fragile, and the ongoing hostilities have seriously disrupted normal economic life and growth. Lodging, fuel, transportation and telephone services remain unevenly available in the capital of Monrovia and are nonexistent or severely limited in rural areas. Most hotels have utilities, but not always 24 hours a day, and disruption of communications service is common. Several Western governments have advised travelers to stay away from the country, and that's what we recommend, too.

Even in calmer times, Liberia offered little to attract casual tourists—its infrastructure is poor, amenities are few, and torrential rains make the climate relatively inhospitable for about half of the year. For the more intrepid and adventurous traveler, the country promises patches of pristine rain forests populated by rare species, appealing local cuisines, good beaches and a unique history. Hopefully, one day such attractions will be more widely accessible, if the government stabilizes and factional bloodshed can be brought to a halt once and for all.

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