Côte d'Ivoire

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: African Countries; Countries

République de Côte d'Ivoire
Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
Flag of Côte d'Ivoire Coat of arms of Côte d'Ivoire
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Unity, Discipline and Labour"  (translation)
Anthem: L'Abidjanaise
Location of Côte d'Ivoire
Capital Yamoussoukro (official)
Abidjan ( de facto)
6°51′N 5°18′W
Largest city Abidjan
Official languages French
Government Republic
 - President Laurent Gbagbo
 - Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny
Independence from France 
 - Date August 7, 1960 
 - Total 322,463 km² ( 68th)
124,503 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 1.4
 - 2005 estimate 18,154,000a ( 57th)
 - 1988 census 10,815,694
 - Density 56/km² ( 141st)
145/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $27.48 billion ( 98th)
 - Per capita $1,441 ( 157th)
HDI  (2004) 0.421 (low) ( 164rth)
Currency 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 /kot divwaʀ/ in International French; officially the République de Côte d'Ivoire), or, translated into English, the Ivory Coast, is a country in 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 by political turmoil and civil war, spawned by a failed attempt to assassinate the elected president. Consequently the country has been divided for the past four years, while the United Nations, France and South African President Thabo Mbeki of the African Union have worked with Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and leadership of the "Rebel Forces" to try to negotiate a peace deal, but without success, leading to four years of "no peace, no war", which has undermined the country's economy.


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 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 neighbouring Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire suffered little from the slave trade. European slaving and merchant ships preferred other areas along the coast with better harbours. 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 English were largely bureaucrats. As a result, a third of the cocoa, coffee and banana plantations were in the hands of French citizens and a hated 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 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 in 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 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 '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 10,000 to 50,000, most of them teachers and advisers. 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

Politically, Houphouët-Boigny ruled with a strength that some would call an "iron hand" while others characterize 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. Some felt that the millions of dollars were spent transforming his village, Yamoussoukro, into the new capital that it became, was a waste, but others support his vision to develop a centre for peace, education and religion in the heart of the country. But by 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 multiparty 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, sending several hundred opposition supporters to jail. 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, having only one parent of Ivory Coast nationality, to run for future presidential election. 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 into exile in France. The coup had reduced crime and corruption, and the generals pressed for austerity and openly campaigned in the streets for a less wasteful society.

Gbagbo administration

A presidential election was held in October 2000 in which Laurent Gbagbo vied with Guéi, but it was neither peaceful nor democratic. The lead-up to the election was marked by military and civil unrest. Guéi'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 did not allow non-citizens to run for president. This sparked violent protests in which his supporters, mainly from the country's Muslim north, battled riot police in the capital, Yamoussoukro.

2002 mutiny

In the early hours of September 19, 2002, there was an attempted assassination of the president. Troops who were to be demobilised mutinied, launching attacks in several cities. By lunchtime the French interjected to assist the Government; it is disputed as to whether their interjection into the situation helped or hindered the situation - but by the end of the day, they had lost control of the north of the country, which is still divided from the south today. The fight for the south had also been tough. The battle for the main Gendarmerie Barracks in Abidjan lasted till mid-morning. What exactly happened that night is disputed. The government said that former president Robert Guéi 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 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 vigiliantes bulldozed and burned homes by the thousand, attacking the residents.

An early ceasefire with the rebels, who had the backing 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 cleaned up the lawless western border of the country. But the central problems remained, and neither side achieved its goals.

Since then, the unity government has proven extremely unstable. In March 2004, 120 people were killed in an opposition rally. A later report concluded the killings were planned. Though UN peacekeepers were deployed, relations between Gbagbo and the opposition continued to deteriorate.


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 aforementioned population continues to suffer because of an ongoing civil war. 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.

Since the incident on September 19, 2002 (refer to the history section), a civil war broke out, and the north part of the country has been seized by the rebels, the New Forces (FN). A new presidential election was expected to be held in October, 2005. However, this new election could not be held on time due to delay in preparation and has been postponed to October 2006 after an agreement was reached among the rival parties.


Map Of Côte d'Ivoire
Map Of Côte d'Ivoire
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

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 their 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 Djoula, 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 urban areas (particularly Abidjan).

Since Cote d'Ivoire has established itself as one of the most successful West African nations, about 20% of the population consists of workers from neighbouring Liberia, Burkina Faso and Guinea. This fact has created steadily increasing tension in recent years, especially since most of these workers are Muslims while the native-born population is largely Christian (primarily Roman Catholic) and animist. 4% of the population is of non-African ancestry. Many are French, British, and Spanish citizens, as well as Protestant missionaries of American and Canadian background. In November 2004, around 10,000 French and other foreign nationals evacuated Cote d'Ivoire due to attacks from pro-government youth militias.


Mask from Côte d'Ivoire
Mask from Côte d'Ivoire
  • Music of Côte d'Ivoire: Alpha Blondy, Gyil, Dunun
  • Islam in Côte d'Ivoire
  • List of writers from Côte d'Ivoire
  • Art of Côte d'Ivoire



The country was originally known in English as Ivory Coast. Some translations into other languages:

Côte-d'Ivoire French
Elfenbeinküste German
Costa de Marfil Spanish
ساحل العاج Arabic
Norsunluurannikko Finnish
Pantai Gading Indonesian
Ivoorkust Dutch
Fildişi Sahilleri Turkish
Wybrzeże Kości Słoniowej Polish
Берег Слоновой Кости Russian
Обала Слоноваче Serbian
Costa d'Avorio Italian
Costa do Marfim Portuguese
Slonokoščena obala Slovenian
Pobrežie Slonoviny Slovak
Pobřeží Slonoviny Czech
Elefántcsontpart Hungarian
Ακτή Ελεφαντοστού Greek
Fílabeinsströndin Icelandic
Coasta de Fildeş Romanian

In October 1985 the government requested that the country be known as Côte d'Ivoire in every language, 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 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". English-speaking people in neighboring Liberia and Ghana both use "Cote d'Ivoire" in preference to "Ivory Coast". 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"
  • The BBC usually uses "Ivory Coast" both in news reports and on its page about the country .
  • The Economist newsmagazine's Style Guide says "Côte d'Ivoire not Ivory Coast".
  • 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 and the IOC use Côte d'Ivoire when referring to their national football team and Olympic teams in international games and in official broadcasts.
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