Côte d'Ivoire

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(Redirected from Ivory Coast)
République de Côte-d'Ivoire
Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
Flag of Ivory Coast Coat of arms of Ivory Coast
MottoUnion – Discipline – Travail
(French: Unity – Discipline – Labour)
"Song of Abidjan"
Location of Ivory Coast
CapitalYamoussoukro (de jure)
Abidjan (de facto)
Largest city Abidjan
Official languages French
Vernacular languages Dioula, Baoulé, Dan, Anyin and Cebaara Senufo among others
Ethnic groups (2018) Akan 41.1%
Voltaiques or Gur 17.6%
Northern Mandes 27.5%
Krous 11.0%
other 2.8%
(includes 130,000 Lebanese
and 14,000 French)
Demonym Ivorian
Government Presidential republic
 -  President Alassane Ouattara
 -  Prime Minister vacant
 -  from France 7 August 1960 
 -  Total 322,460 km² (69th)
124,502 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.4[1]
 -  2020 estimate 20,617,068[1] (53rd)
 -  Density 63.9/km² (139th)
191/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2020 estimate
 -  Total $163.594 billion[2] 
 -  Per capita $6,201[2] 
GDP (nominal) 2020 estimate
 -  Total $58.792 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $2,286[3] 
Gini (2015) 41.5[4] 
Currency West African CFA franc (XOF)
Time zone GMT (UTC+0)
 -  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+0)
Internet TLD .ci
Calling code +225
a Estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower population than would otherwise be expected.

Côte d'Ivoire, commonly called Ivory Coast (in English, officially the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire), is a country on the coast of West Africa. It borders Liberia and Guinea to the west, Mali and Burkina Faso to the north, Ghana to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south.

Once one of the most prosperous of the tropical West African states, its economy has been undermined and its people held back by political turmoil and civil war.


The country was originally known in English as Ivory Coast, and corresponding translations in other languages: Côte-d'Ivoire in French, Elfenbeinküste in German, Costa de Marfil in Spanish, Norsunluurannikko in Finnish, Pantai Gading in Indonesian, Ivoorkust in Dutch, Wybrzeże Kości Słoniowej in Polish, Costa d'Avorio in Italian, Elefántcsontpart in Hungarian , Ακτή Ελεφαντοστού in Greek, and so on. In October 1985, the government requested that the country be known as Côte d'Ivoire in every language, without the hyphen, contravening the standard rule in French that geographical names with several words must be written with hyphens.

Despite the Ivorian government's ruling, "Ivory Coast" (sometimes "the Ivory Coast") is still used in English. Governments, however, use "Côte d'Ivoire" for diplomatic reasons. The English country name registered with the United Nations and adopted by ISO 3166 is "Côte d'Ivoire." Journalistic style guides usually (but not always) recommend "Ivory Coast:"

  • The Guardian newspaper's Style Guide says: "Ivory Coast, not "the Ivory Coast" or "Côte D'Ivoire;" its nationals are "Ivorians."[5]
  • The BBC usually uses "Ivory Coast" both in news reports and on its page about the country
  • The United States Department of State uses "Côte d'Ivoire" in formal documents, but uses "Ivory Coast" in many general references, speeches, and briefing documents.
  • Encyclopædia Britannica uses "Côte d'Ivoire."
  • ABC News, The Times, the New York Times, and SABC all use "Ivory Coast" either exclusively or predominantly.
  • Rand-McNally Millennium World Atlas uses "Côte d'Ivoire."
  • FIFA uses Côte d'Ivoire when referring to their national football team in international games and in official broadcasts.


Côte d'Ivoire is a country of western Sub-Saharan Africa, with an area of 123,847 square miles (320,763 sq km). It borders Liberia and Guinea in the west, Mali and Burkina Faso in the north, Ghana in the east, and the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) in the south.

Terrain and topography

Côte d'Ivoire's terrain can generally be described as a large plateau rising gradually from sea level in the south to almost 500 m elevation in the north. The nation's natural resources have made it into a comparatively prosperous nation in the African economy.

The southeastern region of the country is marked by coastal inland lagoons that starts at the Ghanaian border and stretch 300 km (190 miles) along the eastern half of the coast. The southern region, especially the southwest, is covered with dense tropical, moist forest. The Eastern Guinean forests extend from the Sassandra River across the south-central and southeast portion of Côte d'Ivoire and east into Ghana, while the Western Guinean lowland forests extend west from the Sassandra River into Liberia and southeastern Guinea. The mountains of Dix-Huit Montagnes region, in the west of the country near the border with Guinea and Liberia, are home to the Guinean montane forests. The Guinean forest-savanna mosaic belt extends across the middle of the country from east to west, and is the transition zone between the coastal forests and the interior savannas. The forest-savanna mosaic interlaces forest, savanna and grassland habitats. Northern Côte d'Ivoire is part of the West Sudanian savanna, a savanna-and-scrubland zone of lateritic or sandy soils, with vegetation decreasing from south to north. The terrain is mostly flat to undulating plains, with mountains in the northwest. The lowest elevation in Côte d'Ivoire is at sea level on the coasts. The highest elevation is Mount Nimba, at 1,752 m in the far west of the country, along the border with Guinea and Liberia.


Map Of Côte d'Ivoire

The climate of Côte d'Ivoire is generally warm and humid, ranging from equatorial in the southern coasts to tropical in the middle and semiarid in the far north. There are three seasons: Warm and dry (November to March), hot and dry (March to May), and hot and wet (June to October). Temperatures average between 25 and 30°C and range from 10 to 40°C.

Crops and natural resources

Côte d'Ivoire's also has a large timber industry due to its large forest coverage. The nation's hardwood exports match that of Brazil. In recent years there has been much concern about the rapid rate of deforestation. Rainforests are being destroyed at a rate sometimes cited as the highest in the world. The only forest left completely untouched in Côte d'Ivoire is Taï National Park (Parc National de Taï), a 3600km² (1400 square mile) area in the country's far southwest that is home to over 150 endemic species and many other endangered species such as the Pygmy Hippopotamus and 11 species of monkeys.

Eight percent of the country is arable land. Côte d'Ivoire is the world's largest producer of cocoa, a major national cash crop. Other chief crops include coffee, bananas, and oil palms, which produce palm oil and kernels. Natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, manganese, iron, cobalt, bauxite, copper, and hydropower.


Little is known about Côte d'Ivoire before the arrival of Portuguese ships in the 1460s. The major ethnic groups came relatively recently from neighboring areas: The Kru people came from Liberia around 1600; the Senoufo and Lobi moved southward from Burkina Faso and Mali; in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Akan people, including the Baoulé, migrated from Ghana into the eastern area of the country, and the Malinké from Guinea into the northwest.

French colonial era

Compared to neighboring Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire suffered little from the slave trade. European slaving and merchant ships preferred other areas along the coast with better harbors. France took an interest in the 1840s, enticing local chiefs to grant French commercial traders a monopoly along the coast. Thereafter, the French built naval bases to keep out non-French traders and began a systematic conquest of the interior. They accomplished this only after a long war in the 1890s, against Mandinka forces, mostly from Gambia. Guerrilla warfare by the Baoulé and other eastern groups continued until 1917.

France's main goal was to stimulate the production of exports. Coffee, cocoa, and palm oil crops were soon planted along the coast. Côte d'Ivoire stood out as the only West African country with a sizable population of "settlers;" elsewhere in West and Central Africa, the French and British presence were largely as bureaucrats. As a result, a third of the cocoa, coffee, and banana plantations were in the hands of French citizens and a deleterious forced-labor system became the backbone of the economy.


The son of a Baoulé chief, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, was to become Côte d'Ivoire's father of independence. In 1944, he formed the country's first agricultural trade union for African cocoa farmers like himself. Annoyed that colonial policy favored French plantation owners, they united to recruit migrant workers for their own farms. Houphouët-Boigny soon rose to prominence and within a year was elected to the French Parliament in Paris. A year later the French abolished forced labor. As Houphouët-Boigny grew fonder of money and power, and became more ingratiated with the French, he gradually dropped the more radical stance of his youth. France reciprocated by making him the first African to become a minister in a European government.

At the time of Côte d'Ivoire's independence in 1960, the country was easily French West Africa's most prosperous, contributing over 40 percent of the region's total exports. When Houphouët-Boigny became the first president, his government gave farmers good prices to further stimulate production. Coffee production increased significantly, catapulting Côte d'Ivoire into third place in total output behind Brazil and Colombia. By 1979, the country was the world's leading producer of cocoa. It also became Africa's leading exporter of pineapples and palm oil. French technicians contributed to the "Ivorian miracle." In the rest of Africa, Europeans were driven out following independence; but in Côte d'Ivoire, they poured in. The French community grew from 10,000 to 50,000 inhabitants, most of them teachers and advisers. For twenty years, the economy maintained an annual growth rate of nearly 10 percent—the highest of Africa's non-oil-exporting countries.

Houphouët-Boigny administration

Politically, Houphouët-Boigny ruled with an iron hand. The press was not free, and only one political party was tolerated. Houphouët-Boigny was also Africa's number one producer of "show" projects. So many millions of dollars were spent transforming his village, Yamoussoukro, into the new capital that it became the butt of jokes. But by the early 1980s, the world recession and a local drought sent shock waves through the Ivorian economy. Due in large part to the over cutting of timber and collapsing sugar prices, the country's national debt increased threefold. Crime rose dramatically in Abidjan. The miracle was over.

In 1990, hundreds of civil servants went on strike, joined by students protesting institutional corruption. The unrest forced the government to support multi-party democracy. Houphouët-Boigny became increasingly feeble and died in 1993. He favored Henri Konan Bédié as his successor.

Bédié administration

In October 1995, Bédié won re-election, overwhelming a fragmented and disorganized opposition. He tightened his hold over political life, jailing several hundred opposition supporters. In contrast, the economic outlook improved, at least superficially, with decreasing inflation and an attempt to remove foreign debt.

Bedié was very careful at avoiding ethnic conflict and left access to Ivorian nationality wide-open to immigrants from neighboring countries. Unlike Houphouët-Boigny, Bedié emphasized the concept of "Ivority" (Ivoirité) to exclude his rival Alassane Ouattara. Under his direction, having only one parent of Ivory Coast nationality was sufficient proof of citizenship to be elected president of Cote d'Ivoire. As people originating from Burkina Faso are a large part of the Ivorian population, this policy excluded many people from Ivorian nationality, and the relationship between various ethnic groups became strained.

1999 coup

Similarly, Bédié excluded many potential opponents from the army. In late 1999, a group of dissatisfied officers staged a military coup, putting General Robert Guéi in power. Bédié fled to exile in France. The coup successfully reduced crime and corruption, and its leaders, the army general corps, pressed for austerity and openly campaigned in the streets for a less wasteful society.

Gbagbo administration

A presidential election was held in October 2000, but it was neither peaceful nor democratic. The lead-up to the election was marked by military and civil unrest. Alassane Ouattara was disqualified by the country's Supreme Court, due to his Burkinabé nationality. This sparked violent protests in which Ouattara's supporters, predominantly from the country's Muslim north, battled riot police in the capital, Yamoussoukro. Guéï claimed victory in the election, but Gbagbo supporters took to the streets, toppling Guéï who fled the capital. Gbagbo installed himself as President on October 26, 2000.

First Ivorian Civil War

In the early hours of September 19, 2002, troops, who were to be demobilized, mutinied. They launched attacks in several cities. By noon, the Government claimed to have beaten the rebels; when in fact they had lost control of the north of the country, which remains divided from the south. The fight for control of the south had been tough also. The battle for the main Gendarmerie Barracks in Abidjan lasted till mid-morning. What exactly happened that night is disputed. The Gbagbo government said that former president Robert Guéi had led a coup attempt, and state television showed pictures of Guéi's dead body in the street. Counter-claims said that he and fifteen others had been murdered at his home and his body had been dragged into the streets to incriminate him. Alassane Ouattara, his home burned down, took refuge in the French embassy.

President Gbagbo cut short a foreign trip to Italy, and on his return, said some of the rebels were hiding in the shanty towns where foreign migrant workers live. Gendarmes and vigilantes attacked the migrant workers, bulldozing and burning thousands of their homes.

An early ceasefire with the rebels, who had the backing of the northern populace (mostly of Burkinabé origin), proved short-lived and fighting over the prime cocoa-growing areas resumed. France sent in troops to maintain the cease-fire boundaries, and militias, including warlords and fighters from Liberia and Sierra Leone, took advantage of the crisis to seize parts of the west.

2003 unity government

In January 2003, President Gbagbo and rebel leaders signed accords creating a "government of national unity." Curfews were lifted and French troops cleaned up the lawless western border of the country. But the central problems remained, and neither side achieved its goals.

After that President Gbagbo's Unity government has proven unstable. In March 2004, 120 people were killed in an opposition rally. A later report concluded the killings were government planned. Though United Nations peace-keepers were deployed, relations between Gbagbo and the opposition continued to deteriorate.

Aftermath 2004-2007

"Childsoldier in the Ivory Coast."

Early in November 2004, after the peace agreement had effectively collapsed following the rebels' refusal to disarm, Gbagbo ordered airstrikes against the rebels. During one of these airstrikes in Bouaké, French soldiers were hit and nine of them were killed; the Ivorian government has said it was a mistake, but the French have claimed it was deliberate. They responded by destroying most Ivoirian military aircraft (2 Su-25 planes and 5 helicopters), and violent retaliatory riots against the French broke out in Abidjan.

Gbagbo's original mandate as president expired on October 30, 2005, but due to the lack of disarmament it was deemed impossible to hold an election, and therefore his term in office was extended for a maximum of one year, according to a plan worked out by the African Union; this plan was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.[6] With the late October deadline approaching in 2006, it was regarded as very unlikely that the election would be held by that point, and the opposition and the rebels rejected the possibility of another term extension for Gbagbo. The UN Security Council endorsed another one-year extension of Gbagbo's term on November 1, 2006; however, the resolution provided for the strengthening of Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny's powers. Gbagbo said the next day that elements of the resolution deemed to be constitutional violations would not be applied.

A peace deal between the government and the rebels, or New Forces, was signed on March 4, 2007, and subsequently Guillaume Soro, leader of the New Forces, became prime minister.

Second Ivorian Civil War

The presidential elections that should have been organized in 2005 were postponed until November 2010. The preliminary results announced by the Electoral Commission showed a loss for Gbagbo in favor of his rival, former prime minister Alassane Ouattara. The ruling FPI contested the results before the Constitutional Council, charging massive fraud in the northern departments controlled by the rebels of the Forces Nouvelles de Côte d'Ivoire (FNCI). These charges were contradicted by international observers. The report of the results led to severe tension and violent incidents. The Constitutional Council declared the results of seven northern departments unlawful and that Gbagbo had won the elections with 51 percent of the vote (instead of Ouattara winning with 54 percent, as reported by the Electoral Commission).

After the inauguration of Gbagbo, Ouattara, recognized as the winner by most countries and the United Nations, organized an alternative inauguration. These events raised fears of a resurgence of civil war and thousands of refugees fled the country.[7]

After months of unsuccessful negotiations and sporadic violence, the crisis entered a critical stage as Ouattara's forces seized control of most of the country, with Gbagbo entrenched in Abidjan, the country's largest city. International organizations reported numerous instances of human rights violations by both sides. In the city of Duékoué, hundreds of people were estimated to have been killed, predominantly by advancing pro-Ouattara militias. In nearby Blolequin, dozens of people were killed, reportedly by retreating Liberian militias who had been hired by pro-Gbagbo forces.[8] UN and French forces took military action against Gbagbo and Gbagbo was taken into custody after a raid on his residence on April 11, 2011.

The country was severely damaged by the war, and it was observed that Ouattara had inherited a formidable challenge to rebuild the economy and reunite Ivorians.[9] Gbagbo was taken to the International Criminal Court in The Hague in January 2016. He was declared acquitted by the court but given a conditional release in January 2019.[10] Belgium was designated as host country.[11]


The official capital became Yamoussoukroin 1983. However, Abidjan remains the administrative center. Most countries maintain their embassies in Abidjan, although some (including the United Kingdom) have closed their missions because of the continuing violence and attacks on Europeans. The population continues to suffer because of the ongoing civil war. International human rights organizations have noted ongoing problems with the treatment of captive non-combatants by both sides and the re-emergence of child slavery among workers in cocoa production.

Stemming from the incidents which occurred on September 19, 2002, a civil war broke out, and the north part of the country was seized by the rebels, the New Forces (FN). Although most of the fighting ended by late 2004, the country remained split in two, with the north controlled by the New Forces.

Administrative Divisions

Since 2011, Ivory Coast has been administratively organized into 12 districts plus two district-level autonomous cities. The districts are divided into 31 regions; the regions are divided into 108 departments; and the departments are divided into 510 sub-prefectures. In some instances, multiple villages are organized into communes. The autonomous districts are not divided into regions, but they do contain departments, sub-prefectures, and communes.


Women with fruit in Bassam, Ivory Coast

Maintaining close ties to France since independence in 1960, diversification of agriculture for export and encouragement of foreign investment has made Côte d'Ivoire one of the most prosperous of the tropical African states. Although in recent years Côte d'Ivoire has been subject to the global marketplace for its coffee and cocoa, as the main export crops, along with tropical wood, timber, and tuna. Internal corruption makes life difficult for the farmers and growers and for those exporting into foreign markets.


The population is considered to be 77 percent Ivorian. They represent several different people and language groups. Among the several ethnic groups are an estimated 65 languages spoken. Some of the most common include Djoula which acts as a trade language as well as a language commonly spoken by the Muslim population.

Cote d'Ivoire has established itself as one of the most successful West African nations. Nearly 20 percent of the population consists of workers from neighboring Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Guinea. This has created steadily increasing tension in recent years, especially as most of these workers are Muslim, while the native-born population is largely Christian (primarily Roman Catholic) and animist. Many are French, British, and Spanish citizens, as well as Protestant missionaries of American and Canadian background.


Mask from Côte d'Ivoire

The culture has remained split between the many tribal cultures and the French culture. Traditional stilt-walkers of the Man forest mountaineers, along with Senufo mask carvers, dancing to drums and xylophones, as well as the wooden sculptures and fine gold jewelry of the Baule artists round the country's expressions.

Bernard B. Dadie, the famous novelist,along with Goffi Jadeau and Amon d'Aby won attention for national theater plays. A Muslim, Ahmadou Kourouma, wrote the Ivorian novel, The Suns of Independence (1968 Les Soleils des independence's).


  1. 1.0 1.1 Central Intelligence Agency, Côte d'Ivoire The World Factbook.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Côte d'Ivoire International Monetary Fund.
  3. 3.0 3.1 GDP (current US$) - Cote d'Ivoire World Bank. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  4. Gini Index World Bank. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  5. Style Guide The Guardian. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  6. Cote d'Ivoire: UN Endorses Plan to Leave President in Office Beyond Mandate All Africa, October 14, 2005. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  7. Thousands flee Ivory Coast for Liberia amid poll crisis BBC News, December 25, 2010. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  8. Peter DiCampo, An Uncertain Future Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, April 27, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  9. Thalia Griffiths, The war is over — but Ouattara's struggle has barely begun The Guardian, April 11, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  10. Samuel Quashie-Idun, Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo freed by International Criminal Court CNN, January 15, 2019. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  11. Ivory Coast's ex-president Laurent Gbagbo released to Belgium Al Jazeera, February 6, 2019. Retrieved July 19, 2020.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Laurent, Ajdehi. Cote D'Ivoire—Africa: Two Battles To Win. Outskirts Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1432729431
  • McGovern, Mike. Making War in Cote D'Ivoire. Chicago, IL: University Of Chicago Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0226514604
  • Sheehan, Patricia, and Jacqueline Ong. Cote D'Ivoire (Cultures of the World). New York, NY: Benchmark Books, 2010. ISBN 978-0761448549

External links

All links retrieved January 12, 2024.


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