total: 322,463 sq km
land: 318,003 sq km
water: 4,460 sq km
total: 3,458 km
border countries (5):
Guinea 816 km
Liberia 778 km
Ghana 720 km
Mali 599 km
EthiBurkina Faso 545 km
Total: 3973 km
tropical along coast, semiarid in far north;
three seasons –
warm and dry (November to March),
hot and dry (March to May),
hot and wet (June to October)
mostly flat to undulating plains;
mountains in northwest
mean elevation: 250 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Gulf of Guinea 0 m
highest point: Monts Nimba 1,752 m
petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, manganese, iron ore,
cobalt, bauxite, copper, gold, nickel, tantalum, silica sand,
clay, cocoa beans, coffee, palm oil, hydropower
agricultural land: 64.8%
arable land 9.1%; permanent crops 14.2%; permanent pasture 41.5%
other: 2.5% (2011 est.)
730 sq km (2012)
Population – distribution:
the population is primarily located in the forested south, with the highest concentration of people residing in and around the cities on the Atlantic coast; most of the northern savanna remains sparsely populated with higher concentrations located along transportation corridors
coast has heavy surf and no natural harbors;
during the rainy season torrential flooding is possible.
People and Society
The country’s population is 24,184,810in July 2017. Ivory Coast’s first national census in 1975 counted 6.7 million inhabitants. According to 2012 government survey, the fertility rate was 5.0 children born per woman, with 3.7 in urban areas and 6.3 in rural areas. Cote d’Ivoire’s population is likely to continue growing for the foreseeable future because almost 60% of the populace is younger than 25, the total fertility rate is holding steady at about 3.5 children per woman, and contraceptive use is under 20%. The country will need to improve education, healthcare, and gender equality in order to turn its large and growing youth cohort into human capital.
Following its independence in 1960, Cote d’Ivoire’s stability and the blossoming of its labor-intensive cocoa and coffee industries in the southwest made it an attractive destination for migrants from other parts of the country and its neighbors, particularly Burkina Faso. The HOUPHOUET-BOIGNY administration continued the French colonial policy of encouraging labor immigration by offering liberal land ownership laws. Foreigners from West Africa, Europe (mainly France), and Lebanon composed about 25% of the population by 1998.
The ongoing economic decline since the 1980s and the power struggle after HOUPHOUET-BOIGNY’s death in 1993 ushered in the politics of “Ivoirite,” institutionalizing an Ivoirian identity that further marginalized northern Ivoirians and scapegoated immigrants. The hostile Muslim north-Christian south divide snowballed into a 2002 civil war, pushing tens of thousands of foreign migrants, Liberian refugees, and Ivoirians to flee to war-torn Liberia or other regional countries and more than a million people to be internally displaced. Subsequently, violence following the contested 2010 presidential election prompted some 250,000 people to seek refuge in Liberia and other neighboring countries and again internally displaced as many as a million people. By July 2012, the majority had returned home, but the ongoing inter-communal tension and armed conflict continue to force people from their homes.
24,184,810(July 2017 est.)
Akan 28.8%, Voltaique or Gur 16.1%, Northern Mande 14.5%, Kru 8.5%, Southern Mande 6.9%, unspecified 0.9%, non-Ivoirian 42.3% (2014 est.)
French (official), 60 native dialects of which Dioula is the most widely spoken
Muslim 42.9%, Catholic 17.2%, Evangelical 11.8%, Methodist 1.7%, other Christian 3.2%, animist 3.6%, other religion 0.5%, none 19.1%
The population 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. These may be reduced to four major cultural regions—the East Atlantic (primarily Akan), West Atlantic (primarily Krou), Voltaic, and Mande—differentiated in terms of the environment, economic activity, language, and overall cultural characteristics.
In Cote d’lvoire, as across Africa, national boundaries reflect the impact of colonial rule as much as present-day political reality, bringing nationalism into conflict with centuries of evolving ethnic identification. Each of Cote d’lvoire’s large cultural groupings has more members outside the nation than within. As a result, many Ivoirians have strong cultural and social ties with people in neighboring countries. Most representatives of East Atlantic cultures are Akan peoples, speakers of languages within the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo language family.
Traditional Krou societies were organized into villages relying on hunting and gathering for subsis- tence and descent groups tracing relationships through male forebears. They rarely formed centralized chiefdoms. The largest Krou population in Cote d’lvoire is the Bete. In the north, cultural differences are greater than in the south. Descendants of early Mande conquerors occupy territory in the northwest, stretching into northern Guinea and Mali. The nation of Mali took its name from one of the largest of these societies, the Malinke. The Mande peoples including the Malinke, Bambara, Juula, and smaller, related groups made up about 17 percent of the population of Cote d’lvoire. To the east of the Mande are Voltaic peoples. Both historical periods are still in evidence in two forms of social organization found in the area one based on small descent groups and the other on more complex confederations similar to those of the Mande.
French is official, and there are 81 living indigenous languages, and one that is now extinct. The Dioula dialect of Bambara is the most widely spoken one. Other language groups include the Gur languages, the Senufo languages, the Kru languages (including the Bété languages, Dida, Nyabwa, Wè, and Western Krahn), and the Kwa languages (Baoulé and Anyin are the most used). The economic development and relative prosperity of Ivory Coast fostered huge demographic shifts during the 20th century.
In 1922, an estimated 100,000 out of 1.6 million (or 6 percent) of people in Côte d’Ivoire were Muslims. By contrast, at independence, their share of the population had increased rapidly, and Muslims were moving southward to the cocoa-producing areas and the southern cities. By 1998, Muslims constituted a majority in the north of the country, and approximately 38.6 percent of the total population. This was a significantly larger population than the next largest religious group, Christians, who constituted approximately 29.1 percent of the total. In earlier decades, this shift was mainly due to large-scale immigration from neighboring countries of the interior, that has been going on since colonial times and continued to be promoted during the Houphouet-Boigny era. Since the 1990s, the widening fertility gap between different religious groups has continued to tilt the demographic balance in favor of Muslims although immigration has become less important.
The education system comprised three stages: primary school lasted six years, leading to a certificate of primary studies; secondary school lasted seven years, leading to a certificate or baccalauréat. University education, available only in Abidjan, culminated in a university degree. A large number of technical and teacher-training institutions also provided postprimary and postsecondary education. In 1980 approximately 14 percent of primary schools and 29 percent of secondary schools were private. Most public schools were tuition free, although students paid an entrance fee and bought uniforms. Most supplies were free, and some students received government scholarships, usually in return for a period of government employment after graduation.
Children entered primary school at the age of seven or eight and passed through six grades, divided into preparatory, elementary, and intermediate levels. In the first six months, students mastered French, the language of instruction. Classes in reading, writing, and arithmetic were taught, gradually supplemented by history, geography, natural sciences, music, art, and physical education. Rural schools also required students to work in school gardens and learn basic agricultural methods. Standard school-leaving exams led to the certificate of elementary education (certificated’étude primaries élémentaires–CEPE) and determined entrance to secondary institutions.
Most of those preparing for university attended a collège or lycée, both of which included seven years of study divided into two cycles. Significant differences between these two institutions almost disappeared in the decades following their introduction by the French, but the lycée was generally administered by the national government and the collège by the municipal government with national funding. After the first cycle or four years of secondary school, students took exams and were awarded the certificate of the lower cycle of secondary study. This qualification generally allowed them to continue at the collège or lycée, enter a teacher-training institution, or find an entry-level job in commerce or government. After the second cycle of three years of study, graduates earned the baccalauréat, which indicated a level of learning roughly equivalent to one or two years of university study in the United States. In Côte d’Ivoire, as in France, it qualified a student for university entrance.
Complementary courses were the most common type of alternative secondary education, administered as four-year programs to improve the academic education of those who did not qualify for collège or lycée. Complementary courses were established during the 1950s, when expanding educational opportunities was a high priority, and they were located throughout the country to compensate for the urban bias in secondary education. Complementary courses often provided a combination of academic and practical training, leading to an elementary certificate (brevet élémentaire–BE) or the BEPC, and enabled some students to enter the second cycle at a collège or lycée, or a vocational training institution.
The National University of Côte d’Ivoire, which was founded as the Center for Higher Education at Abidjan in 1959 and became the University of Abidjan in 1964, had an enrollment of 18,732 in 1987. Of this number, about 10,000 were Ivoirians and 3,200 were women. Still heavily dependent on French assistance, it included faculties of law, sciences, and letters and schools of agriculture, public works, administration, and fine arts. Other institutions of higher learning, known as grandes écoles, awarded certificates of training in specialized fields in cooperation with, but not as part of, the national university..
Côte d’Ivoire is the largest economy in French-speaking West Africa and the third largest in West Africa as a whole (after Nigeria and Ghana). The country’s gross national income (GNI) per capita was estimated at US$1 420 in 2015. The country has a wealth of natural resources such as petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, manganese, iron ore, cobalt, bauxite, copper, gold, nickel, tantalum, silica sand, clay, hydropower, etc. Natural resources have played a key role in the country’s economy, especially fossil energy and ores.
Cote d’Ivoire is heavily dependent on agriculture and related activities, which engage roughly two-thirds of the population. Cote d’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer and exporter of cocoa beans and a significant producer and exporter of coffee and palm oil. Consequently, the economy is highly sensitive to fluctuations in international prices for these products and to climatic conditions. Cocoa, oil, and coffee are the country’s top export revenue earners, but the country has targeted agricultural processing of cocoa, cashews, mangoes, and other commodities as a high priority. Mining gold and exporting electricity are growing industries outside agriculture.
To combat economic difficulties, the country pursued important structural reforms from the 1980s. However, these reforms were insufficient to stimulate strong and sustainable growth. Throughout the 1990s, Côte d’Ivoire carried on with reforms and liberalized its economy. This included the launch of investment programmes, in particular into infrastructure. These reforms stimulated growth, but at a lower rate compared to the 1970s. Throughout the 2000s, the civil war (2002-11) hampered the economic potential of the country until 2011.
Following the end of more than a decade of civil conflict in 2011, Cote d’Ivoire has experienced a boom in foreign investment and economic growth. In June 2012, the IMF and the World Bank announced $4.4 billion in debt relief for Cote d’Ivoire under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. For the last 5 years, Cote d’Ivoire’s growth rate has been among the highest in the world.
Since 2012, Côte d’Ivoire’s economic performance has been impressive, and in striking contrast with the last ten years of political instability. Political normalisation, budget support policy, debt reduction, and reforms to strengthen the business climate have led to an acceleration of economic activity. Driven by investment and consumption, GDP grew on average by 9% per year during the period 2012-15, reversing a 10-year decline in per capita income. The country had a nominal GDP of about US$32bn in 2015, making it one of the largest economies in West Africa. Although agriculture has lost its central role in Côte d’Ivoire’s economy, its share remains important. The country is still the world’s largest producer and exporter of cocoa beans, and main producer and exporter of coffee and palm oil, with 64.8% of land used for agricultural purposes.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$96.27 billion (2017 est.)
$89.44 billion (2016 est.)
$83.04 billion (2015 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$39.91 billion (2017 est.)
GDP – real growth rate:
7.6% (2017 est.)
7.7% (2016 est.)
8.9% (2015 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP):
$3,900 (2017 est.)
$3,700 (2016 est.)
$3,500 (2015 est.)
Gross national saving:
16.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
18.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
17.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
services: 53.8% (2017 est.)
Agriculture – products:
coffee, cocoa beans, bananas, palm kernels, corn, rice, cassava (manioc, tapioca), sweet potatoes, sugar, cotton, rubber; timber
foodstuffs, beverages; wood products, oil refining, gold mining, truck and bus assembly, textiles, fertilizer, building materials, electricity
Population below poverty line:
46.3% (2015 est.)
revenues: $7.121 billion
expenditures: $8.886 billion (2017 est.)
Although decreasing, resources still represent 5% of the country’s GDP. Agriculture is also crucial for the country in terms of revenues and employment. It accounted for around 25% of GDP in 2015. The country is a member of the WAEMU, an eightcountry3 customs, and currency union in which all members use the CFAF. The Union includes 112 million inhabitants and has a common trade policy and external tariff. The banking sector of member countries is regulated by the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) which also maintains a fixed
exchange rate with the euro.
Côte d’Ivoire is also a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) made up of 15 countries and with almost 360 million inhabitants in 2016.5 The community promotes economic integration and regional peace and stability. ECOWAS has an economic partnership with the European Union (EU) covering goods and development cooperation. The country is the EU’s largest trading partner in SSA.
In 1960, the largest contributors to GDP were agriculture (48%) followed by services (39%) and industry (13%). In 2015, agriculture represented only 24% of GDP, and services increased to 55% of GDP. Industry’s share of GDP has almost doubled during the period (from 13% to 21%). There has been a significant change in GDP sector contribution, showing that Côte d’Ivoire’s economy has diversified over time, reducing its dependence on agriculture and exposure to the volatility of international markets. Côte d’Ivoire’s primary sector is composed of food crops (12% of GDP), export crops (11%), and animal husbandry and peaches (2%). The secondary sector is driven by petroleum (7.2%), followed by the food industry (7.1%) and extractive products (6.7%).
The Netherlands is the main trade partner of Côte d’Ivoire in 2015 (receiving 12% of total exports, mostly in cocoa), followed by the US and Belgium, with 8% and 7% respectively. Main destination partners of Côte d’Ivoire’s petroleum products are the US, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, with US$545m in exports revenue in 2015. Côte d’Ivoire exports to its partners mainly agriculture products. Besides the fluctuation (linked to international price variations), the contribution of agriculture to total exports is on average 50% for the 2000-15 period.
As a share of agriculture products, cocoa makes up 43% of Côte d’Ivoire’s total exports, followed by fruit products (8%), and oil and petroleum (5%). Cocoa generated more than US$5bn in revenues for Côte d’Ivoire in 2015. With regard to imports, 65% of Côte d’Ivoire’s imported products originate from 10 countries of which nine are not in Africa. Imports are mainly from Nigeria (15%) followed by France and China, with 14% and 12% respectively.
population without electricity: 15,000,000
electrification – total population: 26%
electrification – urban areas: 42%
electrification – rural areas: 8% (2013)
Electricity – production:
8.262 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – consumption:
5.669 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – exports:
872 million kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – imports:
23 million kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – installed generating capacity:
1.9 million kW (2016 est.)
Electricity – from fossil fuels:
66.9% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Electricity – from nuclear fuels:
0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Telephones – fixed lines:
total subscriptions: 289,108
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (July 2016 est.)
Telephones – mobile cellular:
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 114 (July 2016 est.)
Internet country code:
percent of population: 26.5% (July 2016 est.)
Manufacturing and Industries
The major segments of Cote d’Ivoire’s industrial sector are energy, oil and gas processing, mining, manufacturing and food processing. Several major factors will continue to guide industrial growth. First, offshore discoveries of oil and gas deposits are now being aggressively explored and drilling operations have been successful. Downstream processing of oil is expanding through the refining operation in Abidjan, as well as bituminous production and the use of gas in electrical energy production. Côte d’Ivoire is now a net exporter of electricity. The oil industry is also actively developing and expanding its lubricants and bitumen production for greater export marketing.
Second, a major thrust is evident to convert parts of agricultural from direct export to processing. This is particularly evident in palm oil, rubber, cocoa, and cashew nuts, as well as lumber. According to Dagobert Banzio, minister of Commerce, processing is a major goal of the new government: “One of the main challenges of the agricultural exports is that the exported products are unprocessed. In the future, Côte d’Ivoire should develop its own processing industry. There are also transformed crop products, which are traditional like « attiéké » which is greatly demanded in sub-regions.”
Third, Cote d’Ivoire is rapidly developing its Free Zones in order to locally produce products for its ICT industries, notably telecom. Industry in Côte d’Ivoire: Manufacturing, Mining, Oil, and Gas Agriculture Industry. Finally, Cote d’Ivoire is now ready to return to its former status as the engine of growth in West Africa and its economic and business center. Since Cote d’Ivoire is the largest economy in the region, many industrial firms locate there as their export base to the rest of the region.
Doe example, Sotici, the leading plastic pipe manufacturer in Africa, exports to more than 26 countries. Sotici’s CEO, Ramzi Omais explains: “Sotici is an export-driven, international company and we export from to every place Mauretania to Chad. Only 20% of our business has been local since 1999. Before 1999 it was 50% local and 50% exports, but today it’s more than 80% exports.” Industry in Côte d’Ivoire: Manufacturing, Mining, Oil and Gas Agriculture Industry
One of the principal advantages for industrial companies is access to sound infrastructure and power. A dozen years of political instability and unrest has meant little investment in infrastructure, which is presently in a state of disrepair. This, too, is expected to be remedied over the next few years, as both the new government and international funding agencies pour funds into infrastructure development to support and expand the economy.
One of the main challenges is security. In any country after a civil war, there is a lot of weapons in circulation—in both good and bad hands. Hence the security issues. This is expected to be a temporary problem, however, as the priority of the government is to restore order and to reconcile the dissident portions of the population.
Banking and Finance
Following years of economic stagnation and decline (economic growth averaging -0.4 percent for the 2000-2006 period) predominantly caused by the 2002-03 civil war and subsequent years of stalemate in the peace process, Côte d’Ivoire’s economy began to recover following 2007, experiencing an average of 3 percent growth in real GDP in the period 2008-10. However, the economy of Côte D’Ivoire was hard hit by the negative effects of the post-electoral crisis. In 2011 GDP growth declined to -4.7 percent but a gradual recovery is expected in with projected GDP growth at 8.1 and 7.0 percent respectively in 2012 and 2013.
The Ivorian financial sector has remained functional but has heavily suffered from the political and civil crisis. The cost of risk rose substantially, loan portfolios deteriorated and the banking system became less profitable. The banking system registered an 8 percent drop in healthy loans and a 44% rise in non-performing loans between the end of December 2010 and the end of June 2011. At last count, the banking sector consisted of 21 banks, five of which were domestic-owned. Domestic banks accounted for 21 percent of total assets and for their great majority liquidity levels remained below prudential levels. The government has been heavily involved in the sector, in an effort to prop up these institutions since the beginning of the conflict in 2002.
Progress has been recently made in restructuring undercapitalized banks and strengthening the banking system. Two of the five domestic banks, which had negative net worth at the end of June 2008, formulated recapitalization plans approved by the Banking Commission. One bank is currently under interim administration and the remaining two are being taken over by the government through conversion of illiquid deposits into share capital. As part of the WEAMU, Cote d’Ivoire shares an interbank market with all countries in the Union; similarly, bank licenses are valid for all of WAEMU’s countries.
The provision of financial services in rural areas, to small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as the mobilization of long-term savings and the financing of long-term investment, is still deficient. The microfinance sector, in particular, has been severely affected by the lasting conflict and related lack of smooth funding flows. Approximately 90 percent of credit and savings activities are concentrated in just two cooperative networks, which currently face difficulties, and constitute a systematic risk for the microfinance sector. To reverse this trend, the Ministry of Finance issued a National Microfinance Policy at the end of 2007 along with a detailed Strategy and Action Plan for 2007-2015 aiming at achieving a viable, integrated and diversified microfinance sector with penetration over the whole country by 2015.
The mobile market in Cote d’Ivoire is very competitive and fragmented. In December 2008, Orange Cote d’Ivoire launched its new mobile money product, Orange Money., followed by MTN. Mobile phone subscription rate is high and has passed from 77 percent in 2007 to 76 percent in 2010. The Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM), headquartered in Abidjan, serves as the regional Stock Exchange for member countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). Trading is minimal despite 45 company listings. Stock market capitalization decreased from 33 percent in 2007 to 28 percent in 2010.
The regional and national fixed income market is still in its embryonic stage, with the Central Bank playing a significant role as one of the main issuing entities in the region. As of March 2013, Côte d’Ivoire received no sovereign rating from any of the three major credit rating agencies. In recent years, member countries have begun to finance their public spending by issuing treasury bills in lieu of central bank loans. The number of corporate issues is still limited. Similar to many other African countries, the country’s investor base is still dominated by commercial banks.
For its part, the insurance market has experienced remarkable growth, which has risen from 9% in 2009 to 13% in 2010. Still, major reform will be necessary to ensure that it is financially sustainable. As for pension funds, both the CNPS (private sector) and the CGRAE (public sector) incur sizable deficits and recent actuarial studies highlighted the need for urgent reforms.
From the soaring grass-clad mountains of Mount Nimba in the north to the lagoons and roaring Atlantic waves of the south, the mist-topped rainforests where chimps live in the west to the sweeping plantations of cocoa and plantains in the east, the Ivory Coast represents one seriously huge slab of West Africa. Yes, the nation’s certainly had its fair share of troubles, with coups and military juntas and Ebola to name just three, but travelers do still come.
The come to hike the empty paths of Taï and Comoe, to sample spicy cassava and cashew curries between the mud-caked streets of Korhogo, to witness curious primates swinging in the trees, and experience the energy of Abidjan – the country’s great metropolis of more than four million. And then there are the beaches, fringed with age-stained French towns and colonial relics, sloping down to the sea in colors of yellow, white and, well, ivory!
Grand-Bassam proudly touting its UNESCO World Heritage tag, Grand-Bassam bursts forth from the Ivorian coast with the medley of elegant Parisian mansions and crafted colonial municipal buildings that are the Ancient Bassam district. Its capital Yamoussoukro boasts the world’s largest church, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, and is a tiny village transformed into the political capital of the country, very much at odds with the rest of the country. Its undulating countryside rises to Savannah in the north, mountains in the west and a long, languid coast along the Gulf of Guinea. The Comoe National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site, boasts hippo, crocodile, and antelope.
Côte d’Ivoire has nine national parks (Azagny, Como, Banco, Ta, Marahou, Peko, Mont Sangb, Ehotil islands, Abokouamkro) which cover an area of 1,730,550 ha, that is nearly 6% of the total surface of the country. These parks are rich in rare species as well as species in process of extinction.
The animalist Park of Abokouamkro: Located at 60 km from Yamoussoukro, this park extends on a surface of 21.000 ha. It is of easy access. One can discover their elephants, buffaloes, rhinoceroses. The national park of Banco: Located at the heart of Abidjan, in the edge of the national northern highway, it is a single example in Africa of forest enclave downtown, with wood species. The park of Azagny: Located at 100 km of Abidjan to the mouth of the Bandama river, this park extends on 19,400 ha. The vegetation consists of marshy savannas strewn with palm trees.
The national park of Como: This park, created in 1968, was initially called Reerve of Bouna because located in the region of Bouna. It is the largest park in West Africa. Hospitality establishment was raised in the surrounding villages. The aquatic park of the Ehotil islands: This park is located at the border of the Aby lagoon, in the area of Adiak in the south-east of Côte d’Ivoire. The Park of Marahou: This park extends on a surface of 101,000 ha and is located in the region of Bouafl. The park of Marahou offers to its visitors an environment of quality and has been planned in a way to ensure a perfect welcome.
Little is known about the original inhabitants of Cote d’Ivoire Historians believe that they were all either displaced or absorbed by the ancestors of the present inhabitants. The first recorded his- tory is found in the chronicles of North African traders, who, from early Roman times, conducted a caravan trade across the Sahara in salt, slaves, gold, and other items. The southern terminals of the trans- Saharan trade routes were located on the edge of the desert, and from there supplemental trade extended as far south as the edge of the rain forest.
The more important terminals Djenne, Gao, and Timbuctu—grew into major commercial centers around which the great Sudanic empires developed. By controlling the trade routes with their powerful military forces, these empires were able to dominate neighboring states. The Sudanic empires also became centers of Islamic learning. Islam had been introduced into the western Sudan (see Glossary) by Arab traders from North Africa and 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 Cote dTvoire.
Ghana, the earliest of the Sudanic empires, flourished in presentday 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 The territory of the Mali Empire in Cote dTvoire was limited to the northwest corner around Odienne. 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 large-scale political organizations as seen farther north. Five important states flourished in Cote d’lvoire in the preEuropean era. The Muslim empire of Kong was established by the Juula in the early eighteenth century in the north-central region inhabited by the Senoufo, who had fled Islamization under the Mali Empire. From their settlement south of Bondoukou, the Abron gradually extended their hegemony over the Juula in Bondoukou, who were recent emigres from the market city of Begho. Bondoukou developed into a major center of commerce and Islam. The kingdom’s Quranic scholars attracted students from all parts of West Africa.
In the mid-eighteenth century in east-central Cote d’lvoire, other Akan groups fleeing the Asante established a Baoule kingdom at Sakasso and two Agni kingdoms, Indenie and Sanwi. The Baoule, like the Asante, elaborated a highly centralized political and administrative structure under three successive rulers, but it finally split into smaller chiefdoms. Despite the breakup of their kingdom, the Baoule strongly resisted French subjugation. The descendants of the rulers of the Agni kingdoms tried to retain their separate identity long after Cote dTvoire’s independence; as late as 1969, the Sanwi of Krinjabo attempted to break away from Cote d’lvoire and form an independent kingdom.
The Arrival of European
The African continent, situated between Europe and the imagined treasures of the Far East, quickly became the destination of the European explorers of the fifteenth century. The first Europeans to explore the West African coast were the Portuguese. At first, the trade included gold, ivory, and pepper, but the establishment of American colonies in the sixteenth century spurred a demand for slaves, who soon became the major export from the West African coastal regions. Local rulers, under treaties with the Europeans, procured goods and slaves from inhabitants of the interior.
By the end of the fifteenth century, commercial contacts with Europe had spawned strong European influences, which permeated areas northward from the West African coast. Cote d’Ivoire, like the rest of West Africa, was subject to these influences, but the absence of sheltered harbors along its coastline prevented Europeans from establishing permanent trading posts. Seaborne trade, therefore, was irregular and played only a minor role in the penetration and eventual conquest by Europeans of Cote d’Ivoire. The slave trade, in particular, had little effect on the peoples of Cote d’Ivoire. A profitable trade in ivory, which gave the area its name, was carried out during the seventeenth century, butit brought about such a decline in elephants that the trade itself virtually had died out by the beginning of the eighteenth century.
The earliest recorded French voyage to West Africa took place in 1483. 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 He de Goree off Dakar. A French mission was established in 1687 at Assini, and it became the first European outpost in that area. Assini’ s survival was precarious, however, and only in the mid-nineteenth century did the French establish themselves firmly in Cote d’lvoire. By that time, they had already established settlements around the mouth of the Senegal River and at other points along the coasts of what are now Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau.
Meanwhile, the British had permanent outposts in the same areas and on the Gulf of Guinea east of Cote d’lvoire. Activity along the coast stimulated European interest in the interior, especially along the two great rivers, the Senegal and the Niger. 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 centers.
The treaties provided for French sovereignty within the posts and for trading privileges in exchange for fees or costumes paid annually to the local rulers for the use of the land. The arrangement was not entirely satisfactory to the French because the trade was limited and misunderstandings over treaty obligations often arose. The defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War (1871) and the subsequent annexation by Germany of the French region 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.
In 1885 France and Germany brought all the European powers with interests in Africa together at the Berlin Conference. Its principal objective was to rationalize what became known as the European scramble for colonies in Africa. Prince Otto von Bismarck also wanted a greater role in Africa for Germany, which he thought he could achieve in part by fostering competition between France and Britain. The agreement signed by all participants in 1885 stipulated that on the African coastline only European annexations or spheres of influence that involved effective occupation by Europeans would be recognized. Another agreement in 1890 extended this rule to the interior of Africa and set off a scramble for territory primarily by France, Britain, Portugal, and Belgium.
Local Resistance and Establishment of Protectorates 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. Cote d’Ivoire: A Country Study In 1887 Lieutenant Louis Binger began a two-year journey that traversed parts of Cote d’Ivoire interior. By the end of the journey, he had concluded four treaties establishing French protectorates in Cote d’Ivoire. Also in 1887, Verdier’s agent, Maurice TreichLaplene, negotiated five additional agreements that extended French influence from the headwaters of the Niger River Basin through Cote d’Ivoire.
By the end of the 1880s, France had established what passed for effective control over the coastal regions of Cote d’Ivoire, and in 1889 Britain recognized French sovereignty in the area. That same year, France named Treich-Laplante titular governor of the territory In 1893 Cote d’Ivoire was made a French colony, and then Captain Binger was appointed the 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 Cote d’Ivoire for economic and administrative reasons. Throughout the process of partition, the Africans were little concerned with the occasional white person who came wandering by.
Repression and Conquest In 1906 Gabriel Angoulvant was appointed the governor of Cote d’Ivoire. Angoulvant, who had little prior experience in Africa, believed that the development of Cote d’Ivoire could proceed only after the forceful conquest, or so-called pacification, of the colony. He thus embarked on a vigorous campaign, sending military expeditions into the hinterland to quell resistance. As a result of these expeditions, local rulers were compelled to obey existing antislavery laws, supply porters and food to the French forces, and ensure the protection of French trade and personnel. In return, the French agreed to leave local customs intact and specifically promised not to intervene in the selection of rulers. But the French often disregarded their side of the agreement, deporting or interning rulers regarded as instigators of revolt. They also regrouped villages and established a uniform administration throughout most of the colony. Finally, they replaced the costume with an allowance based on performance.
Evolution of Colonial Policy
French colonial policy incorporated concepts of assimilation and association. Assimilation presupposed the inherent superiority of French culture over all others so that in practice the assimilation policy in the colonies meant the extension of the French language, institutions, laws, and customs. 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 Cote d’Ivoire 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 Cote d’lvoire 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. Until 1958, governors appointed in Paris administered the col- ony of Cote d’lvoire, using a system of direct, centralized administration that left little room for Ivoirian participation in policy making.
The French colonial administration also adopted divide-and-rule policies, applying ideas of assimilation only to the educated elite. The French were also interested in ensuring that the small but influential elite was sufficiently satisfied with the status quo to refrain from any anti-French sentiment. Colonial Administration French expansion in Africa during the last quarter of the nineteenth century was so rapid that it was difficult to find enough administrators to govern the growing number of possessions effectively. For a brief period, therefore, the French adopted a system of an indirect rule using indigenous leaders as their surrogates. The local rulers, however, exercised authority only by the sanction of the French administrators. Those rulers who refused to submit to French directives were deposed and replaced with more cooperative ones.
France divided the individual colonies into districts known as cercles, each of which was governed by a district commander the cercles and the colonial governors, exercised his responsibilities with relative autonomy. Within a cercle, the commander ruled through a hierarchy of local rulers, whom he appointed and could dismiss at will. He was advised by a council of notables (conseil des notables) consisting of these local rulers and of other individuals appointed by him. Most of the inhabitants of the colonies were subjects of France with no political rights. Moreover, they were drafted for work in mines, on plantations, as porters, and on public projects as part of their tax responsibility. They were also expected to serve in the military and were subject to the indigenat (see Glossary), a separatesystem of law.
After the defeat of France and the alignment of many West Afri- cans with the Free French, the political maturity of the indigenous populations developed. De Gaulle recognized the need to revise the relationship between France and its colonies in Africa. In January 1944, Free French politicians and high-ranking colonial officials from the French African colonies met in Brazzaville (in present-day Congo). The Brazzaville Conference, as it came to be known, recommended political, social, and economic reforms. It accepted the representation of the colonies in the French Constituent Assembly, which was to draw up a new French constitution after the war, and the subsequent representation of the colonies in whatever parliamentary body the constitution established.
The conference also recommended that the colonies be administered with greater autonomy and that both French citizens and Africans be permitted to elect a legislative assembly. In addition, the conference committed the French government to respect local customs, abolish the indigent, adopt a new penal code, end labor conscription, improve health and educational facilities, and open positions in the colonial administration to Africans. The only immediate effect of the conference was the passage of a law in August 1944 granting workers in the AOF the right to organize. In October 1945, after the defeat of Germany and the end of the war, the first countrywide elections were held in Cote d’Ivoire to choose two delegates for the French Constituent Assembly, which was to meet in Paris before the end of the year.
When the French Constituent Assembly met in Paris, 63 of the 600 delegates represented the African colonies. The African delegates, all members of the educated elite, demanded liberal reforms in the colonial system, for which they received support from French socialist and communist delegates. In the end, the assembly reevaluated colonial policy and drafted a plan for the union of France and the colonies. In addition to abolishing the indigent and forced labor system, in 1945 and 1946, the French government decreed a number of other important reforms concerning Africans. It granted freedom of speech, association, and assembly to the residents of the colonies; it provided funds for economic and social development; it permitted the AOF to adopt a new penal code, and it granted all inhabitants of French colonies French citizenship.
Regional Political Cooperation Increasing political activity and a growing national consciousness were both responsible for and stimulated by the postwar constitutional reforms. Pressure from the SAA and similar organizations in other territories brought about most of the 1946 reforms. The reforms grouped the territories into the AOF under one elected council, the Grand Council in Dakar, thereby encouraging cooperation across territorial boundaries. As a result, in 1947 HouphouetBoigny and several other French West African leaders formed the African Democratic Rally (Rassemblement Democratique Africain RDA).
By 1951 the PDCI was close to collapse. Its alliance, through the RDA, with the French Communist Party had alienated the more moderate elements of the party. Government-sponsored rival parties had eroded much of its popular support and drastically weakened its position in elective bodies of the French Union. HouphouetBoigny, in a radical effort to preserve the PDCI, severed connections with the French Communist Party and expelled the RDA’s secretary general, who supported the communist association. He then abandoned the PDCI policy of militant opposition to the administration and embarked on a policy of practical cooperation. This policy change restored the strength and prestige of the PDCI at home and of the RDA in the rest of the AOF and France. Also, it led to political concessions as well as significant economic cooperation with France and members of the local French community. Within a short time, Cote dTvoire became the wealthiest territory in the AOF.
Independent Cote d’Ivoire
The reforms of 1956, or lot cadre, passed by the French Fourth Republic, acknowledged the growing nationalism and a developing political consciousness in the AOF. From its inception, the loi cadre drew on the suggestions of African leaders who were permitted to participate in the decision-making process. Conceptually, the loi cadre ended the integrational phase of French colonial policy and granted considerable internal autonomy to the overseas territories. Universal suffrage and the elimination of the dual college electoral system led to the creation of the district and local representative councils and a great enlargement of the powers of the territorial assemblies.
In September 1958, France presented a referendum to the community. Each member could accept the Constitution and consequent membership in the community or reject it and immediately sever all ties with France. In March 1959, Cote d’Ivoire adopted its first constitution as a self-governing republic. It provided for a unicameral legislature elected by universal, direct suffrage and an executive headed by a prime minister elected by a majority vote of the legislature and responsible to it. The PDCI won all seats of the newly formed legislature, and Houphouet-Boigny resigned his post in the French government to form the first government of Cote d’Ivoire.
Independence and the Institutionalization of the One-Party SystemI n 1959 several West African members of the French Community formed the Mali Federation. Although the federation initially included Senegal, French Sudan, Upper Volta, and Dahomey, all but Senegal and French Sudan withdrew quickly under pressure from Houphouet-Boigny, who regarded the federation’s desire for independence from France as a threat to the economic development of the former French colonies. Nonetheless, the federation gained independence in June 1960 and split into the two independent nations of Senegal and Mali.
Therefore, election provisions made it almost impossible for another party to win seats in the National Assembly. As the sole political party, the PDCI came to exercise political control over all branches of government. By the late 1960s, power was concentrated in the hands of Houphouet-Boigny, who, in addition to his position as president, was also titular president of the PDCI. Loyal colleagues received positions of authority within the police and armed forces, as well as in the government and PDCI. Philippe Yace, who held the positions of secretary general of the PDCI and president of the National Assembly, was the second most powerful figure in Cote d’Ivoire. The president appointed the administrative heads of the 6 departments (departments), 24 prefectures (prefectures), and 107 subprefectures (sous-prefectures), which constituted the administration of Cote d’Ivoire.
Houphouet-Boigny also took steps to ensure the new regime’s security. Although Cote d’Ivoire had no military until more than a year after independence, one was finally organized and strengthened with French assistance. Ivoirian members of the French colonial marine infantry who had been born in Cote d’Ivoire were transferred to Abidjan in October 1961 and formed the core of the first battalion.