- Area: 124504 sq mi
- Population: 23740424
- Infant mortality: 55.8
- Life expectancy: 53.3
- Urbanisation: 50.8
- Literacy: 43.1%
The first recorded history of Ivory Coast was by the North African (Berber) merchants who carried out caravan trade via the Sahara in goods such as gold, slaves, and salt among others. The trans-Saharan trade routes on the southern terminals were situated on the edge of the desert. This enabled trade to extend south up to the rain forest. Timbuktu, Gao, and Djenné were the most important terminals and these, later on, became major trade centers and from these, Sudanic empires were developed. Before the European Era, a number of states in Ivory Coast flourished. One of them was the Kong Empire founded by the Juula people and it thrived on crafts, trade, and agriculture. The second was the Abron Kingdom founded by the Abron people of the Akan group. Other Akan groups also formed a Baoulé kingdom at Sakasso, and two Agni kingdoms, Sanwi and Indénié.
Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore West Africa in the 15th century. Others followed thereafter and soon trade was developed with the people of West Africa, especially on the coastline. The initial trade products included pepper, ivory, and gold, and later on in the 16th century, slaves.
Côte d'Ivoire profited a lot from the ivory trade, thus giving the country its name, Ivory Coast. This was throughout the 17th century, but in the 18th century the trade died out due to the declining number of elephants.
In 1483, The French carried out their first voyage to West Africa and formed their first settlement, Saint Louis, in Senegal. In 1687, a French mission was founded at Assinie near Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) border. It was in the middle of the 19th century when France firmly established itself in Ivory Coast.
In 1871, France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War, forcing it to abandon its colonial desires and withdraw its forces from its trading posts in West Africa. It was in 1886 when the French regained direct control of their trading posts in the region. Towards the end of the 1880s, France had already attained total control over most coastal territories of the country and in 1893 Côte d'Ivoire was made a French colony. France’s main aim was to increase production of exports. To achieve this, they started planting palm oil, cocoa, and coffee plants along the coast.
Côte d'Ivoire was a constituent unit of the Federation of French West African from 1904 to 1958 and was an overseas territory and colony under the Third Republic. Regiments from Ivory Coast fought in World War I in France and up to the end of World War II, all administrative affairs in French West Africa were overseen from Paris.
Félix Houphouët-Boigny was Côte d'Ivoire’s father of independence. In 1944, he founded the nation’s first agricultural trade union for native cocoa farmers. He soon became prominent and in a year’s time, he was selected to the French Parliament in Paris.
The country attained its independence in 1960 with Félix Houphouët-Boigny as the first president. He ruled over the country until his death on December 7, 1993.
The First Ivorian Civil War started on September 19, 2002, and mass murders took place, especially in Abidjan, Korhogo, and Bouaké. France sent some of its troops in 2002 to the county as peacekeepers. In 2003, a reconciliation process began under global auspices. The United Nations also formed the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire in February 2004 in an attempt to end the war. The war finally ended in 2004 but a lot of damage had already occurred.
In November 2010, presidential elections were held and Alassane Ouattara emerged the winner. Despite his win, it was Gbagbo who was inaugurated after claims emerged that it was him who had won the elections. Ouattara went forward and organized another inauguration and this sparked fears of another civil war.
This presidential election led to the Second Ivorian Civil War which took place from 2010 to 2011. Hundreds of citizens were murdered in the city of Duékoué and in Bloléquin. Military action was taken Against Gbagbo by French and UN forces and on 11th April he was taken into custody. The war left the country in a lot of damage making it difficult for Ouattara to reunite the citizens and reconstruct the economy.
Ivory Coast's terrain can generally be described as a large plateau rising gradually from sea level in the south to almost 500 m (1,640 ft) elevation in the north.
The nation's natural resources have made it into a comparatively prosperous nation in the African economy. The southeastern region of Ivory Coast is marked by coastal inland lagoons that starts at the Ghanaian border and stretch 300 km (186 mi) along the eastern half of the coast. The southern region, especially the southwest, is covered with dense tropical moist forest. The Eastern Guinean forests extend from the Sassandra River across the south-central and southeast portion of Ivory Coast and east into Ghana, while the Western Guinean lowland forests extend west from the Sassandra River into Liberia and southeastern Guinea. The mountains of Dix-Huit Montagnes region, in the west of the country near the border with Guinea and Liberia, are home to the Guinean montane forests.
The Guinean forest-savanna mosaic belt extends across the middle of the country from east to west, and is the transition zone between the coastal forests and the interior savannas. The forest-savanna mosaic interlaces forest, savanna and grassland habitats. Northern Ivory Coast is part of the West Sudanian Savanna ecoregion of the Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. It is a zone of lateritic or sandy soils, with vegetation decreasing from south to north.
The terrain is mostly flat to undulating plain, with mountains in the northwest. The lowest elevation in Ivory Coast is at sea level on the coasts. The highest elevation is Mount Nimba, at 1,752 metres (5,748 ft) in the far west of the country along the border with Guinea and Liberia.
The Cavalla River drains the western border area of the Ivory Coast and eastern Liberia. It forms the southern two-thirds of the international boundary between Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire.
The Sassandra River forms in the Guinea highlands and drains much of the western part of the Ivory Coast east of the Cavalla River.
The Bandama River is the longest river in the Ivory Coast with a length of some 800 km (497 mi) draining the east central part of the country. In 1973 the Kossou Dam was constructed at Kossou on the Bandama creating Lake Kossou. The capital, Yamoussoukro, is located near the river south of the lake.
The Komoé River originates on the Sikasso Plateau of Burkina Faso, and briefly follows the border between Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast before entering Ivory Coast. It drains the northeastern and eastern-most portions of the country before emptying into the eastern end of the Ébrié Lagoon and ultimately the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. Its waters contribute to the Comoé National Park.
The climate of Ivory Coast is generally warm and humid, ranging from equatorial in the southern coasts to tropical in the middle and semiarid in the far north. There are three seasons: warm and dry (November to March), hot and dry (March to May), and hot and wet (June to October). Temperatures average between 25 and 32 °C and range from 10 to 40°C.
Ivory Coast has a large timber industry due to its large forest coverage. The nation's hardwood exports match that of Brazil. In recent years there has been much concern about the rapid rate of deforestation. Rainforests are being destroyed at a rate sometimes cited as the highest in the world. The only forest left completely untouched in Ivory Coast is Taï National Park (Parc National de Taï), a 3,600 km2 (1,390 sq mi) area in the country's far southwest that is home to over 150 endemic species and many other endangered species such as the Pygmy hippopotamus and 11 species of monkeys.
Nine percent of the country is arable land. Ivory Coast is the world's largest producer of cocoa, a major national cash crop. Other chief crops include coffee, bananas, and oil palms, which produce palm oil and kernels. Natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, manganese, iron, cobalt, bauxite, copper, gold, nickel, tantalum, silica sand, clay, palm oil, and hydropower.
Ivory Coast has, for the region, a relatively high income per capita and plays a key role in transit trade for neighboring, landlocked countries. The country is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union, constituting 40% of the monetary union’s total GDP. The country is the world's largest exporter of cocoa beans, and the fourth-largest exporter of goods, in general, in sub-Saharan Africa (following South Africa, Nigeria, and Angola).
In 2009, cocoa-bean farmers earned $2.53 billion for cocoa exports and were projected to produce 630,000 metric tons in 2013. According to the Hershey Company, the price of cocoa beans is expected to rise dramatically in upcoming years. The Ivory Coast also has 100,000 rubber farmers who earned a total of $105 million in 2012.
Close ties to France since independence in 1960, diversification of agricultural exports, and encouragement of foreign investment have been factors in the economic growth of Ivory Coast. In recent years, Ivory Coast has been subject to greater competition and falling prices in the global marketplace for its primary agricultural crops: coffee and cocoa. That, compounded with high internal corruption, makes life difficult for the grower, those exporting into foreign markets, and the labor force, inasmuch as instances of indentured labor have been reported in the country's cocoa and coffee production in every edition of the U.S. Department of Labor's List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor since 2009.
South Africa and North Africa aside, most African economies have not grown faster since independence. One possible reason for this might be taxes on export agriculture. Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Kenya were exceptions as their rulers were themselves large cash-crop producers, and the newly independent countries desisted from imposing penal rates of taxation on export agriculture, with the result that their economies were doing well.