On the eve of her first anniversary in office Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has won praise for her efforts and prompted cautious optimism for the future of her country.
Liberia was still ravaged by a 14-year civil war when Mrs. Sirleaf was sworn in on January 16, 2006 as Liberia's first female president.
A year later the 68-year-old economist is being hailed for fighting corruption, restoring electricity to parts of the capital, Monrovia, and making steps towards revitalizing Liberia's shattered economy.
In an annual report last week, Human Rights Watch said Mrs. Sirleaf has made progress in moving Liberia from "a near-failed state" to a democratic one governed by rule of law.
But the group adds the human rights situation in Liberia continues to be precarious.
The country is still desperately poor and unemployment very high.
Mrs. Sirleaf was inaugurated with great fanfare last year. Her inaugural was attended by U.S. First Lady Laura Bush, South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Harvard trained economist had beaten former football star George Weah in a runoff.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.