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Buchanan, Former Economic Center of Liberia

South of Monrovia is Buchanan, third largest city in Liberia. Also a coastal town, it has a wide collection of lagoons and beaches. It was founded in 1832, though the original name was different than it is now. The black Quakers who established the colony named it Port Cresson after their financier, a Philadelphian merchant who supported their endeavor. This colony only lasted a few years, however, as resentful ethnic tribal members obliterated it. The new colony that was founded to replace it was named Bassa Cove, for the name of the tribe that had formerly attacked it. Bassa Cove managed to prevail better than its predecessor, and in April of 1893 was annexed to Liberia.

Buchanan was named after Thomas Buchanan, who was the first governor of Liberia. He was also a cousin of American President James Buchanan, and a tireless patriot for the cause and development of Liberia. He quite literally worked himself to death, passing away in 1841 from fatigue and overexposure to the elements.

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At one time, Buchanan was as much a major economic center as Monrovia. Today, however, many of the industries that fueled the city’s economy have since fallen into decline or even disuse. A railway running between Buchanan and Nimba at one time shuffled iron ore to be shipped out of the country. In addition, the city saw exports of palm oil and rubber from the interior. Foreign companies invested heavily in valuable products that could be found in the region, and much of it was brought through Buchanan to be shipped out.

The Liberian Civil Wars, running almost consecutively from 1989 until 2007, completely disrupted trade in Buchanan. Though the town itself mostly avoided the conflict, the economic infrastructure was not so lucky. Shops and offices, particularly those built around the port or the railway, were defaced and plundered, and foreign investments quickly pulled out to alleviate their losses. Despite the shattered economy and rampant civil strife, Buchanan was yet safer than the war-torn areas of Monrovia and other cities and regions. As a result, refugees flocked to the city to flee the fighting.

In the last few years Buchanan, and the country of Liberia as a whole, has slowly begun to recover from the conflict. Small improvements have been made, which residents and foreigners alike hope to be precursors of what is to come. After nearly fifteen years of civil strife, Liberia is just beginning to gain ground again. Foreign investments, the lifeline of the economy, is gradually starting to trickle back into the country, raising the export revenue and profiting many areas of life. After several bloody coups and revolts, the government is finally stabilizing once more under the leadership of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Cities like Buchanan and Monrovia have made improvements in areas of economy, poverty, literacy, and other social problems, leading the country to follow into a promising age of peace.

Copyright villageofbuchanan.org 2008