Liberia joins the club

We comment on reports that Liberia intends to adopt the metric system.

It was reported a few days ago that the Liberian Government has decided that the country should adopt the metric system: 

The outcome of this decision will depend on the effectiveness of implementation and on continuing commitment from everyone involved until the job is done, as has been shown by laggards around the globe including the USA, the UK and a number of Caribbean islands. We await developments with interest.

This means that every country in the world has adopted or is in the process of adopting the metric system as its primary system of measurement – an advance that has taken around 225 years from start to finish. Phew!

Historical note

The Republic of Liberia began as a settlement of the American Colonisation Society, whose members believed that black people would face better chances for freedom and prosperity in Africa than in the United States. In 1847, Liberia was the first African republic to proclaim its independence, and is Africa’s first and oldest modern republic. English is the official language. Liberia’s links to the USA may explain its adherence to US Customary measures, long after other African countries had switched to metric.

5 thoughts on “Liberia joins the club”

  1. Liberia and Burma were always linked with the US as being the only non-metric laggards. This had something to do with them not making an official declaration establishing SI as their primary legal system. But in truth, the US was not in the same boat with Liberia and Burma. The US had made metric legal in 1866, signed the Treaty of the metre in 1875 and established the metric system as the primary legal system in 1975 and again in 1991.

    Liberia and Burma never made a commitment until recently and despite not making a commitment there was progress in many aspects of society due to influence from neighbouring countries. Burma made an official commitment in 2013 and has made some significant progress in the metrication of petrol pumps, speed and distance signs and weather reporting.

    Now that everyone is committed, it is time look at metrication in a new light, that is how far along the road they are and those that are lagging to bring attention to it and apply needed pressure to move everyone towards completion.


  2. A good step in the right direction. That I believe completes the whole world going metric (SI).
    However, it already looks like a long haul of duplicity and muddle. Of three residents of the country I have heard from so far, three negative attitudes, not good starting odds.
    How nice it would be to be totally wrong!


  3. The sad truth is that the USA is the only country left that has not made an official public commitment to convert to metric in all walks of life. Here in the States metric is mostly hidden from public view and all visible information in the public square and in the media remains firmly stuck in “Imperial” (US Customary).

    Only a switch to progressive Democrats in the Congress and in the White House will ever change that and open up at least the possibility of conversion over here. Once that happens, Canada will almost certainly finish the job ahead of us and the UK will have a much harder time staying mired in its muddle since it will hardly want to remain the “odd man out” in the world of global trade that includes a USA visibly moving to metric.


  4. Ezra, you are incorrect. The US has made an official commitment to metricate. The Metric Conversion Act of 1975 was the initial law enacted to start the US on the road to metrication. It was however a voluntary program and forced no one to metricate. There have been some products such as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as well as medicines that have metricated that affect the public directly. Automotive as well as other related machinery also have metricated and partially affect the public. Dual labelling of prepackaged goods is also public exposure to metric units.

    With the Declaration by Liberia, all countries now in one form or another have put themselves on the road to metrication.

    Hidden metric is still metric usage even if the public is shielded from it. The present day function of the American Congress is not enact common sensable policies, but to maintain the status quo concerning the Federal Reserve Dollarasition Policy. It won’t be any action by the American Congress that will prompt the UK and Canada to complete metrication, it will be these countries future trade partners. With the US threat of abolishing NAFTA, Canada and Mexico will have no choice but to become much less dependent on the US for trade, but on the greater metric world. This will result in Canada having to align its policies with that of it new trade partners. Unlike the US, Canada is metric in the public eye (road signs, gas and food, weather) and this will be a great help when Canada adopts ISO and IEC standards to replace those of ANSI and NEMA.

    The UK, if it really does leave the EU, will have to look world-wide for trade partners and these partners are fully metric. To prevent the UK from sneaking in imperial, they can force a commitment to complete metrication.

    And, don’t forget the growing power of China as it works hard in the present time to displace the US in its world leader position. It will be the US, not the UK that is the odd man out.


  5. @Daniel Jackson

    Note that I said the USA has not made a public commitment (i.e. an active conversion in all walks of life similar to what Australia did) to metric. Note that the commission on metrication was abandoned ages ago.

    Hidden metric is just that … hidden. What makes a country visibly metric is its consistent everyday usage in the public sphere, which the USA certainly does not have. And that is what I want to see over here … some day!


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