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The Social Order

Liberia was long characterized by its division into two basic societies. One was composed of the settlers of the freed slaves, who immigrated to West Africa from the New World in the nineteenth century, and the Liberians who descended from them; the other much larger faction was made up of the tribal Africans indigenous to the area whose traditional cultures rarely if ever interacted with outsiders. This view of Liberian society, however, became increasingly inappropriate as the modernization of the economy brought Liberians of tribal background into the urban areas formerly regarded as the domain of the AmericoLiberians.

In the early 1980s, after the coup d'etat by Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe and his enlisted compatriots broke the political dorninance of the Americo Liberian elite, it appeared that the traditional characterization of the social order in dual terms was no longer valid. Many Liberians of settler stock continued to hold important positions within the social framework, but this was ascribed more to their educational and technical competence than to ethnicity.

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