Côte d'Ivoire

Info

Capital

Yamoussoukro

Population

22,400,835 (July 2013 est.)

Climate

Tropical

Currency

513.1 XOF = 1 USD (Dec. 2012 est.)

Important Cities

Abidjan, Bouake, Korhogo, Gagnoa

Area

322,463 sq.km.

People

Nationality

Ivoirian

Major Peoples

Akan, Akye, Anyi, Aowin, Baule, Dan, Diomande, Lobi, Senufo, We

Religion

Muslim 38.6%, Christian 32.8%, African 11.9%, none 16.7% (2008 est.)

Literacy

56.2%

Principal Language

Dioula, Agni, Baule, Kru, Senufo, Mandinka

Official Language

French

Politics

Head Of State

Alassane Dramane Ouattara (since 2010)

Type of Government

Republic

Date of Independence

August 7, 1960

Major Exports

Coffee, Cocoa, Banana, Pineapple, Palm Oil, Cotton, Fish, Tropical Wood

Precolonial History

Côte d’Ivoire was inhabited in the Neolithic era and possibly earlier, although the humid climate has effaced most traces of the country’s earliest civilizations. Portuguese explorers arrived in the early 1600s, and French missionaries landed near the Gold Coast (Ghana) border in 1637. European contact was limited until the 19th century, mainly due to inhospitable geography along the coastline. Akan peoples fleeing the Asante Empire in Ghana invaded the area in the 1750s, and are the largest ethnic group in Côte d’Ivoire today. In 1843—44, France sent Admiral Bouët-Willaumez to sign a treaty with the local kings and establish a protectorate. The colony became part of French West Africa and was governed from Paris until the end of World War II. Félix Houphouët-Boigny founded the first indigenous political party in 1944 (Syndicat Agricole Africain) and later its offshoot, the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d’Ivoire. He became the country’s first president when France ceded control in 1960.

Postcolonial History

After independence, Houphouët-Boigny maintained political and economic stability in Côte d’Ivoire and was re-elected until his death in 1993. The country suffered from an economic decline under the new president, Henri Konan Bédié. In 1999, Bédié was overthrown by a military junta led by General Robert Guéï. Guéï agreed to hold democratic elections the following year. Laurent Gbagbo of the Front Populaire Ivoirien was elected president in 2000, initiating a decade of civil war between the government at Abidjan and rebel groups in the north, led by Guillaume Soro. The U.N. persuaded Gbagbo to hold new elections in 2010, but he refused to cede power when defeated by Alassane Ouattara, the candidate supported by the U.N. and western powers. Gbagbo was deposed with the assistance of the French army in 2011, and many of his supporters are now in exile. Ouattara and his party, the Rassemblement des Républicains, remain in office.

Recommended Sources:

Embassy of the United States, “Summary of Ivoirian History,” (http://abidjan.usembassy.gov/summary_of_ivoirian_history.html).

Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, “A Country Study: The Ivory Coast,” 2010 (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/citoc.html).