Côte d'Ivoire

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A tropical West African country, bounded on the west by Liberia and Guinea, on the north by Mali and Burkina Faso, and on the east by Ghana.


Its south-facing coastline is rocky in the west but elsewhere has sand-bars and lagoons. Three rivers run through the hot, rain-forested lowlands. In the central belt coffee is grown. The Nimba Mountains in the west contain minerals, including iron.


The economy is primarily agricultural, with main exports including cocoa, coffee, cotton, tropical timber, and vegetable oils. Offshore oil reserves are exploited, but output does not meet domestic requirements. Industries, such as oil-refining, food-processing, textiles, and chemicals are well established, and there is a well-developed system of hydraulic electricity production from dams. Mineral deposits include iron, cobalt, bauxite, nickel, manganese, and diamonds.


There were scattered and isolated coastal settlements in the region when European slave traders arrived in the 15th century. The French had established trading posts in the area by the end of the 17th century and in the 19th century made treaties with local chiefs. France obtained rights on the coast in 1842, establishing a colony in 1893, which in 1904 became a territory of French West Africa. In 1933 most of the territory of Upper Volta was added to the Côte d'Ivoire, but in 1948 this area was returned to the reconstituted Upper Volta, today Burkina Faso. The Côte d'Ivoire became an autonomous republic within the French Community in 1958, and achieved full independence in 1960, becoming a one-party republic governed by the moderate Democratic Party of the Côte d'Ivoire and with Félix Houphouët-Boigny its President. The country has large petroleum deposits and a developing industrial sector, but falling cocoa and coffee prices adversely affected the economy during the late 1980s. The resulting policy of economic austerity caused unrest and demonstrations. In the first multiparty elections in November 1990, the President's Democratic Party won all but 10 seats in the National Assembly. Following Houphouët-Boigny's death in 1993, Henri Konan Bedie (1934– ) was elected President in 1995. His overthrow by a military coup in 1999 began a period of instability that led to the effective division of the country between the rebel-controlled north and the government-controlled south.


Abidjan (capital-designate, Yamoussoukro)


322,463 sq km (124,471 sq miles)


17,298,000 (2005)


1 CFA franc = 100 centimes


Traditional beliefs 65.0%; Muslim 23.0%; Christian 12.0%

Ethnic Groups:

Akan 27.0%; Mande 24.0%; Kru 18.0%; Senufo 12.0%; Lagoon 8.0%; Lobi 5.0%


French (official); Akan; Kru; local languages

International Organizations:

ECOWAS; Non-Aligned Movement; AU; UN; Franc Zone; WTO

Subjects: African Studies — World History.

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