Ivory Coast

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Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire (kōt dēvwärˈ) or Ivory Coast, officially Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, republic (2020 est. pop. 26,378,274), 124,503 sq mi (322,463 sq km), W Africa, on the Gulf of Guinea of the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Liberia and Guinea on the west, by Mali and Burkina Faso on the north, and by Ghana on the east. The official capital is Yamoussoukro; the largest city, commercial center, administrative center, and former capital is Abidjan.

Land and People

The country consists of a coastal lowland in the south, a densely forested plateau in the interior, and a region of upland savannas in the north. Rainfall is heavy, especially along the coast. There are over 60 ethnic groups in Côte d'Ivoire; the major groups are the Baoule, Beti, Senufo, Malinke, Anyi, and Dan. There are also a significant number of immigrants from neighboring Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea, as well as many people of Lebanese and French descent. The population is about 40% Muslim, with some 35% following traditional religious beliefs, and 25% Christian. The Muslims predominate in the north, while Christians are concentrated in the south. French is the official language. There are also some 60 native dialects, with Dioula the most widely spoken.


One of the wealthiest members of what was French West Africa, Côte d'Ivoire enjoyed a high economic growth rate from its independence through the 1970s. In the 1980s it faced economic difficulties, including a drop in commodity prices and huge foreign debt payments. Economic productivity and exports subsequently grew with the introduction of a market economy and International Monetary Fund–sponsored reforms, but since the late 1990s ethnic and political unrest have hurt the economy.

Despite steady industrialization since the 1960s, the country is still predominantly agricultural, with some 68% of the population engaged in farming. Corn, rice, manioc, sweet potatoes, and sugarcane are the main subsistence crops. Côte d'Ivoire is among the world's largest producers and exporters of coffee, cocoa beans, and palm-kernel oil. Cotton, bananas, and pineapples are also raised for export. Mahogany and other hardwoods provide timber, which is also a valuable export, and the production of rubber has increased substantially in recent years. Livestock is raised in the savannas, and fishing is important. Among the country's industries are the production of foodstuffs, beverages, wood products, textiles, and fertilizer; oil refining (offshore production of petroleum and natural gas began in the early 1980s); motor vehicle assembly; and ship construction and repair. There is some mining, including gold, diamonds, and nickel. From 2005 to 2014 the UN Security Council banned Ivoirian diamond exports because the gems financed the purchase of guns used in the country's civil strife, but trafficking in diamonds continued despite the ban. Fuel, capital equipment, and foodstuffs are imported. France, Nigeria, and the United States are the chief trading partners.


Côte d'Ivoire is governed under the constitution of 2016. The president, who is the head of state, is popularly elected to a five-year term; there are no term limits. The prime minister, who is the head of government, is appointed by the president. The Parliament has two houses whose members serve five-year terms. The Senate has 99 members; two thirds are indirectly elected by the regions and autonomous districts and one third are appointed by the president. The 255 members of the unicameral National Assembly are popularly elected to five-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 12 districts (subdivided into 31 regions) and 2 autonomous districts (Abidjan and Yamoussoukro).


History before Independence

In precolonial times the geographical area currently known as Côte d'Ivoire comprised many small states. The Portuguese established trading settlements along the coast in the 16th cent., and other Europeans later joined the burgeoning trade in slaves and ivory. In 1842 a French military mission imposed a protectorate over the coastal zone. After 1870, France undertook a systematic conquest; although a protectorate over the entire country was proclaimed in 1893, strong resistance by the indigenous people delayed French occupation of the interior.

Côte d'Ivoire was incorporated into the Federation of French West Africa, and several thousand of its troops fought with the French during World War I, but effective French control over the area was not established until after the war. Although Vichy forces held Côte d'Ivoire during World War II, many left to join the Free French forces in the Gold Coast (now Ghana). As the desire for independence mounted, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, a planter and founder of the federation-wide Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA), formed (1946) the nationalist Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI). In the French constitutional referendum of 1958, Côte d'Ivoire chose autonomy within the French Community.

The New Nation

In 1960, Côte d'Ivoire withdrew from the French Community and declared itself independent. The new republic joined the Organization of African Unity in 1963. Côte d'Ivoire was one of the few African states to recognize Biafra during the Nigerian civil war (1967–70); this action, as well as Houphouët-Boigny's advocacy of dialogue with white-ruled South Africa, estranged the country somewhat from many other African states. In 1980, high unemployment and a falling standard of living led to an attempted coup. Student and labor unrest continued throughout the 1980s as the government cut wages and increased the privatization of industry. The capital was officially transferred to Yamoussoukro in 1983.

Côte d'Ivoire had been a de facto one-party state since its birth as a republic, but opposition parties were legalized in 1990 after widespread popular protests. Houphouët-Boigny, who had headed the government as well as the PDCI since independence, won a seventh term in 1990, in the country's first truly multiparty elections. After his death in 1993, assembly speaker Henri Konan Bédié succeeded to the presidency. Bédié retained the post after a 1995 election that was marred by violence and boycotted by the major opposition groups; former prime minister Alassane Ouattara was barred from running by changes in the election laws. Unlike his predecessor, Bédié began to exploit the nation's ethnic differences, seeking his support from the predominantly Christian peoples of S Côte d'Ivoire.

The economy improved in the late 1990s, as Bédié pursued free-market reforms that included wide-scale privatization and encouragement of foreign investment. In 1999, Bédié's government disqualified Ouattara, a northern Muslim, from mounting a candidacy in the 2000 presidential election and subsequently issued a warrant for his arrest, claiming he had forged documents that proved he was an Ivorian citizen. These actions provoked opposition demonstrations, and opposition leaders were arrested.

In Dec., 1999, after unpaid soldiers began looting in Abidjan, Bédié was ousted in a military coup led by General Robert Gueï; it was the first coup in the nation's history. Gueï initially appointed an interim governtment, but he dismissed it in May and subsequently appeared to be seeking to retain his hold on power. A new constitution approved in July, 2000, limited the presidency to citizens whose parents were both Ivorian citizens; the measure was regarded as an attempt to prevent the candidacy of Ouattara, who had returned to the country after Bédié's ouster.

In the October elections Laurent Gbagbo of the socialist Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) won the presidency amid a low turnout—Ouattara was banned from running and his supporters boycotted the vote—but the army halted the vote count and Gueï claimed victory. Street protests and the desertion of police and military units forced Gueï from power, and Gbagbo took office. Strife between southern Christians and northern Muslims erupted, however, after Ouattara challenged the legitimacy of Gbagbo's win.

In legislative elections held in December and January, Ouattara was again barred from running, and his Rally of the Republicans (RDR) party boycotted the polls; Ouattara subsequently went into exile until Dec., 2001. The new parliament was dominated by the southern-based FPI and the PDCI. Ethnic division in the country was at its worst since independence, and there was growing international criticism of President Gbagbo, who survived an abortive coup in January, 2001. A national reconciliation forum in late 2001 attempted to address issues dividing the nation; among its recommendations were the recognition of Ouattara's Ivoirian citizenship.

A mutiny by several hundred soldiers who were about to demobilized because they were believed disloyal erupted in Sept., 2002; they seized control of Bouaké, Korhogo, and other northern towns, but were routed in Abidjan. The government first accused Gueï, who was killed, of attempting a coup, and then accused Ouattara, who escaped an attempt on his life. French troops intervened to protect and evacuate foreign civilians, but also acted to slow the rebel advance. In early October West African mediators negotiated a cease-fire, but the government rejected the agreement and fighting continued.

By the end of 2002 three rebel groups had emerged. The main rebel force largely controlled the northern half of the country, while the two other groups controlled smaller western areas. Most of the lucrative cacao-growing areas, however, remained in government hands. A truce was signed in Jan., 2003, and after sometimes difficult negotiations a power-sharing government that included rebel representatives was formed in April, with Seydou Diarra, a politician from the north, as prime minister. A comprehensive cease-fire was not established, however, until May, and tensions over the makeup and powers of the new government and attacks on rebel officials threatened the peace, despite the declaration (in July) of the war's end. In September the rebels withdrew from the government, but they resumed participating in Jan., 2004. In March the PDCI withdrew, charging Gbagbo with destabilizing the peace process, and after unarmed antigovernment demonstrators were fired on in Abidjan later the same month the rebels, the RDR, and other opposition parties also withdrew.

In Apr., 2004, a UN peacekeeping force was established to help implement the peace accord, and in August rebels and opposition parties returned to the government after negotiations. The peace process remained uncertain, however, especially after the government failed to enact the required political reforms and the rebels then refused (Oct., 2004) to begin disarming. The civil war reignited (Nov., 2004) when the Gbagbo government broke the cease-fire by launching air attacks on the rebel-held north. When nine French peacekeepers were killed, France retaliated by destroying most of the small Ivorian air force, anti-French riots broke out in Abidjan, and Western civilians were evacuated. Later that month the UN responded by imposing sanctions on Côte d'Ivoire.

In Dec., 2004, after negotiations spearheaded by South Africa's President Mbeki, the constitution was amended to permit citizens with one Ivoirian parent to run for president, but President Gbagbo insisted that the amendment be approved by a referendum, a move the northern rebels rejected. Relations between the government and the rebels further deteriorated during early 2005, but in April Mbeki negotiated a new cease-fire agreement that included a renewed commitment to disarming and elections later in 2005, and the rebels agreed to rejoin the government.

The process of disarmament, however, several times failed to begin as scheduled, as the rebels continued to object to changes enacted by the government, and the elections scheduled for Oct., 2005, were postponed. The African Union, with the agreement of the UN Security Council, proposed that Gbagbo remain in office for an additional year while an election was arranged, but that his powers be limited and a prime minister with executive powers be appointed. In Dec., 2005, Charles Konan Banny was named prime minister, and the rebels subsquently agreed to support his government.

A recommendation in Jan., 2006, by UN-backed mediators that the national assembly, the terms of whose members had expired, be disbanded provoked several days of violent anti-UN riots by Gbagbo supporters. In Mar., 2006, after multiparty talks in February that also included Gbagbo, Bédie, and Ouattara, the rebels leader, Guillaume Soro, finally rejoined the government. A June accord on disarmament, however, failed to produce results, and a national identification program designed to clarify who among the nation's 3.5 million unregistered inhabitants were Ivoirian citizens and qualified to vote was halted by Gbagbo.

In Aug., 2006, Gbagbo announced he would not step down as president if new elections were not, as seemed inevitable, held in October. The African Union proposed extending his term for one more year only, while also transferring more powers to the prime minister; the UN Security Council adopted this position in a November resolution despite protests against an extension for Gbagbo from the opposition and rebels and objections from the Gbagbo camp over any limitations on his presidency. Meanwhile, the nation was shocked by an industrial waste scandal that caused 40,000 Ivoirians to seek treatment; the waste, from foreign sources, should have been incinerated but had been dumped in Aug., 2006, at several sites around the capital.

A new peace agreement was signed in Mar., 2007. Negotiated by Burkina Faso President Blaise Campaoré and supported by the African Union, it set a timetable for disarmament and elections, called for removal of the buffer zone between the north and south and the withdrawal of UN and French peacekeepers, and made Guillaume Soro prime minister of a revamped power-sharing government. Despite the official dismantling of the buffer zone, however, government and rebel forces maintained their checkpoints, and integration of the armed forces and voter identification programs did not proceed on schedule. In June a rocket was fired at a plane carrying the prime minister; he was not injured.

Disarmament was officially inaugurated in Dec., 2007, and subsequent progress was slow; the first significant disarming of rebel forces occurred in May, 2008. Delays and other problems affecting voter identification led to the postponement of the presidential election beyond the planned date of Nov. 30, 2008. In Dec., 2008, it was agreed that elections would be scheduled after voter identification and disarmament was completed. The following May officials rescheduled the vote for Nov. 29, 2009; that same month rebel forces handed over control of 10 northern zones to civilian administrators appointed by the government. In Nov., 2009, the presidential election was once again postponed.

In Jan., 2010, the president accused the election commission of including more than 450,000 “foreigners” among the voters on its roles, sparking a crisis that led in the following month to his dismissal of the government and the election commission. Many in the opposition denounced the move as an attempt to remain in power and remove northern Ivoirians from the voting lists, and ethnic violence threatened. A new government was formed after Campaoré again intervened, and a new election commission was appointed later in February, but the presidential election was further delayed once again.

In Sept., 2010, after a voter list was at last finalized, the election was rescheduled for the end of October. No candidate won the October vote, which forced a runoff between Gbagbo and Ouattara. Bédie placed third, and his party demanded a recount, but the constitutional council dismissed the electoral challenges and most international observers regarded the election as largely credible. In the November runoff, Ouattara defeated Gbagbo according the results released in December by the election commission, but Gbagbo had the constitutional court invalidate results from seven northern districts and declare him the winner.

West African nations, followed by the United Nations and African Union, recognized Ouattara as the country's president, and a number of international organizations imposed sanctions on Gbagbo and his government, which had the army's support and refused to concede. The standoff continued into 2011. There were outbreaks of deadly violence between Gbagbo's supporters (including government forces) and Ouattara's supporters, and also between the former and UN peacekeepers (who also protected Ouattara himself).

In February civil war broke out again, resuming first in W Cóte d'Ivoire. The northern forces supporting Ouattara gradually gained the upper hand, and in April, having benefited at times from UN-French support, they captured Gbagbo in Abidjan and placed the former president under arrest. Both sides were accused of committing atrocities during the fighting, and an estimated 1 million people were displaced as a result of the conflict. In November, Gbagbo was transferred to the International Criminal Court to face charges of crimes against humanity; he was acquitted in 2019.

In May, meanwhile, Ouattara was sworn in as president; Soro remained prime minister when a new cabinet was formed in June. The parliamentary elections in Dec., 2011, were boycotted by Gbagbo's party, and Ouattara's RDR and the allied PDCI won a majority. Soro resigned as prime minister in Mar., 2012. Justice Minister Jeannot Ahoussou-Kouadio, a PDCI member and Bédié ally, was named to succeed Soro, but in November Daniel Kablan Duncan, the foreign minister and a PDCI member, replaced him.

In 2012–13 a number of prominent Gbagbo supporters were arrested and charged with war crimes; the first prominent accused Ouattara supporter was arrested in mid-2013. In Aug., 2013, the parliament passed legislation designed to make it easier for foreign-born spouses of Ivoirian citizens and long-time residents of foreign birth or descent to become Ivoirian citizens. Pro-Gbagbo militias, in some cases based in Liberia or Ghana, have mounted sporadic attacks against targets in Côte d'Ivoire since mid-2012. In 2015, 68 people, including Gbagbo's wife and son and the former heads of the Republic Guard and the Ivoirian navy, were convicted in an Ivoirian court on charges arising from the conflict that followed the 2010 presidential election. (His wife was granted amnesty in 2018.)

Ouattara was reelected in Oct., 2015, again with the support of the PDCI, but several candidates withdrew from the contest, claiming the election was not free and fair. Ouattara subsequently reappointed Duncan prime minister. In Oct., 2016, voters overwhelmingly approved a new constitution that eased nationality restrictions on the president and established a vice presidency and senate, but turnout was only 42%. The parliamentary elections in December resulted in a majority for the governing coalition, but turnout (34%) was even lower than in October.

In Jan., 2017, the government faced a series of uprisings by military and police forces over pay that began with an army mutiny in Bouaké. The uprisings subsequently prompted strikes by civil servants over pay and pensions. Also in January, the government was re-formed, with Amadou Gon Coulibaly as prime minister. A second major security forces uprising, also over pay, occurred in May. In July, 2018, the government was again re-formed; Coulibaly remained prime minister. The PDCI subsequently left the governing coalition when RDR refused to agree to the PDCI's picking a joint presidential candidate for 2020.

In Dec., 2019, an arrest warrant was issued for former prime minister Soro, who had been abroad but was planning to return; Soro, who did not return to the country, was accused of plotting a coup. In Apr., 2020, Soro was convicted in absentia of embezzlement. Coulibaly died in office in July, 2020; Hamed Bakayoko succeeded him in August. After Ouattara replaced Coulibaly as the RDR's presidential candidate, the main opposition candidates called for a boycott of the October election, and Ouattara received more than 90% of the vote. The result sparked opposition protests.


See I. Wallerstein, Road to Independence: Ghana and the Ivory Coast (1964); P. Foster and A. R. Zolberg, ed., Ghana and the Ivory Coast: Perspectives in Modernization (1971); A. R. Zolberg, One-Party Government in the Ivory Coast (rev. ed. 1974); R. J. Mundt, Historical Dictionary of the Ivory Coast (1987); B. C. Lewis, The Ivory Coast (1989).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ivory Coast


Republic of the Ivory Coast (French, Ré-publique de Côte d’lvoire), a state in West Africa. Bounded by Liberia and the Republic of Guinea on the west, Mali and Upper Volta on the north, Ghana on the east, and the Gulf of Guinea on the south. Area, 322,500 sq km. Population, 4.2 million (1969, estimate). Capital, Abidjan.

Administratively, the territory of the Ivory Coast is divided into 24 departments.

Governmental structure. The Ivory Coast is a republic. The operating constitution was adopted Nov. 3, 1960. The head of state and government is a president elected by the population for five years on the basis of universal, direct suffrage. The president has broad powers, which include appointing and removing ministers and high officials, serving as commander in chief of the armed forces, and representing the country in foreign relations. The president and the government which he heads—the Council of Ministers—are not responsible to the parliament. A consultative organ, the Economic and Social Council, has been formed under the auspices of the government; it makes decisions on drafts of laws, ordinances, and decrees of an economic and social nature.

The supreme organ of legislative power is the unicameral National Assembly, which consists of 85 deputies elected by the population for five years. All citizens at least 21 years of age have the right to vote; citizens at least 25 years of age can be elected. Elections are conducted on the basis of a complete national list. The country is not divided up into electoral districts for elections; rather, voting is carried out on the basis of a single list of candidates (for all 85 seats) presented by the ruling party.

The heads of the local administration are the prefects (in departments) and subprefects (in subprefectures); they are appointed by the president. There are elected organs of self-government in the departments with limited powers—the general councils—which are elected for five years. In large cities, the organs of self-government are the city councils, whose heads are designated by the government.

As a result of the judicial reforms of 1961 and 1964, courts of customary law were abolished and a unified judicial system was created. It consists of the Supreme Court, the court of appeal, and trial courts. The Supreme Court—the court of last resort—also exercises constitutional supervision and control over the implementation of referendums and presidential and parliamentary elections. In 1963 the court of state security was established. A number of acts of colonial legislation continue to operate in the country. They are gradually being replaced by new laws. (New codes, including a code of criminal procedure, a criminal code, and a civil code, have been adopted.)


Natural features. The Ivory Coast is situated in the equatorial and subequatorial belts. It extends into the continent’s interior up to the watershed with the basin of the Niger River. The coastline of the Gulf of Guinea is very slightly broken. The coasts, which are steep and rocky in the west and gently sloping and sandy in the east, are without natural harbors. Along the eastern portion of the coast there is a chain of lagoons suitable for navigation. The land surface consists of a hilly plain in the south and a plateau in the north (average elevation, 500–800 m). Mt. Nimba (1,752 m) in the west is the highest peak in the country.

The territory of the Ivory Coast is composed of Precam-brian rocks of the African Platform (granite in the west and north, crystalline and slightly metamorphosed shales in the east), which emerge on the surface almost everywhere. Among the useful minerals which have been prospected, deposits of diamonds and manganic ores are of practical value. There are deposits of gold, bauxites, iron ores, tin, and col-umbite.

The climate in the south is equatorial, perpetually humid, with two periods of maximum precipitation (May-June, September-October); over the rest of the territory, it is subequatorial, with a clearly defined dry season, during which a hot, dusty northeasterly wind—the harmattan—predominates. The average temperature in the south for the hottest months (December-April) is 27–28° C and for the coldest months (July-September) 23–24° C and in the north, 30° C (April) and 25° C (August-September) respectively. Annual precipitation on the maritime depressions is 1,300–2,300 mm; in the north it is 1,100–1,800 mm. The river network is dense, but the rivers are not great in size and have sharp fluctuations of flow. The main rivers are the Cavalla, Sassandra, Bandama, and Komoé.

The predominant vegetation in the south is evergreen equatorial forests on red-yellow laterite soils. In the north, forest savanna with fringing forests along the rivers is dominant; further on it is replaced by high-grass savanna on red laterite soils. The fauna is rich and very diversified; there are monkeys, elephants, hippopotamuses, leopards, hyenas, jackals, antelope, and buffalo. Reptiles are numerous (crocodiles, tortoises, and snakes).

Population. The population of the Ivory Coast belongs essentially to three language groups. Peoples of the Guinean group live throughout the south and in the center of the country; there are the Agni and Baule (1 million people by a 1967 estimate), Kru (1 million), and lagoon tribes (200,000). The northern and northeastern regions of the country are occupied by peoples of the Guro group, including the Senufo (700,000), Lobi (200,000), and Kulango (70,000). The northwestern and central areas are settled by peoples of the Mande family, that is, Malinke and Bambara (400,000), Dan and Kweni (about 400,000). Small groups of Hausa and Fulbe and about 40,000 Europeans (primarily French) also live in the country. The majority of the population (about 65 percent) adheres to local traditional beliefs. About 23 percent of the population (Malinke, Bambara, and certain other peoples) profess Islam. About 12 percent of the population are Christians; they are found primarily among the Guinean peoples (Agni, Baule, and others). The state language is French. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

Between 1963 and 1968 the average growth in population was 2.3 percent per year. The migration of the rural population to the cities and immigration of Africans from neighboring countries (primarily to Abidjan) are increasing. The economically active population by a 1964 estimate numbers 1,850,000, of which 86.4 percent is employed in agriculture, forestry, and fishing; 6.8 percent in trade; 2.3 percent in transportation and communications; 2.2 percent in services; 1.0 percent in industry; 0.9 percent in construction; and 0.4 in other branches. There are 250,000 people (1967) working for hire.

Class differentiation in the African village is not strongly manifested. Remnants of the tribal clan structure persist. The African proletariat is growing in the cities of Abidjan and Bouaké. The so-called African elite—educated Africans employed primarily in state institutions—occupies a special place in the social and political life of the country.

The most densely settled areas in the country are its central part and the Abidjan region (density of rural population, 20–30 per sq km); the most sparsely settled areas are the southwest, northwest, and northeast sections (less than five people per sq km). About 18 percent of the population lives in cities, the largest of which by a 1965 estimate are Abidjan (500,000; 1969), Bouaké (85,000), Daloa (35,000), Man (30,000), Korhogo (24,000), and Gagnoa (21,000).

Historical survey. The ancient history of the Ivory Coast has been little studied. Handicrafts (including bronze castings) and trade developed considerably here during the Middle Ages. The city Kong, which was founded in the 11th century, remained one of the greatest centers for the caravan trade in West Africa to the end of the 19th century. As early as the 15th century, states were formed according to the early-feudal pattern on the territory of the Ivory Coast. The northern parts of the Ivory Coast entered the sphere of influence of the medieval states of the Western Sudan—Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. During the 18th and 19th centuries, all the large groups of people of the more developed northern and eastern regions of the territory of the Ivory Coast had their own states. In the 18th century a state also took shape in the center of the country among the Baule people. At the same time, some peoples inhabiting the central and western parts of the territory of the Ivory Coast retained the tribal clan structure.

The first Portuguese and the other Europeans made their appearance on the territory of the Ivory Coast at the end of the 15th century and exported slaves from the area. The Europeans also removed ivory and other valuables. In the early 18th century the French founded a fort in Assini and a trading post in Grand-Bassam; however, these only lasted for a few years. In 1842–43, France seized Grand-Bassam and Assini and then a number of other points on the coast. In the 1880’s, French colonizers began intruding into the interior of the country, and in 1893 the French colony of the Ivory Coast was formed. (Up to this time the territory of the Ivory Coast that was seized by the French had been part of the colony of Senegal.) In 1895 the Ivory Coast was placed under the jurisdiction of the governor-general of French possessions in West Africa; between 1904 and 1958 the Ivory Coast was part of French West Africa.

The peoples of the Ivory Coast defended their independence courageously. At the end of the 19th century a particularly stubborn struggle was carried on in the northern regions (which during this period were part of Wasseloo, the state of Samory) and in the east of the country. Nor did armed uprisings cease at the beginning of the 20th century; only around 1915 were the French able to occupy the entire country.

During the period of the colonial regime, the economy of the Ivory Coast was placed under the control of French monopolistic capital, which cruelly exploited the native population of the country. About 330,000 hectares of expropriated land passed into the hands of European (primarily French) plantation owners. The extraction of diamonds, gold, and manganic ore and the exploitation of the riches of the forests were concentrated basically in the hands of French entrepreneurs. In agriculture production of export crops (coffee, cacao, bananas, and others) progressed.

After World War II (1939–45) a new upsurge in the national liberation movement began. The Democratic Party of the Ivory Coast was established in 1946 (as a section of the African Democratic Assembly). In 1950–51 there were large popular actions in response to the repression of the colonial authorities. The French government was forced to make concessions under the pressure of the liberation struggle of the peoples of the Ivory Coast and other African colonies. In 1957 the Territorial Assembly of the Ivory Coast (created by the law of 1952; in 1958, renamed the Legislative Assembly) began to be elected by universal suffrage and for the first time formed the Government Council. As a result of the referendum of Sept. 28, 1958, the Ivory Coast received the status of a member-state of the French Community. The territory was proclaimed an autonomous republic. A government was made up of the leaders of the Democratic Party, headed by F. Houphouet-Boigny. In 1959 the Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, Dahomey, and Niger created an economic and political union which was named the Council of Understanding (in 1966, Togo entered the Council).

In the context of the further growth of the national liberation movement in the African countries, the French government was forced to conclude an agreement with the government of Houphouet-Boigny on July 11, 1960, by which the Ivory Coast was proclaimed independent on Aug. 7,1960. In September the new government became a member of the UN. In November 1960 a new constitution was adopted (the first constitution had been adopted in 1959), In the elections to the National Assembly (Nov. 27, 1960) the Democratic Party of the Ivory Coast was victorious. Houphouet-Boigny, the leader of the Democratic Party, was elected president of the republic. After it achieved independence, the Ivory Coast ceased to be a member of the French Community. However, the government of the Ivory Coast retained close political, economic, and military ties with France. In April 1961 it concluded a treaty and a series of agreements on cooperation with France; at the same time the Ivory Coast, along with the other countries of the Council of Understanding (except Upper Volta), signed an agreement concerning defense with France.

The Ivory Coast took part in the creation of the Afro-Malagasy Union in 1961 (from 1965, the Afro-Malagasy Common Organization; from 1970, the African, Malagasy, and Mauritian Common Organization).

The government of Houphouet-Boigny aids the development of private entrepreneurship and extensively attracts foreign capital from the Western countries to the Ivory Coast.

In 1963–64 a sharp political struggle unfolded among the leadership of the ruling party. The uncovering of several antigovernment conspiracies resulted in the bringing of a number of ministers and other prominent state and political figures to trial. There was a further concentration of power in the hands of the president.

In 1967 and 1969 there were student disturbances and actions by working people in the Ivory Coast.

Diplomatic relations between the Ivory Coast and the USSR were established in 1967 but were broken off by the government of the Ivory Coast in May 1969.


Political parties, trade unions, and other social organizations (1970). The Democratic Party of the Ivory Coast (Parti Democratique de Cote d’Ivoire), which was established in 1946, is the ruling party. The General Union of Working People of the Ivory Coast was established in 1962 on the basis of the National Union of Working People, the National Center of Believing Workers, the National Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and the Association of Independent Trade Unions. The National Federation of Youth Associations was founded in 1961. The Youth and Labor National Movement is composed primarily of rural youth. The University and High School Students Movement of the Ivory Coast was created in 1969.

Economic geography. The Ivory Coast is an agrarian country. Agricultural exports acquired primary importance as a result of the long period of colonial domination. The industry of the Ivory Coast as a whole is not well developed; however, its level of production in certain branches of industry (lumbering, woodworking, the food industry) singles it out among the countries of West Africa.

The positions held by foreign (primarily French) capital are strong in the country’s economy. They are concentrated in mining and manufacturing industry and wholesale domestic and foreign trade. State capital is invested in the infrastructure (electrical energy, port installations, railroads, highways, and other works).

After the achievement of independence (1960) in the Ivory Coast a policy of preserving and strengthening the existing economic ties with France and other capitalist countries was carried out.

At the same time, during the years of independence some structural advances took place in the economy, the foundation for which had already been laid at the end of the colonial period. The importance of industry grew, particularly those branches connected with the processing of export raw materials and imported semifinished products. This was achieved by means of foreign (primarily French) private capital, the influx of which is encouraged by the government of the Ivory Coast. Industry’s share in the national income increased from 15.2 percent in 1960 to 23.4 percent in 1967, whereas the percentage of agriculture decreased from 46.8 to 35.7. Over this same period the national income increased from 142.6 billion to 275.7 billion African francs.

AGRICULTURE. Communal land tenure has been retained in the country’s agriculture. Many farms utilize seasonal hired labor power (primarily migratory workers from Upper Volta). Agricultural technology is primitive; slash-and-burn rotation farming predominates. In the north there is predominantly subsistence farming, in the south, semi-subsistence farming.

In the area of agriculture, foremost in commodity importance is the cultivation of export crops (in the south and in the forest zone)—that is, coffee, cocoa, bananas, and pineapples (near the seacoast in the immediate vicinity of ports of export). The Ivory Coast is third in the world in production and export of coffee and fourth in cocoa. Coffee and cocoa are cultivated primarily on African farms; bananas (common) and pineapples are grown primarily on the large plantations of the European colonists. The main food crops are cassaba, yams, mealy bananas (plantain), and taro in the south; rice in the west; and corn, sorghum, millet, and, to a lesser extent, peanuts in the north. The area and yield of the main agricultural crops are shown in Table 1.

The gathering of the fruits of the wild oil palm, kola nuts, and the fruits of the shea butter tree (karite) is of great importance for the rural population.

The government encourages the expansion of land used to cultivate cotton, tobacco, sugarcane, hevea, and oil and coconut palms in order to develop the commodity sector of agriculture and ensure a large measure of stability of export. Since 1964 especially large capital investment has been directed particularly toward the production—new to the country—of products of the oil palm; the development program in this area is financed by the European Development Fund, and it provides both for drawing European private capital into plantation cultivation and for increasing this crop on the farms of Africans (individual cultivation through the efforts of the African family). In 1969 there were 42,000 hectares of new plantings of oil palms, 29,000 hectares of which was on plantations.

Livestock raising is not well developed. The city’s meat demands are supplied primarily by imports of livestock from Mali and Upper Volta. Most of the livestock population is concentrated in the savanna in the north, where there is an adequate feed base. In 1966–67 the livestock population included 340,000 cattle, 714,000 sheep, and 790,000 goats.

The lumbering of valuable varieties of trees plays an important role in the economy; this is in the hands of European (primarily French) capital. Dense humid tropical forests are distributed over an area of about 11,000 sq km. The bulk of the timber logged (total volume of lumbering, 3 million cu m

Table 1. Area and yield of main agricultural crops
 Area (hectares)Yield (tons)
1 Average per year
2 Unrefined rice
Yams and sweet potatoes169,000232,000270,0001,001,0001 945,0001,920,000
Millet and sorghum102,000144,000146,00060,00083,00095,000

in 1967) is exported in the form of round timber; 26 percent is processed (1967) in local saw mills and plywood factories. After coffee, round timber and lumber are second in importance as articles of export. Lumbering enterprises are concentrated primarily in the old areas of exploitation in the southeast of the country, near the export routes; they are gradually shifting west.

Fishing is well developed in the coastal sea waters near Abidjan and in the lagoons (sardines, tuna, and others; catch, about 70,000 tons in 1968). A sizable portion of the fish consumed is imported from Mali.

INDUSTRY. By early 1968 there were 284 industrial enterprises in the country. The number of workers in industry was about 26,000 in 1967. The gross industrial output in 1967 was more than 60 billion African francs; in 1968 it was about 70 billion African francs. In 1967 the food and tobacco industry represented 26 percent of the gross value of industrial output (5,700 workers); power, 15 percent (1,700 workers); woodworking, 14 percent (6,800 workers); textile, 11 percent (4,600 workers); metalworking, 8 percent (1,300 workers); chemical, oil, and tallow, 13 percent (1,900 workers); construction materials, 4 percent (600 workers); mining, 3 percent (1,100 workers); and other industries, 6 percent (1,900 workers).

The country’s minerals are not exploited much. Diamonds (187,000 carats in 1968; main mines located north of Séguéla) and manganic ore (51,500 tons by metal content; mine in the Grand-Lahou region) are extracted.

The total electrical energy generated in 1968 was 372 million kilowatt-hours, including 257 million kilowatt-hours in hydroelectric power plants. A total of 90 percent of the electrical energy is generated for the Abidjan region. The power system operating here includes two hydroelectric power plants on the Bia River (Ayamé I and Ayamé II) with an overall capacity of 50,000 kilowatts (kW) and a thermal electric power plant in Abidjan with a total capacity of 32,000 kW (1969). The Kossou hydroelectric plant on the Bandama river (projected capacity, 174,000 kW) and a second thermal electric power plant (250,000 kW) are under construction (1970).

Manufacturing industry (primarily woodworking, food, and textiles) began to develop in the 1950’s. It was related to the processing of exported agricultural and forest raw materials and imported raw materials and semifinished products. There are 65 sawmills (283,000 cu m of lumber in 1967); they are located for the most part near areas of timber logging, and about 50 percent of their output is exported to Europe and the neighbors of the Ivory Coast. The remaining enterprises of the manufacturing industry are a milling plant; factories for instant coffee, cocoa, oil, and pineapple preserves; bicycle and automobile assembly plants; an oil refinery (capacity of the first stage—700,000 tons of oil per year); and two cement plants (300,000 tons of cement per year). They are concentrated primarily in Abidjan and its environs and in Bouaké, where the country’s largest enterprise is located—a textile combine (16 million m of cotton fabric per year).

TRANSPORTATION. The country’s main seaport is Abidjan, which is located in the deep-water lagoon of Ebrié. A new protected seaport is under construction (1970) in the mouth of the San Pedro River, southwest of the city of Sassandra; it is to export lumber from the unassimilated region west of the Sassandra River. The major portion of imports and exports is transported on foreign vessels. Motor transport is most important in domestic hauling; there are 32,600 km of automobile roads (1965), of which 12,900 km are passable year round (about 8,000 km asphalt). In 1968 there were 70,600 motor vehicles, 30,000 of which were trucks. The only railroad (about 625 km within the Ivory Coast) links Abidjan with Ouagadougou (Upper Volta). There are two international airports, in Port-Bouët (near Abidjan) and Bouaké.

FOREIGN TRADE. In 1967 the total value of export reached 80.3 billion African francs; imports were 65 billion African francs. The Ivory Coast exports mainly coffee, cocoa, bananas, and lumber, which make up a total of about 90 percent of the value of exports; about 10 percent is provided by diamonds, manganic ore, and other commodities. In the area of imports, foodstuffs and other consumer articles account for more than 50 percent, raw materials and semifinished products about 20 percent, and equipment and so forth about 30 percent. The bulk of the country’s exports are sent to France (38 percent in 1966), the other countries of the Common Market (22 percent), and the USA (17 percent). France is the leading country (57 percent) in imports; it is followed by the USA, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Italy. The monetary unit is the African franc; 100 African francs are equal to two French francs (1970).


Armed forces. The armed forces of the Ivory Coast consist of subunits of land forces, air force, navy, and military police. The total number is about 5,000. The president is commander in chief. Land forces (detached battalions, artillery battalions, special forces subunits, and technical-equipment supply subunits) number about 4,000 and are armed with rifles, 105–mm cannon, and 81–mm mortars of French manufacture. The air force includes up to 100 flight and service personnel and several C-47 transport planes of American manufacture. The navy has several patrol boats.

Health and social welfare. In 1961 the birth rate per 1,000 of population was 56.1 and the mortality rate 33.3. Infant mortality was 138 per 1,000 live births. The average life span is 35 years. Children up to 14 years of age make up 43.8 percent of the population, people over 60, 3.6 percent. Infectious diseases predominate. The most prevalent are malaria, intestinal infections, tuberculosis, leprosy, and childhood infections. Quarantine diseases (smallpox and others) are constantly recorded.

The climatic conditions of the south, where humid tropical forests predominate, are unfavorable for human health. Yellow fever, malaria, and onchocerciasis, as well as skin diseases and yaws, are prevalent here. Malignant growths are frequent. Characteristic of the northern area of the country (a territory of humid high-grass savannas and savanna forests) are sleeping sickness, malaria, onchocerciasis, urogenital schistosomiasis, leprosy, and trachoma.

Medical services are provided for the population by institutions under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Affairs; there are hospitals, various medical centers, and mobile units that are part of the mobile unit and preventive medicine service. In 1966 there were 171 medical institutions in the country with 5,100 beds, including 56 local and village hospitals with 2,200 beds and 107 medical and maternity centers with 1,900 beds. In 1966 there were 218 doctors (one doctor per 18,000 residents) as opposed to 100 doctors (one per 31,000) in 1958; there were eight dentists, 62 pharmacists, 123 midwives, 1,624 nurses, and 1,712 nurses’ aides. Doctors are trained at the medical department of the University of Abidjan and at universities in other countries.


VETERINARY SERVICES. The territory of the Ivory Coast is unfavorable with respect to pasteurellosis (18 outbreaks during 1964–66), bovine contagious pleuropneumonia (94 outbreaks), epizootic lymphangitis of horses, coccidiosis, plague, smallpox, and laryngotracheitis of fowl. One of the main causes for the spread of diseases—primarily pleuropneumonia—is the driving of cattle along routes from Mali and Upper Volta to the south of the country. The presence of the tsetse fly—a carrier of trypanosomes—results in the development of trypanosomiasis among the cattle that are imported from Mali and Upper Volta to improve the livestock population. (Local varieties of cattle have natural immunity to trypanosomiasis but have low productivity.) The great humidity and high temperatures of the external environment are favorable to the development of intermediate hosts of helminths (particularly in the southern forested zone), and this aids the spread of helminthic diseases, such as fascioliasis and cysticercosis. The leaching of the soil and vegetation in the southern forest zone of the country results in the dwarfness of animals; a number of metabolic diseases as well that are connected with calcium and phosphorus deficiencies are caused by this. In the northern savanna regions during the dry season when the pastures become dehydrated, animals become exhausted and frequently die as a result of disruption of the fluid exchange. The total annual livestock losses from murrain are estimated at 10–15 percent of the value of the cattle in the country.

The veterinary service of the country is only in the stage of organization (ten veterinarians in 1966). Quarantining and inoculating points are being established on the northern border and on the routes along which the cattle are driven to combat trypanosomiasis and prevent infectious diseases. There are veterinary personnel at slaughterhouse enterprises as well.


Education and cultural affairs. The first schools of the European type were opened at the end of the 19th century by French missionaries. Under colonial rule about 90 percent of the population was illiterate. After 1960 the government of the Ivory Coast began to devote much attention to the development of public education. In 1960 expenditures for education amounted to 12.6 percent of the state budget and in 1969, 24 percent. The majority of schools are operated by the state. Private schools are primarily run by Catholic missions.

Children at least six years of age are admitted to elementary school; the program is six years. The secondary schools (lycées, classic and modern colleges) have seven-year programs with two cycles (four and three years of instruction). During the 1968–69 school year there were over 431,000 pupils in elementary school and over 46,000 in secondary school. Vocational training is given in four- and seven-year technical lycées, which follow elementary school, and also in centers of apprenticeship (three years). During the 1968–69 school year, 4,800 people were getting vocational training. Teachers for elementary schools are trained by pedagogical schools to which they are admitted before completing the full secondary school program; teachers for secondary schools are trained at the Higher Pedagogical School (opened in 1961). In the 1966–67 school year there were 717 students in pedagogical schools. In 1958 a center of higher education was founded in Abidjan. In 1964 it was turned into a university with legal, medical, natural science, and philological departments. During the 1968–69 school year 2,169 students were studying here. Abidjan has an ethnographic museum.


Scientific institutions. Scientific research in the Ivory Coast is primarily concerned with the tasks of cultivating natural and economic resources. The country’s scientific center is the University of Abidjan. In addition to the university, research of an economic and sociological nature is carried on in the Center of the Human Sciences in Abidjan (founded in 1960). The scientific research center Adiopodoumé (founded in 1946) is located in Abidjan; it trains specialists and directs research on physical and economic geography, genetics, botany, agronomy, minerology, soil science, hydrology, and so on. The center has a laboratory for the use of radioisotopes. Also located in Abidjan are the Center for Tropical Forestry (founded in 1962), the Rubber Institute, and the Institute for Tropical Research; there are laboratories for hydrology, the fishing industry, and tropical ecology; a geophysical station; a scientific research center for the natural sciences founded on the basis of the former branch of the French Institute of Black Africa (research on the biology of the sea, oceanography, etc.); and the Institute of Hygiene. Scientific investigation is also carried out by branches of French scientific research institutes on fruit growing, coffee and cocoa, oil crops, cotton, and textiles.

The directors of the scientific institutions of the Ivory Coast are made up primarily of French specialists.


Press, radio, and television. The most widespread periodical publications are the daily government newspaper Frater-nité Matin, published since 1964 (circulation, 26,000 in 1968); Journal Officiel, published since 1894 (circulation, 25,000); the monthly government bulletin; and the weekly organ of the Democratic Party of the Ivory Coast Fraternité, published since 1959 (circulation, 18,000).

There are radio stations in Abidjan (since 1949) and Bouaké (since 1965). Radio transmission is in French and ten local languages. Television broadcasting (since 1964) is on one channel (35 hours per week).

Literature. Oral folk literature has developed on the territory of the Ivory Coast among the Agni, Baule, Senufo, and other peoples since antiquity. The folklore of the Baule people is particularly distinguished by its poetical nature and lyricism; it includes myths and tales about gods, stories about animals, historical legends that aid in understanding the people’s past, as well as proverbs and riddles. New songs and tales are being created; they are performed by wandering singers and storytellers. A written literature in French is developing on the basis of the traditions of folklore. It is associated primarily with the name of Bernard Dadié—a poet, compiler of folklore, and novelist. In Dadié’s best verses, the traditions of folk literature are combined with a new subject matter reflecting the struggle of Africans for liberation. The writer Aké Loba (pseudonym; real name, Abobo Baulé) has published the novels Kocoumbo—A Black Student (1960) and Spear Over the River (1964); Charles Nokan published the novel The Wind Was Raging (1966), and Sidiki Dembelé published the novel The Useless Ones (1960). The country’s poetry is represented by J. M. Bognini, the author of the collection Stern Call of Hope (1960), C. Nokan, the author of the poem The Sun, Black Spot (1962), Maurice Koné, and others.


Folk art. The distinctiveness of the artistic culture of the Ivory Coast is primarily expressed in the ritual masks of diverse nature—some elegant and finely modeled, others crudely and sketchily fashioned. Their expressiveness is increased by the use of paint or carved ornamentation. Wooden statuettes of ancestors and gods, distorted in their proportions, are also encountered. Domestic items are decorated with geometric carving. There are elegant jewelry articles of gold, bronze, and copper and figured sets of weights for gold dust.

Theater. Amateur theater circles began to develop among the local intelligentsia in the middle of the 1930’s. A permanent amateur group, the Native Theater, was organized in Abidjan in 1938 under the direction of the writer Koffie Gadeau. In 1954 the Culture and Folklore Group was formed on the basis of the theater group; in 1955 it won first place in the artistic reviews of West Africa. In 1957 the association toured France, and in 1960 it appeared at the Théâtre National Populaire in Paris. It stages plays by national playwrights: The Death of Coundé Yao, Yao’nda and Sogona by Gadeau; A Crown by Auction and The Tenth Evil One by Amon d’Aby; Sidi the Swindler, The Oath of Love, and A Complicated Situation by Bernard Dadié, and others.

In the middle of the 1950’s other associations arose—Rainbow and Tropical Ballets. In 1958 the Theatrical Society of the Ivory Coast was established (under the leadership of Kristophe N’gouan). The plays The Craft of an Unemployed Person, Djetouan the Soothsayer, and The Overthrow of King Anoh were performed here.

In 1959 the School of Dramatic Art was founded. It was subsequently turned into the theater school of the National Institute of Arts. In 1967 pupils of the school formed a permanent troupe, whose repertory includes Monsieur Toco-Gnini by Dadié, Three Suitors, One Husband by Guillaume Oyono, and One Does Not Joke With Love by A. de Musset (staged jointly with French actors).



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