Côte D'ivoire (Ivory Coast)

views updated Jun 27 2018

CÔTE D'IVOIRE (Ivory Coast)

Republic of the Ivory Coast

Major Cities:
Abidjan, Bouaké, Yamoussoukro

Other Cities:
Aboisso, Agboville, Assinie, Assouinde, Bingerville, Bondoukou, Comoe, Ferkessdóugou, Grand Bassam, Grand Lahou, Jacqueville, Korhogo, Man, San Pedro, Sassandra


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 1999 for Cote d'Ivoire. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


France made Côte d'Ivoire a protectorate in 1842, but did not actively occupy the territory until 1882. The country became a French colony in 1893. Côte d'Ivoire became an autonomous republic within the French Community in 1958 and achieved full independence on August 7, 1960. In October 1985, the United Nations approved a request from the Ivorian government to change the country's official name from Ivory Coast to Côte d'Ivoire.

Côte d'Ivoire maintains close ties with France, but also seeks to expand its contacts with other nations. It is Africa's largest exporter of coffee and cocoa, and also one of the largest exporters of timber and other tropical products.



Abidjan, with a population of approximately 2 million, is 4.8 kilometers inland from the Gulf of Guinea, but its suburbs stretch to the sea. Abidjan is often called the "Paris of West Africa," and much of its beauty derives from its setting on the rim of a lagoon at the edge of the ocean. The ever-present contrast between traditional African clothing, markets, and ways of life and the most modern public and commercial establishments gives the city a special charm and character.


Abidjan has the only mall in West Africa. The supermarket of the mall is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Local shops are generally open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m to noon and 3 p.m. until 6p.m.; on Sundays most shops are closed except for supermarkets, which are open in the morning.

A wide variety of food is available in Abidjan's many local markets and supermarkets. The bakeries offer a delicious variety of breads and pastries. Tropical fruits and locally grown vegetables are plentiful and reasonable but the selection is limited. The supermarkets carry a complete selection of imported European fresh fruit and vegetables at much higher prices. The choice of all types of food and household items in supermarkets is excellent and shortages are rare. Both local and imported meat is available; meat is sold in continental cuts and local meat should be well cooked for health reasons. Local poultry, fresh fish, and shellfish is plentiful and reasonably priced.

A limited variety of frozen foods is available. All dairy products are imported and sterilized-pasteurized long-life milk is sold. Butter and cheeses are excellent. Plain and flavored yogurts are good. All dairy products have an expiration date.

Beverages available include bottled soft drinks, American colas, and European and South American imported wine. Côte d'Ivoire cocoa and chocolate are superb; the coffee is distinctive.


Abidjan's year-round climate resembles summer weather in Washington, DC. During the rainy summer months, the weather is somewhat cooler, and long-sleeved clothing is comfortable. Rainwear and umbrellas are necessary items. Men find that either business suits (light-weight) or locally tailored bush suits are appropriate for most occasions. However, those whose work does not entail contact with the host government or the public normally wear slacks with either short-or long-sleeved shirts, and no tie. Sports clothes and casual wear are recommended for leisure activities.

Most women wear summer dresses or blouse and skirt combinations, supplemented by sweaters for air-conditioned buildings. Neither shorts nor very short dresses are worn in the downtown area or while traveling in the country. Washable fabrics are preferable, since local dry cleaning is expensive; in Abidjan's hot, humid climate, wrinkle-resistant fabrics that breathe are desirable. Hosiery usually is worn only for special occasions, and gloves and hats (with the exception of sun hats) are seldom seen. Sandals, comfortable walking shoes, and sports footwear are all useful.

Abidjanaises are fashion conscious, and the latest styles from Paris often are available at extremely high prices in local boutiques. Contemporary African fashions are popular with both Ivorian and foreign women. Local batiks, tie-dyes, and wax prints, sometimes enhanced with elaborate embroidery, are made up into attractive dresses, skirts, and pants outfits. Prices range from moderate to expensive.

Children need a good supply of cotton or washable synthetic clothing. Girls wear everything from dresses to shorts and jeans. Boys wear jeans, slacks, and shorts with jerseys; sneakers and sandals are popular. Replacement items ordinarily are purchased from U.S. mail-order outlets, since children's clothes on the local market are quite costly. Uniforms are not worn at the International School of Abidjan, but those attending private French schools wear locally-made uniforms.

Swimming is a year-round activity, thus swimsuits and swimming goggles for each family member are essential.

Supplies and Services

The skills and fees of tailors and dressmakers in Abidjan vary widely. Minor shoe repairs can be done adequately. Dry cleaning facilities are satisfactory for everyday items, but not for delicate clothes; most laundry is done at home. Beauty and barber shops offer a complete line of services, but are expensive. Estheticians, masseurs, and sauna bath facilities are available at health and exercise clubs.

Radio, phonograph, video, and television shops service European and Japanese models successfully, and American models with varying degrees of skill. A good selection of cassettes and CDs is available at somewhat higher than U.S. prices. Several companies, including Westinghouse, Singer, Frigidaire, and General Electric, have local representatives who stock limited supplies of spare parts for small appliances. Service technicians, however, are unfamiliar with American equipment. Local jewelers can repair most clocks and watches. Several local printers do moderate quality work, but no engraving, and prices are high. Catering service is available from several hotels, restaurants, and bakeries.

Pet shops and supermarkets carry a limited variety of basic pet supplies. An Ivorian Government veterinary clinic offers shots and minor treatment for pets. Several qualified veterinarians have clinics in Abidjan.

Domestic Help

Americans in Abidjan find domestic workers to be a very pleasant and affordable aspect of life. Domestics are usually men who come from other West African countries. Women also do domestic work and many are employed as nannies.

In most households, an experienced steward who does all types of housework, laundry, and simple cooking is sufficient. If additional help is needed, less-skilled servants and full-fledged cooks are available. A qualified cook usually will do marketing and kitchen chores, but no housework. General-category stewards normally do all other tasks. Small families sometimes share the services of one servant for general housework and laundry on a part-time basis. Generally, servants do not live in.

Hours and minimum wages are fixed by law. Servants work a maximum of ten hours daily, with one full day or two half-days off each week, and one month's paid holiday per year. On local holidays, servants receive full pay and are not required to work. If uniforms are worn, they are provided at the employer's expense. When employment is terminated, servants are entitled either to notice or notice payment, settlement for any unused leave, termination pay, and a certificate of previous employment. In addition, employers must pay social security contributions amounting to about 11 percent of salary and a transportation allowance.

Almost all servants speak French, and some also can read that language. A few speak English. All domestics must be trained to individual preferences and supervised carefully to assure satisfactory performance. Night guardians are available for the protection of residences; many of these will care for gardens and lawns for an agreed-upon extra monthly stipend

Religious Activities

Regularly scheduled Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim worship services and activities are conducted in French throughout the Abidjan area. Affiliated schools, activities, and services are readily available to the French speaker. Kosher meat can sometimes be obtained locally. English-speaking Christian congregations include: The International Fellowship of Christians, an interdenominational, evangelical congregation meeting in Deux Plateaux for two Sunday worship services, classes for children and adults, and a variety of study groups and other activities during the week; the Protestant Church of the Plateau, an interdenominational, liturgical congregation, holding its Sunday worship service, classes and activities in a Methodist church near the U.S. Embassy; and a Roman Catholic church in Deux Plateaux holding mass, confessions, and confraternity of Christian doctrine classes for children on Saturday.


The International Community School of Abidjan (ICSA), founded in 1972, is the only English-language school in Abidjan. It is an independent, coeducational day school, offering an American educational program from kindergarten through grade 12. A solid academic program is offered. The school is accredited from kindergarten through grade 12 by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Upper School is also accredited by the European Council of International Schools (ECIS). The Upper School presents a developmental program with the express purpose of preparing students for entry into U.S. colleges and universities. French, the official language of Côte d'Ivoire, is required at all grade levels. English as a Second Language (ESL) is required of non-English speakers until they reach a certain level of proficiency. Even after they are mainstreamed, ESL students receive continuing support. The school is not equipped to handle children with learning disabilities, physical handicaps, or emotional or behavioral problems. Qualified high school students may enroll in advance placement courses in English, French, European History, American History, Computer Science, Biology, and Calculus. A new school was constructed in 1990-91 in the residential section of Riviera III, with new sports facilities, including a basketball/volleyball court, track, soccer field, softball field, and shower facility.

The school is sponsored by the U.S. Government and governed by a nine-member Board of Directors, two of whom are appointed by the U.S. Ambassador. Membership in the Association, the school's official parent body, which oversees the whole school, is automatically conferred on the parents or guardians of children enrolled in the school.

The full-time faculty is composed of qualified teachers recruited both from abroad (about 40%) and from the English-speaking community in Abidjan (60%). The Director is contracted from the United States. Enrollment in 1997-98 was about 440 students, some 35% American. The school receives regular support and assistance from the Office of Overseas Schools in the Department of State.

The school sponsors interscholastic soccer, basketball, volleyball, swimming for boys and girls, intramural sports, a yearbook, drama, Girl Scouts, Brownies, Boy Scouts, and Cub Scouts. Other extracurricular activities are offered but may change from year to year based upon the availability of instructors. There is also a strong community service program.

Annual tuition fees are set in dollars. Fees for the 1998-99 school year are as follows: kindergarten-$9,000; grades 1 through 5-$9,450; grades 6 through 8$11,260 and grades 9 through 12$11,530. The capital development fee of $3,570 is charged only once per family. A school registration fee of approximately $540 is charged annually for all children enrolled.

Many families arrange car pools for transporting children to and from school, since school-sponsored bus transportation is not available. There is no school uniform required. Students dress casually, in consideration of the tropical climate.

School hours are 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The school year begins in late August and ends in mid June. Students have a 2-week Christmas vacation and one week at Easter; some U.S. national and all local holidays are observed by the school. ICSA sponsors a 5-week summer program during the months of July and August, depending on demand.

Further information about the school or about early registration can be obtained by writing to: Director, International Community School of Abidjan c/o Administrative Officer (ICSA) Am Embassy-Abidjan, Department of State Washington, D.C. 20521-2010 Email: [email protected]Web-site: http://urworld.compuserve.com/homepaaees/ICSA

The school asks that families register their children as soon as their plans are made, and preferably well in advance of their arrival

Local public and private schools follow French methods of instruction and curriculum, and make no provision for introductory language instruction for non-French-speaking children. Classes in the French system are divided as follows:

  1. "maternelle" or nursery school, ages 3 and 4.
  2. "jardin d'enfants" or kindergarten, ages 5 and 6.
  3. "ecole primaire" (1eme through 7eme), which corresponds to American grades 1 through 5. At the end of the 7eme, all children must pass a national exam to gain admittance to the "Lycee"
  4. ecole secondaire (lycee or college) which corresponds to grades 6 through 12 in American schools. At the end of the last year (grade 13), exams are taken for the baccalaureate.

Public schools no longer enroll non-Ivorian students who did not enter the school system in the first grade. Some very good private primary schools admit non-French-speaking children but generally only in the early elementary grades. Children must have sufficient French fluency to pass exams and survive in the secondary grades. In all cases, enrollment in the better local schools is competitive and should be accomplished as early in the spring as possible for the following school year.

The local school year runs from October to mid-July and is divided into trimesters ending in December, March, and June. Christmas and Easter vacations are at least one week each. Classes meet 5 days a week, Monday through Friday, in the upper grades; in the primary grades students have Wednesday off. Hours vary somewhat in different schools, but morning classes usually run from 7 a.m. to noon and from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

School uniforms, required for attendance at local schools, are not reimbursable. Transportation costs are reimbursable within the limits of total tuition and other school related costs. Limited summer school programs are offered for young children.

Special Educational Opportunities

Private instruction is available for languages, musical instruments, judo and karate, riding, tennis, swimming, and horseback riding. Additional academic tutoring for school children can also be obtained.

Some eligible family members enroll in an intensive French program at the University of Abidjan. Since French is so important for everyday living and social contacts, it is strongly encouraged that you participate in some French-language training program.


Sports are an integral part of recreational life in the Côte d'Ivoire. For Ivorians, soccer is the most popular sport, followed by basketball and boxing. You can pursue a wide variety of sports activities in Abidjan: aerobics, pool swimming, fishing, bowling, tennis, horseback riding, ice skating, pool and billiards, golf, volleyball, basketball, softball, soccer, and martial arts. Softball is played almost every weekend at the International school. Many of the players participate in U.S. Embassy-sponsored West African competitions. In addition to weekend activities, the Marines offer volleyball at their residence. Sports equipment is available on the local market but the cost is high.

Salt and freshwater pools at major hotels in and around Abidjan are open to the public on a reasonable daily fee basis; a few offer pool memberships. Use of tennis courts can be arranged at local hotels, and memberships and instruction are available at several clubs and hotels. An excellent 18-hole golf course is located at the Golf Club in the Riviera section of Abidjan. Golfers can play there by paying a greens fee or an individual club membership. There is also a 9-hole public course with reasonable fees.

The beaches near Abidjan tend to be dangerous, with extremely treacherous surf. Riptides and heavy undertow make ocean swimming dangerous. Swimming is not recommended in these waters. You must use extreme caution in supervising young children at the beach. Despite these drawbacks, many families in Abidjan rent small beach lots at Grand Bassam or Assinie with a changing but and shaded picnic table. There are a number of small hotel-restaurants in Grand Bassam where you can spend the day for the cost of lunch. The beach is a close, pleasant weekend escape.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Abidjan is an attractive city, laced with lagoons and close to the ocean, with many hills and lush tropical flora. In and around Abidjan, you can visit the beautiful Cathedral of Abidjan, perched on a hill overlooking the city; the zoo, modest but still enjoyable for children; the Parc du Banco, a virgin rain forest; and the large open-air markets in Cocody, Treichville, and other suburbs. A lagoon boat tour offers an impressive view of Abidjan's skyline.

There are many options for trips outside of Abidjan. It is possible to go north to Korhogo or Comoe Game Park on a 3-day weekend, and there are many pleasant day trips.

Social Activities

A good knowledge of French is essential for developing contacts among Ivorians and Europeans. The Professional Women's Network meets on a monthly basis and features guest speakers of various topics. An international playgroup has been developed for pre-schoolers and toddlers. The American Chamber of Commerce meets monthly and draws its membership from representatives of American businesses operating in Côte d'Ivoire. The "Hash House Harriers" are a group of motivated individuals who meet each weekend and go on excursion runs/walks within and sometimes outside of Abidjan.


Several modern, air-conditioned theaters in Abidjan show European and American films in French. Children's matinees are screened frequently during holiday periods. A cinema club at the French Cultural Center features French film classics.

African theatrical and folkloric presentations are given periodically at various theaters in Abidjan. Most traditional rites are limited to family and village circles, but folk dancing is often the featured entertainment at local hotels. Parades and festivals organized on certain national holidays also feature dancers from all regions of the country. Touring groups, including some well-known French and international performers, offer live theater several times a year at the Hôtel Ivoire, Theatre de la Cite, and the French Cultural Center. Occasionally, foreign embassies sponsor concerts and recitals with visiting and local guest artists.

A variety of restaurants offer French, Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Lebanese, Korean, African, and other cuisines. Restaurants range from moderately to extremely expensive, but some prix fixe menus are available on certain evenings at several hotels and restaurants. Discotheques and nightclubs around town open after 10 p.m.; the cost of a drink at most nightclubs in 1990 was $10 (U.S.). A casino is located at Hôtel Ivoire.

Fashion shows featuring French haute couture and Ivorian styles are presented several times a year at Hôtel Ivoire for a small admission fee. Exhibits are frequently held by European and African artists in hotels and small gatherings.

Photographers find many worthwhile subjects in Côte d'Ivoire. Local people are often pleased to have their pictures taken, but it is best to ask first and be prepared to pay for the favor. Most types of film are available locally at high cost, and processing is adequate, although the majority of Americans send their film to the U.S. for developing.

Shopping at the Treichville, Adjame, Plateau, and Cocody markets can be a pleasant leisure-time activity. The animated bargaining that goes into making a good purchase is something of an art form in itself. A good rule of thumb when bargaining for an item is to cut the asking price at least in half, and then move upward slowly to a mutually agreeable price. Traders are appreciative of those who drive hard bargains, and everyone comes away satisfied from such a negotiation. It should be noted, however, that bargaining is not acceptable in artisan shops and outlets where prices are fixed as marked.

Dinners, bridge sessions, cocktails, picnics, and barbecues at the beach are a common form of entertainment in Abidjan, but a good knowledge of French is needed to develop contacts among Ivorians and Europeans.

The Professional Women's Network meets on a monthly basis and features guest speakers on various topics. The American Chamber of Commerce meets monthly and draws its membership from representatives of American businesses operating in Cote d'Ivoire.


Bouaké, north of Abidjan and in the heart of the country, is the second largest city in Côte d'Ivoire. It is on the main road and rail lines from Abidjan to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and is the commercial and transportation center for the interior. Cotton, rice, and tobacco are the chief products of the region. The city has many factories, among them the oldest textile mill in the nation. Bouaké(alternatively spelled Bwake) is the center for Côte d'Ivoire's educational television programming. There is a government hospital in the city, as well as an American mission, and a Benedictine monastery constructed of interesting local materials. Bouakéalso has several mosques. Notable native weavers work in nearby villages. Many visitors make special trips to Katiola, north of the city, where a factory outlet sells distinctive pottery.

Several good hotels and a large marché (market) are among the popular spots in Bouaké. A major tourist attraction is the sacred forest of Foro-Foro, several miles outside the city.


The official capital of Côte d'Ivoire has a large hotel, The President, which is normally occupied by tourists. Several splendid buildings can be visited, notably the Basilica, known as the largest cathedral in Christiandom. It was built by the former President, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, as his dedication to the city. This is a must-see attraction. In an attractive hilly region nearby is the Kossou Dam, the source of electrical power for Abidjan.


ABOISSO , on the Ghana border, about 90 miles east of Abidjan, is an interesting town with a pleasant restaurant. A short distance away is Ayame, where two dams provide electric power to Abidjan.

AGBOVILLE , two hours from Abidjan, is a provincial inland town which features a colorful market and French-run hotels.

The small villages of ASSINIE and ASSOUINDE lie between the lagoon and the sea, about fifty miles from Abidjan by car and boat. Two large resort hotel complexes are located along the beautiful beaches. Assinie features a Club Med that caters mainly to adults; weekend reservations can sometimes be arranged for a night with full board. The resort village of Assouinde is run by an Italian company and caters to large tour groups from foreign countries. Reservations at Assouinde are for a night's accommodation with full board.

BINGERVILLE , the former capital, is 11 miles from Abidjan. It is surrounded by coffee and cocoa plantations, and enjoys an unusually picturesque setting on a hill overlooking the rim of the lagoon. It is also an educational center, and has a large botanical garden and a school of African art where artisans can be seen plying their crafts. A national boy's orphanage is now housed in what was formerly the colonial governor's mansion.

BONDOUKOU , on the eastern border, is one of Côte d'Ivoire's oldest cities. Founded at least 500 years ago, it grew as the caravan trade increased. Bondoukou became a prosperous agricultural plantation area after the French introduced cocoa in 1914. It is at the center of the Agni kingdom.

COMOE In Comoe Game Park one can find hippopotamus, lions, panthers, elephants, buffalo, warthogs, monkeys, and many kinds of antelope, notably the hartebeest. While the larger animals are rarely seen, it is still a popular trip. A pleasant small hotel in the park organizes full or half-day safaris by Land Rover. By road Comoe is an all-day trip.

FERKESSDÓUGOU , 100 miles north of Bouaké, is a major center of new agricultural development projects. It is predominantly Muslim, as evidenced by the market and mosque.

GRAND BASSAM Located on the seacoast about 20 miles east of Abidjan, Bassam is a favorite weekend escape because of its close proximity to Abidjan, pleasant beaches and hotels, and its interesting shopping. There is a cooperative of craftsmen in the center of town selling masks, brass work, wood carvings, and batik work. A mile-long strip of shops located outside the town of Bassam sells African carvings, carved chests, leather goods, furniture, jewelry, and tie-dye and wax print fabric. All sorts of African art and paraphernalia can be found in this central area.

GRAND LAHOU A lagoon town three miles to the west. It offers picturesque old buildings, a rustic hotel-restaurant, and both ocean and lagoon swimming. You will experience a nice drive through the rubber and palm oil plantations.

JACQUEVILLE , roughly one-anda-half hours from Abidjan, with a car ferry ride included, this lagoon town on the beach has a nice hotel-restaurant.

KORHOGO is a bustling city near the Mali and Burkina Faso borders. A seven to nine-hour drive from the capital and a center of Senoufo culture, it has some interesting markets and artisans' quarters with woodcarvers, weavers, and bronze casters using the ancient lost wax technique. Surrounding villages are centers of distinctive cloth painting and strip weaving activities.

The town of MAN is a 10-hour drive from Abidjan. It has a somewhat drier and cooler climate, since it lies in the western hills fairly close to the Liberian border. The area is noted for its Yacouba dancers, featuring the "stilt men," as well as its unusual carvings and masks. A nice hotel is in operation here. Somewhat north of town, in the village of Guessesso, is another pleasant tourist hotel.

SAN PEDRO , a new port on the seacoast 300 miles west of Abidjan, has fine sandy beaches, sea fishing, and softwood reforestation plantations.

SASSANDRA , also on the coast, and a five-and-a-half hour drive from the capital, is a town with simple hotels and campsites for those who come to enjoy the lovely beaches.

Travel arrangements can be made to visit any of these towns. Hotels are comfortable and have good food. Air Ivoire links the country's major regions and provides regular flights to Korhogo, Man, Yamoussoukro, San Pedro, Sassandra, and Bouaké. The railroad passes through Bouaké and Ferkessdóugou on the route north to Ouagadougou; this train trip is one of the more interesting travel bargains in the country.


Geography and Climate

Côte d'Ivoire rests on the Gulf of Guinea, covers 124,500 square miles, and is about the size of New Mexico. It is bounded on the west by Liberia and Guinea, on the north by Mali and Burkina Faso, on the east by Ghana, and on the south by 340 miles of Atlantic coastline.

The southern third of the country is covered by tropical rain forest. A network of interconnecting lagoons parallels the coast from the Ghanaian border 200 miles westward. Important cash crops are grown in the forest belt, but to the north lies a savanna area of lathyritic soil where vegetation becomes more sparse. In the northwest, the Man Mountains (4,800 feet) break the rolling inland plain which rises from the sea to about 1,000 feet in the north. Four riversthe Cavally, Sassandra, Bandama, and Komoeflow from north to south.

Temperatures vary in the north, where there is only one rainy season, averaging 51 inches of annual rainfall and 71 percent humidity.

The tropical climate of the south keeps temperatures between 75°F and 90°F, with humidity averaging 85 percent. Two rainy seasons, April to July and September to December, are separated by a short dry season in August. Over half of the annual precipitation (82 inches in Abidjan) falls in May, June, and July but even then the sun often shines.


Côte d'Ivoire's population, estimated at approximately 15 million, is growing at about 3.8% each year. It includes more than 5 million non-Ivorian Africans, approximately 25,000 French and 10,000 other Europeans, and a community of Lebanese estimated at more than 100,000. All West African states have expatriate communities in Côte d'Ivoire, but by far the largest communities are from Burkina Faso (2,853,000), Mali (1,299,000), Guinea (412,000), and Ghana (305,000) (1996 estimates). Some 150,000-200,000 Liberian refugees reside in western Côte d' Ivoire.

Approximately 50% of Côte d'Ivoire's population is urban, with more than 20% residing in the country's two largest cities, Abidjan and Bouake. The next three largest towns, Daloa, Gagnoa, and Korhogo, each have over 300,000 inhabitants.

The approximately 60 separate ethnic groups in Côte d'Ivoire, each with its own language or dialect, may be grouped into five or six major ethnic categories. Of these, the Akan group includes the largest Ivorian tribe, the influential Baoule who inhabit the center of the country, and the Agni who reside in the east. The north is populated by the Voltaic group-the Senoufo, Koulango, and Lobi. The Mande are divided into northern and southern groups, the more recently established northern Mande, including the Malinke in the northwest and the Dioula who reside around Kong in the northeast. The southern Mande include the Yacouba, Toura, and Gouro, who inhabit the center west of the country. The Krou group consists of 15 tribes, the most prominent being the Bete, who inhabit the center-west and southwest of the country. In addition, there are numerous small tribal groups living along the lagoons on the southern coast of the country, collectively referred to as the Lagoon peoples, that include the Ebrie, the original indigenous population of Abidjan. With the exception of the southern Mande, established since ancient times, and the Senoufo, residents for several centuries, most Ivorians are the descendants of relatively recent immigrants. The Baoule and Agni, for example, are closely related to the Ashanti of Ghana and immigrated from that region in the 1700s.

Although most recent government statistics indicate that 38% of the population is Muslim and 26% is Christian (most of whom are Catholic), more realistic estimates place the Muslim population between 55% and 65%. Many of these are resident aliens from the Sahel countries. Official government estimates place traditional animist religions at 17% of the population. Some 13% are considered "without religion." Both Muslim and Christian holidays are celebrated nationally. Muslim and Christian populations continue to grow at the expense of the traditional religions. In recent years there has been a large increase in the number of Protestant missionary groups operating in the country, leading to an increase in the Protestant portion of the Christian population. The most significant religious trend, however, is the increasing number of conversions to Islam over the past decade. The Muslim proportion of the population has also been growing from immigration.

Since 1964, polygamy has been illegal. However, it is still widely practiced throughout Côte d'Ivoire through traditional weddings. The courts and other civil institutions do not recognize such marriages. At the same time, monogamy is prevalent among urban and educated groups. The 1964 civil code also bans child betrothal and bride price, and it promulgates rules on civil registry, marriage, separation and divorce, paternity and adoption, succession, and wills. The civil code is designed to provide uniformity for a country with diverse traditional practices. It is also an attempt to modernize Ivorian society by fostering monogamy, nuclear families, and patrilineal, instead of matrilineal, descent rules. As of 1998, a bill before the National Assembly would also strengthen the legal protections of women's rights.

Public Institutions

The constitution provides for a system of government with a strong executive branch, a single legislative chamber, and a separate judiciary. The executive branch is headed by the President, elected for a five-year term, who is assisted by a Cabinet of appointed ministers.

Constitutional changes passed by the National Assembly in July 1998, creating a Senate, lengthening the presidential term to seven years, and allowing the President to postpone elections, were under discussion with the opposition as of late 1998.

The National Assembly, the legislative body, has 175 members elected by direct universal suffrage for 5-year terms. The Supreme Court is composed of four chambers: constitutional, judicial, administrative, and auditing.

The Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI) has been the dominant force in Ivorian politics since its formation in the pre-independence period. A major political development occurred in 1990 when the country held its first multiparty elections. With the December 1993 death of President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, National Assembly President and constitutional successor Henri Konan Bedie became President.

Côte d'Ivoire became a U.N. member in 1960. Maintaining ties with its Francophone neighbors, it is a member of Conseil de l'Entente (a group including Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Togo). Other memberships include the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU or UEMOA), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS or, in French, CEDEAO).

Arts, Science, and Education

Since independence, Côte d'Ivoire has spent a significant portion of its budget on education. Currently, 43% of the operational budget goes toward education, which Ivorians view as essential for personal advancement and for the overall development of the country. Public school enrollment for 1993-94 was estimated at 2.6 million in elementary schools, 580,000 in secondary schools, and at least 50,000 in higher education.

Academics are respected members of society and, unlike some other Fran-cophone countries in the region, academic institutions are a prime labor pool for ministerial and senior-level government appointments.

The Ministry of National Education administers primary, secondary, pre-university professional, and technical education for the entire country. Professional and technical education is becoming increasingly important as competition for space in the higher education system becomes greater and as the university produces more graduates than there are jobs.

Another ministry, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, responsible for post-secondary general, professional, and technical education, directs all research efforts in the country and works closely with Ivorian students abroad. Agreements for educational exchanges, Fulbright programs, training programs, and other bilateral and multilateral educational programs are all arranged through this ministry.

Until the beginning of the 1992-93 academic year, Côte d'Ivoire had only one university, the National University of Côte d'Ivoire, which was established in Abidjan in 1963. The initial student capacity of the National University was 7,000. For more than a decade, a large number of Ivorians enrolled there before they pursued graduate studies in France or elsewhere.

However, the steady growth in the number of students entering higher education in Côte d'Ivoire has outstripped the ability of the Government to provide adequate facilities. This has resulted in the university having to accommodate up to 28,000 students per year in facilities planned initially for only 7,000 students. During the 1993-94 academic year, the National University added two other affiliated campuses in Adjame-Abobo (an Abidjan suburb) and Bouake, the second largest city located in the center of the country.

Apart from the National University, there are other institutions of higher learning. As Ivorians at the National University begin to look beyond the French educational models, closer ties have been established between Ivorian research institutions and American institutions. Some Ivorian research institutes, such as the Ivorian Center for Social and Economic Research (CIRES) and the Center for Audiovisual Teaching and Research (CERCOM), have a large number of U.S. graduates on their staff and, consequently, are receptive to American innovations in education. Supplemental to the National University are Côte d'Ivoire's five grandes ecoles, modeled on the French system, which are prestigious institutes of higher learning designed to train Ivorians in specialized technical fields which used to be dominated by French expatriates in the country. Three institutes (ENSTP, INSET, and ENSA), specializing in civil engineering, management and business, and agriculture, respectively, are located in the first president's hometown of Yamoussoukro, a 2 1/2-hour drive north of Abidjan. Admission into the three schools is more difficult than to the National University (which is open to all who have a baccalaureate or high school diploma); applicants must pass rigorous written and oral tests to be accepted. Also, unlike the university, students graduating from these institutes have a better chance of securing employment. In fact, until the recent economic crisis, many of the students went directly from schools into slotted positions in the government and private sector.

The other two grandes ecoles, in public administration (ENA, modeled after its French counterpart) and teacher training (ENS), are located in Abidjan. They supply a steady stream of civil servants and teachers for the government. ENA also has training courses for junior and mid-level government cadres. The best and brightest technocrats study at the grandes ecoles.

Côte d'Ivoire has approximately 90 government and 100 private high schools, the graduates of which are all eligible to attend the National University. Approximately 2,000 Ivorians teach English in these schools.

Various research institutes study coffee, cocoa, rubber, cotton, oils and oleaginous plants, forestry, and marine life to determine the best strains, growing conditions, control of natural enemies, efficient production, and processing techniques. African and U.S. institutions maintain close contact regarding research in these fields of research.

The National Museum, with a small but excellent collection of local art and artifacts, was renovated in 1988. Artisan training centers are located in Bingerville, Grand-Bassam, Daloa, Korhogo, and other places upcountry.

Because of Côte d'Ivoire's reputation for stability, the spending power of its elite, and the active nature of Abidjan's French Cultural Center, many African and European artists and entertainers appear here on a regular basis.

For art and objets d'art collectors, Abidjan has several small but well stocked private art and sculpture galleries which are frequented by both expatriates and elite Ivorians.

Writers and filmmakers are also viewed as important in defining a national ethos. Their views on society, as expressed in their works and in press interviews, are featured in the cultural sections of the newspapers and on television and radio.

Commerce and Industry

Since the colonial period, Côte d'Ivoire's economy has been based on the production and export of tropical products. Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries account for over one-third of GDP and two-thirds of exports. Côte d'Ivoire produces 35 to 40 percent of the world's cocoa crop every year and is a major exporter of bananas, coffee, cotton, palm oil, pineapples, rubber, tropical wood products, and tuna. The January 1994 devaluation of the CFA Franc and accompanying structural adjustment measures generally favored the agricultural sector by increasing competitiveness. However, reliance on raw cocoa and coffee exports, which account for 39 percent of total exports, exposes the economy to sharp price swings on world markets for these commodities. The government encourages export diversification and intermediate processing of cocoa beans to reduce this exposure. This policy has yielded results, processed cocoa exports were up 35 percent in 1997, with new processing plants coming on stream. Electricity exports to neighboring countries are also up sharply, and Côte d'Ivoire's oil refinery will soon expand its capacity to process (mostly Nigerian) crude oil for re-export.

By 1998, Côte d'Ivoire succeeded in straightening out its daunting debt problem, a legacy of its economic problems of the 1980s. Though Côte d'Ivoire got back on track with its official creditors, both bilateral (Paris Club) and multilateral (IMF and World Bank), resolution of its outstanding commercial bank debt was not completed until 1998, when Côte d'Ivoire signed a new 3-year IMF program. This IMF program allowed not only the commercial bank deal (London Club) to go forward, but also opened the door to the Paris Club rescheduling and Côte d'Ivoire's inclusion in the IMF/World Bank debt forgiveness initiative for highly-indebted poor countries (the HIPC initiative). All of these events, particularly the London Club deal, have reduced Côte d'Ivoire's public sector external debt from USD 16.2 billion at year-end 1997 to about USD 12.0 billion at year-end 1998. If Côte d'Ivoire adheres to the ambitious reforms required by the new IMF program, the HIPC initiative will provide additional debt forgiveness in 2001 by the Paris Club and, for the first time, the World Bank and IMF, thereby reducing the country's debt burden to about USD 9.1 billion.

Côte d'Ivoire's economic performance was impressive over the 1995-97 period. Real GDP growth was 7.1 percent in 1995, 6.8 percent in 1996 and 7.0 percent in 1997. The country has been meeting its IMF targets for growth, inflation, government finance, and balance of payments. Traditional commodity exports were boosted both by the devaluation and by higher world prices for cocoa and coffee (though improved prices in local currency terms were only partially passed through to farmers). At the same time, the devaluation and the generally favorable business environment produced growth in non-traditional crops, local processing of commodities and expansion of the service sector. In 1996, according to government statistics, inflation fell to only 3.5 percent, as the government continued to keep a tight lid both on salary increases and on the size of the public sector work force. In 1997, the consumer price index edged up to 5.2 percent.

Public sector finances are another bright spot: government revenues are on a strong upward trend since 1993, rising from 847 billion CFA in 1994 to 1,348 billion CFA in 1997. The stronger revenue picture, when combined with restraint on the spending side, has resulted in four years of primary surpluses (i.e., receipts minus expenditure, excluding borrowing and debt service). Following a concerted government repayment effort, domestic arrears had been virtually eliminated by the end of 1996. But lapses in controls on spending during 1997 caused delays in IMF approval of the new three-year plan (ESAF) until February-March 1998.

The outlook for the near and medium term in Côte d'Ivoire remains positive. The government hopes to attain double-digit real GDP growth. This goal appears achievable only in a best-case scenario, including continued or enhanced investment flows, additional oil or mineral production, and no drop in world commodity prices. Short of this optimistic scenario, a continuation of 6-7 percent growth for 1999 and 2000 appears likely. Absent a sharp drop in cocoa or coffee prices, there are no looming threats to the country's current boom.

It is important to bear in mind when considering these positive trends that Côte d'Ivoire remains a country confronted by a vast array of developmental problems and challenges: environmental, medical, demographic, educational and economic. Progress on all these fronts will depend on Côte d'Ivoire staying the course on its adjustment policies.


Trains run daily between major cities in Côte d'Ivoire.

Air Ivoire serves the country's principal cities. Airfares are very expensive. Tour rates are available for travel to points of interest within the country, and small planes are available for charter. Air travel to neighboring countries is expensive, heavily booked, and subject to numerous delays. Daily flights can be booked to many European capitals on European or African carriers. Air Afrique has the only direct flight to New York (with a stop in Dakar), twice a week, and offers special fares. Special group fares, between Abidjan and New York are available.

Taxis are plentiful in Abidjan, and metered by law. Fares are moderate, but double after midnight. An extensive bus and "bush-taxi" net-work operates in and around Abidjan. Buses, which tend to be crowded, are rarely used by Americans, except for some new air-conditioned express buses operating between hotels and the city.

Car rentals can be arranged easily on a daily or weekly basis, but they are fairly expensive.

A personal vehicle is necessary for those on extended assignment in Abidjan. Foreign cars can be shipped to Côte d'Ivoire, but customs clearance procedures should be initiated early. Practically all foreign cars can be purchased locally at favorable prices. Compact cars are preferable because of the high cost of gasoline. Third-party liability insurance, registration, and drivers' licenses are mandatory. Insurance is available locally from the American International Assurance Company, an affiliate of American International Insurance Underwriters, or Les Assurances Conseils.

Automobile makes sold and serviced locally include Fiat, all Japanese, all French and most German cars. American spare parts must be ordered from the U.S., and parts for European cars may have to be ordered from Paris. It is advisable to ship a supply from home before moving to Côte d'Ivoire.

Driving is on the right. The custom of yielding to the car on the right (priorité à droite ) prevails in the absence of traffic lights or posted stop signs. The high accident rate makes defensive driving necessary.

A national law requires that passengers wear seat belts and that children under 12 yrs. of age ride in the back seat.

Most roads in Abidjan are paved, and macadam roads lead to major towns throughout the Côte d'Ivoire. Secondary roads are laterite and become corrugated after heavy use. Other roads are little more than dirt paths, sometimes heavily rutted and dusty during the dry season, and slippery and treacherous during the rainy season. Occasional floods and washouts on roads outside Abidjan interrupt traffic for several days at a time. Heavy-duty vehicles are essential for trips into the more isolated areas.


Local telephone service is generally adequate. Direct-dial to most countries is available from home phones but is not recommended due to constant billing errors. It is recommended that travelers obtain an AT&T or MCI calling card since these are the only American calling card plans currently available in Cote d'Ivoire. Internet access is available through local service providers.

Airmail to or from the U.S. takes from one to two weeks. Packages can be sent and received by international mail, but it is time-consuming and involves considerable negotiation and completion of forms in French at the Post Office.

Radio and TV

Despite the increasing availability of satellite television, radio is still the most important medium in Côte d'Ivoire. Government-owned Radio Côte d'Ivoire broadcasts in French and several national languages on two FM frequencies. It also broadcasts a one-hour evening news program in English. The second station, Frequence II, plans to broadcast outside of Abidjan its mix of music and talk shows geared to a younger audience.

Radio Nostalgie, affiliated with a French network of the same name, broadcasts a 24-hour stereo mix of music on FM in Abidjan, with regular news headlines in French during the day. It is the most popular station in Abidjan. Radio France Internationale (RFI), which until recently was confined to short-wave, now relays its program of French news and features via a FM transmitter in Abidjan. The British Broadcasting Service (BBC) transmits on FM in Abidjan a mix of its London-based African service in French, some locally produced French language programming and selected world news and focus on Africa programs in English. Libreville, Gabon-based Africa Number 1 heretofore transmitted on short-wave now also transmits its popular French language programming on FM to Abidjan.

Short-wave remains the best vehicle for receiving international news in English. Most of the major international services, including the VOA and BBC, are heard clearly in Abidjan. A multiband set is advised. A 110v radio will require a transformer.

Ivorian television operates on two channels in Abidjan, one of which is seen in many interior towns. The program day generally begins at noon on the main channel, with continuing broadcasts on the weekends and some weekdays. Both channels operate each evening until around 11 pm. Programming consists mainly of news and special events, with reruns of old French and American TV programs and movies (dubbed in French), as well as some local programming and both foreign and domestic cultural programs. In addition, there is a private subscription television service, Canal Horizon, that features sports, current movies, and other programming in French 21 hours a day, as well as TV5, an international consortium that broadcasts programs produced in Francophone countries and regions worldwide. Local videos in both French and (some) English are also available for rent, mostly in the SECAM and PAL TV formats. To receive local TV broadcasts, as well as to view the wide range of videos available locally and within the American community (or sent from home), a multisystem TV set and VCR are recommended.

Satellite dish receivers are growing in popularity in Côte d'Ivoire, with hundreds installed on houses, apartment buildings, and businesses throughout Abidjan. Many signals, both coded and uncoded, are available in the skies overhead, including two French channels, CNN, BBC, Bop TV, and Worldnet/C-span, and M-NET.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Nine daily and a half-dozen principal newspapers are among the several dozen local French language publications produced in Abidjan. Focusing primarily on local news, most of them represent the views of a political party or party faction, although a few are independent. The dailies draw mainly from the wire services for their international news stories, mostly from Agence France Presse. The largest daily, the government controlled Fraternite Matin, offers the full range of news, sports, commentary, and human interest features, plus comic strips. The opposition daily Notre Voie offers similar, though more limited, coverage. Independent daily Le Jour offers the most balanced political reportage. A number of specialty newspapers and magazines cover fashion, sports, entertainment and the arts, restaurants and what's happening about town.

Several current American and British newspapers and news and specialty magazines, including the International Herald Tribune, the international editions of Time and Newsweek, and The Economist are available in Abidjan from bookstores, street kiosks, and from itinerant vendors. All of the major French newspapers and magazines are also available, as are other African and some Spanish, German, Italian, and Lebanese publications.

Subscriptions to U.S. magazines and newspapers arrive by pouch 2-3 weeks after their publication date.

Recently, an English language bookstore, The Book Shop, opened carrying a variety of periodicals, children's books, school supplies and various other items and selections that are comparable to U.S. prices. Bring a supply of books or join a book club to receive new books regularly. Book clubs should be notified that you are an overseas member with slow mail service.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Abidjan has the best medical facilities in West Africa. The Polyclinique Internationale de Ste. Anne Marie (PISAM), the hospital used most frequently by the American community, has a 24-hour emergency room, intensive care unit, dialysis, five surgical suites, x-ray and CT scan facilities. Most physicians have trained in France as well as Côte d'Ivoire. The hospital staff includes nearly all the major medical and surgical specialties.

Routine dental care can be found in Abidjan. Dental offices are modern and equipment sterile. There are several orthodontists. However, it is recommended that more elaborate dental work be done prior to arrival.

Eyeglasses and contact lenses are very expensive in Abidjan. It is advisable to bring at least two pairs of glasses and extra contacts and know the source from which more can be ordered.

There are modern pharmacies in Abidjan, but they carry chiefly French brand names. Persons taking medicines chronically should bring sufficient quantities from the U.S. When necessary, prescriptions can be sent to the U.S., but delivery through the mail is often slow. The Health Unit stocks essential medicines for treatment of acute illnesses, emergencies, and some tropical diseases.

Mental health needs are met by the regional psychiatrist. Counseling is available and is confidential. Medications are in limited supply at the Health Unit. Medications taken on a regular basis should be obtained from your psychiatrist/MD in the U.S.

Preventive Measures

Sub-Saharan Africa has 90% of the world's AIDS cases, 90% of the world's deaths from malaria, and a large portion of the world's deaths from dysentery. However, these problems can be avoided during a prolonged stay in the region. AIDS is contracted only by sexual contact and blood products, not by casual contact, preparing food, or courtesy kissing.

To prevent malaria, which has increased dramatically in the region during the past five years, prophylactic medications are taken routinely. Mefloquine (Lariam) taken weekly or doxycycline taken daily are extremely effective in preventing malarial illness. Doxycycline cannot be taken by pregnant women or children under nine years of age. Chloroquine with paludrine provides only about 65% protection and therefore cannot be recommended as a first choice. Mefloquine is started one week (two doses) before arrival and doxycycline is begun one day before arrival. Anti-malarials should be taken for four weeks after leaving the area, along with primaquine (if normal G6PD) to eradicate latent liver forms. Mosquito repellents containing greater than 17% DEET are recommended when outdoors.

All the infectious diarrheas can be avoided by proper food cleansing and water purification. Fresh vegetables must be washed in chlorinated water (one tablespoon 5% Clorox in one gallon of water) or cooked. Abidjan is a very modern city by West African standards, with adequate water and plumbing. Bottled water is also safe to drink.

Because of arising incidence of active tuberculosis, it is recommended that a skin test for tuberculosis (the PPD) be done annually for PPD-negative Americans stationed in Côte d'Ivoire. Persons who convert to a positive PPD, which indicates new tuberculosis infection, are treated with isoniazid for six to nine months. This treatment markedly reduces the risk of developing illness.

Most of the fresh water in Côte d'Ivoire contains schistosomiasis, a parasite which causes insidious problems in bowel and urinary function. For this reason, visitors should never swim in fresh water. The water in the many lagoons along the coast is sufficiently salinated to prevent schistosomiasis.

All West African countries require a yellow fever vaccination. Therefore, it is mandatory to have this vaccination before traveling to the region. In addition, vaccination against meningococcal meningitis, typhoid, hepatitis A and B, as well as the routine childhood vaccinations are recommended. The routine childhood vaccinations are available for the children of families assigned to Abidjan.

Roads in Côte d'Ivoire are some of the best in West Africa. But, as might be expected, good roads bring high speed driving, rush hour congestion, and accidents. It is important to bring car seats for children.

Abidjan is in the tropics. Sunblock should be brought and used liberally. The beaches are beautiful, but surf conditions demand constant vigilance of children. Rip tides and undertows make ocean swimming perilous, and drownings are distressingly common.

Abidjan is an enjoyable city. In spite of the health risks, good health can be maintained while living in Abidjan.


Passage, Customs and Duties

Vaccination against yellow fever is required to enter Côte d'Ivoire. Ivorian officials generally verify that appropriate inoculations have been obtained before issuing the initial entry visa. No rules cover the entry of cameras, perfume, tobacco, and liquor in accompanying baggage, but only reasonable amounts will be passed without question.

Travel within Côte d'Ivoire is unrestricted. However, the Ivorian Foreign Ministry requests notification whenever official travel of officers on the diplomatic list is contemplated upcountry. Travel to neighboring West African countries invariably requires a visa.

A passport is required. U.S. citizens traveling to Cote d'Ivoire for business or tourism do not require visas for stays of 90 days or less. For longer stays a visa or "carte de sejour" is required (NB: "cartes de sejour" are not issued to children under the age of 16; they are covered under their parents' "carte de sejour"). Travelers may obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, 2424 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 797-0300. There are honorary consulates for Cote d'Ivoire in San Francisco and Detroit. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Cote d'Ivoire embassy or consulate

U.S. citizens living in or visiting Cote d'Ivoire are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Cote d'Ivoire and obtain updated information on travel and security within Cote d'Ivoire. The U.S. Embassy is located in Abidjan at 5 Rue Jesse Owens, mailing address 01 B.P. 1712, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, telephone (225) 20-21-09-79, consular fax (225) 20-22-45-23, central fax (225) 20-22-32-59.

Special Note: Outside the American community in Abidjan, little English is spoken. A knowledge of French is essential for shopping, sight-seeing, and conducting business.


No quarantine or restriction on the importation of pets exists, but a veterinarian's certificate of rabies vaccination dated within 1 year of arrival and a recent certificate of good health should accompany the pet.

Do not schedule the arrival of unaccompanied pets on weekends, holidays, or after 7 pm, as the customs and transit agencies close at 8 pm. Pets arriving after normal working hours remain in the customs cargo shed until the next workday.

Côte d'Ivoire requires the payment of a 10% customs fee, and a 20% added value tax (TVA) on all pets under 6 months old. Taxes are determined by the Côte d'Ivoire Government, based on the value of the pet, or on the bill of sale for the animal.

Firearms and Ammunition

Ivorian regulations on the importation of firearms and ammunition have been undergoing revision for some time.

Indications are that one would be allowed to import firearms and ammunition, but that the paperwork could outweigh any benefits. Ranges and hunting clubs are virtually non-existent.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

Côte d'Ivoire is part of the franc zone. The CFA franc, the official currency of Côte d'Ivoire, is the currency of the Communaute Financiere Africaine, a financial grouping of the Francophone African countries. The CFA franc is fully convertible with the French franc at the rate of 100 CFA francs to 1 French franc. The average exchange rate in December 1999 was about 68 CFA to US $1.

The metric system is used for all weights and measures.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Mar/Apr. Easter Monday*

May 1 Labor Day

May/June Ascension Day*

May/June Pentecost*

May/June Pentecost Monday*

Nov. 15 National Peace Day

Dec. 7 Independence Day

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Mawlid an Nabi*

Tabaski (Id al-Adah*


Id al-Fitr*



The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:


Africa South of the Sahara. London:Europa Publications Ltd., published annually. See country survey on Côte d'Ivoire and also sections on background to the continent and regional organizations.

Berthelemy, Jean-Claude and Francois Bourguignon. Growth and Crisis in Côte d'Ivoire (World Bank

Boahen, Adu, with Ajayi, Jacob EAde and Tidy, Michael. Topics in West African History. White Plains, NY: Longman, 1986.

Campbell, W. Joseph. The Emergent Independent Press in Benin and Côte d'Ivoire: From Voice of the State to Advocate of Democracy. Praeger Publishing, 1998.

Chipman, John. French Power in Africa. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell, 1989.

Clark, John F. and David E. Gardiner, editors. Political Reform in Francophone Africa. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997.

Clarke, Peter B. West Africa and Islam. Baltimore: Edward Arnold, 1982.

Cohen, William. The French Encounter with Africans: White Responses to Blacks. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980.

Copson, Raymond W. Africa's Wars and Prospects for Peace. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1994

Gottlieb, Alma and Philip Graham. Parallel Worlds: An Anthropologist and a Writer Encounter Africa. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1993 Grootaert, Christiaan, et al. Analyzing Poverty and Policy Reform: The Experience of Côte d'Ivoire. Avebury, 1996.

Guerry, Vincent. Life With The Baoule. Washington, D.C.: Three Continents Press, 1975.

Handloff, Robert E., editor. Côte d'Ivoire: A Country Study. U.S. Government printing Office, 1991.

Harrison, Christopher. France and Islam in West Africa, 1860-1960. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Hiskett, Mervyn. The Development of Islam in West Africa. White Plains, NY. Longman, 1984.

Hudson, Peter. Leaf in the Wind: Travels in Africa. New York: Walker and Company, 1989.

Kummer, Patricia K. Côte d'Ivoire: Enchantment of the World (For school children ages 9-12). Children's Press, 1996.

Launay, Robert. Beyond the Stream: Islam and Society in a West African Town. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

McNamara, Francis Terry. France in Black Africa. Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1989.

Mundt, Robert J. Historical Dictionary of Côte d'Ivoire (African Historical Dictionaries, No. 41). 1995.

Naipaul, VS. "The Crocodiles of Yamoussoukro" in Finding the Center. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.

Newton, Alex. "Côte d'Ivoire" in The Lonely Planet, A Travel Survival Kit for West Africa. Third Edition. Hawthorne, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications, 1995.

Rapley, John. Ivoirien Capitalism: African Entrepreneurs in Côte d'Ivoire. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publications, 1993.

Reader, John. Africa: A Biography of the Continent. New York: Knopf, 1998.

Spindel, Carol. In the Shadow of the Sacred Grove. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.

Steiner, Christopher Burghard. African Art in Transit. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Vogel, Susan M. Battle: African Art Western Eyes. Yale University Press, 1997.

Zartman, I. William, editor. Governance as Conflict Management: Politics and Violence in West Africa, (especially Chapter 3 by Tessy D. Bakary). Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1997.

In French

Contamin, Bernard, and Harris

Memel Forte, editors. Le Modèle Ivorien en Questions. Paris: Editions Karthala, 1997.

Gbagbo, Laurent. Côte d'Ivoire: Agirpour les libertés. Paris: L Harmattan, 1991.

Richelieu, A. Mitterand. Les Francais en' Afriqûe Noire. Paris: Armand Colifi, 1987.

Web Sites




Ivory Coast

views updated Jun 27 2018

Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire)


322,460 sq km (124,502 sq mi)



capital (population):

Yamoussoukro (195,500)


Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Akan 41%, Kru 17%, Voltaic 16%, Malinke 15%, Southern Mande 10%


French (official)


Islam 38%, Christianity 28%, traditional beliefs 17%


CFA franc = 100 centimes

Republic in w Africa; the capital is Yamoussoukro. The se coast features lagoons enclosed by sandbars, on one of which the former capital and chief port of Abidjan is situated. Rocky cliffs line the sw coast. Coastal lowlands give way to a plateau. The nw highland borders with Liberia and Guinea are an extension of the Guinea Highlands.


Ivory Coast has a hot and humid tropical climate. The s has two distinct rainy seasons, May to July and October to November. Inland, rainfall decreases and the n has a dry season and only one rainy season.


Rainforests once covered the s lowlands, but much of the land has been cleared for farming. Tropical savanna covers the plateau, and forests occupy much of the Guinea Highlands.

History and politics

European contact with the region dates back to the late 15th century, and trade in ivory and slaves soon became important. French trading posts were founded in the late 17th century, and Ivory Coast became a French colony in 1893. From 1895 Ivory Coast was governed as part of French West Africa, a massive union that also included modern-day Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal. In 1958 Ivory Coast voted to remain within the French Community, but achieved full independence in 1960. Its first president, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, was the longest-serving African head of state, with an uninterrupted 33-year presidency until his death in 1993. He was a paternalistic, pro-Western leader. His dialogue with South Africa's apartheid government enraged many fellow African states. In 1983, the National Assembly agreed to move the capital from Abidjan to Yamoussoukro, the president's birthplace, but economic setbacks delayed the completion of the transfer, and government offices remained in Abidjan until 1990. Civil unrest continued throughout the 1980s and led to the adoption of a new constitution (1990) that legalized opposition parties. Henri Konan Bédié succeeded Houphouët-Boigny. Re-elected in 1995, Bédié was deposed in a military coup led by General Robert Guei. Laurent Gbagbo became president in 2000 elections. The disputed result renewed civil unrest.


Agriculture employs c.66% of the workforce and accounts for c.50% of Ivory Coast's exports. Ivory Coast is the world's largest producer of cocoa beans and fourth-largest producer of coffee (2000 GDP per capita, US$1600). Other exports include cotton, bananas, palm oil, pineapples, and hardwoods. Food crops include cassava, rice and yams. Manufactures include fertilizers, refined oil, textiles, and timber.

Political map

Physical map