Ivory Coast country profile

Map of Ivory Coast

For more than three decades after its independence from France, Cote D’Ivoire or Ivory Coast was known for its religious and ethnic harmony, as well as its well-developed economy.

The Western African country was hailed as a model of stability. But an armed rebellion in 2002 split the nation in two. Peace deals alternated with renewed violence as the country slowly edged its way towards a political resolution of the conflict.

Despite the instability, the Ivory Coast is the world’s largest exporter of cocoa beans, and its citizens enjoy a relatively high level of income compared to other countries in the region.

  • Capital: Yamoussoukro (political) Abidjan (economic)

  • Area: 322,463 sq km

  • Population: 29.3 million

  • Languages: French, plus Bété, Jula, Baule, Abron, Anyin, Cebaara Senufo and others

  • life expectancy: 62 years (men) 65 years (women)

President: Alassane Ouattara

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara

Alassane Ouattara has been in power since his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, was forcibly removed from office after refusing to accept Mr Ouattara’s internationally recognized victory in the November 2010 presidential election.

In 2015, Mr Ouattara won a second five-year term with nearly 84% of the vote, in an election described as credible by US observers.

His re-election in 2020 was more controversial, with the opposition boycotting the poll in protest at what they called an unconstitutional third term.

A US-educated economist from the Muslim north, Mr Ouattara served as President Felix Houphouet-Boigny’s last prime minister after a long career at the International Monetary Fund.

Ivory Coast TV studio

Ivory Coast public television studio

The government operates the outlets with the widest reach, including TV and radio networks and the main daily newspaper.

The first privately-owned terrestrial TV stations were licensed in 2018.

Press freedom “depends closely on the political context”, says Reporters Without Borders.

Read full media profile

Some key dates in the history of the Ivory Coast:

Ivory Coast's ex-president Houphouet-Boigny

Ivory Coast was relatively stable and prospered economically under Felix Houphouet-Boigny’s three decades at the helm

1842 – France imposes protectorate over the coastal zone and later colonizes the Ivory Coast.

1944 – Felix Houphouet-Boigny, later to become Ivory Coast’s first president, founds a union of African farmers, which develops into the inter-territorial African Democratic Rally and its Ivorian section, the Ivory Coast Democratic Party.

1958 – Ivory Coast becomes a republic within the French community.

1960 France grants independence under President Felix Houphouet-Boigny. He holds power until he dies in 1993.

1999 – President Henri Konan Bedie, in power since 1993, is overthrown in a military coup.

2000 Laurent Gbagbo becomes president after a controversial election.

2002-2007 Civil war effectively splits country into Muslim rebel-held north and government-controlled Christian south after renegade soldiers try to oust Mr Gbagbo.

2007 Gbagbo and rebel chief Guillaume Soro of the New Forces sign an agreement to end the crisis.

2010 Long-delayed presidential elections. Election commission declares Alassane Ouattara the winner of the run-off. Mr Gbagbo refuses to quit. Post-election violence leaves 3,000 people dead and 500,000 displaced.

2016 – Al-Qaeda jihadists attack the beach resort of Grand Bassam, near Abidjan, killing 18 people.

2019 – The International Criminal Court acquits Ivory Coast ex-president Laurent Gbagbo of charges of crimes against humanity over violence following the 2010 election.

Ivory Coast cocoa bean harvest

The country is the world’s largest producer of cocoa beans, a key ingredient in chocolate

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