Cote d' IvoireBy | Tuesday, December 1 2009 at 16:25
Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
Origins: Named after the reference by European traders to the availability of ivory tusks
Cote d’Ivoire’s rapid decline following a long period of ethnic and religious harmony has been one of the continent’s more tragic tales. Under Felix Houphouet-Boigny, the nation was a model of tranquillity, which anchored the country’s rapid economic growth for three decades after independence
Achieved independence on August 7, 1960, from France
Form of Government
Current government operating under a power sharing agreement supervised by international mediators
President is the Chief of State
Prime Minister is the Head of Government
President is elected for a five year term by popular vote with no term limits
Head of Government
Cabinet : Council of Ministers appointed by president, however, under the current power-sharing agreement, the Prime Minister has the power to appoint too
Manpower fit for service: Males age 16-49: 3,122,106 and Females age 16-48: 2,936, 391
Military expenditure: 1.6 per cent of GDP
Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Cote d'Ivoire Defence and Security Forces (FDSCI)
1960 - 1993 Félix Houphouët-Boigny
1993 - 1999 Aimé Henri Konan Bédié
1999 - 2000 Robert Guéï
2000 - 2011 Laurent Gbagbo
April 2011 - Alassane Ouattara
Abidjan remains the commercial and administrative centre
Population: 194, 530 people
Elevation: 206 metres
Size: 21,952,093 (2012)
Life Expectancy: Women 49.3, Men 47.5
Gender distribution: Male, 50.73 per cent, Women, 49.27 per cent
GDP per capita
$ 1,600 (2011)
$ 1,700 (2010)
Boundaries: Burkina Faso 584km, Ghana 668km, Guinea 610km, Liberia 716km, Mali 532km
French (official), Sixty native dialects with Dioula the most widely spoken
Muslim 38.6%, Christian 32.8%, Indigenous 11.9%, None 16.7%
*Note: the majority of foreigners (migratory workers) are Muslim (70%) and Christian (20%)
Diamonds, Petroleum, Natural gas, Manganese, Iron ore, Cobalt, Bauxite, Copper, Gold, Nickel, Tantalum, Silica sand, Clay, Cocoa beans, Coffee, Palm oil, Hydropower
Cocoa, Coffee, Tropical woods, Petroleum, Cotton, Bananas, Pineapples, Palm oil, Fish
Arable land: 10.23 per cent
Permanent crops: 11.16 per cent
Other: 78.61 per cent
CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc
Internet country code
Main Airport: Felix Houphouet Boigny Airport (IATA: ABJ, ICAO: DIAP)
Main Port: Port of Abidjan
Côte d'Ivoire has the highest level of biodiversity in West Africa with over 1,200 animal species and 4,700 plant species. The country is, however, struggling with severe deforestation, with only 2 per cent of the country as of 2005 covered with forest.
Côte d'Ivoire has also been in the news over a toxic waste dumping saga, which was connected to the deaths of some 15 people and the negative health effects of 100,000 others. A UN human rights expert has said there was evidence to suggest the waste belonging to Dutch commodity trading company Trafigura, caused deaths and illness.
Following the end of Cote d’Ivoire’s political crisis, Ouattara has been working hard at trying to reconcile his allies and those of the former president this year. In recognition “of "continual progress" made in good governance and democracy” the US government announced the reinstatement of the benefits of a preferential trade deal, known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act
Things have remained tense in Cote d’Ivoire despite the end of the political crisis. Allies of Gbagbo were clearly still intimidated and with reason. Video clips have circulated on the internet show in people alleged to be associates of the ousted leader Laurent Gbagbo being 'insulted and mistreated' by their jailers and the United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire said that there continue to be military abuses which include summary executions. In Ghana there are still about 18,000 Ivorian refugees who have crossed over since March this year, many of them are too scared to return home.
Foreign Policy Issues
Côte d'Ivoire continues to maintain close relations with France but the relations have cooled somewhat since Gbagbo came to power.
When: 1999 – 2007
Who: North vs South
Why: Rebels from the north were against the southern-dominated government and the high number of foreigners in Cote d’Ivoire added to tensions. But a key backgroud to tensions between the north and the south that sparked the civil war was the controversial disqualification - first in 1995 and again in 2000 - of former Prime Minister Allasane Ouattara from running for president on unproven claims that his parentage was Burkinabe. That annoyed many in the north where he hails from.
What to see
St Paul Cathedral, Abidjan: Designed by Italian Aldo Spiritom, the church is an impressively massive structure that can easily be seen almost anywhere in the city.
Notre Dame de la Paix: Said to be the world's largest cathedral (it is in direct competition for this honour with Rome’s St Peter's); it is an imposing granite and marble basilica in Yamoussoukro built under Felix Houphouet-Boigny's rule.
Grand Bassam: The colonial capital, actually a conglomeration of smaller townships each bearing the name ‘Bassam’
National Museum of Abidjan: hosts a collection of historic artefacts, statues and, of course, ivory. Its collection is thought to be among the finest on the continent
Abron Tombs of Bondoukou- Built by the Abron people in the 18th century and decorated with beautiful sculptures.
Treichville: One of the city's main shopping streets. Best known for its nightclubs.
Didier Drogba: Prolific goalscorer for English Premier League club Chelsea. Was appointed UNDP Goodwill Ambassador in 2007.
Kolo Toure: He became widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the world after his UEFA Champions League run for English football club Arsenal in 2006.
Chimpanzees in Cote d’Ivoire have been using stone tools to crack open nuts for more than 100 years
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