Monrovia was first settled in 1822 by the American Colonization Society as a haven for freed slaves from the United States and the British West Indies and was named for James Monroe, then President of the United States.
A port on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the St. Paul River, Monrovia is Liberia's largest city and its administrative, commercial, and financial center. The city's economy is dominated by its harbor, which was substantially expanded by U.S forces during World War II. The main exports are latex and iron ore. The harbor also has extensive storage and ship repair facilities. Manufactures include cement, refined petroleum, food products, bricks and tiles, furniture, and chemicals. The University of Liberia and Cuttington College and Divinity School (Episcopal) are in the city.
Life in Monrovia was severely disrupted in the 1990s by a ruinous civil war.