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State

Capital

Ivory Coast

Abidjan/Yamassoukrou

Côte d'Ivoire

Currency unit

CFA franc

Connections

Burkina Faso

Democracy

Francophonie

 War

West Africa

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

History

This was a French colony from 1893.

Europeans appeared at the coast from 15th century. It was used as a source of slaves. In 1893 it was made a French colony. The country was conquered from 1908-1918. The railway from the coast at Abidjan was started in 1903 and reached Bobo Dialassou by 1935 and later to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. The colony's administrators supported the Vichy regime from 1940-1942.

The colony of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) was separated off in 1947. People who migrated in the colonial period are now being labelled as "foreigners", fueling the civil war.

The peoples of the country include many groups which straddle the frontiers with neighboring states. Thus there are peoples who have affinities with the Kwa speakers of southern Ghana, others with the Mande peoples of Guinea. As with most other African countries this means there are potential instabilities from a country whose ethnic unity is fragile and not well-founded. That is, like Nigeria it was constructed by the colonialists without regard to the local people. Moreover, as in Nigeria and Ghana there is a marked contrast between the Muslim peoples of the north and the mainly Christian peoples of the south.

It seems to be these differences that are now fuelling the the state of civil war that is developing.

It became independent in 1960 but as with many of France's colonies for many years there were still French troops stationed in the country, as well as French administrators.

From independence until December 1993 it was ruled by President Houphouet Boigny who began his political life as a leader of the African members of the French National Assembly in 1945 in the Rassemblement Democratique Africaine, ostensibly allied with the Communists. He distributed the patronage of government among the different peoples and thus maintained harmony. His successors have failed to do this. (See war page).

Languages

Official lang.
French

Many African langs of Niger Congo family

Kwa group:
Dida
Avikam
Ebrie
Assini
Anyi
Baule

Voltaic group
Gagu
Guro

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

Politics

As in most African countries there was a long period of one party rule after independence in 1960.

Multi-party elections were held for the first time in October 1990, though many commentators noted that the ruling party and 90 year old president (Felix Houphouet Boigny) won and that the elections did not appear impeccable.

Boigny died in December 1993, possibly followed by a period when his death was concealed, to be revealed on 7 December. A struggle for power followed in which the interests of the mainly Christian southerners prevailed against the mainly Muslim northerners. One aspect of this was to remove the citizenship of many northerners - including the leading politician of the north Alassane Ouatarra - on the grounds that they were descendants of immigrants from neighboring states Mali and Burkina Faso and therefore not 'true' Ivoirians (though few of those who lost their rights were in fact immigrants).

There was a military coup which ousted his elected successor. Elections did result in a legitimate successor Laurent Gbagbo but the opposition continued to dispute the result.

There is now a civil war between the northerners - mainly Muslim - and the southerners - mainly Christian. This was sparked off by an attempted coup or an army mutiny in September 2002. This has not yet been resolved and seems to be getting worse. Talks held by the French government attempted to create a compromise in which the northerners and southerners could form a government of unity, but the resulting government does not seem to have taken office, and the signs are that the war is continuing.

In November 2004 the civil war broke out again when government aircraft bombed cities in the rebel held area in the north. In one of these raids several French peacekeeping troops (nominally under UN auspices) were killed. In retaliation the French destroyed most of the government air force.

Presidential election December 2010 seems to have defeated Laurent Gbagbo, but he is reluctant to accept the result. The Constitutional Council declared invalid the votes of northern provinces and declared Gbagbo the winner. International organisations have recognised Alassane Ouatarra. This situation threatens a renewed civil war between the north and the south. By the end of December 2010 the CFA central bank is refusing to pay Gbagbo's "government". .

By April Ouattara had still not entered the presidential palace but his forces controlled most of the country. Many have died in the disturbances.

If Ouattara wins will Gbagbo’s supporters in the south prevent him ruling? Possibly the country will split.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

Economics

Economy based on exporting cocoa and coffee. But the world prices are falling and the economy is as a result in recession.

Also rubber plantations.

The low prices for these basic products are an important cause of the political instability as in the past the country has been prosperous by local standards, but is no longer so.

When government revenue is low, police and army can't be paid and government decays.

Houphouet Boigny built with public money a Catholic basilica rivalling St Peters in Rome in his home village of Yamassoukrou (no longer the capital, after his death).

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

Green/Ecology

Much of the originally dense forest has been cut down with the usual results of increased erosion and conversion of forest land to laterite or hard pan desert. Some forest has been replaced by cocoa plantations.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

Human Rights

Last revised7/04/11


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