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Côte D'ivoire



Republic of Côte d'Ivoire

République de Côte d'Ivoire

CAPITAL: Yamoussoukro

FLAG: The flag is a tricolor of orange, white, and green vertical stripes.

ANTHEM: L'Abidjanaise, beginning: "Greetings, O land of hope."

MONETARY UNIT: The Communauté Financière Africaine franc (CFA Fr), which was originally pegged to the French franc, has been pegged to the euro since January 1999 with a rate of 655.957 CFA francs to 1 euro. The CFA franc is issued in coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 500 CFA francs, and notes of 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 CFA francs. CFA Fr1 = $0.00192 (or $1 = CFA Fr521.74) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Assumption, 15 August; All Saints' Day, 1 November; Independence Day, 7 December; Christmas, 25 December. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension, Pentecost Monday, 'Id al-Fitr, and 'Id al-'Adha'.



The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, on the south coast of the western bulge of Africa, has an area of 322,460 sq km (124,502 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Côte d'Ivoire is slightly larger than the state of New Mexico. Roughly rectangular in shape, it extends 808 km (502 mi) senw and 780 km (485 mi) nesw. It is bordered on the n by Mali and Burkina Faso, on the e by Ghana, on the s by the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean, and on the w by Liberia and Guinea, with a total boundary length of 3,110 km (1,932 mi) and a coastline of 515 km (322 mi).

In 1983, Côte d'Ivoire's capital was moved to Yamoussoukro, about 225 km (140 mi) northwest of the former capital, Abidjan, in the south-central part of the country.


Except for the prolongation of the Guinea Highlands (in the northwest, from Man to Odienné), which has peaks of over 1,000 m (3,280 ft), the greater part of Côte d'Ivoire is a vast plateau, tilted gently toward the Atlantic. It is drained by four major rivers running roughly parallel from north to souththe Cavally (on the Liberian frontier), Sassandra, Bandama, and Komoé. They are not of much value for transportation, since they are sluggish in the dry season, broken by numerous falls and rapids, and subject to torrential flooding in the rainy season. Lake Kossou (Lac de Kossou), in the center of the country, has been formed by the impoundment of the Bandama. From Ghana to Fresco, the coast is almost a straight line, flat and sandy, with a series of deep lagoons behind it; from Fresco to the Liberian frontier, it is more broken, with small cliffs and rocky outcrops.


The greatest annual rainfall, about 200 cm (79 in), is along the coast and in the southwest. The coastal region has a long dry season from December to April, followed by heavy rains from May to September. Farther north, there is only one wet and one dry season, with rainfall heaviest in summer, culminating in September, and lightest in January. The country's lightest rainfall is in the northeast, averaging 109 cm (43 in) annually. Average temperatures along the coast range from 24° to 32°c (75° to 90°f) in January and from 22° to 28°c (72° to 82°f) in July. At Bouaké, in the center of the country, minimum and maximum temperatures in November, the hottest month, average 21° and 35°c (70° and 95°f); the range is from 20° to 29°c (68° to 84°f) in July, the coolest month. At Ferkéssédougou, in the far north, temperatures range from 21° to 36°c (70° to 97°f) in March and from 17° to 30°c (63° to 86°f) in November.


The southern Côte d'Ivoire forest is a typical rain forest; it has a canopy at around 2124 m (7080 ft), with isolated trees pushing up above 37 m (120 ft). Farther north, the rain forest gives way to scattered stands of deciduous trees, and mahogany is widespread. Still farther north, oil palm, acacia, breadfruit, and baobab characterize the transition to true savanna, where shea nut and traveler's palm are common.

The jackal, hyena, panther, elephant, hippopotamus, numerous monkeys, and many other mammals are widely distributed. Crocodiles and chameleons, as well as venomous serpents (horned vipers, mambas, and many others) and pythons, are numerous. Among indigenous birds are vultures, cranes, pigeons, turtle doves, parrots, and herons. Venomous spiders and scorpions abound. As of 2002, there were at least 230 species of mammals, 252 species of birds, and over 3,600 species of plants throughout the country.


Most of Côte d'Ivoire's forests, once the largest in West Africa, have been cut down by the timber industry, with only cursory attempts at reforestation. During the first half of the 1980s, deforestation averaged 290,000 ha (717,000 acres) per year, while reforestation was only 6,000 ha (15,000 acres) per year. Between 1983 and 1993, the country's forest and woodland was reduced by nearly 25%. In 2000, about 22% of the total land area was forested.

The land is also affected by desertification and climate changes, including decreased rainfall. In 2000, Côte d'Ivoire had 76.7 cu km of renewable water resources, of which 67% was used for farming and 22% for urban and domestic use. Water pollution is a significant environmental problem in Côte d'Ivoire due to chemical waste from agricultural, industrial, and mining sources: about 92% of the country's city dwellers and 72% of the rural population have safe water. Reports indicate that in the mid-1990s, the nation was using approximately 6,000 tons of pesticides and 78,000 tons of fertilizers per year. The country's lack of sanitation facilities also contributes to the pollution problem. Only about 39% of the population has access to sanitation systems.

In 2003, about 6% of the total land area was legally protected. There were three natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and six Ramsar wetland sites. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 23 types of mammals, 11 species of birds, 2 types of reptiles, 14 species of amphibians, 11 species of fish, 1 type of mollusk, and 105 species of plants. Threatened species include Pel's flying squirrel, the white-breasted guinea fowl, the thresher shark, and the red capped monkey.


The population of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 18,154,000, which placed it at number 56 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 3% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 41% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 103 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 200510 was expected to be 2.2%, a rate the government viewed as too high. Factors the government planned to address included the high fertility rates (5.5 births per woman) and low contraceptive use. The projected population for the year 2025 was 25,114,000. The population density was 56 per sq km (146 per sq mi).

Movement to the cities has been a problem in recent decades. The UN estimated that 46% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005 (up from 13.2% in 1950), and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 2.58%. The capital city, Yamoussoukro, had a population of 416,000 in that year, while the metropolitan population of the former capital, Abidjan, was estimated at 3,660,682. Other major urban areas are Bouaké (estimated at more than 461,618) and Daloa (206,200); towns with populations of more than 20,000 include Gagnoa, Korhogo, Agboville, Abengourou, Dimbokro, Man, and Grand Bassam.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has had a significant impact on the population of Côte d'Ivoire. The UN estimated that 9.6% of adults between the ages of 1549 were living with HIV/AIDS in 2001. The AIDS epidemic causes higher death and infant mortality rates, and lowers life expectancy.


Flourishing economic activity in Côte d'Ivoire attracts large numbers of workers from neighboring countries. In 1988 foreign workers constituted 28% of the national total. Migratory laborers from Burkina Faso, estimated at more than one million, work chiefly on the cocoa and coffee plantations. In addition, several hundred thousand Ghanaians, Guineans, Malians, Senegalese, and Mauritanians live in Côte d'Ivoire. As of September 1998, Côte d'Ivoire was harboring 85,000 of the more than 350,000 Liberian war refugees who started coming to Côte d'Ivoire in 1989 with the start of the civil war in Liberia. Following a 1997 census, it was discovered that some 1,500 Sierra Leonean refugees had been living in Côte d'Ivoire disguised as Liberian refugees. The government has since agreed to recognize them as Sierra Leonean refugees. A mass voluntary repatriation program for the Liberian refugees was implemented between June 1997 and December 1999, after which remaining Liberian refugees were to receive assistance in local integration. In 2004, there were 72,088 refugees living in Côte d'Ivoire along with 2,111 asylum seekers, and an official 38,039 displaced persons. Another 7,594 refugees returned to Liberia that year.

In 2005, the net migration rate for Côte d'Ivoire was estimated as zero migrants per 1,000 population, down from 3.0 in 1990. Most of the non-African population consists of French and other Europeans, and Lebanese and Syrians. Foreigners can buy land and vote in Côte d'Ivoire; some cabinet ministers are foreign born. In 2004 an estimated 500,000 to 800,000 internally displaced persons lived in Côte d'Ivoire.


The ethnic composition of Côte d'Ivoire is complex with more than 60 ethnic groups represented. The Akan group, which primarily occupies the eastern and central regions of the country, accounts for about 42.1% of the population. The Baoulé are the single largest subgroup of the Akan people, accounting for about 20% of the total population. The Voltaiques (Gur) account for about 17.6% of the population. The Northern Mandes from the northwest region of the country make up about 16.5% of the population. The Krou people in the southwest account for about 11%; the Bété are the largest subgroup. The Southern Mandes from the western regions account for about 10% of the population. Non-Africans include about 14,000 French and 130,000 Lebanese expatriates.


The official language is French. Of the more than 60 African languages spoken by different ethnic groups, the most important are Agni and Baulé, spoken by the Akan group; the Kru languages; the Sénoufo languages; and the Mandé languages (especially Malinké-Bambura-Dioula).


Approximately 38.6% of the total population are Muslims. The next largest group is the Roman Catholic Church, with membership accounting for about 19.4% of the population. About 11.9% of the people practice traditional indigenous religions, about 6% are Protestant, and 3.1% follow other Christian faiths. About 1.3% belong to the Harrist Church, a Protestant denomination founded in 1913 by the Liberian minister William Hade Harris. There are also a number of syncretic religions combining Christian tenets with African traditional customs and beliefs. These include the Church of the Prophet Papa Nouveau and Eckankar. About 16.7% of the population do not claim any religious affiliation or preference.

A large variety of denominations are represented in the country, including Methodists, Southern Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Assemblies of God, the Union of the Evangelical Church of Services and Works of Côte d'Ivoire, the Autonomous Church of Celestial Christianity of Oschoffa, the Yoruba First Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There are a small number of Buddhists.

Religious and political affiliation often follows ethnic and regional lines. Most Muslims live in the north and most Christians live in the south. Traditionalists are generally concentrated in rural areas in the north and across the center of the country. The Akan ethnic group traditionally practices a religion called Bossonism.

The constitution implemented in 2000 provides for freedom of religion, however, Christianity has historically enjoyed a privileged status in national life with particular advantage toward the Catholic Church. For instance, Christian schools have long been considered official schools and so have received subsidies through the Ministry of Education; however, Muslim schools were considered religious institutions and were not considered for similar subsidies until 1994.

In 2001, the government initiated the Forum for National Reconciliation, designed in part to ease relationships between religious and ethnic groups. Through the Forum, Muslims accused the government of attempting to create a Christian state. Since then, the president has met with Muslim leaders to discuss their concerns and government leaders have made greater attempts towards interfaith understanding and acceptance. The Forum of Religious Confessions serves to improve relations and understanding between faiths. The Ministry of Religion promotes dialogue between religious groups and the government. All religious groups must register through the Ministry of the Interior. Muslim and Christian holidays are recognized as national holidays.


Côte d'Ivoire has one of the best-developed and best-maintained transportation systems in Africa. As of 2004, the nation's railway system consisted of a state-controlled 660-km (410-mi) section of a 1,146-km (712-mi) narrow gauge railroad that ran north from Abidjan through Bouaké and Ferkéssédougou to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. In 2002, Côte d'Ivoire had 50,400 km (31,318 mi) of roads, of which 4,889 km (3,038 mi) were paved. In 2003, there were 19,450 registered passenger automobiles and 94,900 registered commercial automobiles, trucks, and buses.

Harbor activity is concentrated at Abidjan (West Africa's largest container port), which has facilities that include a fishing port and equipment for handling containers, and San Pedro, a deepwater port that began operations in 1971. There are also small ports at Sassandra and Tabou. Two nationalized shipping lines serve West Africa and Europe. As of 1998, the merchant marine had one oil tanker (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,200 GRT. However, in 2002, there is no merchant marine. There are 980 km (56 mi) of navigable rivers, canals, and numerous coastal lagoons.

Air Ivoire, government-owned since 1976, operates domestic services and also flies to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Bamako, Mali. International flights to Paris, Dakar, and other African and European capitals are handled by Air Afrique, a joint venture owned by Côte d'Ivoire and other participating Yaoundé Treaty countries (72%) and by Air France and Union des Transports Aériens (28%). Côte d'Ivoire's principal airport, F.H. Boigny, is located in Abidjan. Secondary airports are located at Bérébi, Bouaké, Daloa, Man, Sassandra, Korhogo, Tabou, San Pedro, Guiglo, Bondoukou, Yamoussoukro, and Odienné. In 2004 there were an estimated 37 airports, 7 of which had paved runways as of 2005. In 2003, about 46,000 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.


Little is known of the early history of the area now called Côte d'Ivoire. Most of its peoples entered the country in comparatively recent times, mostly from the northwest and the east, although the Kru-speaking peoples came from west of the Cavally River (modern Liberia). European travelers described flourishing and well organized states in the north and east, with strongly hierarchical social organization and elaborate gold weights and ornaments. These states, such as the Agni kingdom of Indénié and the Abron kingdom of Bondoukou, were closely related linguistically and socially to the neighboring Ashanti of modern Ghana and formed with them, and with the Fon of Dahomey (now Benin) and the Yoruba and Bini kingdoms in Nigeria, an almost continuous string of relatively rich and developed states of the Guinea forest zone. Nearer the coast, the scale of social organization was much smaller, and innumerable small units recognized no political superior.

Modern European acquaintance with the west coast of Africa began with the Portuguese discoveries of the 15th century, culminating in the discovery of the route to India around the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 and the establishment of trading posts along the Senegal coast and the Gulf of Guinea. The Portuguese and Spanish were soon followed by the Dutch and English. Gold, ivory, ostrich feathers, gum arabic, and pepper were succeeded by slaves as the major trading commodities. French activity in what is now Côte d'Ivoire began in 1687, when missionaries landed at Assinié. In 1843, Adm. Louis-Édouard Bouet-Willaumez established French posts at Assinié and Grand Bassam, where treaties with the local chiefs provided for the cession of land for forts in exchange for tribute to the chiefs (coutumes ) at fixed rates and regular intervals.

After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the small garrisons of Assinié, Grand Bassam, and Dabou were withdrawn. French interests were confided to a resident trader named Verdier. He and a young assistant, Treich-Laplène, consolidated the French position along the coast. In 1887, Treich-Laplène signed treaties with Indénié, Bettié, Alangoa, and other chiefdoms of the interior, thus preventing British advances into eastern Côte d'Ivoire from Ashanti. Continuing northward to Kong, he joined forces with Col. Louis Binger, who had made his way from Bamako in French Sudan (Soudan Française, now Mali) to Kong and from there northeast to Ouagadougou in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and back to Kong through Bondoukou. French claims to Upper Volta and northern Côte d'Ivoire, joining French Sudan and Niger in a continuous territory, were thus established. In 1893, the territory was renamed Côte d'Ivoire, and Col. Binger was appointed the first French governor. The new colony's frontier with Liberia was settled by a convention in 1892, and that with the Gold Coast (modern Ghana) by the Anglo-French agreement of 1893. The northern border was not defined until 1947.

French control of Côte d'Ivoire was, however, far from secured. Much of the region remained unexplored, and administrative control had still to be effectively organized in those areas whose chiefs had concluded treaties with the French. More serious still, Samory Touré, a Malinké from Guinea who periodically fought the French, had moved southeast after the French capture of Sankoro in 1892 and was continuing his struggle against the invaders in the region of Kong. Not until 1898, after prolonged fighting, was he finally captured near Man. Systematic military operations in the densely forested area between the upper Cavally and the upper Sassandra were carried out from 1908 onward before French rule was finally established in Côte d'Ivoire on the eve of World War I. In other parts of the colony, intermittent revolts continued throughout this period, stimulated by the imposition of a poll tax and opposition of many of the chiefs to the substitution of a tax rebate for the coutumes promised in the treaties. Nevertheless, some 20,000 Ivoirian troops were raised in the colony during World War I, when the greater part of the French forces was withdrawn.

In the interwar years, Côte d'Ivoire became a considerable producer of cocoa, coffee, mahogany, and other tropical products. Although European planters produced about one-third of the cocoa and coffee and most of the bananas, the share of African planters rapidly increased throughout this period. The railroad, begun in 1904, did not reach the northern part of the colony until 1925. Until 1954, Grand Bassam (opened 1901) and Port Bouet (opened 1932) were the principal ports; that year the deepwater port of Abidjan opened, following the cutting of the Ébrié Lagoon in 1950.

During World War II, Côte d'Ivoire, like the rest of French West Africa, remained under control of the Vichy government between 1940 and 1943. In 1941, the king of Bondoukou and thousands of his people made their way into the Gold Coast to join Gen. Charles de Gaulle's resistance forces. At the end of the war, Côte d'Ivoire was established as an overseas territory under the 1946 French constitution and given three deputies and three senators in the French parliament and an elected territorial assembly. By 1956, it produced 45% of all French West African exports, took in 30% of the imports, and seemed assured of continued economic advance.

In 1958, Côte d'Ivoire accepted the new French constitution in a referendum on 28 September and opted for the status of an autonomous state within the new French Community. On 4 December 1958, the Territorial Assembly, which had been elected by universal suffrage on 31 March 1957, formed itself into the Constituent Assembly and proclaimed the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire as a member state of the French Community. On 26 March 1959, the assembly adopted the first constitution of the new country. The legislature provided for in this constitution was chosen by a national election held on 17 April, and Félix Houphouët-Boigny was unanimously selected by the Assembly as prime minister on 27 April.

On 7 August 1960, the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire proclaimed its complete independence. On 31 October, a new constitution providing for a presidential system was adopted. In elections held on 27 November, Houphouët-Boigny was unanimously elected the country's first president. Although two plots to overthrow him, organized by government and party officials, were discovered in 1963, both failed, and in that year Houphouët-Boigny took over most key ministerial portfolios and consolidated his control over the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI).

Outbreaks of unrest plagued the Houphouët-Boigny government during the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1969, some 1,500 unemployed youths were arrested in the course of widespread rioting. In 1970, disturbances broke out in Gagnoa, Bouaké, and Daloa. These incidents were followed in 1973 by an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government. Following a brief trial, two army captains and five lieutenants were sentenced to death, while others were given jail sentences ranging from 15 to 20 years of hard labor. Before the sixth PDCI congress in 1975, President Houphouët-Boigny pardoned some 5,000 persons, among who were 145 political prisoners, some associated with the Gagnoa disturbances. All death sentences were also commuted to 20 years of hard labor. Throughout this period, the government used a series of mass meetings called "dialogues" to win over new adherents. These public discussions were usually led by prominent members of the administration, and President Houphouët-Boigny often presided over them personally. During the second half of the 1970s, Houphouët-Boigny and the PDCI remained firmly in control, and Côte d'Ivoire became one of black Africa's most prosperous nations.

Houphouët-Boigny was reelected unopposed to his fifth five-year term as president in October 1980. The nation's first competitive National Assembly elections were held in the following month, as the ruling PDCI allowed 649 candidates to compete for the 147 seats, with a runoff between the two best-placed candidates in each constituency where there was no majority choice. A total of 121 new members were elected, while 54 of the 80 deputies who ran for reelection were defeated. Relations with neighboring countries have generally been favorable; in 1981, however, the death by suffocation of 46 Ghanaians who had been jailed near Abidjan on suspicion of drug smuggling led to friction with Ghana, which was resolved through Togolese mediation. Declining economic prospects in the early 1980s led to a series of strikes among professional workers, which Houphouët-Boigny accused a foreign power (presumed to be Libya) of fomenting.

Houphouët-Boigny won an unopposed sixth term as president in October 1985, reportedly receiving 100% of the vote in a turnout of over 99% of the eligible voters. In the following month, fewer than 30% turned out for the National Assembly elections, in which 546 candidatesall members of the PDCI but not screenedcompeted for 175 seats. Only 64 deputies were returned to office. Côte d'Ivoire celebrated the 25th anniversary of its independence on 7 December 1985 by releasing 9,500 convicted criminals from prisoners.

In 1990, Côte d'Ivoire entered a new political era as months of prodemocracy demonstrations and labor unrest led to the legalization of opposition parties, previously banned. Even within the PDCI, a progressive wing called for further liberalization. The first multiparty presidential and legislative elections were held on 28 October 1990 and 25 November 1990, respectively. HouphouëtBoigny was reelected as president with 81% of the vote. The PDCI carried 161 of the 175 seats and the Ivoirian Popular Front (FPI), 9 seats. Yet, outside observers saw the elections as less than free and fair. That November, the National Assembly passed a constitutional amendment to allow the Speaker to take over the presidency in the event of a vacancy (a provision eventually invoked on Houphouët-Boigny's death on 7 December 1993).

Meanwhile, popular disillusionment grew. Early in 1992, the president rejected the findings of his own investigative commission, which had found army chief of staff Gen. Robert Guei responsible for the shootings at Yopougon University in May 1991. Then Houphouët-Boigny left for a four-month "private visit" to France. Rioting followed a mass demonstration in February 1992, and the government used this as a pretext to jail opposition leaders. In protest, the FPI withdrew from the National Assembly, leaving it a PDCI exclusive preserve. Houphouët-Boigny continued to manage affairs from Paris. He returned in June to release the opposition leaders as part of an amnesty that also shielded the soldiers.

After Houphouët-Boigny's death, power was transferred smoothly to Henri Konan Bédié, who became president until the 1995 elections. Born in 1934 in Dadiekro, Côte d'Ivoire, Henri Konan Bedié was of the Baoulé ethnic group. Bedié's ties to his idol Boigny began at a young age. During his initial schooling in Bokanda, Guiglo, and Dabopu, Côte d'Ivoire, he distributed newspapers of Boigny's political partythe Rassemblement Démocratique Africain. As he grew up, Bedié's aspirations became clearer. He traveled to France to study law at the University of Poitiers after reconsidering a career in education; he worked his way through law school. He also obtained advanced degrees in economics and political science, as well as a doctorate in economics, and was appointed the first Ivoirian ambassador to the United States in his 20s. He opened the Ivoirian embassy in Washington, DC, during the last months of the Eisenhower administration and also established the Ivoirian mission to the United Nations when he was only 27. Bedié also served as Minister of Finance and National Assembly President, as well as an advisor to the International Bank on Reconstruction and Development. Throughout his posts, Boigny was his most significant supporter.

Bédié proved to be a controversial leader. A split in the PDCI occurred on his watch, as departing Assembly members formed the Rally of the Republicans (RDR) and, later, the Republican Front. Bédié, meanwhile, began cracking down on dissent, briefly imprisoning and exposing to beatings the editor of a prominent newspaper. In the year preceding the scheduled elections, Bédié also instigated electoral reforms strictly limiting candidates who desired to run for president. Opposition parties decried the new electoral code and vowed to boycott the elections.

The presidential elections held on 22 October 1995 were boycotted by the opposition in protest of Bédié's antidemocratic maneuvering since assuming office. Bédié was reported by government officials to have won 95% of the vote. Legislative elections were held in December. The opposition threatened to extend their boycott to these elections as well, but Bédié engaged the major parties in negotiations and agreed to allow representatives from the two largest parties to serve on the electoral commission overseeing the balloting. The elections were seen as relatively fair and resulted in a National Assembly with 146 seats held by the PDCI, 14 by the RDR, and 9 by the FPI. Presidential, legislative, and municipal elections were held, and Bédié was officially elected president.

Though Bédié's presidential win was seen as a significant accomplishment for the Baulé ethnic group, allegations of his corruption and discontent among Ivoirians continued to increase. After becoming president, Bédié maintained a low profile and granted few interviews to the press. Facing opposition from other politicians, Bédié invited members of some opposition parties to join his government. Only Bernard Zadi of the Union des Socieaux Démocrates party accepted and became minister of culture. Even though Bédié appointed nine ministers from his party, Alassane Ouattara-a Mandé from the northern tribes continued to be Bédié's most harsh enemy. Bédié had banned Ouattara's participation in the 1995 elections by claiming him a foreigner from neighboring Burkina Faso. Bédié subsequently stripped Ouattara of all outward signs of power and began a campaign against Ouattara's northern Dioulla-speaking tribes. Further, Bédié became very strict against any political opposition and went as far as to name a new director of the main television station to support his own agenda. Criticisms of corruption under his rule began to grow.

Therefore, as many believe, all of these actions could only lead to one outcome: a coup. Regardless, what occurred on 24 December 1999 nonetheless shocked many watchers of Côte d'Ivoire around the world. On that day, Gen. Robert Gueï led a coup d'etat and overthrew Bédié. Familiar scenes ensued: gunfire, occupation of the public television station, and the president fleeing the country. However, never before had such an event occurred in the country that was often referred to as the "Ivoirian miracle." Bédié immediately sought refuge in the French ambassador's residence, who, along with the French government, denounced the coup. Bédié, who mistakenly assumed the loyalty of the military, was evacuated from Côte d'Ivoire soon after. While many people around the world, including numerous African leaders, condemned the coup, the streets of Abidjan filled with celebrations. The fact was that Bédié had become increasingly unpopular after the 1995 elections. Gueï rallied his supporters by pledging to honor all Ivoirians, no matter where they were born.

However, many see Gueï's rise to power as a pro-Ouattara and pro-northern movement. Though he pledged to create conditions for democracy, fair elections, and a quick hand-over of civilian rule, many were skeptical. The ruling party for 39 years did not yet have time to recuperate from the shock.

Regardless of in-country support, Gueï and his office remained unstable. Many soldiers originally protested out of anger for lack of pay, but Gueï did not find a way to address their concerns and offer payment. This resulted in increased corruption and briberysoldiers and police officers are known to stop motorists at random and demand payment through threats. As of 2000, all foreign debt repayment had been suspended. Gen. Gueï promised that as soon as political parties were formed, he would hold elections. They were tentatively set for October 2000, but the international community was concerned that Gueï had not ruled out his own presidential bid. Increasing military power and more defiance against Gueï's orders added to tensions in Côte d'Ivoire. Regional leaders, including US and French diplomats, warned Gueï against trying for the presidential bid, using the reasoning that international support for Côte d'Ivoire would be in jeopardy.

Presidential elections in which the principal candidates were excludedincluding Ouattara and Bédiéwere held on 22 October, which Gueï, who stood for election, proclaimed he had won. (In all, 15 of 19 presidential candidates were barred from running). In response to criticism that he had rigged the election, a violent popular uprising caused him to flee, and Laurent Gbagbo of the FPI, who was believed to be the actual winner, was proclaimed president. The results were eventually determined to be 59.4% for Gbagbo and 32.7% for Gueï. The main opposition parties, Ouattara's RDR and Bédié's PDCI, boycotted the elections. Although they joined Gbagbo's supporters in demanding Gueï's departure, they also called for the election to be annulled. In addition, that month fighting had erupted between the mainly southern Christian supporters of Gbagbo and the mainly northern Muslim supporters of Ouattara.

Parliamentary elections were held on 10 December 2000 and 14 January 2001; voter turnout was a mere 33.1%, as the elections were boycotted by the RDR. Gbagbo's FPI took 96 of the 225 seats in the National Assembly, to the PDCI/RDA's (African Democratic Rally) 94.

In March 2001, Gbagbo and Ouattara met for the first time since violence erupted between their supporters in October 2000, and agreed to work towards national reconciliation. Also in March, Ouattara's RDR gained a majority in local elections, taking 64 communes while the PDCI won 58. The FPI secured 34 communes and 38 went to independent candidates. There were calls for new presidential and legislative elections. In the 7 July 2002 county elections, the FPI and the PDCI each won 18 of the 58 departments. In August 2002, the RDR was awarded four ministerial positions in the new government.

On 19 September 2002, as Gbagbo was out of the country, an attempted military coup took place, destabilizing Abidjan and Bouaké, among other cities. Assumedly involved in plotting the coup, Gueï was killed; in addition, the Interior Minister and the former military commander of Bouaké were killed. France increased its military presence in Côte d'Ivoire to protect its large French community, and ECOWAS planned to send a peacekeeping force. Approximately 200 US Special Forces were sent to assist the government in putting down the mutineers. The original mutiny spread quickly into a general uprising in the Muslim north, against Gbagbo's southerner-dominated government. A ceasefire brokered by ministers from six African countries was signed by the government and rebels in Bouaké on 17 October, and direct negotiations between the Côte d'Ivoire Patriotic Movement (MPCI) and the government began on 30 October. The government agreed in principle to the idea of an amnesty and the reintegration of the mutineers into the army, but a political accord was not agreed upon. In what exacerbated the situation, two new rebel groups in the west emerged on 28 Novemberthe Far Western Ivoirian People's Movement (MPIGO) and the Movement for Justice and Peace (MPJ). The MPCI continued to control the north while these two new groups controlled the southwest; the government continued to hold the majority of the south. France increased its troop presence; by the end of December, close to 2,500 French troops were in Côte d'Ivoire.

A succession of unification attempts and agreements have been characterized by broken promises, missed deadlines, deadlock, incomplete implementation, and failure to achieve lasting peace. Following incidents between the MPIGO, MPJ, and French troops in January 2003, the two rebel groups agreed to participate in talks outside Paris on 15 January. Attending the talks were the three rebel movements, a government delegation, the political parties represented in the National Assembly, and the RDR. The talks resulted in a settlement to create a government of national unity and reconciliation in which the rebels would be represented, and Gbagbo would remain as head of state but with diminished powers. Gbagbo signed the French-brokered Linas-Marcoussis Accord on 24 January, but tens of thousands of Ivoirians in Abdijan protested the deal on his return, attacking the French embassy and French-owned businesses, as the protesters accused France of imposing the agreement. In Accra, Ghana, in March, the parties involved in the power-sharing agreement finalized their plan for the creation of the government of national reconciliation: 10 cabinet posts were reserved for President Gbagbo's FPI; the PDCI, RDR, and MPCI each were granted 7 posts; and 7 posts were shared by the MJP and the MPIGO. Representatives of the rebel movements and those from the RDR failed to attend the inaugural cabinet meeting in Yamoussoukro on 13 March; only 21 of the newly appointed ministers attended. As of the middle of March 2003, some 3,000 people had been killed in the fighting, and more than one million had been displaced. The first meeting of cabinet ministers in the new government was held on 17 April 2003.

The UN news network IRIN characterizes the time since the Linas-Marcoussis Accord as a period of "no war, no peace." The peace accord faced major challenges. Political deadlock was punctuated with sporadic outbreaks of violence. The unity government was considerably volatile. The government lifted the curfew, French troops cracked down on lawlessness on the western side of the country, and a semblance of law and order was secured, albeit short-lived. Yet core problems of identity and citizenship, disarmament, and power sharing remained. Fresh fighting broke out soon after, followed by a trail of additional peace talks and broken promises. A total cease-fire was agreed on 1 May 2003, and an "End of the War" declaration issued on July 4. Both were broken, leading to the Accra, Ghana, round of talks and the signing, on 30 July 2004, of the Accra III Agreement. Yet again, September and October deadlines for legislative reform and rebel disarmament were not met by the parties. By 2004, a 10,000-strong UN peacekeeping force that included 4,000 French troops already in-country was deployed as part of the blueprint Linas-Marcoussis agreement to control the "zone of confidence" separating rebel-held north and government-controlled south. Still, tensions continued to escalate, and violence at an opposition rally in March 2004, later reported to have been planned, killed 120 people.

Gbagbo tried to crush the rebellion, but failed. Some experts on Côte d'Ivoire have linked Gbagbo to public statements to the effect that he never really accepted the Linas-Marcoussis agreement, but was forced to accept it because he lacked the military capacity to crush the rebellion. On 4 November 2004 the Côte d'Ivoire air force launched a campaign against rebel positions which shattered terms of the cease-fire agreement of 2003. Two days later a government aircraft bombed French barracks in Bouaké, killing nine French soldiers and one American civilian. The French brushed aside government claims that the attack was accidental, and launched a retaliation attack that decimated the small Côte d'Ivoire air force. This sparked several days of violent anti-French riots in Abidjan and elsewhere. On 15 November 2004 the UN Security Council placed Côte d'Ivoire under an immediate arms embargo and gave the government a month to get the peace process moving again. Ensuing talks sponsored by the African Union and mediated by South African president Thabo Mbeki culminated in the Pretoria Agreement, signed April 6, 2005 and a follow-up Pretoria II agreement in June 2005. The Pretoria agreements formally ended Côte d'Ivoire's state of war, and tackled sticky issues such as disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR); return of New Forces Ministers to government; legal issues surrounding national identity; establishment of an independent electoral commission; and re-affirmed legislative, elections, and disarmament requirements of the Linas-Marcoussis Accord. The legal issues surrounding identity are reported to have been resolved, on paper at least, through constitutional amendments and presidential decrees following Pretoria II. The major challenge remained implementation.

The former colonial master, France, has enjoyed a complex lovehate, and often self-conflicting relationship with the country. On the one hand France has provided military support for Gbagbo against the rebels. On the other hand analysts see French support within the 2003 accord for the rebel's uncompromising demand to change the Ivorian nationality legislation, as legitimizing the rebellion. The change included removing the concept of the ethnic identity (Ivoirité) that denied electoral and land-ownership rights to a substantial minority, particularly from the north. In November 2004 and early 2005 anti-French riots swept through the government-run south. The French retaliated, attacking and destroying Gbagbo's air force. Since the 2003 accord, the former colonial power has apparently withdrawn from negotiations.

The much-anticipated presidential elections scheduled for 30 October 2005, when President Laurent Gbagbo's mandate expired, were postponed in September. Disarmament initiatives agreed under the series of peace accords never materialized. On 14 October, the UN Security Council endorsed African Union proposals postponing the elections and allowed Gbagbo to remain in office for up to 12 more months. President Laurent Gbagbo accepted the UN resolution 1633 under which he would have to hand much of his power over to a new consensus prime minister. The prime minister was charged with broad responsibilities for security and defense, and was given the task of organizing credible elections by the end of October 2006.

Six weeks behind schedule because of bitter political bickering among the rebels and opposition parties, and at the third such attempt in one month, a high-powered African Union delegation consisting of Olusegun Obasanjo, Thabo Mbeki, and Niger's president Mamadou Tandja, finally announced the appointment of Charles Konan Banny, governor of West Africa's central bank, as interim prime minister on 5 December 2005. The appointment of Banny, who is seen as independent-minded and potentially neutral, was broadly welcomed by parties to the conflict. Even the New Forces rebels who had previously said that they would accept no one other than their own leader, Guillaume Soro express support for Banny. This appointment finally gave some hope for the war-torn country after more than three years of conflict. Côte d'Ivoire won strong endorsements from parties to the conflict, raising a new glimmer of hope for peace. Banny is said to have international standing and good relations with Gbagbo and Ivoirian opposition leaders, assets that diplomats hope will help him to turn his war-weary country around.


Under the constitution of 31 October 1960, as subsequently amended, executive power is exercised by a president, elected for a five-year term by direct universal suffrage (from age 18). The president, who appoints the Council of Ministers (cabinet), may initiate and veto legislation; the veto may be overruled by a two-thirds vote of the legislature. A 1980 constitutional amendment created the new post of vice president, to be elected with the president and to become head of state automatically in the case of vacancy by death, resignation, or "absolute hindrance"; the post was left vacant, however. A 1985 constitutional amendment eliminated it, making the president of the National Assembly the interim successor for 45-90 days in the event of a vacancy, and is tasked with organizing new elections in which the winner completes the remainder of the deceased president's term. In January 2003, Seydou Diarra was appointed as transitional prime minister by President Gbagbo as part of the French-brokered peace plan to create a national government of reconciliation and unity, after civil war began in September 2002. A 41-member cabinet was agreed upon, which was to include 9 ministers from 3 rebel groups: the MPCI, MPIGO, and MPJ. As of December 2005, Banny remained the prime minister, pending yet another transitional premier to oversee transition to peace under a UN-sponsored one-year postponement of elections scheduled for 30 October 2005, and conduct of fresh elections by 30 October 2006. The president is currently the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces with wide-sweeping powers, and selects the prime minister, who is the head of government. However, the UN Security Council resolution of October 2005 that endorsed postponement of 2005 elections for a year requires the president to hand over much of his powers, including military resources and organizing elections for a more powerful transitional prime minister.

The unicameral National Assembly consists of 225 members, elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term in the same year as the president. The country had a de facto one-party system until May 1990, when opposition parties were allowed. The post of prime minister was created after the November 1990 elections. Controversial electoral reforms were instituted in 1995, just prior to elections. The Pretoria Agreement of April 2005 provided for reorganization of the electoral commission. However, in late November 2005 a quarrel brewed over composition of the National Electoral Commission that will organize the polls expected in October 2006. The quarrel spilled into the courts where the Supreme Court nullified the election of its chairman on grounds that several members were unfairly excluded from the vote.


From 1959 to 1990, the only political party in Côte d'Ivoire was the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire (Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'IvoirePDCI), headed by President Félix HouphouëtBoigny. The PDCI developed from the Côte d'Ivoire section of the African Democratic Rally (Rassemblement Démocratique Africain), formed in 1946. In the 1959 elections, Houphouët-Boigny made it clear that no party that did not fully accept Côte d'Ivoire membership in the French Community would be tolerated. After the elections, the number of constituencies was reduced to four for the whole country, and later a single nationwide constituency was established, with a single list of candidates for the National Assembly. In 1980, members of the National Assembly were chosen in 147 separate districts; in 1985, they were chosen from 175 districts.

In May 1990, opposition parties were legalized and contested the 1990 elections. Among the two-dozen parties registered were the Ivoirian Popular Front (FPI), the Ivoirian Workers' Party (PIT), the Ivoirian Socialist Party (PSI), and the Ivoirian Human Rights League. In April 1994, some 19 parties formed a center left opposition alliance, the Groupement pour la Solidarité (GPS). Also formed in 1994 was the Rally of the Republicans (RDR), a coalition of defectors from the PDCI. The 1995 legislative elections resulted in a National Assembly constituted as follows: PDCI, 146 seats; RDR, 14; and FPI, 9. The year 2000 marked the first time in almost 40 years that the PDCI was not in power. The 10 December 2000 and 14 January 2001 parliamentary elections were boycotted by the RDR. The FPI won 96 of 225 seats; the PDCI took 94; the RDR won 5, although it boycotted the elections; the PIT won 4; the Union of Democrats of Côte d'Ivoire (UDCI) took 1 seat; the Movement of Future Forces (MFA) won 1 seat; and independents secured 22 seats. Two seats were vacant.

Elections scheduled for 30 October 2005 were postponed with UN endorsement. The Security Council resolution 1633 of 2005 requires transparent, free, and fair elections. The elections were scheduled to for 30 October 2006.


Côte d'Ivoire is divided into 19 regions, 58 departments, and 196 communes, each headed by an elected mayor, plus the city of Abidjan with 10 mayors. A process of decentralization began in 1977, and has been regarded as the most thoroughgoing and effective in Francophone Africa. In the March 2001 local elections, the RDR gained control of the largest number of communes (64), followed by the PDCI (58), and the FPI (34). Thirty-eight went to independent candidates. In July 2002, the FPI and PDCI each won 18 of the 58 departments.


The judicial system is based on the French civil law system and customary law. The Supreme Court heads the formal judicial system, which includes a Court of Appeals and lower courts. In rural areas, domestic and other local disputes are often handled through traditional village institutions in accordance with customary law, although the formal court system is increasingly displacing these traditional forms. A grand mediator, whose office is provided for in the constitution to bridge traditional and modern methods of dispute resolution, settles disputes that cannot be resolved solely by traditional means. Military courts only try military personnel. Persons convicted by a military court may petition the Supreme Court. An independent Constitutional Council composed of seven members appointed by the president handles such issues as candidate eligibility in presidential and legislative elections, announcement of final election results, conduct of referendums, and constitutionality of legislation.

The judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches in ordinary criminal cases. Under the constitution and in practice, however, the judiciary accedes to the executive on political and national security issues.


Côte d'Ivoire's armed forces numbered 17,050 active personnel in 2005, including the 1,350-member Presidential Guard. There were 6,500 in the Army, which included three infantry battalions, one armored battalion, and one artillery battalion. Equipment included 10 main battle tanks and five light tanks. There were 900 personnel in the Navy, which had two patrol/coastal vessels and a single amphibious landing ship tank. The air force had 700 personnel, including nine combat capable aircraft, seven of which were also used in a training capacity. There was also a paramilitary gendarmerie force of 7,600. The defense budget in 2005 totaled $191 million.


Côte d'Ivoire was admitted to UN membership on 20 September 1960 and is a member of ECA and several nonregional specialized agencies, as well as the WTO (1995). It belongs to the African Union and various other intergovernmental organizations, including the African Development Bank, the ACP Group, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), G-24, and G-77. Together with other countries of former French West Africa, it participates in the West African Customs Union, and it was the organizer of the Conseil d'Entente, which unites Benin, Niger, Togo, and Burkina Faso in a customs union. In May 1975, Côte d'Ivoire was one of the signatories to a treaty that created ECOWAS, an economic organization that includes both French- and English-speaking West African countries. Côte d'Ivoire joined the Community of Sahel and Saharan States (CENSAD) in 2004. It is an associate member of the European Union. Abidjan is the headquarters for the African Development Bank and houses the secretariat of the Conseil d'Entente and the West African office of the World Bank.

Côte d'Ivoire is part of the Nonaligned Movement and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) was established in 2004 to facilitate implementation of peace agreements designed to calm political unrest within the country; 41 nations are a part of the mission. In environmental cooperation, Côte d'Ivoire is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, International tropical timber Agreements, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


Côte d'Ivoire's wealth rests essentially on the production of coffee, cocoa, cotton, and tropical woods, which account for over 40% of GDP and two-thirds of exports. It has become the largest cotton producer south of the Sahara and is also investing in rubber production, with the goal of joining Liberia as one of Africa's leading rubber producers. The nation is the world's fifth-largest producer of coffee and the world's largest producer of cocoa; bananas, palm oil, and pineapples are other products of importance. Industrial activity, consisting chiefly of processing industries, is well developed. Mining remains of limited significance, with diamonds and offshore oil the only important minerals produced.

For the first 15 years after independence, Côte d'Ivoire's economy expanded at a remarkable rate reaching the double digits. During the 1980s, however, Côte d'Ivoire began experiencing an economic slowdown because of falling export prices, rising import prices, and heavy debt-service costs as a result of borrowing during the boom years.

In January 1994 France devalued the CFA franc, cutting its value in half. Within days of the devaluation, marketplace fights became common as shoppers reacted to merchants' attempts to cut their losses by marking up the prices of existing stocks. The population was forced to stop buying expensive imports in favor of locally produced products, which put more money into the pockets of local farmers and tradesmen. In addition, exports became more competitive, encouraging economic production. Despite the initial trauma, the devaluation ultimately led to average growth rates of 7% per year between 1995 and 1999. Although inflation initially shot up to 32% in 1994, it fell to 7.7% in 1995, and 2.5% in 2000. The post-devaluation boom waned in 1999, though, because of lower coffee, palm, rubber, and cocoa prices. The GDP growth rate in 2001 was estimated at -1%. Commodity prices, however, rebounded in 2001.

Due to the instability following the attempted coup that took place in 2002, and the resulting fighting, Côte d'Ivoire's economy suffered greatly, affecting everyone from business people to local artisans and farmers. Côte d'Ivoire's neighborsincluding Burkina Faso and Malialso felt the blow from the civil war.

The economy recovered slightly in 2004, with a GDP growth rate of 1.6% (as opposed to negative growth in 2002, and 2003, when the rate was -1.6% and -3.8% respectively). Inflation remains under control at around 3.3%. Although Côte d'Ivoire is one of the sub-Saharan countries with the highest economic potential, it remains mired in a political and military crisis. The situation has deteriorated in 2004 when the president's troops attacked and killed nine French peacekeeping forces.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Côte d'Ivoire's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $24.8 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $1,400. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at -1.5%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 2%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 27.7% of GDP, industry 16.7%, and services 55.6%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $141 million or about $1 per capita and accounted for approximately 1.0% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $252 million or about $15 per capita and accounted for approximately 1.9% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) totaled $9.46 billion or about $56 per capita based on a GDP of $14.0 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 2.7%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 30% of household consumption was spent on food, 4% on fuel, 1% on health care, and 18% on education. It was estimated that in 1995 about 37% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


As of 2005, Côte d'Ivoire's workforce totaled an estimated 6.95 million, of which about 68% were engaged in agriculture. The unemployment rate in urban areas was estimated at 13% in 1998.

With the exception of the police and the military services, all citizens can form or join a union. All unions must be registered, a process that takes three months and which is routinely granted. Organized workers account for a very small segment of the workforce because most are involved in the informal sector or agriculture. As of 2005, about 1.5 million workers or 15% of the labor force in the formal economy are unionized. Collective bargaining is recognized as is the right to strike. However, before a strike can be initiated, a six day notification period must be given.

The law provides a 40-hour workweek for all except agricultural workers, for whom longer working hours are permitted. The legal minimum work age is 14 years, but this is only enforced in large companies and in the civil service. Many children work on farms and do menial jobs in the informal sector in urban areas. A government-set minimum wage varies from sector to sector, with the lowest wage being around $73 per month in 2005, for the industrial sector. Construction workers have a slightly higher minimum wage rate. Foreign workers are generally employed in the informal economy where labor laws do not apply.


Agriculture provides a living for about 46% of Ivoirians and accounts for about one-half of the country's sizable export earnings. Only 23% of the land is cultivated, but farming is intensive and efficiently organized. Most production is in the hands of smallholders, but there are numerous European-owned plantations, far more than in neighboring West African countries.

The main food crops (with their 2004 production in tons) are yams, 3,050,000; manioc, 1,500,000; rice, 1,150,000; plantains, 1,350,000; and corn, 910,000. Sweet potatoes, peanuts, and in the northern districts, millet, sorghum, and hungry rice (fonio) are also grown. Vegetable and melon production in 2004 amounted to 633,910 tons, consisting mostly of eggplant, fresh tomatoes, cabbage, okra, peppers, and shallots. The government sought during the 1970s to reduce or eliminate rice imports, but in 2004, 868,321 tons were imported. The economic decline during the 1980s coupled with high population growth has necessitated the modernization of agricultural production, with less dependence on coffee and cocoa. When cocoa and coffee prices were booming from the late 1960s until the early 1980s, the government profited by paying the farmers only a fraction of the money earned from the export of the crops.

However, they remain the principal cash crops and together provide about 45% of the country's export earnings. Côte d'Ivoire is Africa's leading producer of coffee, which is grown in the southern and central parts of the country, almost entirely on smallholdings. Coffee production reached a peak of 367,000 tons in 1981 and then declined because of drought and bush fires; in 2004 the total was only 159,769 tons. Cocoa production has increased markedly since the early 1970s; it is now the nation's leading cash crop, and Côte d'Ivoire is the world's leading producer, accounting for 37% of world production in 2004. Output rose from 379,000 tons in 1980 to 1,331,494 tons in 2004, in part because of the use of high-yield plants and improvement in planting methods and upkeep.

Banana production (252,423 tons in 2004) fluctuates from year to year because of climatic conditions; exports in 2004 were 227,225 tons. Production of pineapples in that year was 176,917 tons; palm oil, 292,278 tons; and palm kernels, 50,248 tons. Rubber plantations yielded 136,872 tons, and cotton production reached 300,000 tons of seed cotton, and 152,000 tons of cotton fiber. Coconut production was 240,000 tons in 2004.

Six sugar complexes were established in the 1970s and early 1980s. These met domestic demand and provided an export surplus of over 60,000 tons of raw sugar in 1982, but the cost of production far exceeded the world market price and two complexes were converted to rice plantations. Production of sugarcane was about 930,000 tons in 2004.


Much of the country lies within tsetse-infested areas, and cattle are therefore concentrated in the more northerly districts. In 2004 there were an estimated 1,460,000 head of cattle (compared with 383,000 in 1968), 1,192,000 goats, 1,523,000 sheep, and 342,700 hogs. There are 33 million chickens; 31,214 tons of eggs were produced in 2004. Milk production is small and there are no processing facilities so the milk is consumed fresh; production in 2004 was 25,912 tons.

In 2004, meat productions included (in tons): beef, 52,200; poultry, 69,300; pork, 11,760; and sheep and goat, 9,429. Nomadic production accounts for around half of cattle herds and is mainly undertaken by non-Ivoirian herders. Settled herders are concentrated in the dry north, mainly in Korhogo, Ferkessedougon, Bouna, Boundali, Odienne, and Dabakala. Sheep and goat rearing is a secondary activity for many herders. Pork production is periodically affected by African swine fever; potential increases are limited by the fact that Muslims account for 40% of the population.


In 1964 a modern fishing wharf was opened at Abidjan, which is Africa's largest tuna fishing port, handling about 100,000 tons of tuna each year. There are fish hatcheries in Bouaké, Bamoro, and Korhogo. Commercial fishing for tuna is carried on in the Gulf of Guinea; sardines are also caught in quantity. The total catch was 71,841 tons in 2004, with commercial fishing accounting for 25%; artisanal fishing, 74%; and aquaculture, 1%.


There are three types of forest in Côte d'Ivoire: rain forest, deciduous forest, and the secondary forest of the savanna region. Total forest area in 2000 was 7,117,000 hectares (17,586,000 acres); the natural rain forest constitutes the main forest area, as only 184,000 hectares (455,000 acres) are planted forests. In 1983, the government acknowledged that the nation's forest area, which totaled approximately 16 million hectares (40 million acres) at independence in 1960, had dwindled to about 4 million hectares (10 million acres). However, the deforestation rate still averaged 3.1% during 19902000. The lingering political instability since the outbreak of hostilities in 2002 has contributed to illegal logging and increased deforestation.

The forested area is divided into two zones, the Permanent Domain (PD) and the Rural Domain (RD). The PD consists of classified forests, national parks, and forest areas. This includes major forested areas made up of 231 classified forest areas, 9 national parks and 3 forest reserves, 7 semiclassified forests, and 51 unclassified forests. The total area of the national parks and reserves is 1,959,203 hectares (4,841,191 acres). Forest exploitation activities are prohibited in the classified forest areas, which cover an estimated 4,196,000 hectares (10,368,000 acres). However, for maintenance purposes, limited logging is permitted occasionally in classified forests, which amounted to 148,271 cu m in 2003. These forests are spread throughout the country in three zones: 31.8% in the humid dense forest in the south, 30.5% in the semi-deciduous forests of central Côte d'Ivoire, and 33.7% in the savannah forests in the north. The RD, where logging is permitted, covers 66% of the total land area of Côte d'Ivoire. However, the effective area for forestry production is estimated at 2.9 million hectares (7.2 million acres).

In 2003, forest products accounted for $269 million in export value, providing the third most important source of foreign revenue after cocoa and petroleum products. The major export markets were Italy, Spain, Germany, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, India, Ireland, Senegal, and Morocco. The total 2003 roundwood harvest was 11,615,000 cu m (410,010,000 cu ft). Tropical hardwood production primarily consists of logs, 70%; lumber, 20%; and veneer and plywood, 10%. At one time, mahogany was the only wood exploited, but now more than 25 different types of wood are utilized commercially. The major species planted are teak, frake, framire, pine, samba, cedar, gmelina, niangon, and bete. The increasing scarcity of forest resources is adversely impacting value-added industries, leaving lumber and veneer production in a steady state of decline.


Minerals represented a minor component of the economy, of which petroleum was a leading industry. All mineral rights were vested in the state, the Ministère des Ressources Minières et Pétrolières was responsible for administering the sector, and prospecting and mining were subject to control of the state-owned Société d'Etat pour le Développment Minier de la Côte d'Ivoire (SODEMI). Mineral commodities were estimated to account for 10% of the country's exports, excluding the value of smuggled gold and diamonds; the government was planning to implement a diamond certification scheme to respond to worldwide concerns over conflict diamonds. Diamond output in 2004 was estimated at 230,000 carats, unchanged from 2003, but down from the 306,500 carats produced in 2002. Although kimberlites were known to exist at Kanangone, Seguela, and Tortiya, diamonds were produced only from alluvial deposits at Tortiya and Seguela. Gold production in 2004 was 1,219 kg, compared to 1,313 Kg in 2003. The Agbaou gold permit's resources were more than 26,000 kg. A number of foreign companies had gold interests in Côte d'Ivoire, among them a French consortium that in 1991 began to exploit a mine estimated to contain 500,000 tons of gold ore with a content of 7 grams of gold per ton. Tantalite production was estimated at 400 kg in 2004. Côte d'Ivoire in 2004 also produced cement, columbite, gravel and crushed rock, and sand. The production of building materials was a leading industry in the country.

The country's total iron ore resource was estimated to be 3,000 million tons, with deposits at Monogaga, Mount Gao, Mount Klahoyo, Mount Nimba, Mount Segaye, Mount Tia, and Mount Tortro; poor infrastructure has hampered development of these resources. There has been recent interest in constructing a gas pipeline to service an iron ore pelletizing plant onsite, and the government has been actively pursuing a project to build a 500 km railway that would connect Mount Nimba and the San Pedro port. Falconbridge Ltd. of Canada continued evaluation of its Touba-Biankouma license, whose laterite deposit of nickel and cobalt was estimated to be 292 million tons of ore at a grade of 1.46% nickel and 0.11% cobalt. Ilmenite fields containing an estimated 500,000 tons of the rare metal have been discovered near Grand Lahou. Copper, titanium, chromite, bauxite, and asphalt were among other known minerals not yet exploited commercially. In 2001, Côte d'Ivoire agreed with six West African countries to form a free-trade zone to expand economic and infrastructural development. Despite the 1999 military coup and continuing civil unrest in 2001, Côte d'Ivoire's 8,000 paved roads and two active ports made it attractive for business


Côte d'Ivoire has become in recent years an important supplier of energy to the sub-Saharan region as a result of its reserves of natural gas, excess electrical generating capacity, and recent offshore finds of oil and natural gas.

Offshore oil was discovered in 1977, with production starting three years later. The bulk of the country's oil and gas wells, (86%), are situated in shallow marine areas, with another 7% located in deep offshore wells. Only 7% of the country's oil and gas wells are onshore. Estimates by the Oil and Gas Journal have placed the country's proven petroleum reserves at 100 million barrels, as of 1 January 2005. Production for 2004 was estimated at 35,541 barrels per day, with crude oil accounting for 35,000 barrels per day. However, recent finds and new production at several offshore fields and blocks may push the nation's proven reserves and output totals higher. For example, the Espoir field, which began producing in early 2002, is estimated to contain recoverable reserves of 93 million barrels of oil and 180 billion cubic feet of gas. Also, Block CI-40, which is jointly operated by Canadian Natural Resources, Svenska Petroleum and the state oil corporation, Société Nationale d'Opérations Pétrolières de la Côte d'Ivoire (Petroci), and which lies 5 miles to the south of the Espoir field, is estimated to have recoverable oil reserves of 200 million barrels. In Block CI-112, located off Côte d'Ivoire's western coast, is estimated by Vanco Energy Company to contain 2.7 billion barrels of oil in the block's San Pedro ridge and in other deposits.

Although natural gas was initially discovered in Côte d'Ivoire in the 1980s, it has only been recently developed As of 1 January 2005, the country is estimated to have of natural gas reserves of 1.00 trillion cu ft. In 2003, natural gas output and domestic consumption were each estimated at 46 billion cu ft.

Côte d'Ivoire's oil and gas industry is managed by Petroci. Founded in 1975, Petroci was restructured in 1998 into a holding company, Petroci Holding, with three subsidiaries: Petroci Exploration-Production which handles upstream gas and oil activities; Petroci Gaz, which is responsible for the natural gas sector; and Petroci Industries-Services which manages all other related services. Petroci Holding manages the three subsidiaries as well as the country's holdings in the gas and oil sectors.

Côte d'Ivoire uses hydroelectric and thermal generating facilities to provide all of its electrical power. As of 1 January 2002, the country's generating capacity stood at an estimated 0.90 million kW. Although hydropower accounts for around two-thirds of its generating capacity, it accounts for less than half of the power generated. In 2002, an estimated 4.8 billion kWh of electric power was generated, of which 38% was hydroelectric and 62% thermal. Gas powered stations alone generated more than half of the total power produced The use of natural gas fueled power stations has also made Côte d'Ivoire into an exporter of electricity. In 2002, exports of electricity to neighboring countries totaled 1.6 billion kWh. Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Togo are among the countries connected to Côte d'Ivoire's power grid. Domestic consumption of electric power in 2002 is reported to total 3.109 billion kWh. Compangnie Ivoirienne d'Electriciti (CIE) is the sole supplier of power, and manages, not only the government-owned generating plants, but also the transmission and distribution of power. Although official estimates place the percentage of people living in urban areas that have access to electricity at 77%, less than 15% of those living in rural areas have such access. Rural electrification has become a major priority with the government.


Côte d'Ivoire's industrial activity is substantial by African standards. It accounted for 29% of GDP in 2000. The development of processing industries, especially in the Abidjan region, has been significant. Bouaké has become a large industrial center, and numerous thriving industries have been built up in the forest zone of the southern coastal region. These include palm oil mills, soap factories, a flour mill, fruit canning factories, a tuna canning factory, breweries, beer and soft drink plants, rubber processing plants, sugar mills, cotton ginning plants, and coffee- and cocoabean processing plants. The chemical and lubricant industries are also significant. In 1998, industrial GDP grew 12% with increased capacity utilization and plant expansion and renovation. Exports of light manufactured goods had increased by 2002.

The lumber industry, producing largely for export, included plywood factories and numerous sawmills. The construction materials industry, comprised of brick works, quarries, and cement plants, experienced an approximate 25% growth rate from 1996 to 1999. The Abidjan airport was completely renovated in 2001, and there are plans to expand the Port of Abidjan.

Recoverable oil reserves in the country amount to 100 million barrels. Petroleum products account for more than 11% of export earnings. The oil refinery at Abidjan produces enough refined petroleum products for the country to be self-sufficient in them. Côte d'Ivoire is known more as an oil-refining country than an oil-producing one. The Abidjan refinery was scheduled for privatization by 2000. Recoverable gas reserves amount to 1.1 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), and the country is destined to become a gas exporter.

Cotton production is expanding in the north of the country, and a thriving textile industry has developed around it, including such activities as ginning, spinning, weaving, and printing.

The civil war that began in 2002 inhibited growth in all sectors, from large industry in Abidjan to small artisan work. Fighting prevented raw materials from the north of the country to make their way to businesses and ports in the south.

In 2004, industry made up 19.4% of the economy, agriculture, 27.8%, and services, 52.8%. Most (68%) of the 6.7 million laborable population was employed by the agricultural sector. Côte d'Ivoire continues to be one of the most industrialized sub-Saharan countries, but the precarious political situation prevents the country from exploiting this position fully.

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 5,493.4 3,536.3 1,957.1
France-Monaco 1,047.0 1,152.6 -105.6
Netherlands 974.3 117.2 857.1
United States 389.3 114.1 275.2
Spain 309.5 82.8 226.7
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 188.4 111.3 77.1
United Kingdom 169.1 247.6 -78.5
Nigeria 164.4 509.8 -345.4
Belgium 147.1 80.2 66.9
Equatorial Guinea 130.9 130.9
Ghana 124.4 124.4
() data not available or not significant.


Scientific institutes in Côte d'Ivoire conduct research in such fields as tropical forestry, livestock and veterinary medicine, cotton and tropical textiles, coffee, cocoa, oils, rubber, savanna food crops, and citrus fruits. The French Institute of Scientific Research for Cooperative Development, founded in 1946, has a center in Abidjan and extensions in Bouaké and Man. The National University of Côte d'Ivoire in Abidjan includes faculties of sciences, medicine, and pharmacy; and an institute of renewable energy. A technical school in Bingerville offers training in electrical engineering, and a teachers' training college at Yamoussoukro includes schools of industrial technology and engineering. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 31% of college and university enrollments.

In 2002, high technology exports were valued at $27 million, accounting for 3% of the country's manufactured exports.


European firms play an important part in the economy, and the French and Lebanese population has a strong influence in importing and marketing decisions. They buy and export lumber, coffee, cocoa, and palm oil products and import capital and consumer goods. Most European firms have their headquarters in Abidjan; many are also represented in Bouaké. In Abidjan and Bouaké there are specialty shops in such lines as dry goods, foodstuffs, hardware, electrical appliances, and consumer electronics. In the smaller towns of the interior, bazaars and individual merchants and peddlers deal in locally grown products and a few imported items.

Domestic trade is generally on a cash basis, but in the countryside, bartering is common. Many shopkeepers extend credit to farmers until the end of the harvest season. Major credit cards are not generally accepted. Installment purchase has been introduced for automobiles and major appliances. Prices and profit margins are regulated by the government for basic food products, many imported goods, and certain services.

Business hours are generally from 8 am to noon and from 3 to 6 pm, Monday through Friday, and some businesses are open on Saturday. Banks are normally open on weekdays from 8 to 11:30 am and 2:30 to 4:30 pm. Many businesses close during the month of August for vacation.


Côte d'Ivoire has generally enjoyed a positive trade balance since independence. Cocoa is Côte d'Ivoire's largest export commodity (28%), cornering over a quarter of the world's exports in the market (26%). The country also exports wood (7.5%), coffee (8.4%), fruits and nuts (4.7%), fish (3.6%), and cotton (4.1%). Côte d'Ivoire's exports go to France, the Netherlands, and the United States.

In 2004, exports reached $5.1 billion (FOBfree on board), while imports grew to $3.4 billion (FOB). The bulk of exports went to the United States (11.6%), the Netherlands (10.3%), France (9.5%), Italy (5.5%), Belgium (4.7%), and Germany (4.7%). Imports included fuel, capital equipment, and foodstuffs, and mainly came from France (24.3%), Nigeria (19.2%), and the United Kingdom (4%).


Côte d'Ivoire's exports have diversified over the years, ranging from a reliance on cocoa, coffee, and other tropical agricultural products, to new growth in exports of light manufactured goods, petroleum products, and electricity. The success of these exports has led to a positive foreign trade balance. The country, however, has external debt service arrears in the amount of $415 million (2001). Total external debt stands at around $11 billion, approximately the same amount as annual GDP, or more than three times annual export earnings. The country also has internal debt service payments of over $2 billion, or approximately 18% of GDP.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of Côte d'Ivoire's exports was $3.6

Current Account 352.8
     Balance on goods 2,524.0
         Imports -3,320.0
         Exports 5,844.1
     Balance on services -1,015.2
     Balance on income -687.1
     Current transfers -468.9
Capital Account 5.5
Financial Account -1,099.2
     Direct investment abroad
     Direct investment in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) 179.9
     Portfolio investment assets -35.0
     Portfolio investment liabilities 52.1
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets -413.0
     Other investment liabilities -883.1
Net Errors and Omissions -17.1
Reserves and Related Items 757.9
() data not available or not significant.

billion while imports totaled $2.4 billion resulting in a trade surplus of $1.2 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001 Côte d'Ivoire had exports of goods totaling $3.95 billion and imports totaling $2.41 billion. The services credit totaled $487 million and debit $1.23 billion.

Exports of goods and services reached $6.9 billion (FOBfree on board) in 2004, up from $5.8 billion (FOB) in 2003. Imports grew from $3.2 billion in 2003, to $4.2 billion in 2004. The resource balance was consequently positive in both years, hovering at around $2.6 billion. The current account balance was also positive, slightly improving from $295 million in 2003, to $303 million in 2004. Foreign exchange reserves (excluding gold) grew to $1.7 billion in 2004, covering almost five months of imports.


Côte d'Ivoire is a part of the Communaute Financiere Africaine, in particular, the Union Economique et Monetaire de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (UEMOA). The central bank for all UEMOA members is the Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (BCEAO) in Dakar. CFA francs (Communauté Financière Africaine francs), are guaranteed by France at a rate of 100:1 without limitation. There are 15 commercial banks in Côte d'Ivoire. These include SGBCI, BIAO, BOCICI, SIB, Citibank, Paribas, BHCI, Ecobank, Bank of Africa, and HSBC Equator Bank. The African Development Bank is headquartered in Abidjan.

In late 1996, the Banque internationale pour le commerce et l'industrie de la Côte d'Ivoire (BICICI) forecast growth of 7.3% for 1996. Banking activity had followed the improving national economic environment. BICICI expected credit in the economy to rise by 4.3% in 1996, and money supply by 20%, marked by further substantial growth in household savings.

Public credit institutions provide credit to farmers and agricultural cooperatives, mortgages and personal loans, real estate financing, and loans to small industries. The Ivoirian Industrial Development Bank was inaugurated in 1965 to provide medium- and long-term credit for industrial projects. The National Agricultural Development Bank, created in 1968, extends loans to the agricultural community. The National Bank for Savings and Credit is the state savings institution.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $1.8 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $2.5 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 4.95%. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 6.5%.

As of 2004, a total of 39 companies were listed on the West African Stock Exchange. Total market capitalization as of that year was $2.083 billion. As of that same year, the BRVM Composite Index rose 17.1% from the previous year to 87.6.


There were over 30 insurance companies in Abidjan in 1999. Domestic companies accounted for almost 80% of the business. Third-party motor liability insurance is compulsory. In 2002, all direct premiums written totaled $162 million, of which nonlife premiums accounted for $109 million. In 2000 (the latest year for which data was available), AXA was the country's top nonlife insurer, with $16.5 million of nonlife premiums written. In that same year, Groupama Vie was the leading life insurer, with $14.2 million in gross premiums written.


In the first quarter of 1999, the government admitted to a budget shortfall of $125 million, which it explained as a loss of import duties and tax and customs fraud. The government has been accused repeatedly of corrupt practices and mismanagement of public revenues, including extra-budgetary spending. The government began a privatization program in 1990 that had succeeded in selling 56 out of 60 chosen national enterprises by 1999.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Côte d'Ivoire's central government took in revenues of approximately $2.4 billion and had expenditures of $2.8 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$396 million. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 70.4% of GDP. Total external debt was $13.26 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were CFA Fr1,375.3 billion and expenditures were CFA Fr1,297.3 billion. The value of revenues US dollars was us$2 million, based on a official exchange rate for 2001 of us$1 = CFA Fr711.98 as reported by the IMF.


From the end of May 2001, as some order was restored after the coup attempt in January, the government began instituting and planning reforms in tax structure and tax administration under the guidance of the IMF and the World Bank. The government wrote off tax arrears from prior to 1992 amounting to about 460 million. Most domestic state revenues come from indirect taxes

Revenue and Grants 1,375.3 100.0%
     Tax revenue 1,172.8 85.3%
     Social contributions 114.2 8.3%
     Grants 40.3 2.9%
     Other revenue 48 3.5%
Expenditures 1,297.3 100.0%
     General public services
     Public order and safety
     Economic affairs
     Environmental protection
     Housing and community amenities
     Recreational, culture, and religion
     Social protection
() data not available or not significant.

on imports and exports, and on consumer products, and from business taxes. In 2002 the minimum 5% customs duty on all imports was extended.

The Côte d'Ivoire divides income into five categories according to its source-industrial and commercial profits, salaries and wages, marketable securities, land, and noncommercial profits. Each type is subject to its own specific tax. Individuals are taxed on their total income from all categories under the progressive Gen. Income Tax (IGR), which takes into account the number and type of persons in the taxpayer's household.

Companies pay a tax for Industrial and Commercial Benefits (BIC) at a rate of 35% of profits, with a 0.5% minimum rate on turnover. Water, oil, and electricity producers are subject to a minimum 0.1% rate. Individually-owned companies pay 25%. The tax on capital gains is included in the corporate tax. The New Code for Investments of 1995 offers programs of tax holidays, exemptions and reductions as incentives for foreign investment. Subsidiaries of foreign corporations are subject to withholding tax of 12% (18% if the profit is exempt from corporate tax). The withholding tax on income from royalties is 20% and from interest, 18%. Dividends to nonresidents are subject to 18% withholding, but this may be reduced to 10% or 12%. All withholding taxes may be reduced or eliminated by the terms of bilateral double-taxation prevention agreements. The Côte d'Ivoire has double-tax treaties with about 20 countries, the United States not included among them. There is a real estate tax and a tax on capital gains from securities. Otherwise capital and capital gains are not taxed.

The main indirect tax is the value-added tax (VAT), which, as of 2 July 2001, was set at the unified rate of 20% with the abolition of the reduced rate of 11%. Supplies to ships and aircraft are exempt from VAT. Also levied is a tax on service provided (TSP) of 10% on certain financial and other services, a business franchise tax, a petroleum products tax, a tax on automobiles (50%-100%).


A fiscal import duty, applied to all incoming goods regardless of origin, serves primarily as a source of revenue. A customs duty is levied on all goods coming from places other than franc zone countries. Combined, they equal a maximum of 35%. Products from franc zone countries, especially France, receive preferential customs treatment. An excise tax is levied on alcoholic beverages and tobacco; export duties and taxes are imposed on specified commodities. There is also a 20% value-added tax (VAT), and a 2.6 % statistical tax that must be paid on all declarations. All imports valued at more than CFA Fr1 million need licenses, which are issued on a quota basis. Bilateral customs agreements have been concluded with Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin, and some other countries. A 1997 agreement with UEMOA countries established a reduction of 60% customs duties manufactured and marketed in the zone.


Foreign (that is, non-French) investment was negligible until the issuance of the 1959 investment code, which eliminated all special privileges for French companies. A new investment code was adopted in 1984. To finance national investment, all businesses had to lend 10% of their profits to the government, but this loan was rebated if they reinvested twice that sum in government-approved industries. Investment incentives included tax holidays, export bonuses, duty-free imports of equipment and machinery, free repatriation of capital and profits, and tax stabilization clauses. The 1984 code was particularly intended to help small- and mediumsized enterprises, with greater incentives for firms locating outside the Abidjan area.

The New Investment Code of 1995 modified the code of 1984 to further encourage private sector investment for larger enterprises. Incentive packages were particularly aimed at attracting foreign investment in the petroleum, telecommunications, and mining sectors, which were being privatized. As a venue for foreign direct investment, Côte d'Ivoire had in its favor a well-developed infrastructure by third world standards (two ports with inland rail linkages, paved roads, advanced telecommunications facilities), a release from overwhelming external debt through the Paris Club and the HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) initiative of the IMF and World Bank, and, most famously, a long record of political stability. This last was broken in the coup of 1999, a popular uprising in 2000, and a troop mutiny in March 2002.

Annual foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow fell over 43% between 1997 and 20002001from about $450 million in 1997 to an average of about $256 million in 2000 and 2001. The political turmoil has created uncertainty in the private sector, which due to recent privatizations has delayed planned infrastructure improvements in the railroads, the petroleum sector, telecommunications, and electricity and water supply.

FDI has come primarily from France, which is the source of 5560% of accumulated FDI stock. FDI flows account for 4045% of total capital in Ivorian firms, about 25% of which is French. Other important sources of FDI include the United States (8.4% in 1997), United Kingdom (7.3%), and Benelux countries (4.6%)

The economic downturn registered in 2004 has depleted the government's cash flow, reduced the tax base, and increased the country's debt. The political turmoil that followed towards the end of that same year has seriously deteriorated the business climate and has scared away potential foreign investors.


Since independence, Côte d'Ivoire has engaged in an economic program aimed at ending its reliance on outside assistance and at achieving self-sustained growth. Its economy has remained one of the most developed on the African continent, and its religious, ethnic, and political stability was a model for other African nations. Under current conditions, however, the Côte d'Ivoire economy will remain highly vulnerable to commodity price variations and dependent upon outside assistance into the foreseeable future, a future mortgaged by its earlier levels of borrowing. Increased efforts to liberalize the economy by privatizing state-owned companies have also helped to improve economic performance, as has increased capital investment. The country's debt in 2000 was approximately $13 billion. Côte d'Ivoire hoped to become classified as a "newly industrializing country" by the year 2025. In September 2002 mutineering soldiers attempted a coup, however, and the country was divided into government-controlled and rebel-held areas. After a cease-fire was declared in January 2003 and a government of national unity was formed, President Gbagbo declared on 4 July 2003 that the civil war was over, and there were hopes that the disrupted economy would return to a state of stability.

In March 2002, Côte d'Ivoire negotiated a three-year $366 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support the government's economic program.

Although it is one of countries with the highest potential in subSaharan Africa, Côte d'Ivoire remains a country divided in two, with a fragile political situation and a lot of social tension. The cocoa industry, although largely under government control, has suffered indirectly from this conflict and prospects for the 200506 crop are dim. Other sectors suffered permanent damages, notably the tourism sector and the goods hauling one (with much of the trade lost to neighboring Ghana and Togo).


The social insurance system covers all employed persons and there is a special program for civil servants. Contributions from employers and employees finance the system, and the retirement age is set at 55 years. Employed women are entitled to a maternity benefit equal to 100% of the person's last earnings for a total of 14 weeks. Work injury insurance is funded by employers at varying rates depending on the degree of risk in the job. A family allowance is available to all workers with children and there is also a birth grant and a maternity allowance.

Women play a subordinate role in society even though the constitution prohibits sex discrimination. Domestic abuse occurs frequently and is generally not reported due to the shame it brings upon the family. Women are often forced into marriage, and inheritance practices favor men. Women's advocacy groups are addressing the indifference of authorities to female victims of violent crimes. Female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation, is illegal, but is still practiced in many areas of the country. The government took action against statutory rape of school girls by teachers, in part to combat low rates of enrollment due to teen pregnancies.

Security forces commit widespread abuses, including killings and arbitrary arrest and detention. Journalists are regularly beaten and harassed. The government restricts the freedom of press, assembly, speech, and movement.


The public medical services are more important than the small number of private physicians and clinics. In 2004, there were an estimated 9 physicians, 31 nurses, and 15 midwives per 100,000 people. About 77% of the population had access to safe water in 2000. Total health care expenditures were estimated at 3.7% of GDP.

Malaria, yellow fever, sleeping sickness, yaws, leprosy, trachoma, and meningitis are endemic. A broad program was set up in 1961 to control these and other diseases; compulsory vaccination against smallpox and yellow fever was instituted, efforts by mobile health units to track down cases and provide treatment were intensified, and general health measures were tightened both within the country and at the borders. In 1999, the country immunized children up to one year old as follows: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 62%, and measles, 62%. Malnutrition affected 24% of children under five years old.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.60 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 570,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 47,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

The high incidence of HIV/AIDS is attributed to a lack of HIV education programs.

Approximately 60% of females underwent female genital mutilation. The birth rate in 1999 was 41.8 per 1,000. The infant mortality rate in 2005 was 90.83 per 1,000 live births, and 14% of all births were classified as low weight. In 2005, average life expectancy in Côte d'Ivoire was estimated at 48.62.


Housing remains an issue of major concern in Côte d'Ivoire, particularly in Abidjan, which has been the focus of continued migration from rural areas. Extensive slum clearance has been carried out in the former capital, but shantytowns still persist on the outskirts. About 70% of the housing in Abidjan are habitats de cour. These consist of a series of connected living units with shared outbuildings for kitchen and sanitation services. There is generally a shared courtyard as well. It has been estimated that about 60% of the residents in Abidjan live in slum settlements. Police officers, soldiers, customs officials, top-level bureaucrats, and foreign salaried government employees receive free housing.

According to the latest available figures, the housing stock totaled nearly two million units, with about six people per dwelling. In 1990, only about 49% of the total population had access to improved sanitation systems; 65% had access to improved water systems.


Education is free at all levels. Primary education lasts for six years and secondary for seven years (four years of lower secondary followed by three years of upper secondary). Secondary students might choose a seven-year technical program instead of general studies.

Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 61% of age-eligible students; 67% for boys and 54% for girls. In 2001, secondary school enrollment was about 19% of age-eligible students; 24% for boys and 14% for girls. It is estimated that about 51% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 11:1 in 2003. The ratio for secondary school was about 36:1 in 1995.

In 1996, the National University of Côte d'Ivoire split into three separate universities: the Université de Cocody, the Université d'Abobo-Adjamé, and the Université de Bouaké. There are other universities and institutions offering a variety of higher education programs. In 1998, there were about 97,000 students enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 48.1%, with 60.1% for men and 38.2% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.6% of GDP, or 21.5% of total government expenditures.


The National Library, in Abidjan, was created in 1968 from the former library of the French Institute of Black Africa and has a primarily scientific collection; in 2002, it contained over 75,000 volumes. The library of the African Development Bank at Abidjan, was founded in 1970, and has 40,000 volumes. A Public Information Center of the World Bank is also located in Abidjan. Abidjan has a municipal library with 50,000 volumes, the National University library with 95,000 volumes, and several small research libraries. The French Cultural Center holds 43,000 volumes.

The Museum of Côte d'Ivoire in Abidjan features ethnological, sociological, artistic, and scientific exhibits. The Native Costume Museum was founded in 1981 in Grand Bassam. Regional museums are located in Bondoukou, Bingerville, Abengourou, Bonova, Duekoue, and Vavova. A general interest museum was founded in 1992 in Korhogo.


Telephone and telegraph services are government owned. In 2003, there were an estimated 14 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 3,400 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 77 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

All news media are owned or controlled by the government or the ruling PDCI. In 2002, daily newspapers included the Frenchlanguage daily Fraternité Matin, with a circulation of 80,000; Ivoir'Soir (50,000); Le Jour (16,000); and La Voie.

The government also controls radio and television broadcasting. Radio broadcasts are in French, English, and indigenous languages; television is in French only. Some international broadcasts are available, but transmission of some programming has been disrupted by the government in the past. In 1998, there were 2 AM and 9 FM radio stations, with 14 television stations reported in 1999. In 2003, there were an estimated 185 radios and 61 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 9.3 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 14 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were three secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

Though the constitution provides for free expression and a free press, the government is said to impose significant restrictions on print and electronic media.


Chambers of commerce, industry, and agriculture have their headquarters in Abidjan, including the National Federation of Industry of Côte d'Ivoire. The International Labour Organization Regional Office for Africa is also in Abidjan. There are a number of employers' associations and agricultural producers' cooperatives. Some multinational trade and professional organizations are based in the country, including the Inter-African Coffee Organization and the African Union of Sports Medicine. A consumer cooperative also functions.

The African Music Rostrum, also based in Abidjan, is a multinational cultural organization to promote African musical arts.

Côte d'Ivoire has many clubs devoted to various sports. There are at least three scouting organizations and several other youth organizations are active, many of which are related to religious organizations.

Amnesty International has chapters within the country. There are also national chapters of the Red Cross Society, Caritas, UNICEF, the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, and Habitat for Humanity.


Due to political unrest, the small tourism industry has declined since 2002. Fine beaches, specially built tourist villages, and photo safaris through the wildlife preserves are the principal attractions.

Passports are required, but visas are not for stays of up to 90 days. A vaccination certificate for yellow fever is needed from all foreign visitors.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the cost of staying in Abidjan at $241 per day, and in Yamoussoukro, $218.


Queen Abla Pokou (b.1720), the legendary heroine of the Baoulé people, led them to Côte d'Ivoire from the territory that is now Ghana. Félix Houphouët-Boigny (19051993) was the first African to be a French Cabinet minister (195669); he was elected as Côte d'Ivoire's first president in 1960 and was continually reelected until his death. Henri Konan-Bédié (b.1933) became president in 1993, a post he held until his ouster in a military coup in 2000 led by Robert Guéï. Laurent Koudou Gbagbo (b.1945) defeated Guéï in presidential elections held later in 2000. The nation's outstanding literary figure, Bernard Binlin Dadié (b.1916), is known abroad for several volumes of poetry and a novel; he has held many government posts, including minister of cultural affairs from 197786.


Côte d'Ivoire has no territories or colonies.


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Rapley, John. Ivoirien Capitalism: African Entrepreneurs in Côte d'Ivoire. Boulder, Colo.: L. Rienner Publishers, 1993.

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Côte d'Ivoire


Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
République de Côte d'Ivoire



Côte d'Ivoire (which means "Ivory Coast") is a West African country bordering the North Atlantic Ocean between Ghana and Liberia. It has an area of 322,460 square kilometers (124,502 square miles) of which 318,000 square kilometers (122,780 square miles) are occupied by land while water occupies the remaining 4,460 square kilometers (1,722 square miles). Its boundaries are 3,110 kilometers long (1,932 miles). These borders include 716 kilometers (445 miles) with Liberia in the west, 610 kilometers (379 miles) with Guinea in the northwest, 532 kilometers (330 miles) with Mali in the north, 584 kilometers (363 miles) with Burkina Faso in the north, and 668 kilometers (415 miles) with Ghana in the east. The country's coastline is 515 kilometers (320 miles) long.

Located on the Gulf of Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire has 2 major natural divisions. Its topography is a mix of plains and low hills containing a small mountainous area, with Mont Nimba rising to 1,752 meters (5,748 feet) above sea level in the Man region to the west. The south's equatorial rainforest (much of which has been logged) changes into woodland savanna to the north. The south has heavy rainfall and lush rain forests where foreign investors have large plantations of crops like coffee, cocoa, and bananas while the north is a granite plain characterized by savannas, where small landowners raise sorghum, corn, and peanuts. Côte d'Ivoire has one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the world.


The population was estimated to be 15.9 million in 2001, up from 13.9 million in 1995, and 11.8 million in 1990. The population density is 50 people per square kilometer (129 per square mile), up from 43.6 in 1995 and 37.1 in 1990. The population growth rate has been 3.1 percent a year in the period 1990-98, and the fertility rate is correspondingly high. The average number of children per woman is 5.1. Urban population has been growing, rising from 40 percent in 1990 to 46 percent in 1999. The structure of the population is youthful, with only 2 percent aged 65 and over, while 52 percent are aged between 15 and 65, and 46 percent are under 15 years. Life expectancy at birth has been decreasing from 50 in 1990 to 46 in 1999, and the incidence of AIDS has been one of the main factors in this decline, with more than 1 million Ivorians affected.

The population includes 5 major ethnic groups: the Kru, Akan, Volta, Mande, and Malinke, inhabiting both the savannas and rain forests, subdivided into approximately 80 smaller groups. Nearly two-thirds of the population follow traditional African religions, while 23 percent are Moslems, and 12 percent are Christians. French is the official language, but there are many other local languages. The most widely spoken are Diula in the north, Baule in the center and west, and Bete in the southeast.

The net out-migration rate was estimated in July 2000 to be 1.6 migrants per 1,000 of the population. After Liberia's civil war started in 1990, more than 350,000 refugees fled to Côte d'Ivoire, but by the end of 1999 almost all the Liberian refugees had returned.


Côte d'Ivoire has benefited since independence in 1960 from considerable political stability, and to no small measure this has been due to the close relationship with the former colonial power, France, and the presence of French troops in the country. These provided a secure platform for economic development and an encouraging environment for foreign investment. This state of affairs was disturbed by a military coup (a domestic overthrow of a government) in 1999, but international pressure led to a return to constitutional civilian government in 2000.

Most people in the economy (more than half) depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, and they are the poorest section of the community. Farming is undertaken on small family plots, and much of the output is consumed by the producing family. The economy depends heavily on exports of tropical agricultural products to generate the foreign exchange that Côte d'Ivoire requires to purchase the manufactured goods it does not have the capacity to produce itself. The main exports are cocoa and cocoa products, coffee, and fish. Exports generate 40 percent of the GDP. However, the heavy reliance on tropical agricultural exports makes the economy very vulnerable to changes in international commodity prices and the weather. In 1994, the currency was devalued by 50 percent which resulted in higher prices to producers of export crops who have responded with higher output, but much of the benefit has been eroded by declining world prices, particularly for coffee. Sparked by the devaluation , in the 1994-98 period the real gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaged 5.5 percent providing the first sustained improvement in per capita GDP since the late 1970s. During this period, the external current account deficit (including grants) was lowered from 11 percent of the GDP in 1993 to 4 percent in 1998, and the external debt burden was reduced.

Despite the positive economic results of devaluation, the government is aware of its economy's vulnerability due to its heavy reliance on cocoa and coffee. To safeguard the economy, the government is doing its best to encourage other agricultural exports, such as pineapples and rubber, and exploring for offshore deposits of oil and gas. Since 1986, Côte d'Ivoire has been undertaking a program of economic liberalization , which has involved ending state monopolies , particularly in agricultural marketing, and privatizing state-owned enterprises in an effort to make these sectors more efficient.

The economic situation was further boosted by an increase in grants and low interest rate loans, mainly from France, between 1994 and 1998. Significant progress was made in consolidating public finances during this period with the overall budget deficit declining from about 12 percent of the GDP in 1993 to 2.5 percent in 1998. The 50 percent devaluation of CFA franc in January 1994 caused a single jump in the inflation rate to 26 percent in 1994, but the rate fell sharply to 9.4 percent in 1996 and 1.3 percent in 1999.

The sharp downturn in the terms of trade, with cocoa prices falling by 40 percent below their end-of-1998 level as well as a significant slowdown in disbursement of external assistance have given rise to problems. Economic growth has slowed, and investment has slipped with the private sector 's adoption of a more cautious stance in the uncertain political environment following the 1999 coup.


In pre-colonial times, the territory of present-day Côte d'Ivoire was inhospitable to the sea-borne European traders because of the dense, thinly populated tropical forest stretching hundreds of kilometers inland from the Atlantic Ocean. There was little European interest in the interior before the mid-19th century. Northern Côte d'Ivoire, largely savanna and populated by Muslims, was historically controlled by the Guinean kingdoms, which periodically exerted influence over much of modern Mali, Guinea, and Niger. The French presence grew after 1893 when the colony of Côte d'Ivoire was officially established. The potential of the country's agricultural and forestry resources came to be realized with the building of the railway through Côte d'Ivoire into present-day Burkina Faso, and by the late 1940s, Côte d'Ivoire had replaced Senegal as France's richest colony in West Africa.

Côte d'Ivoire became independent in August 1960, with Felix Houphouet-Boigny, a successful cocoa farmer and former minister in the French government, as president. Close ties to France have characterized the period since independence, and trade and investment links have expanded, as well as the number of French expatriates working in Côte d'Ivoire.

Capitalizing on his carefully cultivated personal relations with successive French governments as well as his skillful economic and political management, Houphouet-Boigny dominated the country's political life for more than 3 decades. Houphouet-Boigny's party, Parti Democratique de Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI), became the only legal political party in Côte d'Ivoire. In the 1960s and 1970s, he presided over Côte d'Ivoire's emergence as one of Africa's few stable and economically successful countries. With the introduction of multiparty politics in 1990, his PDCI remained in control. There was remarkably little internal strife and no significant external threat, leading to a resolution not to develop a costly and possibly untrustworthy army, and instead entrusting national defense to France.

However, Côte d'Ivoire faced serious social and economic problems in the 1980s with the fall in world commodity prices. As Houphouet-Boigny slipped into old age and popular dissent grew in the beginning of the 1990s, demonstrations and strikes became commonplace. The first multiparty elections were held in 1990 and were won by Houphouet-Boigny's PDCI amid accusation from the opposition of vote rigging.

Flamboyant Laurent Gbagbo, leader of the Front Populaire Ivorienne (FPI), defiantly led thousands of protesters through the streets of Abidjan in 1992, resulting in widespread rioting in the commercial capital and attracting a stern reaction from the authorities. Many protesters, including Gbagbo, were arrested and charged under legislation rushed through parliament, although many were freed 6 months later.

Mr. Houpouet-Boigny's death in 1993which was feared would lead to social chaos and dash hopes of a return to economic prosperityresulted in a controversial power transfer to Konan Bedie, formerly president of the Assemble Nationale.

In the October 1995 presidential elections Konan Bedie won 95 percent of the vote amid protests from the opposition against a PDCI-dominated parliament's passing of a law that barred Alassane Dramane Ouattara, a World Bank-schooled economist who had been prime minister since 1990, from participating. The law excluded anyone who was considered not born to Ivorian parents, or who had been resident abroad in the preceding 5 years, and Ouattara was deemed to fall into both categories. A pro-Ouattara party, the Ressemblement des Republicans (RDR), was formed by defectors from the reformist wing of the PDCI. Whereas the presidential elections were marred with violence, the parliamentary elections were more peaceful, resulting in a PDCI victory with 149 of the 175 available seats while the rest were split between the FPI and the RDR.

In December 1999, a military coupthe first ever in Côte d'Ivoire's historyoverthrew the government and installed military rule under General Robert Guei. The presidential elections in October 2000 were contested by Guei and Laurent Ggagbo of the FPI. Ouattara of the RDR was prevented from running. The results were unclear, and Guei attempted to hijack the process by announcing himself the elected president. Demonstrations and protests and pressure from the international community prevailed, however, and on the basis of the available electoral results, Gbagbo was declared president.

Côte d'Ivoire has a republican (constitutional) government with a multiparty presidential regime established in 1990. It is a country with 50 administrative departments (or districts), with a constitution that was first drawn up in November of 1960 but has been amended on numerous occasions, the last time being in July 1998. The constitution recognizes universal adult suffrage at 21 years of age. The legal system is based on French civil law and customary law with judicial review in the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court. There is a unicameral (1-chamber) National Assembly of 175 seats to which members are elected by direct popular vote to serve 5-year terms.

Côte d'Ivoire has a more effective tax revenue collection system than most of sub-Saharan Africa. It includes a wide range of taxes on personal income, capital gains, value added on economic activities, exports, and imports. Tax revenues as a share of GDP were 20 percent in 1999. Taxes on international trade are around 40 percent of total government revenue. Income, profits, and capital gains taxes were 21 percent, taxes on goods and services were 5 percent, and the remaining 34 percent came from other taxes, licenses, and the surpluses of state-owned enterprises. There has been a steady rise in revenue collection, which has favorably affected the fiscal situation from 1994 to 1996. Tax revenue increased by an average annual rate of 24 percent in this period, reflecting the impact of the devaluation, strong GDP growth and the effects of improved tax measures. Tax revenues have increased because of the government's efforts to reintroduce an export tax on cocoa and coffee in 1994 and to build the capacity of its revenue departments by implementing strategies to curb fraud and tax evasion.


By 1996, Côte d'Ivoire had a fairly well-developed network of 50,400 kilometers (31,317 miles) of roads, of which 4,889 kilometers (3,038 miles) were paved; about 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles) were primary roads; and 7,000 kilometers (4,350 miles) are secondary roads. A fall in railway traffic has increased the burden on the road network. The government plans to develop the system further, for instance, by extending the country's main highway from Abidjan to Yamoussoukro and to Grand-Bassam, southwest of Abidjan.

The only railway line in Côte d'Ivoire was built by the French, and it links Abidjan with Ouagadougou, the capital city of neighboring Burkina Faso. The Ivorian side is 660 kilometers (410 miles) of meter gauge railway. The rail company, Societe Ivoirienne des Chemins

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Côte d'Ivoire 17 164 70 0.0 6 N/A 3.6 0.25 20
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Nigeria 24 223 66 N/A 0 N/A 5.7 0.00 100
Ghana 14 238 99 N/A 1 N/A 1.6 0.06 20
a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999and are per 1,000 people.
b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE : World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

de Fer (Ivory Society of Railroads, SICF), saw the number of passengers decline by 75 percent to about 760,000 by 1993, owing in part to the poor condition of the rolling stock.

There are 980 kilometers (609 miles) of navigable rivers and canals, as well as numerous coastal lagoons. There are also 4 major ports: Abidjan, Aboisso, Dabou, and San-Pedro. The Port Autonome d'Abidjan (PAA) is the busiest in Francophone West Africa (the former French colonies in West Africa, in which there is still a legacy of French civil law and language) and earns revenue from transit traffic to and from the country's land-locked neighbors, particularly Burkina Faso and Mali. Petroleum products account for approximately 40 percent of its tonnage. Côte d'Ivoire's second largest port, San Pedro, handles smaller volumes of timber and cocoa.

In 1999, there were an estimated 36 airports in the country, 7 of which had paved runways. Côte d'Ivoire has an important stake in the multinational Air Afrique, which provides most international connections.

Although an estimated 64 percent of the country's electricity is generated from hydroelectric plants, gas power stations are becoming more important with fossil fuels constituting 36 percent of the country's electric energy production. Total electric energy production in 1998 was estimated to be 3.36 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) against a consumption demand of 3.2 billion kWh. Oil is refined for domestic use but is also exported to the region, including to Nigeria where a dismal downstream oil industry has led to persistent oil shortages.

There were 182,000 telephone land lines and more than 60,000 mobile cellular phones in use in 1998. By June 1999 the telephone system was well-developed by African standards but operating far below capacity. Domestic needs are met by land lines and microwave radio relays, 90 percent of which are digitalized. Two Intelsat satellite earth stations and 2 coaxial submarine cables serve international demand. The government sold 51 percent of the national telecommunications company, CITelcom, to France Telecom in 1997, which renamed the company Côte d'Ivoire Telecom. At the time of privatization, CI-Telecom was operating 120,000 lines, but the government intended to have 400,000 lines in use by 2002. The long waiting list has enabled many Ivorian companies to benefit from the scramble for market share after liberalization of the industry.

Radiodiffusion-Television Ivorienne (Ivorian Radio Broadcasting-Television, RTI) is a government-owned corporation but is in most respects independent. It is partly funded by advertising and operates 2 television channels and a national radio service, broadcasting in French and local languages. Radio Espoir is owned and operated by the Roman Catholic Church. In 1999 there were a total of 2 AM, 8 FM and 3 shortwave stations, as well as 14 television stations. In 1997 there were 900,000 television sets.

While there were a number of new publications as a consequence of the 1990 political liberalization, many disappeared during Konan Bedie's tenure, and at least 20 journalists have been jailed since 1994. Nonetheless, there remains a healthy opposition press which includes the daily Notre Voie and Nouvel Horizon, owned by the pro-FPI Nouvel Horizon media group. This alternative coverage provides a counterweight to the dominance of the pro-government press, mainly the daily Fraternite Matin founded in 1964 and its evening sister paper, Ivoire Soir, with a circulation of about 50,000 and 40,000 respectively.


For many years after independence from France in 1960, Côte d'Ivoire was the jewel of West Africa, with a strong economyinitially based on agriculture, particularly coffee and cocoathat attracted many thousands of workers from neighboring countries. Sizeable French and Lebanese communities established themselves in the capital, Abidjan. In 1998, agriculture contributed 32 percent of the GDP, industry 18 percent, and services 50 percent. Agriculture remains based on 2 major crops cocoa and coffee, which together provided 45 percent of export revenue in 1998. The industrial sector's share of the GDP increased in 1999, and this trend is likely to continue in the coming decade as the country develops food processing. Services, 50 percent of the GDP in 1998, are led mostly by trade and transport, the latter accounting for 30 percent of the GDP.


Agriculture (including forestry and fishing) is a very significant sector of Côte d'Ivoire's economy. It contributed an estimated 32 percent of the GDP and employed about 51 percent of the labor force in 1998. However, the disparity between share of the GDP and share of the labor force indicates that agriculture generates much lower incomes than the other 2 major sectors, industry and services. Exports of cocoa and related products contributed an estimated 37 percent of total export earnings in 1998. Export taxes on cocoa and coffee contributed more than 10 percent of government revenue in each year since 1996.

Production of cocoa beans doubled between 1970 and 1979, making Côte d'Ivoire the largest exporter in the world. The country has been the world's largest cocoa producer since 1977-78, when its level of production overtook that of Ghana. Overall output continued to rise, with some fluctuations, reaching a record 1.1 million metric tons in 1995-96 and an estimated 1 million metric tons in 1996-97, up from an annual average of 750,000 metric tons over the 1990-94 period. This increase, however, was attributed to the government incentives program of the 1980s as well as the resultant switching of resources from coffee production. Until 1989, both coffee and cocoa attracted virtually the same producer prices, although coffee was more heavily taxed and is more difficult to grow.

The total land area is distributed among different uses as follows: arable land 8 percent, permanent crops 4 percent, permanent pastures 41 percent, forests and woodland 22 percent, and others 25 percent. In 1993 only 680 square kilometers (262 square miles) of land was under irrigation. Agricultural production increased by an average of 2.4 percent annually between 1990-98. There were 2.44 million hectares of arable land in 1994, 1.27 million hectares of permanent cropland, and 13 million hectares of meadow and pasture. The other major cash crops include cotton, rubber, bananas, and pineapples. The principal subsistence crops are maize, yams, cassava, plantains, and, increasingly, rice, as demand continues to outstrip local production of rice. In 1996, it was estimated that there were 1.28 million cattle, 1.31 million sheep, 1.0 million goats, 290,000 pigs, and 27 million chickens.

With about two-thirds of the total export earnings provided by the sale of coffee and cocoa, which are both highly vulnerable to fluctuations in international prices, the government has sought to diversify agricultural production. Since the 1960s, Côte d'Ivoire has become a major producer of palm oil, and local processing of palm products has developed. Cotton production has done particularly well in recent decades, enabling Côte d'Ivoire to competealongside Sudan, Mali, and Beninfor the position of Africa's second largest producer of cotton after Egypt. Most of the cotton is processed locally in 8 ginning complexes both for export (some 80 percent of total production) and the local textile industry.

The rubber industry has also shown growth since the mid-1980s with output increasing by more than 50 percent between 1990 and 1994 in response to government plans for Côte d'Ivoire to become Africa's leading rubber producer. Côte d'Ivoire is also a significant producer of pineapples and bananas with exports mostly directed to European markets.

In recent years, the government has stressed the need to increase output of basic food crops such as rice in which Côte d'Ivoire is not self-sufficient. A deficiency in the sugar supply and the need to save foreign exchange on sugar imports led the government to initiate a sugar program in the 1970s. By the 1980s, the 2 schemes could supply most of internal demand, then estimated at 80,000 metric tons a year, but production costs were twice the world price, leading to cancellation of further sugar projects.

Livestock is not a significant sector, comprising mostly small herds, which can supply only about one-third of the nation's demand for livestock products. On the other hand, fishing is a significant activity, and Abidjan is the largest tuna-fishing port in Africa with an annual catch of more then 90,000 metric tons. However, most of this catch is by foreign vessels, and the only benefits to Côte d'Ivoire are the license fees. Ivorian participation in this sector is still low, with the domestic fishing fleet numbering only 38 vessels and most traditional fishing being undertaken by non-Ivorians. Domestic production meets only about 40 percent of local demand.

Forestry has always been a significant source of export revenue, from both logs and sawn timber. Boosted by enhanced price competitiveness since 1994, timber has displaced both coffee and petroleum products as the country's second highest earner of foreign exchange earnings, after cocoa. Most of the production is carried out by large integrated foreign-owned firms. The area of exploitable timber has fallen to only about 1 million hectares in 1987 compared with some 15.6 million hectares in 1960 because of logging and the encroachment of agriculture into forest areas. Progress in reforestation has been disappointing, and the government is committed to a ban on exports of timber once the country's foreign payments position has improved.

The main current environmental issue is deforestation. Some 94 percent of the country's forestsonce the largest in West Africahave been cleared by the timber industry since independence. Water pollution from sewage, industrial plants, and agricultural effluents is also causing concern.


Industry includes agricultural processing, mining, manufacturing, construction, and power. It comprises mostly foodstuffs, beverages, wood products, oil refining, automobile assembly, textiles, fertilizer, construction materials, mining, and electricity. It contributed an estimated 18 percent of the GDP in 1998 and employed about 12 percent of the labor force in 1994.


Mining contributed only an estimated 0.3 percent of the GDP in 1998. This sub-sector's contribution, however, is expected to increase considerably following commencement in the mid-1990s of commercial exploitation of important offshore reserves of petroleum and natural gas. Gold and diamonds are also produced, although the illicit production of the latter has greatly exceeded formal commercial output. There is believed to be a significant potential for the development of nickel deposits, and there are also notable reserves of manganese, iron-ore, and bauxite.


The manufacturing sub-sector contributed about 14.6 percent of the GDP in 1998. It is dominated by agro-industrial activities such as processing of cocoa, coffee, cotton, palm kernels, pineapples, and fish. Crude petroleum is refined at Abidjan while the tobacco industry uses mostly imported tobacco leaf. In 1998 almost two-thirds of Côte d'Ivoire's electricity was derived from thermal sources while the rest was from hydro-generation. Through exploitation of natural gas reserves, the country is expected to generate sufficient energy for its own requirements by 2000 and for regional export thereafter. Imports of petroleum products including crude oil accounted for 14.9 percent of the total value of imports in 1998.

Manufacturing output expanded in real terms at an average rate of 8.9 percent per year between 1965 and 1974, easing to 5.4 percent per year in the following decade after the main industrial opportunities had been exploited. However, this sector continues to be sustained by the high rate of growth in domestic demand, arising mainly from the rapid increase in the country's population and the boost in competitiveness to domestic industry resulting from the 1994 devaluation of the CFA franc. Between 1990 and 1998, industrial GDP increased by an average of 5.1 percent per year, while the industrial production growth rate was estimated to be about 15 percent in 1998.


A major economic feature of the 1990s has been the expansion of the services sector. It contributed about 50 percent of the GDP in 1998 and employed about 37 percent of the labor force in 1994. The transformation of Abidjan's stock market into a regional exchange for the member states of the Union Economique et Monetaire Oeust-Africaine (UEMOA) together with the hosting of the headquarters of the Africa Development Bank is expected to enhance the city's status as a center of financial services.

Emphasis was also placed on the revival of tourism as a major source of foreign exchange. Tourism developed strongly in the 1970s with a newly created ministry stimulating diversification both in location (away from the Abidjan area) and in type of visitors (aside from business travelers) who previously accounted for almost two-thirds of arrivals. Special tax incentives and guarantees were offered for hotel construction, and by 1984 the number of hotels was 452, about 5 times the 1972 level. The number of tourists increased from 93,000 in 1974 to 198,900 in 1979 with business visitors accounting for 40 percent of arrivals. Since then, visitor arrivals have fluctuated in the range of 200,000-290,000 per year, broadly reflecting trends in tourism. The government's target is for 500,000 arrivals by 2000.

Abidjan is also central to regional communications and trade. The service sector's contribution to the GDP increased at an average rate of 3.5 percent per year from 1990 to 1998.


Côte d'Ivoire had very rapid economic growth between 1950 and 1975, with fewer problems with the balance of payments than most African countries. Exports increased at a faster rate than the GNP and they remain the main factor contributing to economic growth in the new millennium. Côte d'Ivoire's balance of trade has always been in surplus because of the strength of its exports, which have largely been determined by the level of earnings from sales of coffee and cocoa. In recent years, the surplus has also been boosted by the 1994 devaluation of the CFA franc, affecting both cocoa and timber exports, although increases in export earnings from

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Côte d'Ivoire
Exports Imports
1975 1.181 1.127
1980 3.135 2.967
1985 3.198 1.749
1990 3.072 2.098
1995 3.645 2.945
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE : International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

logs and sawn wood have been limited owing to the impending exhaustion of the country's forestry resources. Other exports that have responded favorably to the currency adjustment are canned fish, natural rubber, bananas, and other fruits. The CIA World Factbook estimated the country's exports to be US$3.8 billion in 2000.

Despite the government's wish to diversify the direction of trade, the existing pattern reflects Côte d'Ivoire's historical ties with European colonial powers. In 1998, the EU absorbed an estimated 58 percent of all its trade, with France accounting for 21 percent. Trade with African countries is increasing and represented 28 percent of total trade in 1998, and the government is eager to promote closer trade links with the 8-member Francophone Union (UEMOA), of which Côte d'Ivoire is a member. UEMOA countries are in the process of reducing import duties on their goods, and the government hopes that West Africa will provide a market for 50 percent of total exports early in the 21st century. Meanwhile, exports to Asia continue to increase, reaching 15 percent of total exports in 1998. The CIA World Factbook estimated Côte d'Ivoire major export partners to be France (15 percent), United States (8 percent), Netherlands (7 percent), and Germany and Italy (both at 6 percent) in 1999.

Imports are mainly food, manufactured consumer goods , heavy machinery, transport equipment, and fuel. In 2000, the total value of imports was estimated to be US$2.5 billion. Imports are sourced from France (26 percent), Nigeria (10 percent), China (7 percent), Italy (5 percent), and Germany (4 percent).


The unit of account is the West African CFA franc. There are no restrictions on the import of local currency. Monetary policy in Côte d'Ivoire is set by the regional central bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). The Bank aims to conduct a prudent policy

Exchange rates: Côte d'Ivoire
Communauté Financiére Africaine francs (CFA Fr) per US$1
Jan 2001 699.21
2000 711.98
1999 615.70
1998 589.95
1997 583.67
1996 511.55
Note: From January 1, 1999, the CFA Fr is pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 CFA Fr per euro.
SOURCE : CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].
GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Côte d'Ivoire 4,300 1,700 1,680 1,600 1,600
United States 28,600 30,200 31,500 33,900 36,200
Nigeria 1,380 N/A 960 970 950
Ghana 1,530 2,000 1,800 1,900 1,900
Note: Data are estimates.
SOURCE : Handbook of the Nations , 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th editions for 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 data; CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online] for 2000 data.

consistent with the fixed exchange rate to the French franc, which since January 1999 has implied a fixed exchange rate to the euro, the new common currency of the European Union. In January 2000 the exchange rate was 647CFA Fr = US$1, a depreciation in the value of the CFA franc of 23 percent from 499CFA Fr = US$1 in 1995.

The BCEAO controls monetary policy in the Côte d'Ivoire, and a cautious rate of increase in the money supply has kept the inflation rate low in since 1995. In 1999 inflation was estimated at 0.8 percent a year.


In 1998, it was estimated that 17.5 percent of the population lived below the dollar-a-day poverty line (this line is based on the income required to provide the absolute minimum nutrition, clothing, and shelter). It means that 24 percent of the children under 5 years of age are malnourished (the figure is 1 percent in the United States), and life expectancy is 47 years (in the United States it is 77 years). However, poverty levels are markedly better in Côte d'Ivoire than nearby Senegal, which has almost exactly the same level of average income per head but has 34 percent below the dollar-a-day

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Côte d'Ivoire
Lowest 10% 3.1
Lowest 20% 7.1
Second 20% 11.2
Third 20% 15.6
Fourth 20% 21.9
Highest 20% 44.3
Highest 10% 28.8
Survey year: 1995
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE : 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Côte d'Ivoire 30 7 4 1 18 8 32
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Nigeria 51 5 31 2 8 2 2
Ghana N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE : World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

poverty line. Almost all those in poverty are in the rural areas, relying on small-scale agriculture for their livelihoods, and suffering because of poor land, inadequate rainfall, and not enough income to purchase good seeds, fertilizer, or farm machinery.

The GDP per capita was at US$1,730 in 1998, relatively high for the region. Nevertheless, this placed Côte d'Ivoire in the low-income category of countries and is put in perspective by the US$29,340 level of the GDP per head for the United States. As with most developing countries, there is considerable income inequality, with the poorest 10 percent of the country's population sharing only 2.8 percent of the country's household income while the share for the richest 10 percent is 28.5 percent.

The UN's Human Development Index (HDI), which attempts to measure the quality of life on the basis of real GDP per head, the adult literacy rate, and life expectancy at birth, placed Côte d'Ivoire at 154 out of 174 countries in 1999, firmly in the low human development category.


The workforce in 1998 was estimated at 6 million, of which 33 percent were women. Of children aged 10 to 14, about 20 percent were engaged in full-time work. There are no official unemployment figures for Côte d'Ivoire, but unemployment figures have little significance in a low-income African economy. There are very few with no work at all. There are no unemployment benefits, and those who do not work rely on support from charities or their families. Many people would like a modern sector job, but eke out an existence on family farms or in casual informal sector activities (such as hawking , portering, and scavenging) in the urban areas.

The National Union of Côte d'Ivoire was formed in 1959 but was replaced in 1962 by the General Union of Côte d'Ivoire Workers (Union Generale des Travailleurs de Côte d'Ivoire), controlled by the PDCI. In mid-1980s, it had some 190 affiliated unions and 100,000 members. A labor inspection service supervises conditions under which foreign workers are employed. The greater prosperity of Côte d'Ivoire has led to considerable migrations of workers from Mali and Burkina Faso, many of them illegal workers, and the inspection service tries to prevent them from being unfairly exploited by employers.

Labor legislation is still based on the French overseas labor code of 1952 which provides for collective agreements between employees and trade unions, the fixing of basic minimum wages by the government, and a 40-hour week for all except agricultural workers for whom longer working hours are permitted. The average annual wage was estimated by the IMF to be US$4,545 in 1999, up from about US$4,200 in 1993 with government employees earning on average better than those in the private sector. Legislation also provides wage earners with paid annual leave and children's allowances. The government has the power to impress persons into public service for up to 2 years.


1893. Côte d'Ivoire becomes a French colony.

1944. Felix Houphouet-Boigny founds Syndicat Agricole Africain (SAA) to protest the colonial authorities' preferential treatment of French planters in the recruitment of farm labor.

1960. Republic of Ivory Coast is proclaimed with Felix Houphouet-Boigny elected president. A new constitution is adopted.

1963. A plot against the government is uncovered, and hundreds are arrested, including members of the National Assembly and cabinet ministers.

1969. Street clashes between Ivorians and immigrant workers are followed by student demonstrations. Diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union are broken.

1970. The government restricts immigration of foreign workers and suppresses a group of Bete rebels led by Gnabe Opadjele.

1973. A coup attempt by 12 army officers is foiled.

1990. Opposition parties are legalized. First multiparty elections are held. Houphouet-Boigny is re-elected president.

1993. Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Côte d'Ivoire's president since independence in 1960, dies in December. Henry Konan Bedie, president of the National Assembly, succeeds him.

1994. The CFA franc is devalued in January by 50 percent, preparing ground for further economic reforms and a sustained period of economic growth.

1995. In October, Konan Bedie wins 95 percent of the vote in the presidential elections in the face of a widespread opposition boycott.

1998. The constitution is amended in August strengthening the powers of the president and barring Ouattara from standing in the 2000 presidential election.

1999. Bedie is ousted in a coup, and a military government under General Robert Guei is installed.

2000. The presidential elections between General Guei and Laurent Ggagbo of the FPI occurs. After an attempt by Guei to announce himself elected, Gbagbo is declared president.


There is no question but that the 1999 coup was a severe setback to the image of Côte d'Ivoire as a secure and stable civilian-led country where the rule of law was respected and the business environment was encouraging for domestic and foreign investment alike. It is fortunate that the matter was speedily settled, but the subsequent elections were resolved only by civilian demonstrations and international pressure. A major task for the new government is to reestablish the strength of democratic procedures and ensure the support of the armed forces.

The strong rebound in Côte d'Ivoire's economic performance following the 1994 devaluation permitted sustained improvement in per capita incomes after several years of decline. This performance was marked by a return to low inflation and a sizeable reduction in external debt, as well as the substantial progress with the extensive economic reform program. However, growth was expected to slow down in 2000 because of the country's difficulty in meeting the conditions of international donors, continued low prices of key exports, and post-coup uncertainty.

The authorities recognize that the private sector is the engine of growth and employment and seem inclined to strengthen the climate for private sector activity through continued enterprise reform. If the governance issues can be addressed and the management of the public sector improved, Côte d'Ivoire should be able to realize its growth potential and bring about a sustained reduction in poverty.


Côte d'Ivoire has no territories or colonies.


"Côte d'Ivoire." Europa World Yearbook. London: Europa Publications, 2000.

"Côte d'Ivoire: Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix." International Monetary Fund. <>. Accessed February 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit Country Profile: Côte d'Ivoire. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2000.

Hodd, Michael. "Côte d'Ivoire." The Economies of Africa. Dartmouth: Aldershot, 1991.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <>. Accessed October 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Côte d'Ivoire, July 1998. < ivoire_0798_bgn.html>. Accessed October 2001.

Allan C.K. Mukungu


Yamoussoukro has been the official capital since 1983. However, Abidjan remains the administrative center, and most countries maintain their embassies there.


Communauté Financiére Africaine franc (CFA Fr). 1 franc equals 100 centimes. Coins exist in 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 CFA Fr. Paper currency denominations are of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 CFAF.


Cocoa, coffee, tropical timbers, petroleum, cotton, bananas, pineapples, palm oil, cotton, and fish.


Food, manufactured consumer goods, heavy machinery, fuel, and transport equipment.


US$26.2 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$3.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.). Imports: US$2.5 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.).

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Côte d'Ivoire

CÔte d'Ivoire

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
Region: Africa
Population: 15,980,950
Language(s): French, Dioula
Literacy Rate: 48.5%

History & Background

The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire is located on the southern coast of West Africa and is one of the richest nations in the country. It is bordered by Liberia and Guinea on the west, Mali and Burkina-Faso to the north, Ghana to the east, and the Atlantic ocean to the south. Its area is 124,501 square miles, and its population in 2001 was 15,900,000 people. The population of Côte d'Ivoire is diverse, with more than 60 different ethnic and tribal groups, among them Baoulé (23 percent of the population), Bété (18 percent), Sénoufou (15 percent), and large Krou, Malinke, and Mandingo tribes. Côte d'Ivoire's prosperous economy has also attracted a large number of foreign African workers, mostly from Guinea, Ghana, and Burkina-Faso (estimated at 2.6 million in 2000), as well as a contingent of 200,000 Lebanese expatriates. Together, these workers represent nearly 20 percent of the country's population. Abidjan is the economic capital of Côte d'Ivoire, with an estimated 2001 population of 3,305,000 people. Yamoussoukro (population 125,000) is the official capital and the site of the world's largest Christian church: the basilica of Notre-Dame de la Paix, erected at a cost of $200 million and dedicated by Pope John-Paul II in 1990. The population is 60 percent Muslim and 22 percent Christian, with another 18 percent representing animist and indigenous religions. French is the official language, though the Dioula dialect is also widely used.

French settlers first appeared in 1687, but France did not exercise political control over Côte d'Ivoire until the late nineteenth century. Côte d'Ivoire became a French protectorate in 1883, a colony in 1889, and a territory of French West Africa in 1904. It gained full independence from France in 1960. For 33 years, between 1960 and 1993, Côte d'Ivoire was ruled by a single man: president Félix Houphouet-Boigny, a benign dictator who led the country from independence to economic prosperity. He chose to keep close cultural, political, and economic ties with France (the French still maintain a modest military presence), and in 1985 changed the nation's official name from Ivory Coast to Côte d'Ivoire. Côte d'Ivoire is a member of the"Zone Franc,"and its currency is backed by the French treasury. True democratic institutions were slow to arrive, but Houphouet-Boigny's single-handed rule (no opposition parties were allowed until 1990) was not marred by the sort of terror and torture that characterized many of the dictatorial governments that emerged from the former colonies of West Africa after 1960. From the late 1950s through the start of the twenty-first century, Côte d'Ivoire enjoyed a prosperity and a political stability unmatched in neighboring countries. When Houphouet-Boigny died in 1993, president Bédié became the country's leader until he was ousted in a coup in 1999. In October of 2000, Laurent Gbagbo was democratically elected to a five-year term as Côte d'Ivoire's president.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The constitution of Côte d'Ivoire, originally adopted in 1960 and modified between 1971 and 1985, was abrogated in 1999. The new constitution, adopted by a vast majority of voters in a referendum in July of 2000, stipulates that education is free and compulsory for all between the ages of 7 and 13. Prior to that, in 1995, the government adopted the Loi de Réforme No. 696. This document spelled out the fundamental principles behind the government's educational policies and outlined strategic planning and curricular developments for all educational levels.

Educational SystemOverview

The early history of Côte d'Ivoire's educational system is rooted in French colonial policy in Africa at the end of the nineteenth century. Originally, African colonies were considered a new frontier for missionary work, as well as a source of raw materials and ores. The French government, though officially unattached to religious organizations, welcomed the outreach efforts of Catholic and Protestant missionaries. These groups effectively laid the foundations of primary and secondary education in Côte d'Ivoire and the other colonies that made up the Afrique Equatoriale Française (French West Africa). Today's religious private schools, which still educate the children of the elite, are the direct descendants of these colonial institutions.

As the French intensified their political influence, they also began coordinated efforts to create an official public school system. By 1923, Côte d'Ivoire had a rudimentary network of primary schools in place, The first secondary school opened in 1928. French authorities, however, faced a pedagogical and sociocultural dilemma. They intended the primary school system to educate young Ivoirians in the three Rs(reading, writing, and arithmetics) with the intent of encouraging their entry into the lower echelons of the workforce. Secondary education, by contrast, represented a potential long-term threat: officials worried that further education might nurture a climate of resistance against the established colonial order. Because of such misgivings, secondary education was never developed to its full potential between 1928 and the end of World War II. But since the French also planned gradually to replace their own administrators and officials with native Ivoirians, it was vital to establish an educated demographic base. Accordingly, only the sons of local tribal chiefs were selected for secondary education in Côte d'Ivoire and later sent to France on scholarships for postgraduate training.

The formal education of former president Houphouet-Boigny is itself an illustration of that policy. Born in Yamassoukro, the son of a powerful Baoulé tribal chief, he was educated in private elementary schools and then sent to Dakar, in French Senegal, to attend the prestigious Ecole Normale William Ponty. Later he studied at the Ecole de Médecine et de Pharmacie de Dakar, the first medical school established by the French in their West African colonies. After graduation in 1925, Houphouet-Boigny returned to Côte d'Ivoire, where he practiced medicine while running a coffee plantation. He became mayor of Abidjan, was elected a congressman to the French National Assembly, and was ultimately appointed to a cabinet minister post in Paris.

When Houphouet-Boigny became Côte d'Ivoire's first president in 1960, he favored the elaboration of an educational system that would both democratize and retain most of the elitist characteristics of his own schooling. He chose not to follow the path of radical Africanization favored by Guinea and Ghana, and against the criticism of neighboring African nations decided instead to continue a close alliance with France. Politically, economically, and educationally, that controversial decision handsomely paid off as Côte d'Ivoire became the wealthiest and most literate nation of the sub-Sahara. Since the death of Houphouet-Boigny in 1993, a new generation of Ivoirians has initiated some distancing from French influence and has been more assertive in the affirmation of its African heritage. In a like manner, the educational system of Côte d'Ivoire is gradually adopting an identity of its own, while still solidly resting on its French foundations.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Preprimary education is still a new concept in most developing African nations. In rural areas, women tend to remain at home and care for their own children until they enter elementary schools. In large urban centers like Abidjan, Bouaké, Divo, and Daloa, the increasing integration of women into the workforce has encouraged the growth of childcare centers and preschools. In 2000, there were 35,553 preschoolers (17,381 girls) enrolled in 276 schools. Of these, 19,075 were enrolled in 230 public institutions. They were taught by a total of 1580 teachers (96 percent women)870 of them working in public schools.

Ivoirian children attend primary schools between the ages of 6 and 11. Classes are divided into three two-year cycles: preparatory stages I and II (CP1 and CP2, or Cours préparatoires de première et deuxième année ), elementary levels I and II (CE1 and CE2 or cours élémentaires de première et deuxième année ), and intermediary levels I and II (CM1 and CM2 or cours moyens de première et deuxième année ). In 2000, there were 1,910,820 children enrolled in primary schools in Côte d'Ivoire: 1,688,503 in public schools and 222,317 in private institutions, with a gender distribution of 58 percent boys and 42 percent girls. There were 8,082 primary schools (including 781 private institutions) offering a total of 43,406 classes and a teacher-student ratio of 1:44. There were 44,731 primary school teachers (including 5,791 in the private sector) and 23 percent of them were women.

The six-year primary school program ends with a selective national examination known as the CEP (certificat d'études primaires or elementary school proficiency examination). Only the children who pass this exam are allowed to continue into the secondary education cycle. In 2000, there were 285,391 candidates for the CEP, and a total of 155,246 succeededa 54 percent passing rate. It is a measure of both the selectivity and the pedagogical difficulties of primary education in Côte d'Ivoire that, after six years of schooling, only 15 percent of the children who originally entered the system at the age of six qualified as candidates for the national examination, reflecting a dropout rate of 85 percent over six years. In 2000, out of the 253,293 children enrolled in CM2 (the grade preparing the children for the CEP), 107,827 were also repeating the entire year.

Secondary Education

Secondary education in Côte d'Ivoire consists of a seven-year curriculum divided into two cycles. The lower level, lasting four years, prepares the students for a selective, national exam known as the BEPC (brevet d'études du premier cycle, or junior high school national proficiency exam). Only those students who succeed are allowed into the next cycle of secondary education, which lasts another three years. It leads to the Baccalauréat, a highly selective national examination and a prerequisite for admission to the university or other levels of higher education in Côte d'Ivoire. The last three years of the secondary school curriculum are sub-divided into different sections that allow students to concentrate on a future major: section A for the humanities, B for economics and law, C for exact sciences, D for biological sciences and pre-medicine, and so forth.

In 2000, there were 565,850 students enrolled in secondary education (365,795 in public schools), and 193,742 were female. There were 508 secondary schools (194 public and 314 private) offering 10,667 classes. The total number of teachers was 18,033 (10,905 in public schools and 7,128 in private institutions.) In 2000, at the end of the first cycle of secondary education, there were 137,779 candidates for the BEPC and 36,122 passed (26.2 percent). At the conclusion of the second cycle of secondary education, there were 72,627 candidates for the baccalauréat examination and 26,590 passed (36.1 percent).

Vocational & Technical Education: After relegating vocational education to a lesser level of importance for decades, Côte d'Ivoire decided in 1985 to create a cabinet-level post that would invigorate and supervise technical and vocational education at the national level: the Ministère de l'Enseignement Technique et de la Formation Professionelle.

Students enter vocational training at two different stages. At the secondary level, once they have successfully passed the BEPC, they can gain admission to the National Institute for Technical and Professional Training (the INFTP) or the National Office for Professional Training (the ONFP). The students who pass the baccalauréat have access to numerous public and private institutes that award the BTS (Brevet de Technicien Supérieur ) after a three-year curriculum, such as the Institute for Higher Technical Training (the INSET). They can also enter university-run programs that award the DUT (Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie ). In 1999, there were over 27,000 students enrolled in technical and vocational schools, taught by 2850 instructors (19 percent women). Côte d'Ivoire's largest vocational school is the Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouet-Boigny founded in 1975 in Houphouet-Boigny's native town of Yamassoukro. In 2000, it enrolled over 3,500 students and employed 350 teachers.

Higher Education

Higher education is well-developed in Côte d'Ivoire, with a university system and research centers that are highly respected in Africa. The system is organized after the French national model: holders of the selective baccalauréat follow a two-year curriculum leading to the DUEL (Diplôme Universitaire d'Etudes Littéraires ), the DUES (Diplôme Universitaire d'Etudes Scientifiques ), or the DEUG (Diplôme Universitaire d'Etudes Générales ). One more year of study leads to the Licence (the level of an American bachelor's degree), and an additional year leads to the Maîtrise (the equivalent of a master's degree). Further studies lead to the DEA (Diplôme d'Etudes Approfondies ), a post-graduate specialized degree, and after the successful defense of a doctoral dissertation, to the Doctorat de Spécialité de Troisième Cycle (the Ph.D.). The university also awards the M.D. and the degree of Doctor of Engineering. The university system in Côte d'Ivoire has grown at such a rate that, following student-led demonstrations against crowded facilities in the early 1990s, the government opened two additional campuses. The universities of Côte d'Ivoire have also acquired their own distinct identities. Until 1985, the majority of professors were expatriates from France or French-speaking countries, but by 2000 their number had dwindled to less than 5 percent of the faculty.

The Université de Cocody is the main university in Côte d'Ivoire. Founded in 1958 in Abidjan as the Centre d'Enseignement Supérieur, it became the Université Nationale de Côte d'Ivoire in 1964 and adopted its present name in 1995. It is comprised of 12 different schools, including Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, Economics, Liberal Arts, and Engineering. In 2000, there were over 45,000 students enrolled at Cocody, with a faculty of 990. In 1992, a new university opened in Bouaké, to alleviate the crowding problems of Cocody (which had been built to accommodate 7,000 students.) The Université de Bouaké started with 2,800 students and 45 professors. In 2001, it enrolled 15,700 students and employed 145 faculty members. To continue to decentralize the main campus, the government also opened the Université d'Abobo-Adjamé in Abidjan in 1995.

Côte d'Ivoire also runs numerous research institutes, including:

  • Institut Africain pour le Développement Economique et Social (economics, sociology, and ethnology), founded in 1962 in Abidjan by the Society of Jesus
  • Institut Pasteur de Côte d'Ivoire (research on viral diseases and AIDS), founded in 1972 in Abidjan
  • Institut Pierre Richet (research on tropical endemic diseases), founded in Bouaké in 1973
  • Centre de Recherches Océanographiques (research on oceanography and hydrobiology), founded in Abidjan in 1958.

Higher education in Côte d'Ivoire is not limited to the university system and its associated research facilities. In 2000, there were more than 50,000 Ivoirians students enrolled in private and public institutes of higher education and in the Grandes Ecoles. The latter are prestigious, highly selective post-graduate schools (patterned after their French models in Paris) that train the very best of the country's diplomats, politicians, civil servants and engineers:

  • Ecole Nationale d'Administration, founded in Abidjan in 1960. In 2000, it enrolled more than 1000 students.
  • Ecole Supérieure d'Agronomie, founded in 1996 in Yamoussoukro. In 2000 it enrolled 600 students and employed 75 teachers.
  • Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Travaux Publics (civil engineering), founded in 1963 in Yamoussoukro. In 2000, it employed 97 professors for a student population of 597.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Ministry of National Education in Abidjan supervises the educational system of Côte d'Ivoire, while delegating administrative and curricular authority to three other cabinet-level ministries: the Ministry of Primary Education, the Ministry of Technical and Vocational Training, and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The Ministry of National Education is the only agency in Côte d'Ivoire that accredits schools and validates diplomas and degrees. It delegates authority to ministries in matters of specific curricular development, faculty evaluation, and school inspections. In 2000, the educational budget of Côte d'Ivoire represented 26 percent of national expenditures. The government has pledged to increase this figure to at least 30 percent of the national budget by fiscal 2003.

Teacher Training

Primary school teachers are trained in several écoles normales and centres d'animation et de formation pédagogiques. They are open to those who have passed the BEPC. After completion of the program, students are awarded the Certificat d'Aptitude Professionelle des Instituteurs. Teachers for the first cycle of secondary schools must hold the baccalauréat degree and follow a three-year program of study at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, leading to the Certificat d'Aptitude au Professorat des Collèges d'Enseignement Secondaires. Those wishing to teach in the second cycle of the secondary school system must study for an additional year and pass the CAPES (the Certificat d'Aptitude au Professorat de l'Enseignement Secondaire ). The national teacher training program has been quite successful: whereas in 1985 up to 80 percent of Ivoirian secondary school teachers were not in possession of proper teaching credentials, within 15 years that number fell below 5 percent. In 1999, there were 15 teacher training colleges in Côte d'Ivoire, with 538 professors and 2,821 students.


Côte d'Ivoire enjoys an educational system the quality of which is unparalleled in other sub-Saharan nations. This success, however, has been achieved primarily at the tertiary level, with universities and research centers that have become a benchmark of quality for other developing African nations. Though substantial progress has been made at the primary and secondary levels, especially in the area of teacher training, problems and weaknesses remain. After 1960, Côte d'Ivoire inherited an educational system that was a carbon copy of the French national model. President Houphouet-Boigny retained a pedagogical philosophy that many Ivoirian educators consider excessively elitist and out of touch with the country's needs. An illustration of the educational system of Côte d'Ivoire is a pyramid in which the base represents 85 percent of the eligible population, while the top consists of a 1.3 percent minority that alone shapes the destiny of the country. Thus while Côte d'Ivoire is one of the richest and most stable countries of West Africa, it still has an illiteracy rate of 58 percent.

Secondary education in Côte d'Ivoire has set an impressive example in enrollment growth, developing from 12,000 students in 1960, 70,000 in 1970, 238,000 in 1980, to nearly 566,000 in 2000. Nonetheless its rewards remain limited to a privileged few: after nine years of schooling, only 26.2 percent of qualified candidates pass the national proficiency examination (BEPC) at the end of junior high school. Ivoirian educators are well aware of this disproportion. The Educational Reform Law of 1995 has laid down the theoretical principles that will allow a larger segment of the population to gain access to higher levels of academic opportunities. The government also faces a dilemma if it attempts to rectify the apportionment of its educational resources: selectivity is viewed as a necessary evil, since the Ivoirian economy cannot absorb a larger number of qualified personnel, and the nation's universities are already being used to maximum capacity. The primary and secondary educational systems need to be reshaped from their rather obsolete French model and adapted to the future needs of Côte d'Ivoire.


Annuaire Statistique de l'Enseignement Pré-Scolaire, Primaire et Secondaire. 2 vols. Abidjan: Ministère de l'Education Nationale, 1999.

Bretherick, Dona. Côte d'Ivoire. Washington, DC: American Association of Collegiate Registrars, 1995.

Kompass: Côte d'Ivoire. Abidjan: Kompass Côte d'Ivoire, S.A., 1999.

Kouadio, Aska. Enseignement Technique et Professionnel en Côte d'Ivoire: Evolution et Eléments pour une Pé dagogie Rénovée. Villeneuve d'Ascq: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 1998.

Ogbu, S.M."On Public Expenditures and Delivery of Ed ucation in sub-Saharan Africa." Comparative Educa tional Review 36 (1991): 295-318.

Eric H. du Plessis

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Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire


Aloko (Fried Bananas)................................................ 104
Cornmeal Cookies..................................................... 105
Fufu (Boiled Cassava and Plantains)........................... 106
Melon Fingers with Lime........................................... 106
Kedjenou (Seasoned Meat and Vegetable Sauce) ...... 107
Baked Yams............................................................... 109
Chilled Avocado Soup............................................... 109
Calalou (Vegetable Stew) .......................................... 109
Arachid Sauce ........................................................... 110
Avocado with Groundnut Dressing............................ 111


The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire (which means "ivory coast" in French), on the south coast of the western bulge of Africa, has an area of 322,460 square kilometers (124,502 square miles). Comparatively, the area occupied by Côte d'Ivoire is slightly larger than the state of New Mexico. The greater part of Côte d'Ivoire is a vast plateau, tilted gently toward the Atlantic, although the Guinea Highlands (in the northwest, from Man to Odienné) have peaks higher than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet).

The greatest annual rainfall, 198 centimeters (78 inches), is along the coast and in the southwest. The coastal region has a long dry season from December to mid-May, followed by heavy rains from mid-May to mid-July, a short dry season from mid-July to October, and lighter rains in October and November. Farther north, there is only one wet and one dry season, with rainfall heaviest in summer.


Thousands of years prior to the arrival of the Europeans in the 1460s, independent tribes occupied present-day Côte d'Ivoire. They survived mostly on gathered seeds and fruits and hunted animals. Foods and eating habits were most likely influenced by outsiders who used the land as trade routes from as early as the 700s. Little, however, is known about the early inhabitants.

By the late 1400s, the Portuguese began to show a significant interest in Côte d'Ivoire. They were interested in spreading Christianity, purchasing slaves, and discovering new trade routes. The Portuguese soon established several trading centers along the country's coast, but poor coastal harbors helped to spare the country from the build up of a large slave trade. However, the Europeans desperately sought the country's supply of ivory (from the tusks of elephants) and gold, so trading and exploitation of these goods continued. The country's nickname, the Ivory Coast, originated because of the country's well-known supply of ivory. In return for the gold and ivory, the Portuguese brought European weapons and cassava, now a daily staple, to the Ivoirians.

By the mid-1800s, French merchants discovered the large amounts ivory and gold that originated from Côte d'Ivoire. In exchange for money and the promise of French protection, France was given permission to take control of the country's coastal trade routes. With the hopes of planting profitable cash crops (crops grown to make money), the French began planting coffee, cocoa, and palm oil (an essential ingredient for preparing African food) along the coast. Eventually one-third of the cocoa, coffee, and banana plantations belonged to the French.

As a result of France's push towards a strong economy based on cash crops, Côte d'Ivoire continued to mass-produce several crops after gaining its independence from France in 1960. Côte d'Ivoire is the world's leading producer of cocoa, and is the third largest producer of coffee in the world (behind Brazil and Columbia). More than one-quarter of the population works with the production of cocoa. Côte d'Ivoire also became Africa's leading exporter of pineapples and palm oil. Unfortunately, many of the country's rainforests have been destroyed in order to plant more cocoa (and other cash crop) plantations. Corn, rice, millet, and yams have also thrived, but mostly as crops eaten by the people of Côte d'Ivoire.

Aloko (Fried Bananas)


  • 5 bananas
  • Oil


  1. Cut the bananas lengthwise, then into little pieces.
  2. Pour about 4 inches of oil into a saucepan and heat until boiling.
  3. Place ½ of the sliced bananas into the oil.
  4. Fry both sides until reddish-brown, then very carefully remove.
  5. Fry the other ½, then remove.
  6. Serve immediately alone, or with grilled fish.

Serves 4 to 6.

Cornmeal Cookies


  • ¾ cup margarine
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1¼ cups flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the margarine mixture and mix well.
  6. Drop dough in spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Makes 3 dozen.


Côte d'Ivoire's roughly 60 ethnic groups bring diversity to the country's cuisine. Each group has developed a diet that is suitable to their lifestyle. The Agni and Abron groups survive by farming cocoa and coffee. The Senufo peoples live in the country's northern savanna (treeless plain). They cultivate rice, yams, peanuts, and millet (a type of grain). Rice with a peppery peanut sauce is often enjoyed by the Senufo people. The Dioula of the far northwest depend on their cultivation of rice, millet, and peanuts to survive, while the Kulango people of the north, who are mostly farmers, grow yams, corn, peanuts, and watermelons. Those living near the coast enjoy a wide variety of seafood.

Despite varying diets and food customs, the people of Côte d'Ivoire generally rely on grains and tubers (root vegetables) to sustain their diet. Yams, plantains (similar to bananas), rice, millet, corn, and peanuts (known as groundnuts in Africa) are staple foods throughout the country. At least one of these is typically an ingredient in most dishes. The national dish is fufu (FOO-fue), plantains, cassava, or yams pounded into a sticky dough and served with a seasoned meat (often chicken) and vegetable sauce called kedjenou (KED-gen-ooh). As with most meals, it is typically eaten with the hands, rather than utensils. Kedjenou is most often prepared from peanuts, eggplant, okra, or tomatoes. Attiéké (AT-tee-eck-ee) is a popular side dish. Similar to the tiny pasta grains of couscous, it is a porridge made from grated cassava.

For those who can afford meat, chicken and fish are favorites among Ivoirians. Most of the population, however, enjoys an abundance of vegetables and grains accompanied by various sauces. Several spicy dishes, particularly soups and stews, have hot peppers to enrich their flavors. Fresh fruits are the typical dessert, often accompanied by bangui (BAN-kee), a local white palm wine or ginger beer. Children are fond of soft drinks such as Youki Soda, a slightly sweeter version of tonic water.

Often the best place to sample the country's local cuisine is at an outdoor market, a street vendor, or a maquis, a restaurant unique to Côte d'Ivoire. These reasonably priced outdoor restaurants are scattered throughout the country and are growing in popularity. To be considered a maquis, the restaurant must sell braised food (food that has been cooked over a low fire). The popular meats of chicken and fish are the most commonly braised food and are usually served with onions and tomatoes. Rice, fufu, attiéké, and kedjenou are also sold.

Fufu (Boiled Cassava and Plantains)


  • 2½ cups cassava (also called manioc or yucca); do not use very center of cassava
  • 5 plantains; do not use very center of plantains


  1. Prepare the cassava and plantains by peeling them, slicing them lengthwise, and removing the woody core. Then cut the cassava and plantains into chunks and place in a large saucepan. Cover with water.
  2. Heat the water to boiling, and then lower heat to simmer. Simmer the cassava and plantains until tender (about 20 minutes). Drain.
  3. Return the pan to low heat and pound, mash, and stir the mixture, using a wooden spoon or potato masher. Add a sprinkling of water to keep the mixture from sticking. Continue pounding and mashing for 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Form into balls and serve.

Makes 3 fufu balls.

Melon Fingers with Lime

Melon Fingers make a delicious and refreshing dessert.


  • 1 large honeydew, chilled
  • 1 lime


  1. Cut the melon into eighths, or sections, about 1-inch wide and remove the seeds.
  2. Next make cuts cross-wise about ¾-inch wide across each melon slice.
  3. Arrange the slices on a large serving plate.
  4. Section the lime and place a slice of lime in the center of each melon slice.

Serves 8.

Kedjenou (Seasoned Meat and Vegetable Sauce)


  • 2 chickens, cut into pieces
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 6 tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 piece ginger root, peeled
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt, to taste
  • Hot red pepper, to taste


  1. Place the chicken, onion, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and bay leaf in a heavy casserole dish.
  2. Season with the salt and pepper.
  3. Cover with a thick, tight-fitting lid that will not let any steam escape.
  4. Put the casserole on medium to high heat.
  5. When the ingredients start to simmer, turn the heat down to medium to low.
  6. Remove the casserole from the heat and without removing the lid, shake the casserole well to stir up the contents so that it cooks evenly.
  7. Repeat this procedure every 5 minutes for 35 to 40 minutes.
  8. Place the contents of the casserole on a warm platter and serve with rice.

Serves 8.


Most (65 percent) of Côte d'Ivoire's population follows traditional African religions. They honor their ancestors and believe in the spirits of nature. Even the other two major religions of the country, Christianity (12 percent) and Islam (23 percent), often combine traditional practices with their faith. Some traditional religions recognize sorcery and witchcraft, particularly those living in rural areas.

Probably the most anticipated time of the year for Muslims (believers of Islam) is Ramadan, a monthlong observance in which food and drink are not consumed between sunrise and sunset. Eid al-Fitr, the feast that ends this fasting month, lasts two to ten days. The feast may include a variety of seasoned meats with sauce, rice, yam or eggplant, salads, and soups or stews. Eid al-Adha (the feast of the sacrifice) starts on the tenth day of the last month of the Islamic calendar. After prayers, the head of each household typically sacrifices (kills) a sheep, camel, or an ox. It is often eaten that evening for dinner and is shared with those who could not afford to purchase an animal to sacrifice.

Christians, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, observe such holidays as Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas. Similar to the custom of Muslims on their special days, Christians gather with family and friends on Christian holidays to enjoy a meal together. Cities are often decorated with bright lights and decorations, and people gather in the streets to sell fruits and other items. Réveillon, the Christmas Eve dinner served after midnight mass, is often considered the most important meal of the year. A Yule log is traditionally eaten as a special dessert.

Eid al-Fitr Menu

Chilled avocado soup




Boiled yams

Fresh melon

The people of Côte d'Ivoire also celebrate secular (nonreligious) holidays such as National Day (December 7), commemorating the country's independence, and New Year's Day (January 1). At the beginning of harvest time, yam festivals take place to honor the spirits who they believe protect their crops each year. To celebrate, the Kulango people exchange gifts and eat a meal of mashed yams and soup and participate in dances and song. Some villagers celebrate the harvest of other important crops, including rice.

Baked Yams


  • 5 cups yam pieces, boiled until soft
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, room temperature
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • Nutmeg and cinnamon, for dusting


  1. Mash the soft yam pieces in a mixing bowl.
  2. Gradually add the beaten egg, butter, and salt, mixing well to make sure that all ingredients are blended.
  3. Spoon the mashed yam into an oven-proof casserole dish and spread the top with the beaten egg yolk.
  4. Place it in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Sprinkle the top with nutmeg and cinnamon.

Serve hot. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Chilled Avocado Soup


  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 4 cups cold chicken or vegetable stock (2 14-ounce cans)
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon plain yogurt
  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce, or to taste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 paper-thin lime slices, for garnish


  1. Add the avocado flesh to a blender and puree.
  2. Add the stock and continue blending until smooth.
  3. Blend in the lime juice, yogurt, Tabasco sauce, and salt and pepper.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  5. When ready to serve, spoon into bowls and top each with a thin slice of lime.

Serves 4.

Calalou (Vegetable Stew)


  • Cooking oil
  • 2 to 3 pounds meat (red meat, poultry, or fish), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 pounds greens (traditionally cassava leaves, taro leaves, sorrel leaves; substitute mustard greens or spinach), stems removed and cleaned (note that taro greens must be boiled for a short time, then rinsed)
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup dried shrimp
  • Garlic, minced (optional)
  • Salt, pepper, or cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 onion, finely chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot.
  2. Fry the meat and onion until the meat is browned.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients and enough water to partially cover them.
  4. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer on a very low heat for 2 or more hours.
  5. Serve with rice.

Serves 6 to 8.


Some of the country's most tasty food can be found in people's homes. The Ivoirians are generous, hospitable people who enjoy inviting others to join them for a meal. Ivoirians believe that those who are blessed enough to be able to prepare a meal should share their good fortune with others.

In a typical village, villagers eat together in a common area. They believe eating not only gives the body nourishment, but also unites people with community spirit. Women and girls eat as one group, men as another, and young boys as a third group. Most villagers eat on a large mat placed on the ground. With their right hand (the left is considered dirty), villagers will scoop up their food from large bowls placed in the center of the mat for everyone to share. Most often rice is rolled into a tight ball and is used to scoop up meat and sauce.

The eldest villagers eat first. They do this in order to detect any contaminated or sour food. If bad food is suspected, the elder members will stop the younger members, including children, from eating from the bowl.

Once everyone has begun eating, there are some rules that are followed. It is considered rude and selfish to reach across the table for food. Villagers want to make certain that everyone receives similar amounts of food. Coughing, sneezing, and talking during the meal is discouraged. If a person needs to cough or sneeze, it is customary to get up and walk away from the mat before doing so. After the meal is over, a bowl of water is passed around to cleanse the hands. Talking amongst the villagers will typically resume as the diners relax to digest their meal.

Arachid Sauce


  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • Water
  • 4 pimentos (a type of pepper)
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, mashed
  • Meat (beef, chicken, or fish)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • ½ small onion


  1. Place the peanut butter in a pot and add 4 Tablespoons water.
  2. Mix well until it is sauce-like and add 1 cup water.
  3. Bring the sauce to a boil and add 2 more cups of water over a 25-minute period.
  4. Add the pimentos.
  5. Take 12 cherry tomatoes, remove the seeds, and mash.
  6. Add the tomato mash and another 4 cups of water to the sauce and continue to boil.
  7. After 50 minutes of boiling, add 2½ more cups of water, then let it boil again gently for 20 minutes.
  8. Add precooked meat of choice and a pinch of salt and keep boiling for an addition 35 minutes.
  9. Add the remaining cherry tomatoes, prepared as before, the oil, and the mashed onion.
  10. Cook for at least 15 more minutes.

Serves 4 to 6.

Avocado with Groundnut Dressing


  • 2 ripe avocados (should feel soft when ripe)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons peanuts, shelled
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Cayenne, to taste
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Peel the avocados and cut out the pit.
  2. Cut the avocados into cubes.
  3. Sprinkle with lemon juice and set aside.
  4. Grind the peanuts roughly with a rolling pin or in a grinder for a few seconds.
  5. Mix the peanuts and spices well and sprinkle over avocados.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 4.


About 15 percent of the population of Côte d'Ivoire is classified as undernourished by the World Bank. This means they do not receive adequate nutrition in their diet. Of children under the age of five, about onequarter are both underweight and stunted (short for their age).



De Leschery, Karen, "More Fonio, Less Hard Work." Aramco World. January/February 1997: 38-39.

Sheehan, Patricia. Côte d'Ivoire: Cultures of the World. Tarrytown, N.Y.: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2000.

Webster, Cassandra Hughes. Mother Africa's Table: A Chronicle of Celebration through West African & African American Recipes and Cultural Traditions. New York: Doubleday, 1998.

West Africa. 4th ed. Victoria, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications Pty. Ltd., 1999.

Web Sites

Ivoirian Cookbook. [Online] Available (accessed April 23, 2001).

Ivory Coast Recipes. [Online] Available (accessed April 23, 2001).

The Congo Cookbook. [Online] Available (accessed April 23, 2001).

World Travel Guide. [Online] Available (accessed April 23, 2001).

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Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire (kōt dēvwär´) or Ivory Coast, officially Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, republic (2005 est. pop. 17,298,000), 124,503 sq mi (322,463 sq km), W Africa, on the Gulf of Guinea of the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Liberia and Guinea on the west, by Mali and Burkina Faso on the north, and by Ghana on the east. The official capital is Yamoussoukro; the largest city, commercial center, administrative center, and former capital is Abidjan.

Land and People

The country consists of a coastal lowland in the south, a densely forested plateau in the interior, and a region of upland savannas in the north. Rainfall is heavy, especially along the coast. There are over 60 ethnic groups in Côte d'Ivoire; the major groups are the Baoule, Beti, Senufo, Malinke, Anyi, and Dan. There are also a significant number of immigrants from neighboring Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea, as well as many people of Lebanese and French descent. The population is about 40% Muslim, with some 35% following traditional religious beliefs, and 25% Christian. The Muslims predominate in the north, while Christians are concentrated in the south. French is the official language. There are also some 60 native dialects, with Dioula the most widely spoken.


One of the wealthiest members of what was French West Africa, Côte d'Ivoire enjoyed a high economic growth rate from its independence through the 1970s. In the 1980s it faced economic difficulties, including a drop in commodity prices and huge foreign debt payments. Economic productivity and exports subsequently grew with the introduction of a market economy and International Monetary Fund–sponsored reforms, but since the late 1990s ethnic and political unrest have hurt the economy.

Despite steady industrialization since the 1960s, the country is still predominantly agricultural, with some 68% of the population engaged in farming. Corn, rice, manioc, sweet potatoes, and sugarcane are the main subsistence crops. Côte d'Ivoire is among the world's largest producers and exporters of coffee, cocoa beans, and palm-kernel oil. Cotton, bananas, and pineapples are also raised for export. Mahogany and other hardwoods provide timber, which is also a valuable export, and the production of rubber has increased substantially in recent years. Livestock is raised in the savannas, and fishing is important. Among the country's industries are the production of foodstuffs, beverages, wood products, textiles, and fertilizer; oil refining (offshore production of petroleum and natural gas began in the early 1980s); motor vehicle assembly; and ship construction and repair. There is some mining, including gold, diamonds, and nickel. From 2005 to 2014 the UN Security Council banned Ivoirian diamond exports because the gems financed the purchase of guns used in the country's civil strife, but trafficking in diamonds continued despite the ban. Fuel, capital equipment, and foodstuffs are imported. France, Nigeria, and the United States are the chief trading partners.


Côte d'Ivoire is governed under the constitution of 2000. The president, who is the head of state, is popularly elected to a five-year term; there are no term limits. The prime minister, who is the head of government, is appointed by the president. The 225 members of the unicameral National Assembly are popularly elected to five-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 19 regions.


History before Independence

In precolonial times the geographical area currently known as Côte d'Ivoire comprised many small states. The Portuguese established trading settlements along the coast in the 16th cent., and other Europeans later joined the burgeoning trade in slaves and ivory. In 1842 a French military mission imposed a protectorate over the coastal zone. After 1870, France undertook a systematic conquest; although a protectorate over the entire country was proclaimed in 1893, strong resistance by the indigenous people delayed French occupation of the interior.

Côte d'Ivoire was incorporated into the Federation of French West Africa, and several thousand of its troops fought with the French during World War I, but effective French control over the area was not established until after the war. Although Vichy forces held Côte d'Ivoire during World War II, many left to join the Free French forces in the Gold Coast (now Ghana). As the desire for independence mounted, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, a planter and founder of the federation-wide Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA), formed (1946) the nationalist Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI). In the French constitutional referendum of 1958, Côte d'Ivoire chose autonomy within the French Community.

The New Nation

In 1960, Côte d'Ivoire withdrew from the French Community and declared itself independent. The new republic joined the Organization of African Unity in 1963. Côte d'Ivoire was one of the few African states to recognize Biafra during the Nigerian civil war (1967–70); this action, as well as Houphouët-Boigny's advocacy of dialogue with white-ruled South Africa, estranged the country somewhat from many other African states. In 1980, high unemployment and a falling standard of living led to an attempted coup. Student and labor unrest continued throughout the 1980s as the government cut wages and increased the privatization of industry. The capital was officially transferred to Yamoussoukro in 1983.

Côte d'Ivoire had been a de facto one-party state since its birth as a republic, but opposition parties were legalized in 1990 after widespread popular protests. Houphouët-Boigny, who had headed the government as well as the PDCI since independence, won a seventh term in 1990, in the country's first truly multiparty elections. After his death in 1993, assembly speaker Henri Konan Bédié succeeded to the presidency. Bédié retained the post after a 1995 election that was marred by violence and boycotted by the major opposition groups; former prime minister Alassane Ouattara was barred from running by changes in the election laws. Unlike his predecessor, Bédié began to exploit the nation's ethnic differences, seeking his support from the predominantly Christian peoples of S Côte d'Ivoire.

The economy improved in the late 1990s, as Bédié pursued free-market reforms that included wide-scale privatization and encouragement of foreign investment. In 1999, Bédié's government disqualified Ouattara, a northern Muslim, from mounting a candidacy in the 2000 presidential election and subsequently issued a warrant for his arrest, claiming he had forged documents that proved he was an Ivorian citizen. These actions provoked opposition demonstrations, and opposition leaders were arrested.

In Dec., 1999, after unpaid soldiers began looting in Abidjan, Bédié was ousted in a military coup led by General Robert Gueï; it was the first coup in the nation's history. Gueï initially appointed an interim governtment, but he dismissed it in May and subsequently appeared to be seeking to retain his hold on power. A new constitution approved in July, 2000, limited the presidency to citizens whose parents were both Ivorian citizens; the measure was regarded as an attempt to prevent the candidacy of Ouattara, who had returned to the country after Bédié's ouster.

In the October elections Laurent Gbagbo of the socialist Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) won the presidency amid a low turnout—Ouattara was banned from running and his supporters boycotted the vote—but the army halted the vote count and Gueï claimed victory. Street protests and the desertion of police and military units forced Gueï from power, and Gbagbo took office. Strife between southern Christians and northern Muslims erupted, however, after Ouattara challenged the legitimacy of Gbagbo's win.

In legislative elections held in December and January, Ouattara was again barred from running, and his Rally of the Republicans (RDR) party boycotted the polls; Ouattara subsequently went into exile until Dec., 2001. The new parliament was dominated by the southern-based FPI and the PDCI. Ethnic division in the country was at its worst since independence, and there was growing international criticism of President Gbagbo, who survived an abortive coup in January, 2001. A national reconciliation forum in late 2001 attempted to address issues dividing the nation; among its recommendations were the recognition of Ouattara's Ivoirian citizenship.

A mutiny by several hundred soldiers who were about to demobilized because they were believed disloyal erupted in Sept., 2002; they seized control of Bouaké, Korhogo, and other northern towns, but were routed in Abidjan. The government first accused Gueï, who was killed, of attempting a coup, and then accused Ouattara, who escaped an attempt on his life. French troops intervened to protect and evacuate foreign civilians, but also acted to slow the rebel advance. In early October West African mediators negotiated a cease-fire, but the government rejected the agreement and fighting continued.

By the end of 2002 three rebel groups had emerged. The main rebel force largely controlled the northern half of the country, while the two other groups controlled smaller western areas. Most of the lucrative cacao-growing areas, however, remained in government hands. A truce was signed in Jan., 2003, and after sometimes difficult negotiations a power-sharing government that included rebel representatives was formed in April, with Seydou Diarra, a politician from the north, as prime minister. A comprehensive cease-fire was not established, however, until May, and tensions over the makeup and powers of the new government and attacks on rebel officials threatened the peace, despite the declaration (in July) of the war's end. In September the rebels withdrew from the government, but they resumed participating in Jan., 2004. In March the PDCI withdrew, charging Gbagbo with destabilizing the peace process, and after unarmed antigovernment demonstrators were fired on in Abidjan later the same month the rebels, the RDR, and other opposition parties also withdrew.

In Apr., 2004, a UN peacekeeping force was established to help implement the peace accord, and in August rebels and opposition parties returned to the government after negotiations. The peace process remained uncertain, however, especially after the government failed to enact the required political reforms and the rebels then refused (Oct., 2004) to begin disarming. The civil war reignited (Nov., 2004) when the Gbagbo government broke the cease-fire by launching air attacks on the rebel-held north. When nine French peacekeepers were killed, France retaliated by destroying most of the small Ivorian air force, anti-French riots broke out in Abidjan, and Western civilians were evacuated. Later that month the UN responded by imposing sanctions on Côte d'Ivoire.

In Dec., 2004, after negotiations spearheaded by South Africa's President Mbeki, the constitution was amended to permit citizens with one Ivoirian parent to run for president, but President Gbagbo insisted that the amendment be approved by a referendum, a move the northern rebels rejected. Relations between the government and the rebels further deteriorated during early 2005, but in April Mbeki negotiated a new cease-fire agreement that included a renewed commitment to disarming and elections later in 2005, and the rebels agreed to rejoin the government.

The process of disarmament, however, several times failed to begin as scheduled, as the rebels continued to object to changes enacted by the government, and the elections scheduled for Oct., 2005, were postponed. The African Union, with the agreement of the UN Security Council, proposed that Gbagbo remain in office for an additional year while an election was arranged, but that his powers be limited and a prime minister with executive powers be appointed. In Dec., 2005, Charles Konan Banny was named prime minister, and the rebels subsquently agreed to support his government.

A recommendation in Jan., 2006, by UN-backed mediators that the national assembly, the terms of whose members had expired, be disbanded provoked several days of violent anti-UN riots by Gbagbo supporters. In Mar., 2006, after multiparty talks in February that also included Gbagbo, Bédie, and Ouattara, rebel leader Guillaume Soro finally rejoined the government. A June accord on disarmament, however, failed to produce results, and a national identification program designed to clarify who among the nation's 3.5 million unregistered inhabitants were Ivoirian citizens and qualified to vote was halted by Gbagbo.

In Aug., 2006, Gbagbo announced he would not step down as president if new elections were not, as seemed inevitable, held in October. The African Union proposed extending his term for one more year only, while also transferring more powers to the prime minister; the UN Security Council adopted this position in a November resolution despite protests against an extension for Gbagbo from the opposition and rebels and objections from the Gbagbo camp over any limitations on his presidency. Meanwhile, the nation was shocked by an industrial waste scandal that caused 40,000 Ivoirians to seek treatment; the waste, from foreign sources, should have been incinerated but had been dumped in Aug., 2006, at several sites around the capital.

A new peace agreement was signed in Mar., 2007. Negotiated by Burkina Faso President Blaise Campaoré and supported by the African Union, it set a timetable for disarmament and elections, called for removal of the buffer zone between the north and south and the withdrawal of UN and French peacekeepers, and made rebel leader Guillaume Soro prime minister of a revamped power-sharing government. Despite the official dismantling of the buffer zone, however, government and rebel forces maintained their checkpoints, and integration of the armed forces and voter identification programs did not proceed on schedule. In June a rocket was fired at a plane carrying the prime minister; he was not injured.

Disarmament was officially inaugurated in Dec., 2007, and subsequent progress was slow; the first significant disarming of rebel forces occurred in May, 2008. Delays and other problems affecting voter identification led to the postponement of the presidential election beyond the planned date of Nov. 30, 2008. In Dec., 2008, it was agreed that elections would be scheduled after voter identification and disarmament was completed. The following May officials rescheduled the vote for Nov. 29, 2009; that same month rebel forces handed over control of 10 northern zones to civilian administrators appointed by the government. In Nov., 2009, the presidential election was once again postponed.

In Jan., 2010, the president accused the election commission of including more than 450,000 "foreigners" among the voters on its roles, sparking a crisis that led in the following month to his dismissal of the government and the election commission. Many in the opposition denounced the move as an attempt to remain in power and remove northern Ivoirians from the voting lists, and ethnic violence threatened. A new government was formed after Campaoré again intervened, and a new election commission was appointed later in February, but the presidential election was further delayed once again.

In Sept., 2010, after a voter list was at last finalized, the election was rescheduled for the end of October. No candidate won the October vote, which forced a runoff between Gbagbo and Ouattara. Bédie placed third, and his party demanded a recount, but the constitutional council dismissed the electoral challenges and most international observers regarded the election as largely credible. In the November runoff, Ouattara defeated Gbagbo according the results released in December by the election commission, but Gbagbo had the constitutional court invalidate results from seven northern districts and declare him the winner.

West African nations, followed by the United Nations and African Union, recognized Ouattara as the country's president, and a number of international organizations imposed sanctions on Gbagbo and his government, which had the army's support and refused to concede. The standoff continued into 2011. There were outbreaks of deadly violence between Gbagbo's supporters (including government forces) and Ouattara's supporters, and also between the former and UN peacekeepers (who also protected Ouattara himself).

In February civil war broke out again, resuming first in W Cóte d'Ivoire. The northern forces supporting Ouattara gradually gained the upper hand, and in April, having benefited at times from UN-French support, they captured Gbagbo in Abidjan and placed the former president under arrest. Both sides were accused of committing atrocities during the fighting, and an estimated 1 million people were displaced as a result of the conflict. In November, Gbagbo was transferred to the International Criminal Court to face charges of crimes against humanity.

In May, meanwhile, Ouattara was sworn in as president; Soro remained prime minister when a new cabinet was formed in June. The parliamentary elections in Dec., 2011, were boycotted by Gbagbo's party, and Ouattara's RDR and the allied PDCI won a majority. Soro resigned as prime minister in Mar., 2012. Justice Minister Jeannot Ahoussou-Kouadio, a PDCI member and Bédié ally, was named to succeed Soro, but in November Daniel Kablan Duncan, the foreign minister and a PDCI member, replaced him.

In 2012–13 a number of prominent Gbagbo supporters were arrested and charged with war crimes; the first prominent accused Ouattara supporter was arrested in mid-2013. In Aug., 2013, the parliament passed legislation designed to make it easier for foreign-born spouses of Ivoirian citizens and long-time residents of foreign birth or descent to become Ivoirian citizens. Pro-Gbagbo militias, in some cases based in Liberia or Ghana, have mounted sporadic attacks against targets in Côte d'Ivoire since mid-2012. In 2015, 68 people, including Gbagbo's wife and son and the former heads of the Republic Guard and the Ivoirian navy, were convicted in an Ivoirian court on charges arising from the conflict that followed the 2010 presidential election.


See I. Wallerstein, Road to Independence: Ghana and the Ivory Coast (1964); P. Foster and A. R. Zolberg, ed., Ghana and the Ivory Coast: Perspectives in Modernization (1971); A. R. Zolberg, One-Party Government in the Ivory Coast (rev. ed. 1974); R. J. Mundt, Historical Dictionary of the Ivory Coast (1987); B. C. Lewis, The Ivory Coast (1989).

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Côte d'Ivoire

CÔte d'Ivoire

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 16,393,221
Language(s): French (official), 60 native dialects with Dioula the most widley spoken
Literacy rate: 48.5%
Area: 322,460 sq km
GDP: 9,370 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 14
Number of Television Sets: 900,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 54.9
Number of Radio Stations: 13
Number of Radio Receivers: 2,260,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 137.9
Number of Individuals with Computers: 90,000
Computers per 1,000: 5.5
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 40,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 2.4

Background & General Characteristics

Located in Western Africa, Côte d'Ivoire Republic (La République de Côte d'Ivoire, French) borders the North Atlantic Ocean, Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and the Gulf of Guinea. It is a little larger than the state of New Mexico. Its climate is tropical along the coasts, but semi-arid in the far north. It possesses some significant natural resources, including bauxite, cocoa, copper, petroleum, natural gas, diamond, manganese, iron ore, and hydropower. Since gaining its political independence from France, on August 7, 1960 it has acquired a steady, but insufficient, flow of foreign direct and indirect investment funds particularly from the ex-French metropolis. Its export-led strategies, primarily dependent on the cocoa production, have triggered consistent economic growth but not necessarily harmonious socio-economic development outcomes. The severe decline in cocoa prices in 1999 and 2000, coupled with the first military coup d'état since 1960 and the exclusion from the October 2000 national elections of opposition leader Alassane Outtarra produced violence and political turmoil. After this election, Mr. Laurent Gbagbo replaced Mr. Robert Guei, ending 10 months of military dictatorial control.

The population of Côte d'Ivoire in the early 21st century was approximately 16.5 million, but AIDS has ravaged the nation, killing 72,000 Ivorians in 1999 alone. The average life expectancy in the early 21st century was only 45 years. The country has absorbed many refugees from neighboring countries, particularly Liberia. Ethnically, Akans represented Ivorians at 42 percent, Gurs or Voltaiques at 18 percent, Mandes (North and South) at 26.5 percent, and Krous at 11 percent. Religiously, 34 percent of the Ivorians were Christians, 27 percent Muslim, and 15 percent Animist. The official language is French but some 60 dialects are spoken, predominantly Dioula, and the literacy rate has remained above the world average, at about 50 percent.

The Press

The mass media and press system in Côte d'Ivoire has remained fundamentally French, as in numerous ex-colonies of Western European powers. In the early 21st century, there was a very low daily newspaper circulation of 16 per 1,000 people compared to 228 per 1000 in the USA, 237 per 1000 in France, or 14 per 1000 in Liberia. This was despite the existence of 12 major daily newspapers, including Fraternié-Matin and Ivoire-Soir (government-owned), La Nouvelle République, Le Jour, AFP-Côte d'IvoireAllAfricaIRIN, and Abidjan Net. Other statistics recorded one television set per 17 people, one radio set per seven people, and one telephone per 123 people.

Economic Framework

The Ivorian real (adjusted for inflation) GDP amounted in 2000 to slightly over $26 billion. The real GDP per capita, in addition, was a low $1600. The GDP was 32 percent based on agriculture, 18 percent on industry, and 50 percent on services. The labor force remained mostly absorbed by agriculture at the beginning of the 21st century, as Côte d'Ivoire has continued to be a major world producer and exporter of beans, cocoa, coffee, and palm oil. The Ivorian economy is at the mercy of world commodity price variations, climate, and internal and external politics. Public revenues in 2000 were $1.5 billion while public expenditures were some $2.1 billion. Official unemployment was at a high 13 percent. Exports amounted to about $4 billion and imports added up to $2.5 billion. Again, cocoa represented the lion's share of the exported goods at about 35% while consumer goods, capital products, transport material, and fuel were the main imports.


At the wake of major protests by students and workers in February 1990, against President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the first ever-democratic multiparty elections were held in October 1990. Although Mr. Boigny retained his office, the Ivorian National Assembly introduced gradual media and press legislation to promote freedom of the press, freedom of information, and non-censorship, at least in principle. Factually, censorship still reigns as Côte d'Ivoire remains unsure due to political instability, the plummeting of world prices, AIDS, and an enormous influx of refugees from neighboring countries. Laws and ordinances have been introduced to fight the spread of AIDS, poverty, the uneven regional development, child labor exploitation and slavery, and discrimination. The major Ivorian press and the Internet are paramount to the goals of the new government. Telco, a quasi-monopoly partially owned by the state, is legally encouraged to engage broadcast media, press, other mass media, and journalists and news operators to embark on the Internet to promote social and economic justice.

Broadcast & ELECTRONIC News Media

In 2002 one main state-owned television service and one state-owned radio system existed, as well as four independent services. The electronic media was extremely weak, though the political, administrative, financial, and academic structures were beginning to acquire and use cyberspace and information technology, particularly in the capital, Abidjan. Some major web sites include those of the Ivorian President, the Ministry of Culture, the National Office of Tourism, the Front Populaire Ivoirian, Agence France Presse, and several major newspapers.

Attitude towards Foreign Media

The Ivorian people have generally been open to foreign media, usually French. The successive governments, since the 1960 post-colonial régimes of Boigny, Bedié, Guei, and Gbagbo have varied in their perceptions, authorizations, and usage of the foreign press and media. In the years 2000 and 2001, Côte d'Ivoire saw its worst political nightmares, as opposition leader Alassane Ouattara was illegally excluded from the October 2000 elections. In fact, following the Supreme Court decision to exclude Ouattara, the streets of Abidjan were the scene of unprecedented violence. Relations with the foreign media, therefore, were tense and exclusionary. The UN, the EEC, and the OAU refused to assist with the parliamentary and presidential elections. Other protests, governmental and media, ensued from France, South Africa, Senegal, Morocco, and many others. Gradually, however, since Mr. Gbagbo took over in October 2000, replacing the military junta and dictatorship of 10 months, the country has begun to return to democratic internal press and media usage, and external media and press cooperation.

Education & TRAINING

Many journalists in Côte d'Ivoire are educated and trained in France, principally in colleges, universities, and journalism schools in Paris, Lyon, and Bordeaux. A few are trained in Western and North-African countries, such as at L'Université de Dakar in Senegal and l'Université Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco. Abidjanis becoming a major educational and training center for journalists, news anchors, and photojournalists.

Bibliography Available from

"Cote d'Ivoire," CIA World Fact Book 2001. Available from

Sarri, Samuel. Ethics of the International Monetary Systems. UPA: New York, 1998.

The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 1995 through 2001. K-III Reference Co.: New Jersey.

Samuel Sarri

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Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire

Official name : Republic of Côte d'Ivoire (formerly known as Ivory Coast)

Area: 322,460 square kilometers (124,502 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Nimba (1,752 meters/5,748 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern

Time zone: Noon = noon GMT

Longest distances: 808 kilometers (502 miles) from southeast to northwest, 780 kilometers (485 miles) from northeast to southwest

Land boundaries: 3,110 kilometers (1,932 miles) total boundary length; Burkina Faso 584 kilometers (363 miles); Ghana 668 kilometers (415 miles); Guinea 610 kilometers (379 miles); Liberia 716 kilometers (445 miles); and Mali 532 kilometers (330 miles)

Coastline: 515 kilometers (322 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


Côte d'Ivoire is located in West Africa between Ghana and Liberia, with a southern border on the Gulf of Guinea of the Atlantic Ocean. With a total area of about 322,460 square kilometers (124,502 square miles), it is slightly larger than the state of New Mexico. The country is divided into fifty departments.


Côte d'Ivoire has no outside territories or dependencies.


Côte d'Ivoire has a warm, humid climate that transitions from equatorial to tropical. Temperatures average between 25°C (75°F) and 32°C (90°F), with extremes of 10°C (50°F) to 40°C (104°F) depending on the time of year and the area of the country.

In the north, heavy rains occur between June and October, averaging 110 centimeters (43 inches) annually. Along the equatorial coast and the southwest, some rain falls in most months, but precipitation is heaviest between May and September, with average rainfall of 110 to 200 centimeters (43 to 87 inches) annually. The major dry season lasts from December to April.


The Guinea Highlands, in the northern half of the country (from Man to Odienné), have peaks greater than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) high. The country's remaining terrain, however, is made up of a vast plateau that tilts gently toward the Atlantic Ocean. The land is generally divided into three main regions based on the difference in natural vegetation. The Lagoon Region runs parallel to the coastline, the Dense Forest Region crosses the middle of the country, and the Savannah Woodland Region lies to the north.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

Côte d'Ivoire borders the Gulf of Guinea (a part of the Atlantic Ocean) in the southern portion of the country.

Sea Inlets and Straits

A series of lagoons lie along the coastline, interspersed by sandbars, mudbanks, and small wooded islands. Most of these lagoons are narrow, salty, and shallow; they run parallel to the coastline, linked to one another by small watercourses or canals.

Coastal Features

The area along the coast, from the Ghana border to the mouth of the Sassandra River, is known as the Lagoon Region. Directly at the coast, smooth, steep beaches are pounded by heavy surf, particularly in July and November. Behind the beaches, the sandy soil supports a luxuriant growth of coconut palm and salt-resistant coastal shrubs.


The four largest lakes are Kossou Lake in the central part of the nation, Taabo Lake to the south of Kossou Lake, Buyo Lake in the southwest, and Ayamé Lake in the southeast near the border with Ghana.

Lake Kossou is the largest of these, covering an area of about 1,600 square kilometers (618 square miles). All four of them are man-made lakes.


Côte d'Ivoire has four main rivers that run roughly parallel from the north to the south. They are the Cavally (on the border with Liberia), Sassandra, Bandama, and Komoé; the longest of these is the Bandama, which runs about 800 kilometers (500 miles). The waterways are navigable for only short distances from the coast. Rocky ledges and numerous rapids prevent passage even of small canoes. Seasonal flooding has caused obstacles in east-to-west travel across the country; building and maintaining bridges and roads over the main rivers would be very expensive.


There are no desert regions in Côte d'Ivoire.


The Savannah Woodland Region in the north consists of open, grassy woodland scattered with a few trees and shrubs. Moving south, larger areas of trees are found, particularly along the rivers, as one enters the area known as the Dense Forest Region. This region stretches across the center of the country from Liberia to Ghana and, west of Fresco, continues south to the ocean.


The only mountain masses in the country are along the western border and in the northwest, where some of the higher peaks exceed 914 meters (3,000 feet) in elevation. Mount Nimba is the country's highest peak (1,752 meters/5,748 feet). It is located in the western corner, where the country borders both Liberia and Guinea.


There are no significant caves or canyons in Côte d'Ivoire.


Viewed as a whole, almost all of the country is little more than a wide plateau, sloping gradually southward to the sea.


Large dams were built in the 1960s and 1970s in an effort to control the flow of the major rivers and offer a better system of irrigation for the surrounding areas. The major dams are: Buyo Dam on the Sassandra River, Kossou and Taabo Dams on the Bandama, and Ayamé Dam on the small Bia River in the southeast corner of the country. All of these dams have created namesake reservoirs or lakes.


Two parks in Côte d'IvoireComoé National Park and Taï National Parkhave been designated World Heritage Sites by the United Nations agency called UNESCO. Comoé (Komoé) is located in the far eastern part of the country surrounding the Komoé River. This parkland, covering one of the largest protected areas in West Africa, support a diverse population of plant life. Taï.



Fuchs, Regina. Ivory Coast. Bradt, NJ: Hunter Publications, 1991.

Kummer, Patricia K. Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). New York: Children's Press, 1996.

Mundt, Robert J. Historical Dictionary of Côte d'Ivoire (the Ivory Coast). Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1995.

Web Sites

Lonely Planet Destinations. Côte d'Ivoire, (accessed March 19, 2003).

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs. Background Notes, Côte d'Ivoire. (accessed March 19, 2003).

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Cote d'Ivoire

Cote d'Ivoire


The people of Côte d'Ivoire are known as Ivoirians. There are many ethnic groups, but accurate statistics on the numbers in each group are not available. The chapter on Liberia in Volume 5 includes an article on the Malinké, a major ethnic group living in Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, and neighboring countries.

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Côte d'Ivoire

CÔte d'Ivoire

Culture Name


Alternative Names

Republic of Côte d'Ivoire; République de Côte d'Ivoire


Identification. Often called the "jewel of West Africa," Côte d'Ivoire has been a model of economic prosperity and political stability for its neighboring African countries since its independence in 1960. In the fifteenth century, French and Portuguese merchants in search of ivory named the region the Ivory Coast for its abundance of the natural resource. The country changed its name to Côte d'Ivoire in 1985; its official name is the République de Côte d'Ivoire a reflection of French control of the country from 1843 until independence. Today, the nation's rich economy lies in juxtaposition to its turbulent political climate. Whether Côte d'Ivoire will continue its rich history of socio-economic development amidst this unstable political climate remains uncertain as of late 2000.

Location and Geography. Côte d'Ivoire occupies approximately 124,500 square miles (322,460 square kilometers), an area slightly larger than New Mexico. Located on the south coast of West Africa, it borders the North Atlantic Ocean, with Liberia and Guinea on the west; Mali and Burkina Faso on the north; and Ghana on the east. The country is made up of three distinct geographic regions: the southeast is marked by coastal lagoons; the southern region, especially the southwest, is densely forested; and the northern region is called the savannah zone. The population of Côte d'Ivoire is ethnically diverse and delineated by the places the more than sixty indigenous ethnic groups live, although this number is often reduced to four major cultural regionsthe southeast, sometimes referred to as the Atlantic East (Akan), the southwest, sometimes referred to as the Atlantic West (Kru), the northeast/north-central (Voltaic), and the northwest (Mande). The official capital is Yamoussoukro; Abidjan is the administrative capital. The country's three largest population centers are Abidjan (2.6 million), Daloa (1 million), and Man (957,706), and almost one-half of the country's population is concentrated in the urban cities of Abidjan and Bouaké.

Demography. The current population estimate is approximately 16 million. The largest group is the ethnic Baoule, who comprise over 23 percent of the population. Other significant ethnic groups include the Bete (18 percent), Senufo (15 percent), and Malinke (11 percent). The remaining population is comprised of the Agni, Africans from other countries (mostly Burkinabe and Malians), and non-Africans (primarily French and Lebanese). Of the more than 5 million non-Ivoirian Africans living in Côte d'Ivoire, one-third to one-half are from Burkina Faso; the rest are from Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Liberia, and Mauritania. The country's population growth rate, estimated to increase at 3.8 percent per year, has led to rapid growth and a population of which almost half is under fifteen years of age.

Linguistic Affiliation. French is the official language used throughout the country, however there are over sixty native languages. Four of the major branches of the Niger-Congo language are spoken among Ivoirians, including the Kwa, Atlantic, Mande, and Voltaic. Language areas correspond closely to the four cultural regions of the nation. Agni and Baoule, both Kwa languages, are the most widely spoken languages in the south. In the north, variants of Mande and Senofu are the most widely spoken, but are also heard in almost all southern trading areas. No single African language is spoken by a majority of the population, and most Ivoirians speak two or more languages fluently. French is used in schools and business and is spoken more frequently by men than by women. Arabic is taught in Quranic schools, which are most common in the north, and is spoken by immigrants from Lebanon and Syria. Many Ivoirians understand English, which is taught in high school and the National University of Côte d'Ivoire, but English is not a language of choice, even among the educated. Almost half the adult population is literate.

Symbolism. The most prominent symbol of Côte d'Ivoire is its national emblem, which depicts a shield displaying the profile of an elephant's head, surrounded by two palm trees, with the rising sun above the head and a banner bearing the words République de Côte d'Ivoire beneath it. The country's flag is a vertical tricolor of orange, white, and green; orange represents the savannahs of the north, green represents the forests of the south, and white represents unity. The national anthem is L'Abidjanaise, which means "Greetings, O Land of Hope."

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Very little is known about the early history of Côte d'Ivoire. As early as 1 c.e., the area now called Côte d'Ivoire had become a melding place of various African people. Between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, as kingdoms rose and fell, many ethnic groups moved in and settled permanently in the region. France made its initial contact with Côte d'Ivoire in 1637, and in the eighteenth century the country was invaded by two related groups: the Anyi and the Baoule. In 1843 and 1844, the French government signed treaties with the kings of the Grand Bassam and Assinie regions, placing their territories under a French protectorate. The French gradually extended the area under French control until they dominated in 1915.

Today, the sixty distinct ethnic groups that make up the Côte d'Ivoire are loosely grouped into four main cultural regions which are differentiated in terms of environment, economic activity, language, and overall cultural characteristics. Most representatives of southeast cultures are Akan peoples, descendants of eighteenth-century migrants from the kingdom of Asante. The largest Akan populations in Côte d'Ivoire are the farming communities of the Baoule and the Agni. Smaller groups live in the southeastern lagoon region, where contact and intermarriage between the Akan and other groups have resulted in a multicultural lifestyle. Dependent on fishing and farming for their livelihood, they are not organized into centralized polities above the village level. The southwest Kru peoples are probably the oldest of Côte d'Ivoire's present-day ethnic groups, the largest tribe of which is the Bete. Traditional Kru societies were organized into villages that relied on hunting and gathering for sustenance, and they rarely formed centralized chiefdoms. In the north, descendants of early Mande conquerors occupy territory in the northwest, stretching into northern Guinea and Mali. The Mande peoples are comprised primarily of the Malinke, Bambara, and Juula. To the east of the Mande are Voltaic peoples. The most numerous of these, the Senufo, migrated to their present location from the northwest in the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Amidst the settling of these unique cultures, the peoples of Côte d'Ivoire have been influenced by the French. The Ivory Coast became an autonomous republic in the French Union after World War II, and achieved independence on 7 August 1960. As Côte d'Ivoire has emerged as a nationamidst colonization, exploitation, native revolts against the French, the prominence of French culture, and finally independenceits people have lived in ethnic diversity, strong economic prosperity, and a cultural mosaic. Only in the latter part of the twentieth century did several decades of political tensions culminate with the country's first coup d'etat.

National Identity. Since their independence the people of Côte d'Ivoire began to develop a national consciousness. Most of the country's people consider themselves Ivoirians first, and then as members of a particular ethnic group. Yet the concept of a national identity is complex. National boundaries reflect the impact of colonial rule as much as twenty-first century politics, bringing nationalism into conflict with centuries of evolving ethnicity. Each of Côte d'Ivoire's large cultural groups has more members outside the nation than within, resulting in strong cultural and social ties with people in neighboring countries.

Ethnic Relations. For the most part, the multiethnic groups live together in harmony, with certain group tensions. Conflict between the majority Muslims and native peoples exists, and societal discrimination on the basis of ethnicity is sometimes practiced by members of all ethnic groups. According to the U.S. State Department Country Report on Human Rights, differences between members of the Baoule group and other ethnic groups, especially the Bete, are a major source of political tension and have erupted repeatedly into violence, most recently in 1997. During the latter part of 1999, tensions arose between several Ivoirian and non-Ivoirian ethnic groups.

Urbanism,Architecture, and the Use of Space

Côte d'Ivoire is a juxtaposition of the urban and rural. Its cities, particularly the fashionable Abidjan, are replete with modern office buildings, condominiums, European-style boutiques, and trendy French restaurants. They stand in sharp contrast to the country's many villagesaccessed mainly by dirt roadswhose architecture is comprised of huts and simple abodes reminiscent of an ancient time. While the cities are described as crowded urban enclaves with traffic jams, high crime rates, an abundance of street children, and a dichotomy of rich and poor, the villages are filled with farmers tending their fields, native dress, homemade pottery, and traditional tribal rituals. Most traditional village homes are made of mud and straw bricks, with roofs of thatched straw or corrugated metal. The Baoule live in rectangular structures, while the Senufo compounds are set up in a circle around a courtyard. High fences surround many Malinke village of mud-brick homes with cone-shaped straw thatched roofs. The artistic Dan paint murals with white and red clay onto their mud-brick homes.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. In Côte d'Ivoire, grains such as millet, maize (corn), and rice and tubers such as yams and cassava make up most meals. These staples are complemented by legumes such as peas, beans, or peanuts, and smaller quantities of vegetables, oils, spices, and proteinusually meat or fish. Women prepare the grains by grinding them in large wooden bowls with long wooden pestles. For the most part, the family meals are cooked outdoors in ceramic or metal pots on stone hearths. Ivoirian food is very spicy and eaten with the hands. Well-known dishes consist of rice with a pepper-flavored peanut sauce, which is found in the northern savannah; and fish and fried plantains, served in the coastal regions. The national dish is foutou (also spelled futu ) a thick, heavy paste made of mashed plantains or yams eaten with a spicy sauce or stew made of fish or meat. Because of its ability to keep well, dried, grated cassava, known as gari, is a popular food. Côte d'Ivoire's most popular culinary treat, maquis, normally features braised chicken and fish in onions and tomatoes. Favorite drinks among the villagers include palm wine and home-brewed beer.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Food plays an important role in the ceremonial and religious ceremonies of most native people groups. Feasting and drinking are used in coming-of-age ceremonies, religious ceremonies, and funeral/memorial services. Among the Akan peoples, the most important of these is the yam festival, a time of thanksgiving for good harvests and an opportunity to remember the discovery of the yam. One of Côte d'Ivoire's most famous festivals involving food is the Festival of Masks, which takes place in villages in the Man region every February. Every March, the Carnival in Bouaké is filled with festivities and food. Côte d'Ivoire's major Muslim holiday, Ramadan, is a month-long celebration during which everyone fasts between sunup and sunset in accordance with the fourth pillar of Islam, and then ends the fast with a huge feast. Eid al-Fitr is another Muslim holiday focused on feasts, prayer, fellowship, and gift giving. In native traditions, fetish priests often use food to create magic potions or amulets; the future may be divined by tossing rice grain into a box; certain foods may be forbidden to improve illness or misfortune. Ancestral spirits are offered food and drink before being consulted.

Basic Economy. Despite economic hardship in the 1980s and early 1990s, Côte d'Ivoire is still the most prosperous of the tropic African nations, primarily because of its diversified export goods, close ties to France, and foreign investment. Côte d'Ivoire is among the world's largest producers and exporters of coffee, cocoa beans, and palm oil. Consequently, the economy is highly sensitive to fluctuations in international prices for these products and to weather conditions. Despite attempts by the government to diversify the economy, it is still largely dependent on agriculture. The Ivoirian economy began a comeback in 1994, due to the devaluation of the CFA franc (the Ivoirian currency unit) and improved prices for cocoa and coffee, growth in nontraditional exports such as pineapple and rubber, limited trade and banking liberalization, offshore oil and gas discoveries, and generous external financing and debt rescheduling by France and other countries. According to 1999 statistics, the Gross National Product is $25.7 billion; $1,600 per capita.

Land Tenure and Property. Historically, the government has viewed the use of land as equating ownership. After independence, Ivoirian law on landownership required surveys and registration of land, which then became the irrevocable property of the owner and his or her successors. However, the National Assembly enacted the Land Use Law in 1988, which established that land title does not transfer from the traditional owner to the current user simply by virtue of use. However, in rural areas, tribal rules of land tenure still exist, which generally uphold that members of the tribe that dominates a certain territory have a native right to take that land under cultivation for food production and in many cases cash crops. Throughout the country, land tenure systems are changing from those in which rights are secured by traditional village authorities (communal systems) to those in which land can be bought and sold without approval from customary authorities.

Commercial Activities. Cities and villages feature open markets, where foodstuffs are sold liberally, along with common household items. Merchants deal in locally grown products and few imported items. Additionally, cultural items are often found for sale, including clay pots, masks, drums, baskets, jewelry, and sculpture. In the major cities, including Abidjan and Bouaké, there are speciality shops for dry goods, foodstuffs, hardware, electrical appliances, and consumer electronics. Generally, items are sold on a cash basis, but bartering is common in the smaller villages. Shopkeepers also extend credit to farmers until the end of the harvest season, and vendors allow installment purchases for automobiles and major appliances.

Major Industries. Côte d'Ivoire's major industries include agriculture (coffee, cocoa beans, bananas, palm kernels, corn, rice, manioc [tapioca], sweet potatoes, sugar, cotton, rubber), timber, wood products, oil refining, automobile assembly, textiles, fertilizer, construction materials, and electricity. In 1998, the country's industrial production growth rate was 15 percent. Small manufacturing factories produce food, wood products, cloth, chemicals, cement, lumber, furniture, and corrugated-steel roofing; heavy industries produce air conditioners, freezers, refrigerators, paint, varnish, railroad cars, and heavy metal.

Trade. Historically, Côte d'Ivoire has had strong economic ties with France. During the 1990s, Côte d'Ivoire's principal markets for exports were France and the Netherlands, which purchased approximately one-third of its total exports, a trend that continues today. The United States is the third largest export market, with Italy following. Current statistics indicate that Côte d'Ivoire exports $3.9 billion worth of goods annually, primarily cocoa, coffee, tropical woods, petroleum, cotton, bananas, pineapples, palm oil, cotton, and fish. France, which provides one-third of Côte d'Ivoire's imports, is the country's largest supplier. The United States, Italy, and Germany each supply about 5 percent of the country's imports, which include food, consumer goods, capital goods, fuel, and transport equipment. Due to the 1999 coup, Côte d'Ivoire received only limited assistance from international financial institutions during that year, and the European Union stopped its assistance programs altogether.

Division of Labor. In Côte d'Ivoire, men, women, and children of all ages work. Almost 70 percent of the labor force is engaged in agriculture, livestock raising, forestry, or fishing. Both men and women work in the fields and harvest the crops, while men perform heavier agricultural work, as well as mining, construction, and industrial work. Men dominate civil and military positions, such as police officers, soldiers, customs officials, top-level bureaucrats, and foreign-salaried government officials. Children often work on family farms, and in the cities some children work as vendors, shoe shiners, errand runners, and car washers. Labor legislation is based on the French overseas labor code of 1952, which allows for collective bargaining, trade unions, and a government-set minimum wage, however the majority of the labor force works in agriculture or in the informal sector where the minimum wage does not apply. Forced labor is prohibited by law.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. While the growing economy of Côte d'Ivoire has greatly improved the quality of life for some citizens, gross financial inequality exists. High population growth coupled with the economic stagnation of the 1980s and early 1990s resulted in a steady fall in living standards overall. Access to land, housing, secondary education, and jobs are the key determinants of social mobility in Ivoirian society, which allows for a wealthy, urban minority to receive most of society's benefits. The vast majority of the population is poor; 1998 statistics indicate that at least 60 percent of the country's active population is unemployed and most of those who have jobs earn wages that are not enough to cover their basic monthly expenses. When Gross Domestic Product declined by an average 2.7 percent between 1985 and 1990, the proportion of the population in poverty increased from 14 percent to 20 percent. The Ivoirian middle class is still a small minorityprimarily traders, administrators, teachers, nurses, artisans, and successful farmerswhose opportunity for social mobility is fairly limited.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Urban housing is a measure of status, since most urban land concessions are granted to people in government and administration and to their relatives and clients. Secondary education is also an important urban resource and vehicle of social mobility. Although primary schools are found throughout the country, secondary schooling is an urban activity, channelling graduates into urban occupations in medical and legal fields. By the 1990s, employment had become the most significant indicator of social status. Like many other nations, consumer goods are another prominent symbol of social stratification, especially for the city population. Among the administrative and civil-servant class, imported cars and clothes, home furnishings, and broad cultural and recreational activities mark a high standard of living.

Political Life

Government. Côte d'Ivoire is a constitutional multiparty republic dominated by a strong presidency. Côte d'Ivoire's Constitution provides for its presidency within the framework of a separation of powers between its three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The president is the chief of state; the prime minister is the chief of government. The unicameral National Assembly is composed of 175 members elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term. It moves forward legislation typically introduced by the president although it also can also introduce legislation. In June 1998, the National Assembly enacted amendments to the Constitution that diminished the authority of the prime minister relative to the president, authorized the president to annul elections or to postpone announcing election results, extended the presidential term from five to seven years, mandated the creation of a second legislative chamber (senate), provided for the president of the senate to succeed the president in the event of his death or incapacitation, and wrote into the Constitution the presidential eligibility restrictions of the 1994 electoral code. A draft of a new constitution was overwhelmingly approved by voters in July 2000.

State entities exist on several levels, including 16 regions, 58 departments, 230 subprefectures, and 196 communities. At all levels, all subnational government officials are appointed by the central government, with the exception of communities, which are headed by mayors elected for five-year terms, and traditional chieftaincies, which are headed by elected chiefs. The judicial system is headed by a Supreme Court and includes the Court of Appeals and lower courts. The High Court of Justice has authority to try government officials, including the president.

Leadership and Political Officials. Côte d'Ivoire's contemporary political history is characterized by one-party rule and the leadership of President Felix Huphouet-Boigny, leader of the Parti Democratique de la Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI) until his death in 1993. He was one of the founders of the Rassemblement Democratique Africain (RDA), the leading pre-independence inter-territorial political party in French West African territories. Members of a single political party, the PDCI, occupied both the presidency and a majority of seats in the national legislature since independence in 1960, although other parties have been legal since 1990. Massive protests forced the president to legalize opposition parties. Both Houphouet-Boigny and his successor, President Henri Konan Bedie, helped build a nation of political stability and economic prosperity by repressing democratic opposition.

The country's first military coup overthrew President Bedie's administration in December 1999, and Retired General Robert Guei assumed control of the country. After suspending the Constitution, dissolving the National Assembly, and forming the National Committee for Public Salvation (CNSP), which consists of himself and eight military officers, Guie lost the presidential elections of October 2000. The National Electoral Commission announced that Laurent Gbagbo, the leader of the Ivorian Popular Front, won the controversial presidential elections with 59 percent of the vote, ushering in a new era of multi-party legitimacy and the power of free popular elections.

Social Problems and Control. Security forces include the army, navy, and air force, all under the Ministry of Defense; the Republican Guard, a well-funded presidential security force; the national police; and the gendarmerie, a branch of the armed forces roughly equivalent in size to the army, which is responsible for general law enforcement, maintenance of public order, and the country's security, including the suppression of crime and street violence. According to the U.S. State Department, before the 1999 coup, the armed forces were in charge of maintaining civil order. In rural areas, traditional institutions often administer justice at the village level, handling domestic disputes and minor land issues in accordance with customary law. However, the formal court system increasingly is superseding these traditional avenues. In 1996 the government appointed a Grand Mediator to settle disputes that cannot be resolved by traditional means, representing Côte d'Ivoire's trend to bridge traditional and modern methods of dispute resolution.

Military Activity. The Côte d'Ivoire's government invests in its armed forces (FANCI), which include an army, navy, air force, and gendarmerie. In times of national crisis the gendarmerie can be used to reinforce the army. Formed in 1996, the National Security Council upholds both internal and external security policy. The civilian Directorate of General Intelligence is responsible for countering internal threats. A security staff (L'Etat Major de la Securité ) collects and distributes information about crime and coordinates the activities of the security forces in times of crisis. The Special Anticrime Police Brigade (SAVAC) is also active. Military expenditures totalled $94 million in 1996, or 1 percent of the GDP. Following the coup d'etat, the structure of the military did not change.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

A high population growth rate, a high urban crime rate, a high incidence of AIDS, and a high poverty rate characterize Ivoirian society. Recognizing these issues, in the 1990s the government announced its commitment to implement social welfare and change programs, specifically in the areas of literacy, education, health, women and family development, economic development, and poverty alleviationwith a specific goal of reducing poverty from 36.8 percent of the population in 1995 to 30 percent in 2000. Numerous offices under the Ministries of Public Health and of Employment, Public Service, and Social Security are dedicated to these goals, but their efforts are constrained by a lack of funding and the unique multiplicity of Ivoirian tribes. As a result, many of these policies are coordinated by religious, private, and international organizationsfrom the far-reaching United Nations to small, specialized groups that work in only one community. The programs they finance and implement include safeguarding human rights, poverty alleviation, infectious disease control, contraception, literacy, and rescuing street children.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Many humanitarian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operate within Côte d'Ivoire, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UNICEF and other United Nations programs, Prisoners without Borders, and Doctors without Borders. The Ivorian Human Rights League (LIDHO), a domestic human rights NGO, actively investigates alleged human rights violations. Other NGOs such as Amnesty International and the Ivoirian MIFED also monitor government human rights abuses and publish critical reports. Despite this and other criticism, the government has encouraged the formation of NGOs and generally cooperates with them.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. In rural areas, women and men divide the labor, with men clearing the land and harvesting cash crops like cocoa and coffee, while women grow vegetables and other staples and perform most household tasks. Women also collect water and fuel, care for their families, spin and weave, and produce handicrafts and pottery to sell. In general, men hold most prominent civic and government positions, as well as the role of tribal chief in the villages. Religious roles, from shamans to Catholic priests to Muslim imams, are dominated by men.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Government policy encourages full participation by women in business, but generally there is a bias among employers to hiring women, whom they consider less dependable because of their potential pregnancy. Women are underrepresented in most professions and in the managerial sector as a whole. Some women also encounter difficulty in obtaining loans, as they cannot meet the lending criteria mandated by banks, including title to a house and production of profitable cash crops, specifically coffee and cocoa. However, women are paid on an equal scale with men in the formal business sector. Men continue to dominate managerial positions and enjoy the most career mobility, usually due to a higher level of education and connections with other businessmen.

Marriage,Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Ivoirian marriages center on the combining of two families. The creation of a new household is significant to wedding rituals. The government abolished polygamy in 1964, and set the legal marriage age at eighteen for boys and sixteen for girls, although polygamy is a widely accepted lifestyle among many native ethnic groups. Additionally, the government does not recognize forced marriage or dowries ("bride prices") paid to the mother's family to legitimize the marriage. Although marriage customs are changing and becoming more Westernized, a large majority engage in traditional native wedding rituals. Divorce, although not common, is socially acceptable among most ethnic groups.

Domestic Unit. Whether the family lives in an urban or rural setting, the extended family is the basic social unit. Despite lineage, men are generally seen as the power head of the household, while women tend to domestic needs and childrearing. In the Baoule village, the women live with their husbands' families; among the Senufo, husbands and wives live separately with men living in rectangular houses and their wives occupying round ones. When girls get married and leave home, it is the responsibility of the sons to care for the elders of the household.

Inheritance. Men dominate inheritance practices in traditional societies. Both Baoule and Senufo people belong to their mother's family group; power and land are passed down through a mother's family line to her sister's sons. In the Bete and Nyula groups, inheritance is passed down to the through the father's line to the sons. In most traditional societies in Côte d'Ivoire, women do not have the right to inherit land, but only to use that of their husbands or families. Legislation was enacted in 1983 to allow women greater control of their property after marriage.

Kin Groups. The family is linked to a larger group, the clan, primarily through lineages. One of the most important kin groups is the patrilineage, a group formed by tracing descent through male forebears to a male ancestor. In eastern Côte d'Ivoire, however, many societies are organized into matrilineage, which trace descent through female forebears to one female ancestor. Both men and women are included in both type of lineage, sometimes five or six generations removed from the founding ancestor, but the linking relatives are of one gender. Lineages generally share corporate responsibility for socializing the young and maintaining conformity to social norms. Lineage elders often meet to settle disputes, to prescribe or enforce rules of etiquette and marriage, to discuss lineage concerns, and preserve the group overall. They also pressure nonconformists to adhere to group mores. Lineages are generally grouped in villages and united as a chiefdoms.


Infant Care. While infant care may vary across cultures, the mother is the primary caregiver, usually with support from older siblings and extended family. The childrearing practices related to the care of the infant include breastfeeding on demand and up to several years, carrying the child on the mother's back, and sleeping with the child, all of which create a close and intimate relationship between the mother and child and security for the child. In most Ivoirian cultures, there is little understanding of the value of interacting with infants, and adults don't really play with children in the traditional Western sense until the child reaches preschool age.

Child Rearing and Education. In Côte d'Ivoire, children are highly valued and play a very special role in perpetuating the family and culture and providing care for other family members. Girls are taught by their mothers, and boys learn from their fathers and other male figures. Overall, children are the responsibility of the community, and when primary caregivers are not available the community creates a system for caring for children. Parental and community goals for children are centered around social and human values, including respect, self-reliance, helpfulness, cooperation, and obedience, and often folktales or stories are used to reinforce these values. The more modern the culture, the more likely there is to be a shift to more materialistic values. Many rural ethnic cultures engage in rituals and initiation ceremonies: for example, the Senufo is a ritual in which every seven years a new group of boys pass through three stages of initiation that are completed when they are in their thirties. Education is free, and primary education is compulsory; however, in the early 1990s only about 1.5 million students annually attended primary schools.

Higher Education. Higher education is very prestigious and available only to a select minority of the population. In the early 1990s, only about 423,000 attended secondary and vocational schools. Secondary education is viewed as an important urban resource and vehicle of opportunity. Although primary schools are found throughout the country, secondary schooling channels graduates into urban occupations. A large proportion of students who enter primary school are eliminated at crucial points in the education ladder, especially as they encounter stringent admissions requirements for secondary schools and universities, but many also drop out throughout the system. In general, students' educational attainments reflect their parents' level of education.


Often relaxed in character and very polite, Ivoirians always great each other and inquire about a person's health, family, or work. It is considered rude to conduct business without first greeting. Men shake hands with one another; women instead kiss each other three times on the cheeks, alternating sides. At social functions, it is polite to shake hands with everyone upon entering and leaving. Eye contact is usually avoided, particularly between father and child, and it is considered rude to stare. Gift giving is customary, especially to those who are respected in the community.


Religious Beliefs. The constitution guarantees freedom of religion to all citizens. About 60 percent of the population adhere to indigenous beliefs, 25 percent are Muslim, and about 12 percent are Christian (mostly Roman Catholic). Only about 3 percent follow other religions, including some 100,000 Ivoirians who follow Harrisism, a unique Ivoirian Christian religion that upholds a simple lifestyle. Christianity dominates in the south and the center of the country; Islam is predominant in the north and northeast (although many Muslims have moved south in search of work); and indigenous belief systems are present throughout the land. Both Islam and Christianity have been adapted to indigenous religions in a variety of ways, and many Ivoirians who have converted to Christianity still observe rituals that worship the spirits of their ancestors. Most Ivoirian Muslims are Sunni, following the Maliki version of Islamic law. Sufism is also widespread, infused with indigenous beliefs and practices. Beyond these localized versions of world religions, however, are complex systems of belief and practice that incorporate multiple elements of several religions, including animism, fetishism, and witchcraft. According to most local belief systems, spiritual beingsa creator, ancestral spirits, and spirits associated with places and objectscan influence a person's life and play a large role in religious worship and practice.

Religious Practitioners. Each of the main religious traditions has its own practitioners, such as the Christian priests, nuns, and ministers, the Islamic clerics, and the priests and diviners of traditional religions. In Islam, a significant religious authority is the marabouta miracle worker, physician, and mystic who exercises both magical and moral authority. He is also respected as a dispenser of amulets, which protect the wearer against evil. In the south, Akan religious practitioners include lineage heads, village chiefs, and priests who officiate at ritual observances for cults honoring specific deities. These priests (akomfo ) also act as diviners, many of whom are believed to be clairvoyant and able to locate the source of spiritual difficulty for their followers, who consult them for a fee. Priests sometimes act as doctors, since many diseases are believed to have a spiritual basis.

Rituals and Holy Places. Collective ceremonies and rituals are important to many indigenous religions, and include ceremonial dancing, ancestor worship sacrifices, mask carving and ceremonies, fetish priest ceremonies, and divination ceremonies. To the Akan, the most important of these is the yam festival, which serves as a memorial service for the dead and asks for their protection in the future, is a time of thanksgiving for good harvests, and is a ritual of purification that helps purge the group of evil influences. Ivoirians conduct rites in a variety of sacred spaces, including a variety of shrines dedicated to spirits, Christian and Roman Catholic churches, and mosques. Missions with churches, schools, and seminaries appear throughout the country. Yamoussoukro is home to the Grand Mosque and the largest church in Africa, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace.

Death and the Afterlife. The vast majority of Ivoirians believe that a person's soul lives after death. Because often death is considered the transformation of an ordinary human into an honored ancestor, funerals are elaborately celebrated. Relatives spend a great deal of money to provide the proper funeral services and memorials for their loved ones, which usually take place forty days after the death, and involve dancing, drumming, singing, and feasting that goes on for days, even weeks.

Medicine and Health Care

Ivoirians experience a number of health issues, including a large incidence of HIV-AIDS, female genital mutilation (FGM), unsanitary living conditions, unsafe drinking water, and a host of infectious diseases, including malaria, gastrointestinal ailments, respiratory infections, measles, and tetanus. The first case of AIDS was diagnosed in 1985; as of January 1999 the number of AIDS patients reached nearly 40,000. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 60 percent of women have undergone FGM. Studies show that in 1993 only 60 percent of the population had access to health care services, and a little over 80 percent had access to safe water. The average life expectancy is forty-three years for males, and forty-six years for females. Infant and child mortality rates remain high in rural areas, where access to clean water and waste disposal systems is limited, and malnutrition is widespread. An estimated 95 infants per 1,000 births die in their first year of life. Close spacing of births contributes to high rates of malnutrition in the first two years of life.

During the 1990s, the government increased its information, education, and communication regarding health and family planning. Public health expenditures increased steadily during the decade, but the health care system was unable to meet the health care needs of the majority of the population. Medical care for wealthy urban households is superior to that available to rural families. Chronic shortages of equipment, medicine, and health care personnel also contribute to overall poor service, even where people have access to health care facilities. In many rural areas, health care remains a family matter, under the guidance of lineage elders and traditional healers. The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children Fund provide child vaccinations for polio myelitis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, tuberculosis, yellow fever, and measles, and vaccinate pregnant women against tetanus.

Secular Celebrations

The Ivorian government recognizes the following holidays: New Year's Day (1 January), Labor Day (1 May), Assumption (15 August), All Saints' Day (1 November), Independence Day (celebrated on 7 December), and Christmas (25 December). Movable religious holidays that vary based on the Islamic lunar calendar include Id al-Fitr and Id al-Adha, as well as the Christian holidays based on the Gregorian calendar, such as Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, and Pentecost Monday.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. The arts are largely self-supporting, although the government encourages and provides support to dance troupes, artists, writers, and the museum. Village cultural groups receive some government assistance.

Literature. Côte d'Ivoire has enjoyed a long history of storytelling, primarily because of its high illiteracy rate. By passing on traditional poetry, folktales, and myths, the storytellers, called griots by the Malike, impart societal values, history, and religion. French is the dominant language for written literature, as little exists in native languages. Bernard Dadie is perhaps Côte d'Ivoire's best-known writer to emerge in the twentieth century. He wrote the country's first play, Assémiwen Déhylé, and one of its first novels, Climbié, as well as several other successful works. Other authors have contributed to the vast array of literature from Côte d'Ivoire, including Aké Loba, Pierre Dupré, Ahmadou Kourouma, Jean-Marie Adiaffi, Isaïe Biton Koulibaly, Zegoua Gbessi Nokan, Tidiane Dem, Amadou Kone, Grobli Zirignon, and Paul Yao Akoto. Women entered the literary scene during the mid-1970s with Simone Kaya's autobiographical work. Among the best-known women writers are Fatou Bolli, Anne-Marie Adiaffi, Véronique Tadjo, Flore Hazoumé, and Gina Dick.

Graphic Arts. Indigenous graphic art traditions are found in abundance in Côte d'Ivoire, including wood sculpting, weaving, pottery making, mask making, jewelry making, carving, sculpting, and painting. All traditional Ivoirian art is made first for practical purposesusually in relation to religious, health, or village matters. Ivoirian artists combine traditional materialssuch as wood, ivory, clay, and stoneand folktales and religious or mythical elements to make their art, which often transcends several cultures. Many Senufo and Baoule woodcarvers make art specifically for tourists searching the open markets for souvenirs.

Performance Arts. In Côte d'Ivoire performance art embodies music, dance, and festivals. Music exists almost everywherein everyday activities and religious ceremoniesand most singing is done in groups, usually accompanied by traditional instruments. Along with the native melodies of the indigenous groups, Ivoirians participate in more contemporary music from Europe and America. Dichotomiesfrom the Abidjan Orchestral Ensemble that performs classical music to street rock and rollcan be found in the cities. Traditional dance is alive in ceremonies and festivals, and is usually linked to history or ethnic beliefs. The Senufo N'Goron dance, for example, is a colorful initiation dance where young girls wearing a fan of feathers and imitate birds. Malinke women perform the Koutouba and Kouroubissi dances before Ramadan. The various traditions have unified the masquerade, music, and dance as an expression of the continuation of creation and life, and during these events the mask takes on deep cultural-spiritual significance.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The Ivoirian government is committed to the development of the physical and social sciences. Since 1982, IDESSA (Institut des Savanes ) and IDEFOR (Institut des Forêts ) have replaced the numerous commodity-specific agricultural research institutions once active in the country. IDESSA has departments for food crops, industrial crops, and livestock husbandry. IDEFOR's departments research coffee and cocoa, fruit crops, rubber, oil palm and coconut, and forestry in general. Some agricultural and scientific research is also conducted at the National University and at ENSA, the school of agronomy. Both educational institutions have helped to abate the formerly critical shortage of human resources for agricultural research, and both are supported by public funds. The National University of Côte d'Ivoire in Abidjan has faculties of sciences, medicine, and pharmacy, as well as an institute of renewable energy. The French Institute of Scientific Research for Cooperative Development is also located in Abidjan.


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Gina Misiroglu

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"Côte d'Ivoire." Countries and Their Cultures. . 23 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Côte d'Ivoire." Countries and Their Cultures. . (July 23, 2018).

"Côte d'Ivoire." Countries and Their Cultures. . Retrieved July 23, 2018 from

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Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Côte DIvoire

Côte D'Ivoire See Ivory Coast

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"Côte DIvoire." World Encyclopedia. . 23 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Côte DIvoire." World Encyclopedia. . (July 23, 2018).

"Côte DIvoire." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 23, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.