Cote d'Ivoire -- Geography --
Official Name: Republic of Cote d'Ivoire
Official language: French
Official Currency: West African CFA franc
Religions: Islam is the plurality religion, practiced by approximately 38.6 percent of the
country's population; the Christian community represents 32.8 percent of the population; 11.9 percent
population maintain Indigenous beliefs; and 16.7 percent hold no religious beliefs.
Population: 18 373 060; density - 56/km2
Land Area: In total, Cote d'Ivoire
comprises 322,460 km2, which makes the country about the size of Germany.
Cote d'Ivoire (the Ivory Coast) is a country in southern West Africa and borders the Gulf of
Guinea in the north Atlantic Ocean to the south (515 km of coastline) and five other African
nations on the other three sides: Liberia to the southwest, Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso to
the northwest, to the north-northwest and Ghana to the east.
Cote d'Ivoire's terrain can
generally be described as a large plateau rising gradually from sea level in the south to almost
500 m elevation in the north. The highest elevation is Mount Nimba at 1,752 metres , located in
the Dan mountains in the far west of the country along the border with Guinea and Liberia.
Climat: The climate of Cote d'Ivoire is generally warm and humid, ranging from equatorial
in the southern coasts to tropical in the middle and semiarid in the far north. There are three
seasons: warm and dry (November to March), hot and dry (March to May), and hot and wet (June to
October). Temperatures average between 25 and 32 °C and range from 10 to 40 °C.
The country consists of a coastal strip in the south, dense forests in the interior, and savannas
in the north.
Cote d'Ivoire -- History --
Cote d'Ivoire was originally made up of numerous isolated settlements; today it
represents more than sixty distinct tribes, including the Baoule, Bete, Senoufou, Agni, Malinke,
Dan, and Lobi.
Cote d'Ivoire attracted both French and Portuguese merchants in the 15th century who were in
search of ivory and slaves. French traders set up establishments early in the 19th century, and
in 1842, the French obtained territorial concessions from local tribes, gradually extending their
influence along the coast and inland. The area was organized as a French colony in 1893 under
the name “Cote d'Ivoire”.
After World War II, in 1958, it became an autonomous republic in the French Union.
The Country achieved independence on Aug. 7, 1960.
In 1986 the government decided, that the official name of the country should not be translated
in other languages and since then most countries in the world call the African country “Cote
d'Ivoire”, instead of Ivory coast.
Cote d'Ivoire -- Economy --
The nation's economy is one of the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa.
It is the world's largest exporter of cocoa and one of the largest exporters of coffee and
palm oil. Nearly 40% of the international export of cocoa comes from Cote d'Ivoire.
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 and related activities, which engage roughly 68% of
Fishing is also an important part of Ivoirian economy. 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
By developing country standards, Cote d'Ivoire has an outstanding infrastructure. There is a
network of more than 55,000km of roads, 13,000 km of them are paved; modern telecommunications
services, including a public data communications network; cellular phones and Internet access;
two active ports, one of which, Abidjan, is the most European in West Africa; 660 km of rail
roads and rail links-in the process of being upgraded-both within the country and to Burkina Faso;
regular air service within the region and to and from Europe; Cote d'Ivoire's location and
connections to neighboring countries makes it a preferred platform from which Europeans conduct
West African business operations.
Foreign direct investment plays a key role in the Ivorian economy, accounting for between 40%
and 45% of total capital in Ivorian firms. France is overwhelmingly the most important foreign
investor. In recent years, French investment has accounted for about one-quarter of the total
capital in Ivorian enterprises, and between 55% and 60% of the total stock of foreign investment
Cote d'Ivoire -- Culture --
The culture of Cote d'Ivoire is ethnically diverse. More than sixty indigenous
ethnic groups are often cited, although this number may be reduced to seven clusters of ethnic
groups by classifying small units together on the basis of common cultural and historical
characteristics. The diverse culture of the Cote d’Ivoire is exemplified by a multitude of ethnic
groups, events and festivals, music, and art.
Events and Festivals: The Fetes des Masques, held in November in the region of Man (Festival of
Masks) is one of the Cote d’Ivoire’s biggest and most well known festivals. Another important event
is the week long carnival in Bouake each March.
The major Muslim holiday is Ramadan, a month (around December) when everyone fasts between sunup
and sunset in accordance with the fourth pillar of Islam. Ramadan ends with a huge feast, Eid al-Fitr,
where everyone prays together, visits friends, gives presents and stuffs themselves.
Food: The traditional diet in Cote d'Ivoire is very similar to that of neighboring countries in
its reliance on grains and tubers, but the Ivorians have a particular kind of small, open-air
restaurant called a maquis which is unique to them. Attieke (grated cassava) is a popular Cote
d'Ivoirian side dish.
Music: The traditional music style of many of the ethnic groups of the Cote d’Ivoire is
characterized by a series of rhythms and melodies that occur simultaneously, without one
dominating the other. Music is used in many aspects of the culture; The Dan celebrate Rice,
Death, Marriage, Birth, and Weather all with music.
Art: Masks are a prevalent art form in the Cote d’Ivoire. The variety and intricacy of masks
created by the people of the Cote d’Ivoire is rivaled by none. Masks have many purposes; they
are used mostly for representative reason; they can symbolize lesser deities, the souls of the
deceased, and even caricatures of animals. They are considered sacred and very dangerous; as
such, only certain powerful individuals and families are permitted to own them, and only specially
trained individuals may wear the masks. It is dangerous for others to wear ceremonial masks
because each mask has a soul, or life force, and when a person's face comes in contact with the
inside of the mask that person is transformed into the entity the mask represents.
Ethnic Groups: There are more than 60 ethnic groups in the Cote d’Ivoire. Each of these groups
has their own history, economy, religion, and art, although each shares many things in common
with the other groups of the Cote d’Ivoire. Migrants from other West African countries account
for up to 40% of the population, and this large population also adds to the culture and customs.
Cote d'Ivoire -- Political system, law and government --
The Politics of Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) takes place in a framework of
a presidential republic, whereby the President of Cote d'Ivoire is both head of state and head
of government, and of a multi-party system.
Cote d'Ivoire's 1959 constitution provides for strong presidency within the framework of a
separation of powers.
Executive branch: Executive power is personified in the president, elected for a five-year term,
and is exercised by the government. The current president of Cote d’Ivoire is Laurent Gbagbo
(since 2000). The president is commander in chief of the armed forces, may negotiate and ratify
certain treaties, and may submit a bill to a national referendum or to the National Assembly.
The cabinet is selected by and is responsible to the president. The prime minister is usually
appointed by the president. The present prime minister(Guillaume Soro) is appointed by the
international community (South African President Jacob Zuma, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
and Niger President Mamadu Tandja.) as transitional Prime Minister following a resolution of the
UN Security Council and a resolution of the African Union.
Legislative branch: Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The
parliament – the National Assembly (Assemblee Nationale) has 225 members, elected for a five
year term in single-seat constituencies. It passes on legislation typically introduced by the
president although it also can introduce legislation. Cote d'Ivoire is a one party dominant
state with the Ivorian People's Front in power.
Judicial branch: The judicial system culminates in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court or Cour
Supreme consists of four chambers: Judicial Chamber for criminal cases, Audit Chamber for
financial cases, Constitutional Chamber for judicial review cases, and Administrative Chamber
for civil cases; there is no legal limit to the number of members.
Administrative divisions: For administrative purposes, Cote d'Ivoire is divided into 58
departments, each headed by a prefect appointed by the central government. There are 196
communes, each headed by an elected mayor, plus the city of Abidjan with ten mayors.
The major cities are Abidjan(3,310,500), Bouake(775,300), Daloa(489,100), Yamoussoukro(295,500),
Korhogo(163,400), San Pedro(151,600), Divo(134,200).
The official capital since 1983 is Yamoussoukro; however, Abidjan remains the administrative
center. Most countries maintain their embassies in Abidjan, although some (including the United
Kingdom) have closed their missions because of the continuing violence and attacks on Europeans.
The population continues to suffer because of an ongoing civil war. International human rights
organizations have noted problems with the treatment of captive non-combatants by both sides and
the re-emergence of child slavery among workers in cocoa production.