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Ivory Coast

Background: Close ties to France since independence in 1960, the development of cocoa production for export, and foreign investment made Cote d’Ivoire one of the most prosperous of the tropical African states. Falling cocoa prices and political turmoil, however, sparked an economic downturn in 1999 and 2000. On 25 December 1999, a military coup – the first ever in Cote d’Ivoire’s history – overthrew the government led by President Henri Konan BEDIE. Presidential and legislative elections held in October and December 2000 provoked violence due to the exclusion of opposition leader Alassane OUATTARA. In October 2000, Laurent GBAGBO replaced junta leader Robert GUEI as president, ending 10 months of military rule.
Government type: republic; multiparty presidential regime established 1960
Capital: Yamoussoukro
Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Geography of Ivory Coast

Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Ghana and Liberia
Geographic coordinates: 8 00 N, 5 00 W
total: 322,460 sq. km
land: 318,000 sq. km
water: 4,460 sq. km
Land boundaries:
total: 3,110 km
border countries: Burkina Faso 584 km, Ghana 668 km, Guinea 610 km, Liberia 716 km, Mali 532 km
Coastline: 515 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: 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)
Terrain: mostly flat to undulating plains; mountains in northwest
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Gulf of Guinea 0 m
highest point: Mont Nimba 1,752 m
Natural resources: petroleum, diamonds, manganese, iron ore, cobalt, bauxite, copper, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 8%
permanent crops: 4%
permanent pastures: 41%
forests and woodland: 22%
other: 25% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 680 sq. km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: coast has heavy surf and no natural harbors; during the rainy season torrential flooding is possible
Environment – current issues: deforestation (most of the country’s forests – once the largest in West Africa – have been heavily logged); water pollution from sewage and industrial and agricultural effluents
Environment – international agreements:
party to:  Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: most of the inhabitants live along the sandy coastal region; apart from the capital area, the forested interior is sparsely populated

People of Ivory Coast

Cote d’Ivoire has more than 60 ethnic groups, usually classified into five principal divisions: Akan (east and center, including Lagoon peoples of the southeast), Krou (southwest), Southern Mande (west), Northern Mande (northwest), Senoufo/Lobi (north center and northeast). The Baoules, in the Akan division, probably comprise the largest-single subgroup with 15%-20% of the population. They are based in the central region around Bouake and Yamoussoukro. The Betes in the Krou division, the Senoufos in the north, and the Malinkes in the northwest and the cities are the next largest groups, with 10%-15% each of the national population. Most of the principal divisions have a significant presence in neighboring countries.

Of the more than 5 million non-Ivoirian Africans living in Cote d’Ivoire, one-third to one-half are from Burkina Faso; the rest are from Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Liberia, and Mauritania. The non-African expatriate community includes roughly 20,000 French and possibly 100,000 Lebanese. The number of elementary school-aged children attending classes increased from 22% in 1960 to 67% in 1995.

Population: 17,298,040 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  46.21% 
15-64 years:  51.57%
65 years and over:  2.22%
Population growth rate: 2.51% 
Birth rate: 40.38 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 16.65 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 1.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
note: after Liberia’s civil war started in 1990, more than 350,000 refugees fled to Cote d’Ivoire; by the end of 1999 all Liberian refugees were assumed to have returned; the 2000 rate reflects labor in migration
Infant mortality rate: 93.65 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  44.93 years
male:  43.58 years
female:  46.33 years
Total fertility rate: 5.7 children born/woman 
noun: Ivorian(s)
adjective: Ivorian
Ethnic groups: Akan 42.1%, Voltaiques or Gur 17.6%, Northern Mandes 16.5%, Krous 11%, Southern Mandes 10%, other 2.8% (1998)
Religions: Christian 34%, Muslim 27%, no religion 21%, animist 15%, other 3% (1998)
Languages: French (official), 60 native dialects with Dioula the most widely spoken
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 48.5%
male: 57%
female: 40%

History of Ivory Coast

SINCE THE 1950s, Cote d’Ivoire has been one of the few sub-Saharan African countries to enjoy political stability and a relatively sound economy. Much of the credit for Cote d’Ivoire’s success goes to Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the country’s most prominent politician since 1944, who methodically shaped personal and institutional controls and carefully cultivated and maintained close ties with Western industrialized countries.

Cote d’Ivoire remained relatively isolated for much of its early history. Islam, which penetrated most other regions of West Africa before the sixteenth century, made only minor inroads into Cote d’Ivoire’s forest belt. The country’s rugged coastline and lack of suitable harbors discouraged European exploration until the mid-nineteenth century. Before that time, the only French contact with Cote d’Ivoire occurred in 1637, when missionaries landed at Assini, on the southern Ivoirian coast. This remote region was neither politically nor economically significant and therefore held little attraction for settlement or exploitation by European powers.

In the 1880s, France pursued a more vigorous colonial policy. Driven by the growing forces of European imperial competition for foreign influence, as well as the promise of wealth to be found in a West African empire, French explorers, missionaries, trading companies, and soldiers gradually extended the area under French domination. They achieved control over the population, sometimes through deceit and coercion, by signing treaties with local rulers, who agreed to come under French protection in return for economic favors and protection from neighboring enemies. After Cote d’Ivoire officially became a French colony in 1893, France engaged in a socalled pacification campaign clearly intended to subjugate the indigenous population and to establish French sovereignty. Before World War I, the many instances of violent and protracted resistance to the French, especially among the Baoulé, were the longest wars fought between Europeans and Africans in West Africa. In many instances, these were contained only when Ivoirians in positions of power recognized the tremendous economic advantages accorded them by France.

By the 1940s, sources of strong opposition to the French colonial administration had emerged. At that time, France was neither able nor willing to crush opposition as in the past. Moreover, the opposition, which focused on the administration’s institutionalization of forced labor and its discrimination in favor of French planters, intended–at least initially–simply to change colonial policy rather than to achieve independence. Because all Ivoirians were affected by at least one of these discriminatory practices, many were hostile to the administration. Ivoirian planters, in particular, suffered from French discriminatory policies. In 1943, for example, they were forbidden to recruit their own labor and were sometimes removed from their own plantations to work for European enterprises. This group thus stood to benefit greatly from the abolition of colonial labor recruitment policies and had strong reasons to struggle against certain aspects of French colonialism. They were behind the formation of an anticolonialist movement that in 1944 resulted in the birth of the African Agricultural Union and later of the Democratic Party of Cote d’Ivoire.

In other ways, French colonial rule had significant consequences for the modern history of Cote d’Ivoire. The French colonial system introduced modern technology and economic development. It also reinforced the position of relatively privileged groups like the Ivoirian planters, when discriminatory practices were abolished after World War II. As a result of economic and social changes in France after World War II, French investments in the West African colonies grew at the same time as Paris thrust greater responsibilities and powers on its African colonies. There emerged in Cote d’Ivoire a group whose economic interests were closely linked to those of France and whose continuing close relations with France ensured the stability of French economic interests in Cote d’Ivoire. Thus, when Cote d’Ivoire became independent in 1960, France was able to maintain a secure economic grip on the country and continued to influence Ivoirian political decisions, much as it did before independence.

The most significant features of modern Ivoirian history have been the development of the one-party state, which Houphouët-Boigny established to assure his own autocratic rule, and economic growth. When Cote d’Ivoire gained independence in 1960 under the leadership of Houphouët-Boigny, the new president immediately assumed strong powers as head of state, head of government, and leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Cote d’Ivoire. Houphouët-Boigny’s political strength derived from the country’s economic prosperity. Until the late 1970s, Cote d’Ivoire experienced enormous economic growth, based largely on agricultural exports. The benefits of economic prosperity were not equally distributed, however. Benefiting most was a bourgeoisie made up of wealthy politicians, who were often also business people and owners of prosperous coffee and cocoa plantations. But the president successfully prevented significant pockets of resistance to his rule from forming through a combination of co-optation and mild repression. So successful was he that most of those whose rights were abused nonetheless recognized that they were materially better off than their neighbors. The greatest source of Houphouët-Boigny’s popular appeal was, and continued to be in mid-1988, the strength of his charismatic personality.

Ivory Coast Economy

Economy – overview: Cote d’Ivoire is among the world’s largest producers and exporters of coffee, cocoa beans, and palm oil. Consequently, the economy is highly sensitive to fluctuations in international prices for these products and to weather conditions. Despite government attempts to diversify the economy, it is still largely dependent on agriculture and related activities, which engage roughly 68% of the population. After several years of lagging performance, the Ivorian economy began a comeback in 1994, due to the 50% devaluation of the CFA franc and improved prices for cocoa and coffee, growth in nontraditional primary exports such as pineapples and rubber, limited trade and banking liberalization, offshore oil and gas discoveries, and generous external financing and debt rescheduling by multilateral lenders and France. Moreover, government adherence to donor-mandated reforms led to a jump in growth to 5% annually in 1996-99. Growth was negative in 2000 because of the difficulty of meeting the conditions of international donors, continued low prices of key exports, and post-coup instability. In 2001-02, a moderate rebound in the cocoa market could boost growth back above 3%; however, political instability could impede growth again.

GDP: purchasing power parity – $26.2 billion (2000 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: -0.3% (2000 est.)
GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity – $1,600 (2000 est.)
GDP – composition by sector:
agriculture: 32%
industry: 18%
services: 50% (1998)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.1%
highest 10%: 28.8% (1995)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.5% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 68% agricultural (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 13% in urban areas (1998 est.)
revenues:  $1.5 billion
expenditures:  $2.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $420 million (2000 est.)
Industries: foodstuffs, beverages; wood products, oil refining, automobile assembly, textiles, fertilizer, construction materials, electricity
Industrial production growth rate: 15% (1998 est.)
Electricity – production: 4.06 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity – production by source:
fossil fuel:  75.37%
hydro:  24.63%
nuclear:  0%
other:  0% (1999)
Agriculture – products: coffee, cocoa beans, bananas, palm kernels, corn, rice, manioc (tapioca), sweet potatoes, sugar, cotton, rubber; timber
Exports: $3.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports – commodities: cocoa 33%, coffee, tropical woods, petroleum, cotton, bananas, pineapples, palm oil, cotton, fish (1999)
Exports – partners: France 26%, US 8%, Netherlands 7%, Germany 6%, Italy 6% (1999)
Imports: $2.5 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports – commodities: food, consumer goods; capital goods, fuel, transport equipment
Imports – partners: France 26%, Nigeria 10%, China 7%, Italy 5%, Germany 4% (1999)
Debt – external: $13.9 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid – recipient: ODA, $1 billion (1996 est.)
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note – responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States

Map of Ivory Coast