Tropical rainforests cover the hills, while elephant grass and semi-deciduous forests make up the dominant vegetation in the northern sections. The equatorial climate, in the south of the country, is hot year-round with heavy rainfall from May to October with a short interlude in mid-July to August. During the winter months of November to March, dry dust-laden harmattan winds blow inland, causing many problems for residents.
Liberia’s watershed tends to move in a southwestern pattern towards the sea as new rains move down the forested plateau off the inland mountain range of Guinée Forestière, in Guinea. Cape Mount near the border with Sierra Leone receives the most precipitation in the nation.
Liberia’s main northwestern boundary is traversed by the Mano River while its southeast limits are bounded by the Cavalla River. Liberia’s three largest rivers are St. Paul exiting near Monrovia, the river St. John at Buchanan, and the Cestos River, all of which flow into the Atlantic. The Cavalla is the longest river in the nation at 515 kilometers (320 mi).
The highest point wholly within Liberia is Mount Wuteve at 1,440 meters (4,724 ft) above sea level in the northwestern Liberia range of the West Africa Mountains and the Guinea Highlands. However, Mount Nimba near Yekepa, is higher at 1,752 meters (5,748 ft) above sea level but is not wholly within Liberia as Nimba shares a border with Guinea and Ivory Coast and is their tallest mountain as well.
The Central Bank of Liberia is responsible for printing and maintaining the Liberian dollar, Liberia’s primary currency. Liberia is one of the world’s poorest countries, with a formal employment rate of 15%. GDP per capita peaked in 1980 at US$496, when it was comparable to Egypt’s (at the time). In 2011 the country’s nominal GDP was US$1.154 billion, while nominal GDP per capita stood at US$297, the third-lowest in the world. Historically the Liberian economy has depended heavily on foreign aid, foreign direct investment and exports of natural resources such as iron ore, rubber, and timber.
Liberia has the highest ratio of foreign direct investment to GDP in the world, with US$16 billion in investment since 2006. Following Sirleaf’s inauguration in 2006, Liberia signed several multi-billion-dollar concession agreements in the iron ore and palm oil industries with numerous multinational corporations, including BHP Billiton, ArcelorMittal, and Sime Darby. Palm oil companies like Sime Darby (Malaysia) and Golden Veroleum (USA) have been accused of destroying livelihoods and displacing local communities, enabled by government concessions. Since 1926 The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company has operated the world’s largest rubber plantation in Harbel, Margibi County. As of 2015 it had more than 8,000 mostly Liberian employees, making it the country’s largest private employer.
Due to its status as a flag of convenience, Liberia has the second-largest maritime registry in the world behind Panama. It has 3,500 vessels registered under its flag, accounting for 11% of ships worldwide.