Liberia is a country in West Africa that was colonized beginning in the 1820s by freed American slaves with the assistance of the American Colonization Society, an organization that believed that former slaves would have greater freedom and equality in West Africa. In 1847, Liberia became an independent nation with a government that was patterned after that of the United States. The country operated with a good deal of stability until 1980 when the government of President William Tolbert was overthrown in a bloody coup. By the end of that decade, the country was in the midst of a full-blown civil war. In the early 2000s the country’s 14-year war ended, after the deaths of 250,000 Liberians and the exodus of tens of thousands of the nation's citizens, many to the United States and Europe. In 2005, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Harvard-educated woman with experience in international finance, was elected president, the first women elected as a head of state in Africa. She was reelected in 2011, the same year she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.