Ivory Coast country profile

  • 29 January 2016
  • From the section Africa
Map of Ivory Coast

Once hailed as a model of stability, during the first decade of the twenty-first century Ivory Coast slipped into the kind of internal strife that has plagued so many African countries.

An armed rebellion in 2002 split the nation in two. Since then, peace deals have alternated with renewed violence as the country has slowly edged its way towards a political resolution of the conflict.

For more than three decades after independence under the leadership of its first president, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Ivory Coast was conspicuous for its religious and ethnic harmony and its well-developed economy.

All this ended when the late Robert Guei led a coup which toppled Felix Houphouet-Boigny's successor, Henri Bedie, in 1999.


The Republic of Ivory Coast

Capital: Yamoussoukro

  • Population 20.6 million

  • Area 322,462 sq km (124,503 sq miles)

  • Major languages French, indigenous languages

  • Major religions Islam, Christianity, indigenous beliefs

  • Life expectancy 55 years (men), 58 years (women)

  • Currency CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc

Getty Images


President : Alassane Ouattara

Image copyright Getty Images

Alassane Ouattara has been in power since his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, was forcibly removed from office after refusing to accept Mr Ouattara internationally recognised 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.

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.


Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ivory Coast public television studio

Radio is Ivory Coast's most popular medium. There are two state-owned TV stations, but no private terrestrial TV stations, although satellite pay-TV services are available.

Media were used as propaganda tools during the five-month military standoff between rival claimants to the presidency in early 2011.

State broadcaster RTI agitated against election winner Alassane Ouattara. The Ouattara camp set up a rival broadcasting operation. Pro-Ouattara forces ransacked and occupied for five months media outlets loyal to former president, Laurent Gbagbo, including Notre Voie newspaper.


Some key dates in Ivory Coast's history:

1842 - France imposes protectorate over coastal zone.

1893 - Ivory Coast made into a colony.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The country is the world's largest producer of cocoa beans, a key ingredient in chocolate.

1904 - Ivory Coast becomes part of the French Federation of West Africa.

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.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A market stall in Abidjan

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

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