( ; ), (officially the ), is a country in West Africa
. Although it is commonly known in
English as the Ivory Coast
, the Ivorian government
officially discourages this usage, preferring the French name to be
used in all languages. Côte d'Ivoire has an area of
322,462 km2, and borders the countries of Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana; its
southern boundary is along the Gulf of Guinea.
The country's population, which was
15,366,672 in 1998, is estimated to be 18,373,060 in 2008.
Prior to its occupation by Europeans, Côte d'Ivoire was home to
several important states, including Gyaaman
the Kong Empire
, and Baoulé
. There were also two Agni
kingdoms, Indénié and Sanwi, which
attempted to retain their separate identity through the French
colonial period and even after Côte d'Ivoire's independence.
1843–1844 treaty made a "protectorate"
of France and in 1893,
it became a French colony as part of the European scramble for Africa.
became independent on 7 August 1960. From 1960 to 1993, it was led
by . Côte d'Ivoire maintained close political and economic
association with its West African neighbours, while at the same
time the country maintained close ties to the West
, especially to France. However, since the end of
Houphouët-Boigny's rule, the country has experienced two (1999 and
2001) and a civil war
, but recent
elections . and a political agreement between the new government
and the rebels have brought a return to peace.
Today, is a republic
with a strong
executive power personified in the President
. Its de jure capital is Yamoussoukro and the official
language is French.
country is divided into 19
The country, through its production of coffee
, was an economic powerhouse during
the 1960s and 1970s in West Africa. However, Côte d'Ivoire went
through an economic crisis in the 1980s, leading to the country's
period of political and social turmoil. The 21st century Ivorian
economy is largely market-based and relies heavily on agriculture
, with smallholder cash crop
production being dominant. About a quarter of the population live
below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.
The date of the first human presence in has been difficult to
determine because human remains have not been well-preserved in the
country's humid climate. However, the presence of old weapon and
tool fragments (specifically, polished axes cut through shale
and remnants of cooking and fishing) in the
country has been interpreted as a possible indication of a large
human presence during the Upper
period (15,000 to 10,000 BC), or at the minimum,
The earliest known inhabitants of , however, have left traces
scattered throughout the territory. Historians believe that they
were all either displaced or absorbed by the ancestors of the
present inhabitants such as Cavemen. Peoples who arrived
before the 16th century include the Ehotilé (Aboisso), Kotrowou
(Grand Lahou), Ega and Diès (Divo).
Pre-Islamic and Islamic Periods
The first recorded history is found in the chronicles of North
African traders, who, from early Roman
, conducted a caravan
trade across the Sahara
, and other Goods. The southern terminals of the
located on the edge of the desert, and from there supplemental
trade extended as far south as the edge of the rain forest.
important terminals -- Djenné, Gao, and
Timbuctu -- grew into major commercial centers around which
the great Sudanic empires developed.
By controlling the trade routes with their powerful military
forces, these empires were able to dominate neighboring states. The
Sudanic empires also became centers of Islamic education
. Islam had been
introduced into the western Sudan (today's Mali) by Arab traders from North
Africa and spread rapidly after the conversion of many
From the eleventh century
, by which time the rulers
of the Sudanic empires had embraced Islam, it spread south into the
northern areas of contemporary Côte d'Ivoire.
Ghana empire, the earliest of the
Sudanic empires, flourished in present-day eastern Mauritania from the fourth to the thirteenth century.
peak of its power in the eleventh century, its realms extended from
Ocean to Timbuctu.
After the decline of Ghana, the
grew into a powerful Muslim
state, which reached its apogee in the early part of the fourteenth
century. The territory of the Mali Empire in Côte
d'Ivoire was limited to the northwest corner around Odienné.
Its slow decline starting at the end of the fourteenth century
discord and revolts by vassal states, one of which, Songhai
, flourished as an empire between the
fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. Songhai was also weakened by
internal discord, which led to factional warfare. This discord
spurred most of the migrations of peoples southward toward the
forest belt. The dense rain forest covering the southern half of
the country created barriers to large-scale political organizations
as seen further north. Inhabitants lived in villages or clusters of
villages whose contacts with the outside world were filtered
through long-distance traders. Villagers subsisted on agriculture
Five important states flourished in Côte d'Ivoire in the
pre-European era. The Muslim Kong Empire
was established by the Juula in the
early eighteenth century in the north-central region inhabited by
the Sénoufo, who had fled Islamization
under the Mali Empire
. Although Kong
became a prosperous center of agriculture, trade, and crafts,
ethnic diversity and religious discord gradually weakened the
kingdom. The city of Kong was destroyed in 1895 by Samori Ture
Abron kingdom of Gyaaman was established in the seventeenth century
by an Akan group, the Abron, who had fled the
developing Ashanti confederation of Asanteman in what is present-day Ghana.
their settlement south of Bondoukou, the Abron gradually extended their hegemony over
the Dyula people in Bondoukou, who were
recent émigrés from the market city of Begho.
Bondoukou developed into a major center of commerce and Islam. The
scholars attracted students
from all parts of West Africa. In the mid-eighteenth century in
east-central Côte d'Ivoire, other Akan groups fleeing the Asante
established a Baoulé
kingdom at Sakasso
and two Agni
kingdoms, Indénié and Sanwi.
The Baoulé, like the Ashanti, elaborated a highly centralized
political and administrative structure under three successive
rulers, but it finally split into smaller chiefdoms. Despite the
breakup of their kingdom, the Baoulé strongly resisted French
subjugation. The descendants of the rulers of the Agni kingdoms
tried to retain their separate identity long after Côte d'Ivoire's
independence; as late as 1969, the Sanwi of Krinjabo attempted to
break away from Côte d'Ivoire and form an independent
Establishment of French rule
Compared to neighboring Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire suffered little from
the slave trade
, as European slaving and
merchant ships preferred other areas along the coast, with better
harbors.The earliest recorded French voyage to
West Africa took place in 1483. The first West
African French settlement, Saint Louis, was founded in the mid-seventeenth century in
Senegal, while at about the same time the Dutch ceded to the French a settlement at Goree Island off Dakar.
mission was established in 1637 Assinie near the border with the Gold Coast (now Ghana).
Assinie's survival was precarious, however, and only in the
mid-nineteenth century did the French establish themselves firmly
in Côte d'Ivoire. In 1843-1844, French admiral Bouët-Willaumez signed
treaties with the kings of the Grand Bassam and Assinie regions, placing their territories
under a French protectorate.
, missionaries, trading
companies, and soldiers gradually extended the area under French
control inland from the lagoon region. However, pacification was
not accomplished until 1915.
Activity along the coast stimulated European interest in the
interior, especially along the two great rivers, the Senegal River
and the Niger River
. Concerted French exploration of
West Africa began in the mid-nineteenth century but moved slowly
and was based more on individual initiative than on government
policy. In the 1840s, the French concluded a series of treaties
with local West African rulers that enabled the French to build
fortified posts along the Gulf of Guinea to serve as permanent
posts in Côte d'Ivoire included one at Assinie and another at
Bassam, which became the colony's first capital.
The treaties provided for French sovereignty within the posts and
for trading privileges in exchange for fees or coutumes
paid annually to the local rulers for
the use of the land. The arrangement was not entirely satisfactory
to the French because trade was limited and misunderstandings over
treaty obligations often arose. Nevertheless, the French government
maintained the treaties, hoping to expand trade.
France also wanted to maintain a presence in the region to stem the
increasing influence of the British along the Gulf of Guinea coast.
Thereafter, the French built naval bases to keep out non-French
traders and began a systematic conquest of the interior.
accomplished this only after a long war in the 1890s against
Mandinka forces, mostly from
by the Baoulé
and other eastern groups continued until
defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 and the
subsequent annexation by Germany of the French province of Alsace
Lorraine caused the
French government to abandon its colonial ambitions and withdraw
its military garrisons from its French West African trading posts,
leaving them in the care of resident merchants. The trading post at
Grand Bassam in Côte d'Ivoire was left in the care of a shipper
from Marseille, Arthur Verdier, who in 1878 was named resident of the Establishment of Côte
In 1886, to support its claims of effective occupation, France
again assumed direct control of its West African coastal trading
posts and embarked on an accelerated program of exploration in the
interior. In 1887 Lieutenant Louis
began a two-year journey that traversed parts of
Côte d'Ivoire's interior. By the end of the journey, he had
concluded four treaties establishing French protectorates in Côte
d'Ivoire. Also in 1887, Verdier's agent, Marcel Treich-Laplène
, negotiated five additional
agreements that extended French influence from the headwaters of
the Niger River Basin through Côte d'Ivoire.
French colonial era
By the end of the 1880s, France had established what passed for
effective control over the coastal regions of Côte d'Ivoire, and in
1889 Britain recognized French sovereignty in the area. That same
year, France named Treich-Laplène titular governor of the
territory. In 1893 Côte d'Ivoire was made a French colony, and then
Captain Binger was appointed governor. Agreements with
Liberia in 1892 and
with Britain in 1893 determined the eastern and western boundaries
of the colony, but the northern boundary was not fixed until 1947
because of efforts by the French government to attach parts of
Upper Volta (present-day Burkina Faso) and French Sudan
(present-day Mali) to Côte d'Ivoire for economic and administrative
France's main goal was to stimulate the production of exports
and palm oil
soon planted along the coast. 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
and banana plantations
were in the hands of French citizens
and a forced-labour system became the backbone of the economy
Throughout the early years of French rule, French military
contingents were sent inland to establish new posts. The African
population resisted French penetration and settlement. Among those offering
greatest resistance was Samori Ture, who
in the 1880s and 1890s was establishing the Wassoulou Empire which extended over large
parts of present-day Guinea, Mali,
Burkina Faso, and Côte d'Ivoire.
Samori Ture's large,
well-equipped army, which could manufacture and repair its own
, attracted strong support
throughout the region. The French responded to Samori Ture's
expansion of regional control with military pressure. French
campaigns against Samori Ture, which were met with fierce
resistance, intensified in the mid-1890s until he was captured in
France's imposition of a head tax
aimed at enabling the colony to undertake a public works
program, provoked a number of
revolts. Ivoirians viewed the tax as a violation of the terms of
the protectorate treaties because it seemed that France was now
demanding the equivalent of a coutume
from the local kings rather than the
reverse. Much of the population, especially in the interior, also
considered the tax a humiliating symbol of submission.
From 1904 to 1958, Côte d'Ivoire was a constituent unit of the
Federation of French
. It was a colony
overseas territory under the Third
. Until the period following World War II, governmental affairs in French
West Africa were administered from Paris.
France's policy in West Africa was reflected mainly in its
philosophy of "association", meaning that all Africans in Côte
d'Ivoire were officially French "subjects" without rights to
representation in Africa or France.
incorporated concepts of assimilation
Assimilation presupposed the inherent superiority of French culture
over all others, so that in
practice the assimilation policy in the colonies meant extension of
the French language
laws, and customs. The policy of association also affirmed the
superiority of the French in the colonies, but it entailed
different institutions and systems of laws for the colonizer and
the colonized. Under this policy, the Africans in Côte d'Ivoire
were allowed to preserve their own customs insofar as they were
compatible with French interests.
An indigenous elite
trained in French
administrative practice formed an intermediary group between the
French and the Africans. Assimilation was practiced in Côte
d'Ivoire to the extent that after 1930 a small number of
Westernized Ivoirians were granted the right to apply for French
citizenship. Most Ivoirians, however, were classified as French
subjects and were governed under the principle of association. As
subjects of France they had no political rights. Moreover, they
were drafted for work in mines, on plantations, as porters, and on
public projects as part of their tax responsibility. They were also
expected to serve in the military and were subject to the indigénat
, a separate system of law.
In World War II, the Vichy regime
remained in control until 1943, when members of Gen. Charles De Gaulle
's provisional government
assumed control of all French West Africa. The Brazzaville conference
1944, the first Constituent Assembly of the Fourth Republic
in 1946, and France's
gratitude for African loyalty during World War II led to
far-reaching governmental reforms in 1946. French citizenship was
granted to all African "subjects," the right to organize
politically was recognized, and various forms of forced labor were
Until 1958, governors appointed in Paris administered the colony of
Côte d'Ivoire, using a system of direct, centralized administration
that left little room for Ivoirian participation in policy making.
The French colonial administration also adopted divide-and-rule
policies, applying ideas of assimilation only to the educated
elite. The French were also interested in ensuring that the small
but influential elite was sufficiently satisfied with the status
quo to refrain from any anti-French sentiment. In fact, although
they were strongly opposed to the practices of association,
educated Ivoirians believed that they would achieve equality with
their French peers through assimilation rather than through
complete independence from France, a change that would eliminate
the enormous economic advantages of remaining a French possession.
But after the assimilation doctrine was implemented entirely, at
least in principle, through the postwar reforms, Ivoirian leaders
realized that even assimilation implied the superiority of the
French over the Ivoirians and that discrimination and inequality
would end only with independence
The son of a chief, , was to become 's father of independence. In
1944 he formed the country's first agricultural trade union
for African cocoa farmers like
himself. Angered that colonial policy favoured French plantation
owners, they united to recruit migrant workers for their own farms.
to prominence and within a year was elected to the French
Parliament in Paris.
year later the French abolished forced labour. 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
A turning point in relations with France was reached with the 1956
Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre
which transferred a number of powers from Paris to elected
territorial governments in French
and also removed remaining voting inequalities. In
1958, became an autonomous member of the French Community (which
replaced the French Union
At the time of 's independence (1960), the country was easily
French West Africa
prosperous, contributing over 40% of the region's total exports.
When became the first president, his government gave farmers good
prices for their products to further stimulate production.
production increased significantly, catapulting 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 , they poured in. The French
community grew from only 30,000 prior to independence to 60,000 in
1980, most of them teachers
, managers and
advisors. For 20 years, the economy maintained an annual growth
rate of nearly 10% - the highest of Africa's non-oil-exporting
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 's broad
appeal to the population that continually elected him . He was also
criticized for his emphasis on developing large scale projects.
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 center 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. Due 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. became increasingly
feeble and died in 1993. He favoured as his successor.
In October 1995, 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.
Election results of 2002 in
Unlike , who was very careful in avoiding any ethnic conflict and
left access to administrative positions wide-open to immigrants
from neighbouring countries, emphasized the concept of "Ivority" (
) to exclude his rival Alassane
, who had two northern Ivorian parents, from running
for future presidential election. As people originating from
foreign countries 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.
Similarly, excluded many potential opponents from the army. In late
1999, a group of dissatisfied officers staged a military coup
, putting General in
power. 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.
A presidential election was held in October 2000 in which Laurent Gbagbo
vied with , but it was
peaceful. The lead-up to the election was marked by military and
civil unrest. '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 nationality. The
existing and later reformed constitution [under ] 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.
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 was not established as a fact that the French
were helping either side but each side accused them of being on the
opposite side. 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 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.
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
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
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
, relations between Gbagbo and the opposition
continued to deteriorate.
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, on November 6, 2004, 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
. 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
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
is divided into nineteen regions (régions):
The regions are further divided into 81 departments
Population of major cities
official capital of is Yamoussoukro (295,500), despite the fact that it is the fourth
most populous city. Abidjan, with a population of 3,310,500, is the largest
city and serves as the commercial and banking center of as well as
the de facto capital.
It is also the
most populous city in French-speaking Western Africa
1983, 's official capital has been Yamoussoukro; Abidjan, however, 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 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
(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.Following a peace deal between the government and
former rebels in March 2007, the next elections were planned to be
held in early 2008. These elections however, have been postponed to
early or mid 2009.
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
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 one of the most prosperous of the
tropical African states. However, in recent years 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.
Côte d'Ivoire is a member of the Organization
for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa
is the plurality religion, practiced by
approximately 38.6 percent of the country's population; the
32.8 percent of the population; 11.9 percent population
and 16.7 percent hold no religious beliefs.
77% of the population are considered Ivoirians. They represent
several different people and language groups. An estimated 65
languages are spoken in the country. One of the most common is
, which acts as a trade
language as well as a language commonly spoken by the Muslim
, the official language, is
taught in schools and serves as a lingua
in the country.The native born population is roughly
split into three groups of Muslim
(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. Most French settlers got out
of the area after independence in 1960.
at birth was 41 for
males in 2004, for females it was 47.
was 118 of 1000
live births. There are 12 physicians per 100,000 people.
Mask from Côte d'Ivoire
A large part of the adult population, in particular women, are
. Many children between 6 and
10 years are not enrolled in school.
The majority of students in secondary education are male. At the end of secondary education, students can sit the Baccalauréat examination.
The country has universities, including the University of Côte
Name of the country
The region, and then 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 , without a hyphen
Usage in English
Despite the Ivorian government's request, the Anglicized rendering
"Ivory Coast" (sometimes "the Ivory Coast") is still frequently
used in English.
Many governments use " " for diplomatic reasons. The English
country name registered with the United Nations
and used by
is "Côte d'Ivoire". Other
organizations that use "Côte d'Ivoire" include:
- General information