All these extremely fragile and underdeveloped economies have either recently been through a civil war or are suffering from ongoing sectarian or ethnic conflicts.
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Political attention in Africa’s oldest republic is now focussed on next year’s presidential elections, with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf expected to remain in power until then. The country has enjoyed peace and stability since the ending of the civil war in 2003, and the multi-national peacekeeping force handed over security responsibilities to the government this year. However the country’s fragile economy has struggled to recover from the twin shocks of the Ebola crisis, which reversed private investment inflows, and the decline in commodity prices. Some recovery in GDP growth is forecast, driven partly by a new gold mining concession coming on stream. But overall the economy is dependent upon exports of rubber, iron ore and palm oil, and so remains vulnerable to fluctuations in global commodity markets. A recent upswing in the services sector, due mainly to a recovery in the hotels and construction sectors, has improved the economic situation. But with many of Liberia’s population dependent upon agriculture and using out-dated farming techniques, overall living standards remain amongst the world’s lowest, with 85% of the people estimated to be living below the poverty line.