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Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Map and Basic Facts

Location:
Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) lies in Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Ghana and Liberia.

Land Boundaries:
Burkina Faso 584 km, Ghana 668 km, Guinea 610 km, Liberia 716 km, and Mali 532 km.

Geography:
Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is 322,460 sq km , slightly larger than New Mexico, US. Cote d'Ivoire's terrain is mostly flat with some undulating plains and mountains in the northwest. Cote d'Ivoire's climate is tropical along the coast and semiarid in the far north. There are three seasons; warm and dry (November to March); hot and dry (March to May); hot and wet (June to October). Cote d'Ivoire's lowest point is at the Gulf of Guinea (sea level); its highest point is Mont Nimba which stands at 1,752 m . Most of the country's inhabitants live along the sandy coastal region; apart from the capital area, the forested interior is sparsely populated.

Population:
17.6 million people live in Cote d'Ivoire. Life expectancy is around 49 years. Birth rate is on average 4.5 children per woman. Literacy rate is just over 50%.

Languages:
French (official), and over 60 native dialects with Dioula being the most widely spoken.

Ethnic Groups:
Akan 42.1%, Voltaiques or Gur 17.6%, Northern Mandes 16.5%, Krous 11%, Southern Mandes 10%, and other 2.8% (includes 130,000 Lebanese and 14,000 French)

Religion:
Muslim 35-40%, indigenous 25-40%, Christian 20-30% (2001)

Political History:
Close ties to France since independence in 1960, the development of cocoa production for export, and foreign investment made Cote d'Ivoire one of the most prosperous of the tropical African states, but did not protect it from political turmoil. On 25 December 1999, a military coup - the first ever in Cote d'Ivoire's history - overthrew the government led by President Henri Konan Bedie. Junta leader Robert Guei held elections in late 2000, but excluded prominent opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, blatantly rigged the polling results, and declared himself winner. Popular protest forced Guei to step aside and brought runner-up Laurent Gbagbo into power. Ivorian dissidents and disaffected members of the military launched a failed coup attempt in September 2002. Rebel forces claimed the northern half of the country, and in January 2003 were granted ministerial positions in a unity government under the auspices of the Linas-Marcoussis Peace Accord. President Gbagbo and rebel forces resumed implementation of the peace accord in December 2003 after a three-month stalemate, but issues that sparked the civil war, such as land reform and grounds for citizenship, remain unresolved. The central government has yet to exert control over the northern regions and tensions remain high between Gbagbo and opposition leaders. Several thousand French and West African troops remain in Cote d'Ivoire to maintain peace and facilitate the disarmament, demobilization, and rehabilitation process.

Economic Overview:
Cote d'Ivoire is among the world's largest producers and exporters of coffee, cocoa beans, and palm oil. Consequently, the economy is highly sensitive to fluctuations in international prices for these products and weather conditions. Despite government attempts to diversify the economy, it is still heavily dependent on agriculture and related activities, engaging roughly 68% of the population. Growth was negative in 2000-03 because of the difficulty of meeting the conditions of international donors, continued low prices of key exports, and severe civil war. In November 2004, the situation deteriorated when President GBAGBO's troops attacked and killed nine French peacekeeping forces, and the UN imposed an arms embargo. Political turmoil damaged the economy in 2005, with fear among Ivorians spreading, foreign investment shriveling, French businesses and expats fleeing, travel within the country falling, and criminal elements that traffic in weapons and diamonds gaining ground. The government will continue to survive financially off of the sale of cocoa, which represents 90% of foreign exchange earnings. Though the 2005 harvest was largely unaffected by past fighting, the government will likely lose between 10% and 20% of its cocoa harvest to northern rebels, who smuggle the cocoa they control to neighboring countries where cocoa prices are higher. The government remains hopeful that ongoing exploration of Cote d'Ivoire's offshore oil reserves will result in significant production that could boost daily crude output from roughly 33,000 barrels per day (b/d) to over 200,000 b/d by the end of the decade.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Further Reading:
Cote d'Ivoire in the World Cup 2006
Africa Vacation Planner
How to Get a Cheap Flight to Africa
Ghana Travel Guide
Senegal Travel Guide

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