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|Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
République de Côte d'Ivoire
|Motto: "Union – Discipline – Travail" (French)
"Unity – Discipline – Work"
Song of Abidjan
|Ethnic groups (1998)|
|-||Prime Minister||Daniel Kablan Duncan|
|-||from France||7 August 1960|
|-||Total||322,463 km2 (69th)
124,502 sq mi
|-||2009 estimate||20,617,068 (56th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2012 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2012 estimate|
|HDI (2013)|| 0.432
low · 168th
|Currency||West African CFA franc (
|Time zone||GMT (UTC+0)|
|-||Summer (DST)||not observed (UTC+0)|
|Drives on the||right|
|ISO 3166 code||CI|
|a.||Including approximately 130,000 Lebanese and 14,000 French people.|
|Estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in a lower total population than might otherwise be expected.|
Ivory Coast (i/ /) or Côte d'Ivoire (i/ /; French: [kot divwaʁ] ( )), officially the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire (French: République de Côte d'Ivoire), is a country in West Africa. It has an area of 322,462 square kilometres (124,503 sq mi), and borders the countries Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana; its southern boundary is along the Gulf of Guinea. The country's population was 15,366,672 in 1998 and was estimated to be 20,617,068 in 2009. Ivory Coast's first national census in 1975 counted 6.7 million inhabitants.
Prior to its colonization by Europeans, Ivory Coast was home to several states, including Gyaaman, the Kong Empire, and Baoulé. There were two Anyi kingdoms, Indénié and Sanwi, which attempted to retain their separate identity through the French colonial period and after independence. An 1843–1844 treaty made Ivory Coast a protectorate of France and in 1893, it became a French colony as part of the European scramble for Africa. Ivory Coast became independent on 7 August 1960. From 1960 to 1993, the country was led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny. It maintained close political and economic association with its West African neighbours, while at the same time maintaining close ties to the West, especially to France. Since the end of Houphouët-Boigny's rule, Ivory Coast has experienced one coup d’état, in 1999, and a civil war, which broke out in 2002. A political agreement between the government and the rebels brought a return to peace.
Ivory Coast is a republic with a strong executive power invested in the President of Ivory Coast. Its de jure capital is Yamoussoukro and the biggest city is the port city of Abidjan. The country is divided into 19 regions and 81 departments. It is a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, African Union, La Francophonie, Latin Union, Economic Community of West African States and South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone. Through production of coffee and cocoa, the country was an economic powerhouse during the 1960s and 1970s in West Africa. However, Ivory Coast went through an economic crisis in the 1980s, leading to the country's period of political and social turmoil. The 21st century Ivoirian economy is largely market-based and relies heavily on agriculture, with smallholder cash crop production being dominant.
The official language is French, although many of the local languages are widely used, including Baoulé, Dioula, Dan, Anyin and Cebaara Senufo. The main religions are Islam, Christianity (primarily Roman Catholic) and various indigenous religions.
Portuguese and French merchant-explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries divided the west coast of Africa, very roughly, into five coasts reflecting local economies. The coast that the French named the Côte d'Ivoire and the Portuguese named the Costa do Marfim—both, literally, being "Ivory Coast"—lay between what was known as the Guiné de Cabo Verde, so-called "Upper Guinea" at Cabo Verde, and Lower Guinea. There were also a "Grain Coast", a "Gold Coast", and a "Slave Coast", and, like those three, the name "Ivory Coast" reflected the major trade that occurred on that particular stretch of the coast: the export of ivory.
Other names for the coast of ivory included the Côte de Dents,
The coastline of the modern state is not quite coterminous with what the 15th and 16th century merchants knew as the "Teeth" or "Ivory" coast, which was considered to stretch from Cape Palmas to Cape Three Points and which is thus now divided between the modern states of Ghana and Ivory Coast (with a minute portion of Liberia). But it retained the name through French rule and independence in 1960. The name had long since been translated literally into other languages[n 3] which the post-independence government considered to be increasingly troublesome whenever its international dealings extended beyond the Francophone sphere. Therefore, in April 1986, the government declared Côte d'Ivoire (or, more fully, République de Côte d'Ivoire) to be its formal name for the purposes of diplomatic protocol, and officially refuses to recognize or accept any translation from French to another language in its international dealings.
The first human presence in Ivory Coast has been difficult to determine because human remains have not been well preserved in the country's humid climate. However, the presence of newly found weapon and tool fragments (specifically, polished axes cut through shale and remnants of cooking and fishing) has been interpreted as a possible indication of a large human presence during the Upper Paleolithic period (15,000 to 10,000 BC), or at the minimum, the Neolithic period.
The earliest known inhabitants of Ivory Coast have left traces scattered throughout the territory. Historians believe that they were all either displaced or absorbed by the ancestors of the present indigenous inhabitants, who migrated south into the area before the 16th century. Such groups included the Ehotilé (
The first recorded history is found in the chronicles of North African (Sudanic empires developed.
By controlling the trade routes with their powerful military forces, these empires were able to dominate neighbouring states. The Sudanic empires also became centres of Islamic education. Islam had been introduced in the western Sudan (today's Mali) by Muslim Berber traders from North Africa; it spread rapidly after the conversion of many important rulers. From the eleventh century, by which time the rulers of the Sudanic empires had embraced Islam, it spread south into the northern areas of contemporary Ivory Coast.
The Ghana empire, the earliest of the Sudanic empires, flourished in present-day eastern Mauritania from the fourth to the thirteenth century. At the peak of its power in the eleventh century, its realms extended from the Atlantic Ocean to Timbuctu. After the decline of Ghana, the Mali Empire grew into a powerful Muslim state, which reached its apogee in the early part of the fourteenth century. The territory of the Mali Empire in Ivory Coast was limited to the north-west corner around Odienné.
Its slow decline starting at the end of the fourteenth century followed internal discord and revolts by vassal states, one of which, Songhai, flourished as an empire between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. Songhai was also weakened by internal discord, which led to factional warfare. This discord spurred most of the migrations of peoples southward toward the forest belt. The dense rain forest, covering the southern half of the country, created barriers to the large-scale political organizations that had arisen in the north. Inhabitants lived in villages or clusters of villages; their contacts with the outside world were filtered through long-distance traders. Villagers subsisted on agriculture and hunting.
Five important states flourished in Ivory Coast in the pre-European era. The Muslim Kong Empire was established by the Juula in the early eighteenth century in the north-central region inhabited by the Sénoufo, who had fled Islamization under the Mali Empire. Although Kong became a prosperous center of agriculture, trade, and crafts, ethnic diversity and religious discord gradually weakened the kingdom. The city of Kong was destroyed in 1895 by Samori Ture.
The Abron kingdom of Gyaaman was established in the seventeenth century by an Akan group, the Abron, who had fled the developing Ashanti confederation of Asanteman in what is present-day Ghana. From their settlement south of Bondoukou, the Abron gradually extended their hegemony over the Dyula people in Bondoukou, who were recent émigrés from the market city of Begho. Bondoukou developed into a major centre of commerce and Islam. The kingdom's Quranic scholars attracted students from all parts of West Africa. In the mid-seventeenth century in east-central Ivory Coast, other Akan groups' fleeing the Asante established a Baoulé kingdom at Sakasso and two Agni kingdoms, Indénié and Sanwi.
The Baoulé, like the Ashanti, developed a highly centralized political and administrative structure under three successive rulers. It finally split into smaller chiefdoms. Despite the breakup of their kingdom, the Baoulé strongly resisted French subjugation. The descendants of the rulers of the Agni kingdoms tried to retain their separate identity long after Ivory Coast's independence; as late as 1969, the Sanwi attempted to break away from Ivory Coast and form an independent kingdom. The current king of Sanwi is Nana Amon Ndoufou V (since 2002).
Compared to neighbouring Ghana, Ivory Coast suffered little from the slave trade, as European slaving and merchant ships preferred other areas along the coast with better harbours. The earliest recorded European voyage to West Africa was made by the Portuguese and took place in 1482. The first West African French settlement, Saint Louis, was founded in the mid-seventeenth century in Senegal while, at about the same time, the Dutch ceded to the French a settlement at Goree Island off Dakar. A French mission was established in 1637 Assinie near the border with the Gold Coast (now Ghana).
Assinie's survival was precarious, however. It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that the French were firmly established in Ivory Coast. In 1843–1844, French admiral Bouët-Willaumez signed treaties with the kings of the Grand Bassam and Assinie regions, placing their territories under a French protectorate. French explorers, missionaries, trading companies, and soldiers gradually extended the area under French control inland from the lagoon region. Pacification was not accomplished until 1915.
Activity along the coast stimulated European interest in the interior, especially along the two great rivers, the Senegal and the Niger. Concerted French exploration of West Africa began in the mid-nineteenth century but moved slowly, based more on individual initiative than on government policy. In the 1840s, the French concluded a series of treaties with local West African rulers that enabled the French to build fortified posts along the Gulf of Guinea to serve as permanent trading centres.
The first posts in Ivory Coast included one at Assinie and another at Grand Bassam, which became the colony's first capital. The treaties provided for French sovereignty within the posts, and for trading privileges in exchange for fees or coutumes paid annually to the local rulers for the use of the land. The arrangement was not entirely satisfactory to the French, because trade was limited and misunderstandings over treaty obligations often arose. Nevertheless, the French government maintained the treaties, hoping to expand trade.
France also wanted to maintain a presence in the region to stem the increasing influence of the British along the Gulf of Guinea coast. The French built naval bases to keep out non-French traders and began a systematic conquest of the interior. (They accomplished this only after a long war in the 1890s against Mandinka forces, mostly from Gambia. Guerrilla warfare by the Baoulé and other eastern groups continued until 1917).
The defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 and the subsequent annexation by Germany of the French province of Alsace Lorraine caused the French government to abandon its colonial ambitions and withdraw its military garrisons from its French West African trading posts, leaving them in the care of resident merchants. The trading post at Grand Bassam in Ivory Coast was left in the care of a shipper from Marseille, Arthur Verdier, who in 1878 was named Resident of the Establishment of Ivory Coast.
In 1886, to support its claims of effective occupation, France again assumed direct control of its West African coastal trading posts and embarked on an accelerated program of exploration in the interior. In 1887 Lieutenant Louis Gustave Binger began a two-year journey that traversed parts of Ivory Coast's interior. By the end of the journey, he had concluded four treaties establishing French protectorates in Ivory Coast. Also in 1887, Verdier's agent, Marcel Treich-Laplène, negotiated five additional agreements that extended French influence from the headwaters of the Niger River Basin through Ivory Coast.
By the end of the 1880s, France had established what passed for control over the coastal regions of Ivory Coast, and in 1889 Britain recognized French sovereignty in the area. That same year, France named Treich-Laplène titular governor of the territory. In 1893 Ivory Coast was made a French colony, and then Captain Binger was appointed governor. Agreements with Liberia in 1892 and with Britain in 1893 determined the eastern and western boundaries of the colony, but the northern boundary was not fixed until 1947 because of efforts by the French government to attach parts of Upper Volta (present-day Burkina Faso) and French Sudan (present-day Mali) to Ivory Coast for economic and administrative reasons.
France's main goal was to stimulate the production of exports. Coffee, cocoa and palm oil crops were soon planted along the coast. Ivory Coast stood out as the only West African country with a sizeable population of settlers; elsewhere in West and Central Africa, the French and British were largely bureaucrats. As a result, French citizens owned one third of the cocoa, coffee and banana plantations and adopted a forced-labour system.
Throughout the early years of French rule, French military contingents were sent inland to establish new posts. Some of the native population resisted French penetration and settlement. Among those offering greatest resistance was Samori Ture, who in the 1880s and 1890s was establishing the Wassoulou Empire, which extended over large parts of present-day Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast. Samori Ture's large, well-equipped army, which could manufacture and repair its own firearms, attracted strong support throughout the region. The French responded to Samori Ture's expansion of regional control with military pressure. French campaigns against Samori Ture, which were met with fierce resistance, intensified in the mid-1890s until he was captured in 1898.
France's imposition of a head tax in 1900 to support the colony in a public works program, provoked a number of revolts. Ivoirians viewed the tax as a violation of the terms of the protectorate treaties, because they thought that France was demanding the equivalent of a coutume from the local kings, rather than the reverse. Much of the population, especially in the interior, considered the tax a humiliating symbol of submission. In 1905, the French officially abolished slavery in most of French West Africa.
From 1904 to 1958, Ivory Coast was a constituent unit of the Federation of French West Africa. It was a colony and an overseas territory under the Third Republic. Until the period following World War II, governmental affairs in French West Africa were administered from Paris. France's policy in West Africa was reflected mainly in its philosophy of "association", meaning that all Africans in Ivory Coast were officially French "subjects", but without rights to representation in Africa or France.
French colonial policy incorporated concepts of assimilation and association. Based on an assumption of the superiority of French culture over all others, in practice the assimilation policy meant extension of the French language, institutions, laws, and customs in the colonies. The policy of association also affirmed the superiority of the French in the colonies, but it entailed different institutions and systems of laws for the colonizer and the colonized. Under this policy, the Africans in Ivory Coast were allowed to preserve their own customs insofar as they were compatible with French interests.
An indigenous elite trained in French administrative practice formed an intermediary group between the French and the Africans. Assimilation was practiced in Ivory Coast to the extent that after 1930, a small number of Westernized Ivoirians were granted the right to apply for French citizenship. Most Ivoirians, however, were classified as French subjects and were governed under the principle of association. As subjects of France, they had no political rights. They were drafted for work in mines, on plantations, as porters, and on public projects as part of their tax responsibility. They were expected to serve in the military and were subject to the indigénat, a separate system of law.
In World War II, the Vichy regime remained in control until 1943, when members of General Charles de Gaulle's provisional government assumed control of all French West Africa. The Brazzaville Conference of 1944, the first Constituent Assembly of the Fourth Republic in 1946, and France's gratitude for African loyalty during World War II led to far-reaching governmental reforms in 1946. French citizenship was granted to all African "subjects," the right to organize politically was recognized, and various forms of forced labour were abolished.
Until 1958, governors appointed in Paris administered the colony of Ivory Coast, using a system of direct, centralized administration that left little room for Ivoirian participation in policy making. Whereas British colonial administration adopted divide-and-rule policies elsewhere, applying ideas of assimilation only to the educated elite, the French were interested in ensuring that the small but influential elite was sufficiently satisfied with the status quo to refrain from any anti-French sentiment. Although strongly opposed to the practices of association, educated Ivoirians believed that they would achieve equality with their French peers through assimilation rather than through complete independence from France. But, after the assimilation doctrine was implemented entirely through the postwar reforms, Ivoirian leaders realized that even assimilation implied the superiority of the French over the Ivoirians, and that discrimination and political inequality would end only with independence.
The son of a Baoulé chief, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, was to become Ivory Coast's father of independence. In 1944 he formed the country's first agricultural trade union for African cocoa farmers like himself. Angered that colonial policy favoured French plantation owners, they united to recruit migrant workers for their own farms. Houphouët-Boigny soon rose to prominence and within a year was elected to the French Parliament in Paris. A year later the French abolished forced labour. Houphouët-Boigny established a strong relationship with the French government, expressing a belief that the country would benefit from it, which it did for many years. France appointed him as the first African to become a minister in a European government.
A turning point in relations with France was reached with the 1956 Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre), which transferred a number of powers from Paris to elected territorial governments in French West Africa and also removed remaining voting inequalities. In 1958, Ivory Coast became an autonomous member of the French Community (which replaced the French Union).
At the time of Ivory Coast's independence (1960), the country was easily French West Africa's most prosperous, contributing over 40% of the region's total exports. When Houphouët-Boigny became the first president, his government gave farmers good prices for their products to further stimulate production. This was further boosted by a significant immigration of workers from surrounding countries. Coffee production increased significantly, catapulting Ivory Coast into third place in world output (behind Brazil and Colombia). By 1979, the country was the world's leading producer of cocoa.
It also became Africa's leading exporter of pineapples and palm oil. French technicians contributed to the 'Ivoirian miracle'. In other African nations, the people drove out the Europeans following independence; but in Ivory Coast, they poured in. The French community grew from only 30,000 prior to independence to 60,000 in 1980, most of them teachers, managers and advisors. For 20 years, the economy maintained an annual growth rate of nearly 10%—the highest of Africa's non-oil-exporting countries.
Houphouët-Boigny's one-party rule was not amenable to political competition. Laurent Gbagbo, who would be the president of Ivory Coast in 2000, had to flee as he incurred the ire of Houphouët-Boigny when Gbagbo founded the Front Populair Ivoirien. Houphouët-Boigny banked on his broad appeal to the population who continually elected him. He was also criticized for his emphasis on developing large scale projects. Many felt the millions of dollars spent transforming his home village, Yamoussoukro, into the new capital that it became, were wasted; others support his vision to develop a centre for peace, education and religion in the heart of the country. But in the early 1980s, the world recession and a local drought sent shock waves through the Ivoirian economy. Due to the overcutting of timber and collapsing sugar prices, the country's external debt increased threefold. Crime rose dramatically in Abidjan.
In 1990, hundreds of civil servants went on strike, joined by students protesting institutional corruption. The unrest forced the government to support multi-party democracy. Houphouët-Boigny became increasingly feeble and died in 1993. He favoured Henri Konan Bédié as his successor.
In October 1995, Bédié overwhelmingly won re-election against a fragmented and disorganised opposition. He tightened his hold over political life, jailing several hundred opposition supporters. In contrast, the economic outlook improved, at least superficially, with decreasing inflation and an attempt to remove foreign debt.
Unlike Houphouët-Boigny, who was very careful in avoiding any ethnic conflict and left access to administrative positions open to immigrants from neighbouring countries, Bedié emphasized the concept of "Ivority" (French: Ivoirité) to exclude his rival Alassane Ouattara, who had two northern Ivorian parents, from running for future presidential election. As people originating from foreign countries are a large part of the Ivoirian population, this policy excluded many people from Ivoirian nationality, and the relationship between various ethnic groups became strained which resulted in two civil wars in the following decades.
Similarly, Bédié excluded many potential opponents from the army. In late 1999, a group of dissatisfied officers staged a military coup, putting General Robert Guéï in power. Bédié fled into exile in France. The new leadership reduced crime and corruption, and the generals pressed for austerity and openly campaigned in the streets for a less wasteful society.
A presidential election was held in October 2000 in which Laurent Gbagbo vied with Guéï, but it was peaceful. The lead-up to the election was marked by military and civil unrest. Following a public uprising that resulted in around 180 deaths, Guéï was swiftly replaced by Gbagbo. Alassane Ouattara was disqualified by the country's Supreme Court, due to his alleged Burkinabé nationality. The existing and later reformed constitution [under Guéï] did not allow non-citizens to run for presidency. This sparked violent protests in which his supporters, mainly from the country's north, battled riot police in the capital, Yamoussoukro.
In the early hours of 19 September 2002, while the President was in Italy, there was an armed uprising. Troops who were to be demobilised mutinied, launching attacks in several cities. The battle for the main gendarmerie barracks in Abidjan lasted until mid-morning, but by lunchtime the government forces had secured the main city, Abidjan. They had lost control of the north of the country, and the rebel forces made their stronghold in the northern city of Bouake. The rebels threatened to move on Abidjan again and France deployed troops from its base in the country to stop any rebel advance. The French said they were protecting their own citizens from danger, but their deployment also aided the government forces. It was not established as a fact that the French were helping either side but each side accused them of being on the opposite side. It is disputed as to whether the French actions improved or worsened the situation in the long term.
What exactly happened that night is disputed. The government claimed that former president Robert Guéï had led a coup attempt, and state TV showed pictures of his dead body in the street; counter-claims stated that he and fifteen others had been murdered at his home and his body had been moved to the streets to incriminate him. Alassane Ouattara took refuge in the French embassy; his home had burned down.
President Gbagbo cut short his trip to Italy and on his return stated, in a television address, that some of the rebels were hiding in the shanty towns where foreign migrant workers lived. Gendarmes and vigilantes bulldozed and burned homes by the thousands, attacking the residents.
An early ceasefire with the rebels, which had the backing of much of the northern populace, proved short-lived, and fighting over the prime cocoa-growing areas resumed. France sent in troops to maintain the cease-fire boundaries, and militias, including warlords and fighters from Liberia and Sierra Leone, took advantage of the crisis to seize parts of the west.
In January 2003, Gbagbo and rebel leaders signed accords creating a "government of national unity". Curfews were lifted and French troops patrolled the western border of the country. The unity government was unstable and the central problems remained with neither side achieving its goals. In March 2004, 120 people were killed in an opposition rally, and subsequent mob violence led to foreign nationals being evacuated. A later report concluded the killings were planned.
Though UN peacekeepers were deployed to maintain a Zone of Confidence, relations between Gbagbo and the opposition continued to deteriorate.
Early in November 2004, after the peace agreement had effectively collapsed following the rebels' refusal to disarm, Gbagbo ordered airstrikes against the rebels. During one of these airstrikes in Bouaké, on 6 November 2004, French soldiers were hit and nine were killed; the Ivorian government has said it was a mistake, but the French have claimed it was deliberate. They responded by destroying most Ivoirian military aircraft (2 Su-25 planes and 5 helicopters), and violent retaliatory riots against the French broke out in Abidjan.
Gbagbo's original mandate as president expired on 30 October 2005, but due to the lack of disarmament it was deemed impossible to hold an election, and therefore his term in office was extended for a maximum of one year, according to a plan worked out by the African Union; this plan was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. With the late October deadline approaching in 2006, it was regarded as very unlikely that the election would be held by that point, and the opposition and the rebels rejected the possibility of another term extension for Gbagbo. The UN Security Council endorsed another one-year extension of Gbagbo's term on 1 November 2006; however, the resolution provided for the strengthening of Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny's powers. Gbagbo said the next day that elements of the resolution deemed to be constitutional violations would not be applied.
A peace accord between the government and the rebels, or New Forces, was signed on 4 March 2007, and subsequently Guillaume Soro, leader of the New Forces, became prime minister. These events have been seen by some observers as substantially strengthening Gbagbo's position.
The presidential elections that should have been organized in 2005 were postponed until November 2010. The preliminary results announced by the Electoral Commission showed a loss for Gbagbo in favour of his rival, former prime minister Alassane Ouattara. The ruling FPI contested the results before the Constitutional Council, charging massive fraud in the northern departments controlled by the rebels of the Forces Nouvelles de Côte d'Ivoire (FNCI). These charges were contradicted by international observers. The report of the results led to severe tension and violent incidents. The Constitutional Council, which consists of Gbagbo supporters, declared the results of seven northern departments unlawful and that Gbagbo had won the elections with 51% of the vote (instead of Ouattara winning with 54%, as reported by the Electoral Commission). After the inauguration of Gbagbo, Ouattara, recognized as the winner by most countries and the United Nations, organized an alternative inauguration. These events raised fears of a resurgence of the civil war; thousands of refugees have fled the country. The African Union sent Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa, to mediate the conflict. The United Nations Security Council adopted a common resolution recognising Alassane Ouattara as winner of the elections, based on the position of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). ECOWAS suspended Ivory Coast from all its decision-making bodies while the African Union also suspended the country's membership.
In 2010, a Colonel of the Ivory Coast armed forces, Nguessan Yao was arrested in New York in a year-long U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation charging for procuring and illegal export weapons and munitions of 4,000 9-mm handguns, 200,000 rounds of ammunition and 50,000 tear-gas grenades, in violation of UN embargo. Several other Ivory Coast officers were released for their diplomatic passports. His accomplice, Michael Barry Shor, an international trader, was located in Virginia.
The 2010 presidential election led to the 2010–2011 Ivorian crisis and to the Second Ivorian Civil War. International organizations reported numerous human rights violations by both sides. In the city of Duékoué, hundreds of people were killed. In nearby Bloléquin, dozens were killed. UN and French forces took military action against Gbagbo.
Ivory Coast is divided into nineteen regions (régions):
The regions are further divided into 81 departments.
The official capital of Ivory Coast is Yamoussoukro (295,500), the fourth most populous city. Abidjan, with a population of 3,310,500, is the largest city and serves as the commercial and banking center of Ivory Coast as well as the de facto capital. It is also the most populous city in French-speaking Western Africa.
Since 1983, Ivory Coast's official capital has been Yamoussoukro; Abidjan, however, remains the administrative center. Most countries maintain their embassies in Abidjan, although some (including the United Kingdom) have closed. The Ivoirian population continues to suffer because of an ongoing civil war (See the History section above). 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.
Although most of the fighting ended by late 2004, the country remained split in two, with the north controlled by the New Forces (FN). A new presidential election was expected to be held in October 2005, and an agreement was reached among the rival parties in March 2007 to proceed with this, but it continued to be postponed until November 2010 due to delays in its preparation.
Elections were finally held in 2010. The first round of elections were held peacefully, and widely hailed as free and fair. Runoffs were held 28 November 2010, after being delayed one week from the original date of 21 November. Laurent Gbagbo as president ran against former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara.
On 2 December, the Electoral Commission declared that Ouattara had won the election by a margin off 54% to 46%. In response, the Gbagbo-aligned Constitutional Council rejected the declaration, and the government announced that country's borders had been sealed. An Ivorian military spokesman said, "The air, land and sea border of the country are closed to all movement of people and goods."
Ivory Coast is a country of western sub-Saharan Africa. It borders Liberia and Guinea in the west, Mali and Burkina Faso in the north, Ghana in the east, and the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) in the south. The country lies between latitudes 4° and 11°N, and longitudes 2° and 9°W.
Ivory Coast has, for the region, a relatively high income per capita (USD 960 in 2007) and plays a key role in transit trade for neighboring, landlocked countries. The country is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union, constituting 40 percent of the monetary union’s total GDP. The country is the world's largest exporter of Cocoa beans, and the fourth largest exporter of goods, in general, in sub-Saharan Africa (following South Africa, Nigeria and Angola). In 2009, the cocoa bean farmers earned $2.53 billion for cocoa exports and is expected to produce 630,000 metric tons in 2013. According to The Hershey Company, the price of cocoa beans are expected to rise dramatically in upcoming years. The Ivory Coast also has 100,000 rubber farmers which earned a total of $105 million in 2012.
The maintenance of close ties to France since independence in 1960, diversification of agriculture for export, and encouragement of foreign investment, have been factors in the economic growth of Ivory Coast. In recent years Ivory Coast has been subject to greater competition and falling prices in the global marketplace for its primary agricultural crops: coffee and cocoa. That, compounded with high internal corruption, makes life difficult for the grower and those exporting into foreign markets.
French, the official language, is taught in schools and serves as a Dyula, which acts as a trade language as well as a language commonly spoken by the Muslim population.
The native born population is roughly split into three groups of Muslim, Christian (primarily Roman Catholic) and animist. Since Ivory Coast has established itself as one of the most successful West African nations, about 20% of the population (about 3.4 million) consists of workers from neighbouring Liberia, Burkina Faso and Guinea.
4% of the population is of non-African ancestry. Many are French, Lebanese, Vietnamese and Spanish citizens, as well as Protestant missionaries from the United States and Canada. In November 2004, around 10,000 French and other foreign nationals evacuated Ivory Coast due to attacks from pro-government youth militias. Aside from French nationals, there are native-born descendants of French settlers who arrived during the country's colonial period.
Largest cities or towns of Ivory Coast
|1||Abidjan||Lagunes||3 677 115|
|3||Bouaké||Vallée du Bandama||567 481|
Religion in Ivory Coast remains very heterogeneous, with Islam (almost all Sunni Muslims) and Christianity (mostly Roman Catholic) being the major religions. Muslims dominate the north, while Christians dominate the south. In 2009, according to U.S. Department of State estimates, Christians and Muslims each made up 35 to 40% of the population, while an estimated 25% of the population practiced traditional religions. Ivory Coast's capital, Yamoussoukro, is home to the largest church building[n 6] in the world, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro.
Life expectancy at birth was 41 for males in 2004; for females it was 47. Infant mortality was 118 of 1000 live births. There are 12 physicians per 100,000 people. About a quarter of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.
A large part of the adult population, in particular women, are illiterate. Many children between 6 and 10 years are not enrolled in school.  The majority of students in secondary education are male. At the end of secondary education, students can sit the Baccalauréat examination. The country has universities in Abidjan (Université de Cocody) and Bouaké, (Université de Bouaké).
Each of the ethnic groups in Ivory Coast has its own music genres, most showing strong vocal polyphony. Talking drums are also common, especially among the Appolo, and polyrhythms, another African characteristic, are found throughout Ivory Coast and are especially common in the southwest.
Popular music genres from Ivory Coast include zoblazo, zouglou and Coupé-Décalé. A few Ivorian artists who have known international success are Magic Système, Alpha Blondy, Meiway, Dobet Gnahore, Tiken Dja Fakoly, Christina Goh from Ivorian descent
The country has been host for several major African sporting events. These events include the upcoming 2013 African Basketball Championship. In the past, the country further hosted the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations where its football team finished 5th and the 1985 African Basketball Championship where its basketball team won the gold medal.
The most popular sport in Ivory Coast is association football. The national football team has played in the World Cup twice, in Germany 2006 and in South Africa 2010. Rugby union is also popular, and the national rugby union team qualified to play at the Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 1995.
The traditional cuisine of Ivory Coast is very similar to that of neighboring countries in west Africa in its reliance on grains and tubers. Cassava and plantains are significant parts of Ivorian cuisine. A type of corn paste called "Aitiu" is used to prepare corn balls, and peanuts are widely used in many dishes. Attiéké is a popular side dish in Ivory Coast made with grated cassava and is a vegetable-based couscous. A common street-vended food is aloko, which is ripe banana fried in palm oil, spiced with steamed onions and chili and eaten alone or with grilled fish. Chicken is commonly consumed, and has a unique flavor due to its lean, low-fat mass in this region. Seafood includes tuna, sardines, shrimp and bonito, which are similar to tuna. Mafé is a common dish consisting of meat in a peanut sauce. Slow-simmered stews with various ingredients are another common food staple in Ivory Coast. "Kedjenou" is a dish consisting of chicken and vegetables that are slow-cooked in a sealed pot with little or no added liquid, which concentrates the flavors of the chicken and vegetables and tenderizes the chicken. It's usually cooked in a pottery jar called a canary, over a slight fire, or cooked in an oven. "Bangui" is a local palm wine.
Ivorians have a particular kind of small, open-air restaurant called a maquis, which is unique to the region. Maquis normally feature braised chicken and fish covered in onions and tomatoes, served with attiéké, or kedjenou, a chicken dish made with vegetables and a mild sauce.
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