Three young We people gymnastic dancers in their costumes. face paint and shell headdresses,

Cote D'Ivoire, the Pearl of West Africa - in a Nutshell

Author: Sue
Date: 9th March 2020

Facts and Factoids

  • Ivory Coast has two official capitals, Yamoussoukro and Abidjan.
  • Ivory Coast’s most famous son is Didier Drogba, the ex-Chelsea footballer. He captained the national team for eight years from 2006 and retired as the nation’s all-time top goal scorer. (The national football team is known as Les Elephants).
  • The official language is French, and the currency is the CFA (Communauté Financière d'Afrique).
  • Arguably the largest church in the world is in Côte d’Ivoire, in Yamoussoukro
  •  Côte d’Ivoire is the biggest producer of cocoa beans in the world, producing over 2 million tons per year
  • Côte d’Ivoire is apparently sometimes referred to as The Pearl of West Africa - in reference to its stunning coast, landscapes and resources.

Who Colonised the Cote d’Ivoire?

By the end of the 1880s, France had established control over the coastal regions of Ivory Coast, and in 1893, Ivory Coast became a French colony. 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). Unusually for West Africa, the Ivory Coast had a sizeable population of settlers. As a result, French citizens owned one-third of the cocoa, coffee, and banana plantations that were established along the coast and here they adopted a forced-labour system.

What is the Official Name for Ivory Coast?

The country today has two different names in common usage, but this area has been referred to as The Ivory Coast, since colonial times beginning with the Portuguese, Costa do Marfim. The English version is Ivory Coast and the French version is Côte d'Ivoire. They all refer to the ivory trade. The country is now known by its French name, after it changed officially in 1985.

Other historical names for the area have included the Côte de Dents, literally "Coast of Teeth", again reflecting the ivory trade, the Coast of the Five and Six Stripes, after a type of cotton fabric also traded there and the Côte du Vent, the Windward Coast, after the prevailing off-shore weather.

Is Cote d’Ivoire a Poor Country?

Just under half the population of Ivory Coast live below the poverty line. Most of the economy is based on agriculture and principally, the cocoa crop. Cote d’Ivoire is the world’s largest cocoa producer, currently exporting twice as much as its nearest rival, Ghana. If the harvest fails then the farmers are left with nothing. And in any case they are reliant on buyers fulfilling their contracts.

Is Cote D’Ivoire Safe to Visit?

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to within 40km of the northern border with Mali and Burkina Faso, because of terrorist incursions. They also prohibit travel along the slither of land abutting the Liberian border. due to historical unrest here, though it was several years ago. It seems very peaceful to me, but I’m anxious to clear it, just in case.

Where Am I Visiting in Cote d'Ivoire?

Cote D'Ivoire has soaring velvety mountains, mist-topped rainforests, waterfalls, sweeping plantations of cocoa and plantains and more orange soil.

I'm visiting :

Getting into Cote D'Ivoire

It’s a very different experience on the Ivory Coast border post as I finally escape Liberia. Francis, my new guide, joshes with the officials and they laugh at my squeaky French and welcome me to the country. I got my visa in London. Though I had to go up to the embassy to be fingerprinted. And go back to collect my passport. They won’t post it. The douanes are lolling in deckchairs outside their office. They stare languidly at my cases and offer me a banana. And I’m through.

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