Cote d’Ivoire – The Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, a state in West Africa

Cote d’Ivoire: Africa has its own New York

Côte d’Ivoire is one of the best countries in Africa. Well, for one thing, it has a great name. They say some people even call their cats that. Secondly, it is relatively safe by African standards. No one will take away your camera on the street, no need to leave expensive jewelry and watches in the hotel. The people here in general are very friendly. Thirdly, it is relatively clean, again, by African standards. And most importantly, you can safely come here during the coronavirus. It is only necessary to do a test in advance and fill out a form on the website.

The name of the country comes from the French Cote d’Ivoire, which translates as Ivory Coast. The country is called in French because it was a French colony until 1960 and the language of the colonizers is still official. Which is understandable: there are 60 different tribes living in Côte d’Ivoire, and they wouldn’t understand each other in their own languages. The name “Ivory Coast” appears for a reason: Europeans who first sailed into the country in the 15th century started exporting it. They exported gold and slaves at the same time.

When the French left in 1960, the so-called Ivorian miracle began. The newly independent country began to develop socially and economically, and also to increase in population. Refugees contributed to this: people moved to Côte d’Ivoire from poor neighboring countries, like Burkina Faso. As a result, Côte d’Ivoire’s population grew from 3.7 million to more than 12 million in its first 28 years of independence. And Abidjan, the largest Ivorian city, became the third largest French-speaking city in the world, behind only Paris and Kinshasa!

Côte d’Ivoire was even once one of the most successful countries in Africa! After gaining independence in 1960, it was growing at the same pace as Southeast Asia, with an economy that was growing at 11% a year. But it all came crashing down with the death of the first president. His successor, Henri Konan Bédié, launched a national cleansing, restricting the rights of refugees and their descendants, which led to a civil war that lasted more than three years.

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Côte d’Ivoire’s economy is now supported by agriculture. The country is the world’s largest producer of cocoa, and cocoa and coffee together account for a quarter of all national GDP. In absolute numbers, it’s not so bad: The Ivorian economy is the 12th largest in Africa by size, but Côte d’Ivoire is not even in the top 20 in GDP per capita on the poorest continent. According to 2018 data, about 40% of the country’s population lives below the poverty line.

Today I want to show you two cities in Côte d’Ivoire: the capital Abidjan and Grand Bassam, whose historic center is even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, something not often seen in West Africa.

01. The center of Abidjan is overgrown with skyscrapers! Quite an unusual sight by African standards. Agree, it reminds something of New York! Well, such a little African New York.

02. Wide roads! You don’t see that in our neighbors. Here there are shuttles, and in them there are special salespeople, who are catching passengers on the side of the road while they’re driving.

03. Just recently, at the end of October, the country held a presidential election. Here, of course, is not Namibia, where Adolf Hitler came to power in municipal elections, but the elections were interesting in their own way. The inscription on the poster reads, “My only weapon is my vote.

04. President Alassane Ouattara, running for a third term, won the election for head of state with. 94.27% of the popular vote. Independent candidate Kouadio Konan Bertin received 1.99% of the vote, while the other two candidates who called for a boycott, Henri Konan Bedieu and Pascal Affi N`Gessan, also received less than 2% of the vote each.

As is often the case, the president-elect did not want to run again, but the ruling party, the Rassemblement des Républicains, nominated Ouattara as candidate for head of state. You can imagine how he could go against the will of the people, who persuaded him to stay on for a third term!

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Côte d’Ivoire

Anthem of Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire (until 1986, the name Ivory Coast was accepted in Russian literature) is a state in West Africa on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. Its area is 322,460 km². As of 2018, the country’s population was 23,740,424. Côte d’Ivoire was a French colony until 1960, and then became an independent presidential republic, retaining French as the official language.

Currently, Côte d’Ivoire is one of the main exporters of pineapples to Russia.

Save on a trip to Cote d’Ivoire!

Climate and weather

The country lies in two climatic belts, the subequatorial in the north and the equatorial in the south. The average monthly temperature everywhere is 25-30 °C, but the amount of rainfall and its regime is different. The equatorial climate is characterized by the oceanic air and there is not a single month without precipitation, which reaches 2400 mm a year (mostly in March-June and December-January). In the north subequatorial climate precipitation is less (1100-1800 mm) and there is a dry winter period.

Geography

The surface of the country is predominantly flat, low in the south in the pre-Oceanic zone, turning into a low plateau, 500-800 m high in the north. In the west, in the Dan Mountains, it is the highest point in the country (1,340 m). Almost all of the territory has outcrops of ancient rocks of the African platform: granites prevail in the west and north and shales in the east. Deposits of gold, diamonds, manganese and iron ores have been discovered here. The coastline of the Gulf of Guinea is poorly cut and separated from the sea by a strip of sandy sediment. The main rivers – the Comoé, Bandama, Sassandra and Cavalli – are not navigable.

Flora and fauna

The vegetation cover in the south is dominated by humid equatorial forests with more than 600 species of trees, including valuable species (about 35 species are used for timber harvesting, including 5 species of mahogany). To the north, wet forests are replaced by woodlands, into which islets of gallery forests are interspersed along river valleys. Further north, the islands of trees disappear and most of the area is covered by tall grass savanna. Both the vegetation and the fauna of the Ivory Coast are better preserved than in other West African countries: there are numerous monkeys (monkeys, chimpanzees, gerbils, etc.), elephants, hippos, forest antelopes, brush pigs, water deer; in savannahs there are various species of antelope, as well as leopard, cheetah, and serval. A network of protected areas and national parks has been established, including on the slopes of Mount Nimba (on the border with Guinea and Liberia) and the Banco National Park near Abidjan.

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Population

The population of Côte d’Ivoire includes representatives of more than 55 linguistic communities, many of which have a distinctive exotic culture. There are three subgroups of nationalities: Guinean (Kru, Baoulé, Agnès, etc.), Voltaic (Senufo, Lobi, Bobo, Coulango, Mosi) and Mande (Malinke and others). The majority of the population is engaged in agriculture (cocoa, coffee crops, etc.) and retains both traditional ways of life and traditional animistic beliefs.

Major Cities

The country’s largest city is Abidjan (about 4.4 million inhabitants), whose rapid growth began after 1950. Now it is an industrial center, a major port, there is a university, a research center. Abidjan is a modern city with numerous hotels, restaurants and other elements of tourism infrastructure. The capital of Côte d’Ivoire is Yamoussoukro, which is home to 281 thousand people. Other major cities in the country are Bwake, San Pedro, Korhogo, and Ferkesedougou.

History

The territory of modern Côte d’Ivoire was inhabited by Pygmies as early as the 1st millennium B.C. Soon other peoples began to move there as well, the first of them were the Senufo.

Europeans first began to land on the shores of modern Côte d’Ivoire in the 15th century. The Portuguese, Dutch, and Danes were here at that time. The Portuguese visited here in the 1460s. Colonization began with the arrival of the French, who in the mid-19th century began the economic development of the land. The local tribes were exterminated until 1917. The French exported diamonds and gold, coffee and cocoa from here, and had banana plantations. March 10, 1893 Ivory Coast was declared a colony of France, in 1895 included in the French West Africa. Ivory Coast became a major producer of coffee and cocoa for French markets. In 1934 Abidjan was declared the center of the colony. In 1945, the first political party, the Democratic Party of the Ivory Coast, emerged, initially leaning toward Marxism, but since the early 50s it shifted to positions close to the French right. In 1957, France granted the colony local self-government.

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On August 7, 1960, the independence of the country was proclaimed. The leader of the Democratic Party, Houphouët-Boigny became its president, the DP became the ruling and only party. The principle of inviolability of private property was proclaimed. The country continued to be an agrarian and raw materials appendage of France, but its economy was in good shape by African standards, with an economic growth rate of 11% per year. Ivory Coast became the world leader in the production of cocoa beans in 1979, but its success in this field was based on good conditions and a combination of the presence of great managers, foreign investment and a large number of cheap laborers, mostly migrant workers from neighboring countries. However, in the 1980s coffee and cocoa prices fell on world markets, in 1982-1983 the country suffered a severe drought and economic decline; by the end of the 1980s the per capita foreign debt ratio exceeded that of all African countries except Nigeria. Under public pressure, Houphouët-Boigny made political concessions, legalized alternative political parties to the ruling one, initiated an electoral process, and was elected president in 1990.

In 1993, he died, and the country was led by Henri Konan Bédié, long considered his successor. In 1995, a forum on investment in the country’s economy was held, in which Russian companies also participated. In the late 1990s, political instability increased, and Bedié had a serious rival: Allasan Ouattara, but he was of Burkinabé origin, while the country’s constitution allowed only Ivorians to be elected. This circumstance greatly deepened the already emerging ethnic divide in society. By that time, between one-third and half of the population was composed of foreigners, most of whom had previously worked in the agricultural sector, which had fallen into disrepair because of the poor state of the economy.

On December 25, 1999, there was a military coup d’état, organized by Robert Gueye, which led to a presidential election marked by fraud and rioting the following year. Opposition leader Laurent Gbagbo was officially declared the winner of the election. On September 19, 2002, a military rebellion was organized in Abdijan, which was put down, but it was the beginning of a civil war between the political factions representing the north and the south of the country. An agreement to end the fighting was reached in 2003, but the situation remained unstable. A lasting peace agreement was not signed until the spring of 2007.

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Politics

Cote d’Ivoire is a presidential republic. The president is directly elected for 5 years with the possibility of re-election only once. He has the full power of the executive. He appoints and dismisses the prime minister. The president has the legislative initiative along with the parliament (unicameral).

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