Côte d'Ivoire

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Africa; African Countries

République de Côte d'Ivoire
Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
Flag of Côte d'Ivoire Image:Coat of arms of Cotê d'Ivoire.svg
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Union - Discipline - Travail" "Unity, Discipline and Labour"  (translation)
Anthem:  L'Abidjanaise
Location of Côte d'Ivoire
Capital Yamoussoukro ( de jure)
Abidjan ( de facto)
Largest city Abidjan
Demonym Ivorian/Ivoirian
Government Republic
 -  President Laurent Gbagbo
 -  Prime Minister Guillaume Soro
Independence from France 
 -  Date August 7, 1960 
 -  Total 322,460 km² ( 68th)
124,502  sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.4
 -  2008 estimate 18,373,060 
 -  1988 census 10,815,694 
 -  Density 56/km² ( 141st)
145/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2007 estimate
 -  Total $32.86 billion 
 -  Per capita $1,800 
Gini (2002) 44.6 (medium
HDI (2007) 0.432 (low) ( 166th)
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 (pronounced /ˌkoʊt divˈwɑː(r)/ ' in English, IPA [kot diˈvwaʀ] in French), or Ivory Coast, officially the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire is a country in West Africa. The government officially discourages the use of the name Ivory Coast in English, preferring the French name Côte d'Ivoire to be used in all languages. 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.

The country's early history is virtually unknown, although a Neolithic culture is thought to have existed. In the 19th century it was invaded by two Akan groups. In 18431844, a treaty made it a protectorate of France and in 1893 Côte d'Ivoire became a French colony. The country became independent in 1960. Until 1993 it was led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny and was closely associated economically and politically with its West African neighbours, for example forming the Council of the Entente. At the same time the country maintained close ties to the West, which helped its economic development and political stability. Since the end of Houphouët-Boigny's rule, this stability has been destroyed by two coups (1999 and 2001) and a civil war since 2002, which has hampered its economic development.

Côte d'Ivoire is a republic with a strong executive power personified in the President. Its de jure capital is Yamoussoukro and the official language is French. The country is divided into 19 regions and 58 departments. Côte d'Ivoire's economy is largely market-based and relies heavily on agriculture, with smallholder cash crop production being dominant.


Little is known about Côte d'Ivoire before the arrival of Portuguese ships in the 1460s. The major ethnic groups came relatively recently from neighbouring areas: the Kru people 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 north-west.

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 sizeable population of "settlers"; elsewhere in West and Central Africa, the French and British were largely bureaucrats. As a result, a third of the cocoa, coffee and banana plantations were in the hands of French citizens and a forced-labour 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 favoured 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 labour. Houphouët-Boigny established a strong relationship with the French government, expressing a belief that the country would benefit from it, which it did for many years. France made him the first African to become a minister in a European government.

In 1958, Côte d'Ivoire became an autonomous member of the French Community (which replaced the French Union).

At the time of Côte d'Ivoire's independence (1960), the country was easily French West Africa's most prosperous, contributing over 40% of the region's total exports. When Houphouët-Boigny became the first president, his government gave farmers good prices for their products to further stimulate production. Coffee production increased significantly, catapulting Côte d'Ivoire into third place in world 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 'Ivoirian 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 only 10,000 prior to independence to 50,000, most of them teachers and advisors. For 20 years, the economy maintained an annual growth rate of nearly 10% - the highest of Africa's non-oil-exporting countries.

Houphouët-Boigny administration

Abidjan, economic capital of Côte d'Ivoire
Abidjan, economic capital of Côte d'Ivoire

Politically, Houphouët-Boigny ruled with a firmness some called an "iron hand"; others characterized his rule more mildly as "paternal." The press was not free and only one political party existed, although some accepted this as a consequence of Houphouët-Boigny's broad appeal to the population that continually elected him. He was also criticized for his emphasis on developing large scale projects. Many felt the millions of dollars spent transforming his home village, Yamoussoukro, into the new capital that it became, were wasted; others support his vision to develop a centre for peace, education and religion in the heart of the country. But in the early 1980s, the world recession and a local drought sent shockwaves through the Ivoirian economy. Thanks also to the overcutting of timber and collapsing sugar prices, the country's external debt increased threefold. Crime rose dramatically in Abidjan.

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 favoured Henri Konan Bédié as his successor.

Bédié administration

In October 1995, Bédié overwhelmingly won re-election against a fragmented and disorganised 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.

Unlike Houphouët-Boigny, who was very careful in avoiding any ethnic conflict and left access to administrative positions wide-open to immigrants from neighbouring countries, Bedié emphasized the concept of "Ivority" ( Ivoirité) to exclude his rival Alassane Ouattara, who had two parents of foreign nationality, from running for future presidential election. As people originating from Burkina Faso are a large part of the Ivoirian population, this policy excluded many people from Ivoirian 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 Guéï in power. Bédié fled into exile in France. The new leadership reduced crime and corruption, and the generals pressed for austerity and openly campaigned in the streets for a less wasteful society.

Gbagbo administration

Election results of 2002 in Côte d'Ivoire
Election results of 2002 in Côte d'Ivoire

A presidential election was held in October 2000 in which Laurent Gbagbo vied with Guéï, but it was peaceful. The lead-up to the election was marked by military and civil unrest. Guéï's attempt to rig the election led to a public uprising, resulting in around 180 deaths and his swift replacement by the election's likely winner, Gbagbo. Alassane Ouattara was disqualified by the country's Supreme Court, due to his alleged Burkinabé nationality. The existing and later reformed constitution [under Guei] did not allow non-citizens to run for presidency. This sparked violent protests in which his supporters, mainly from the country's north, battled riot police in the capital, Yamoussoukro.

2002 uprising

In the early hours of September 19, 2002, while the President was in Italy, there was an armed uprising. Troops who were to be demobilised mutinied, launching attacks in several cities. The battle for the main gendarmerie barracks in Abidjan lasted until mid-morning, but by lunchtime the government forces had secured the main city, Abidjan. They had lost control of the north of the country, and the rebel forces made their strong-hold in the northern city of Bouake. The rebels threatened to move on Abidjan again and France deployed troops from its base in the country to stop any rebel advance. The French said they were protecting their own citizens from danger, but their deployment also aided the government forces. It is disputed as to whether the French actions improved or worsened the situation in the long-term.

What exactly happened that night is disputed. The government said that former president Robert Guéï had led a coup attempt, and state TV showed pictures of his dead body in the street; counter-claims said that he and fifteen others had been murdered at his home and his body had been moved to the streets to incriminate him. Alassane Ouattara took refuge in the French embassy, his home burned down.

President Gbagbo cut short a trip to Italy and on his return stated, in a television address, that some of the rebels were hiding in the shanty towns where foreign migrant workers lived. Gendarmes and vigilantes bulldozed and burned homes by the thousands, attacking the residents.

An early ceasefire with the rebels, who had the backing of much of the northern populace, 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 patrolled the western border of the country. Since then, the unity government has proven extremely unstable and the central problems remain with neither side achieving its goals. In March 2004, 120 people were killed in an opposition rally, and subsequent mob violence led to foreign nationals being evacuated. A later report concluded the killings were planned.

Though UN peacekeepers were deployed to maintain a Zone of Confidence, relations between Gbagbo and the opposition continued to deteriorate.

Aftermath 2004 - 2007

"Childsoldier in the Ivory Coast."
" 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">United Nations Security Council. 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 U. N. 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. These events have been seen by some observers as substantially strengthening Gbagbo's position.

Regions and departments

Regions of Côte d'Ivoire
Regions of Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire is divided into nineteen regions (régions):

  1. Agnéby
  2. Bafing
  3. Bas-Sassandra
  4. Denguélé
  5. Dix-Huit Montagnes
  6. Fromager
  7. Haut-Sassandra
  8. Lacs
  9. Lagunes
  10. Marahoué
  1. Moyen-Cavally
  2. Moyen-Comoé
  3. N'zi-Comoé
  4. Savanes
  5. Sud-Bandama
  6. Sud-Comoé
  7. Vallée du Bandama
  8. Worodougou
  9. Zanzan

The regions are further divided into 58 departments.

Population of major cities

City Population
Abidjan 3,310,500
Bouaké 775,300
Daloa 489,100
Yamoussoukro 295,500
Korhogo 163,400
San Pédro 151,600
Divo 134,200


Since 1983, Côte d'Ivoire's official capital has been Yamoussoukro; Abidjan, however, remains the administrative centre. 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 Ivoirian population continues to suffer because of an ongoing civil war (See the History section above). International human rights organizations have noted problems with the treatment of captive non-combatants by both sides and the re-emergence of child slavery among workers in cocoa production.

Although most of the fighting ended by late 2004, the country remained split in two, with the north controlled by the New Forces (FN). A new presidential election was expected to be held in October 2005. However, this election could not be held on time due to delay in preparation and was postponed first to October 2006, and then to October 2007 after an agreement was reached among the rival parties.


Satellite image of Côte d'Ivoire, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Satellite image of Côte d'Ivoire, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Map of Côte d'Ivoire
Map of Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire is a country of western sub-Saharan Africa. 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.


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. However, in recent years Côte d'Ivoire has been subject to greater competition and falling prices in the global marketplace for its primary agricultural crops: coffee and cocoa. That, compounded with high internal corruption, makes life difficult for the grower and those exporting into foreign markets.


77% of the population are considered Ivorians. They represent several different people and language groups. An estimated 65 languages are spoken in the country. One of the most common is Dyula, which acts as a trade language as well as a language commonly spoken by the Muslim population. French, the official language, is taught in schools and serves as a lingua franca in the country. The native born population is roughly split into three groups of Muslim, Christian (primarily Roman Catholic) and animist. Since Côte d'Ivoire has established itself as one of the most successful West African nations, about 20% of the population (about 3.4 million) consists of workers from neighbouring Liberia, Burkina Faso and Guinea, over two thirds of these migrant workers are Muslim. 4% of the population is of non-African ancestry. Many are French, Lebanese, Vietnamese and Spanish citizens, as well as Protestant missionaries from the United States and Canada. In November 2004, around 10,000 French and other foreign nationals evacuated Côte d'Ivoire due to attacks from pro-government youth militias. Aside from French nationals, there are native-born descendants of French settlers who arrived during the country's colonial period.


Mask from Côte d'Ivoire
Mask from Côte d'Ivoire
  • Music of Côte d'Ivoire: Espoir 2000, Les Garagistes, Gyil, Dunun
  • Roman Catholicism in Côte d'Ivoire
  • Islam in Côte d'Ivoire
  • List of Ivoirians
  • List of writers from Côte d'Ivoire
  • Art of Côte d'Ivoire


The country was originally known in English as Ivory Coast. In October 1985 the government requested that the country be known in every language as Côte d'Ivoire, without a hyphen between the two words (thereby 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 sometimes used in English:

  • BBC usually uses "Ivory Coast" both in news reports and on its page about the country,
  • The Guardian newspaper's Style Guide says: "Ivory Coast, not 'the Ivory Coast' or 'Côte D'Ivoire'; its nationals are Ivorians,
  • ABC News, The Times, the New York Times, and the South African Broadcasting Corporation all use "Ivory Coast" either exclusively or predominantly.

Governments 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". English-speaking people in neighboring Liberia and Ghana both use "Côte d'Ivoire" in reference to "Ivory Coast". Other organizations that use "Côte d'Ivoire" include:

  • 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,
  • FIFA and the IOC, referring to their national football and Olympic teams in international games and in official broadcasts,
  • The Economist newsmagazine,
  • Encyclopædia Britannica, and
  • National Geographic Society.

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