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Ivory Coast-Chapter 1 - Historical Setting

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Ivory Coast Index


Nineteenth Century mud brick mosque in the Sudanic style

SINCE THE 1950s, CÔTE D'IVOIRE has been one of the few sub-Saharan African countries to enjoy political stability and a relatively sound economy. Much of the credit for Côte d'Ivoire's success goes to Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the country's most prominent politician since 1944, who methodically shaped personal and institutional controls and carefully cultivated and maintained close ties with Western industrialized countries.

Côte d'Ivoire remained relatively isolated for much of its early history. Islam, which penetrated most other regions of West Africa before the sixteenth century, made only minor inroads into Côte d'Ivoire's forest belt. The country's rugged coastline and lack of suitable harbors discouraged European exploration until the mid-nineteenth century. Before that time, the only French contact with Côte d'Ivoire occurred in 1637, when missionaries landed at Assini, on the southern Ivoirian coast. This remote region was neither politically nor economically significant and therefore held little attraction for settlement or exploitation by European powers.

In the 1880s, France pursued a more vigorous colonial policy. Driven by the growing forces of European imperial competition for foreign influence, as well as the promise of wealth to be found in a West African empire, French explorers, missionaries, trading companies, and soldiers gradually extended the area under French domination. They achieved control over the population, sometimes through deceit and coercion, by signing treaties with local rulers, who agreed to come under French protection in return for economic favors and protection from neighboring enemies. After Côte d'Ivoire officially became a French colony in 1893, France engaged in a socalled pacification campaign clearly intended to subjugate the indigenous population and to establish French sovereignty. Before World War I, the many instances of violent and protracted resistance to the French, especially among the Baoulé, were the longest wars fought between Europeans and Africans in West Africa. In many instances, these were contained only when Ivoirians in positions of power recognized the tremendous economic advantages accorded them by France.

By the 1940s, sources of strong opposition to the French colonial administration had emerged. At that time, France was neither able nor willing to crush opposition as in the past. Moreover, the opposition, which focused on the administration's institutionalization of forced labor and its discrimination in favor of French planters, intended--at least initially--simply to change colonial policy rather than to achieve independence. Because all Ivoirians were affected by at least one of these discriminatory practices, many were hostile to the administration. Ivoirian planters, in particular, suffered from French discriminatory policies. In 1943, for example, they were forbidden to recruit their own labor and were sometimes removed from their own plantations to work for European enterprises. This group thus stood to benefit greatly from the abolition of colonial labor recruitment policies and had strong reasons to struggle against certain aspects of French colonialism. They were behind the formation of an anticolonialist movement that in 1944 resulted in the birth of the African Agricultural Union and later of the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire.

In other ways, French colonial rule had significant consequences for the modern history of Côte d'Ivoire. The French colonial system introduced modern technology and economic development. It also reinforced the position of relatively privileged groups like the Ivoirian planters, when discriminatory practices were abolished after World War II. As a result of economic and social changes in France after World War II, French investments in the West African colonies grew at the same time as Paris thrust greater responsibilities and powers on its African colonies. There emerged in Côte d'Ivoire a group whose economic interests were closely linked to those of France and whose continuing close relations with France ensured the stability of French economic interests in Côte d'Ivoire. Thus, when Côte d'Ivoire became independent in 1960, France was able to maintain a secure economic grip on the country and continued to influence Ivoirian political decisions, much as it did before independence.

The most significant features of modern Ivoirian history have been the development of the one-party state, which Houphouët-Boigny established to assure his own autocratic rule, and economic growth. When Côte d'Ivoire gained independence in 1960 under the leadership of Houphouët-Boigny, the new president immediately assumed strong powers as head of state, head of government, and leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire. Houphouët-Boigny's political strength derived from the country's economic prosperity. Until the late 1970s, Côte d'Ivoire experienced enormous economic growth, based largely on agricultural exports. The benefits of economic prosperity were not equally distributed, however. Benefiting most was a bourgeoisie made up of wealthy politicians, who were often also business people and owners of prosperous coffee and cocoa plantations. But the president successfully prevented significant pockets of resistance to his rule from forming through a combination of co-optation and mild repression. So successful was he that most of those whose rights were abused nonetheless recognized that they were materially better off than their neighbors. The greatest source of Houphouët-Boigny's popular appeal was, and continued to be in mid-1988, the strength of his charismatic personality.

Data as of November 1988

BackgroundClose 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 West African states, but did not protect it from political turmoil. In December 1999, a military coup - the first ever in Cote d'Ivoire's history - overthrew the government. Junta leader Robert GUEI blatantly rigged elections held in late 2000 and declared himself the winner. Popular protest forced him to step aside and brought 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, remained unresolved. In March 2007 President GBAGBO and former New Force rebel leader Guillaume SORO signed the Ouagadougou Political Agreement. As a result of the agreement, SORO joined GBAGBO's government as Prime Minister and the two agreed to reunite the country by dismantling the zone of confidence separating North from South, integrate rebel forces into the national armed forces, and hold elections. Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of rebel forces have been problematic as rebels seek to enter the armed forces. Citizen identification and voter registration pose election difficulties, and balloting planned for November 2009 was postponed with no future date set. Several thousand UN troops and several hundred French remain in Cote d'Ivoire to help the parties implement their commitments and to support the peace process.
LocationWestern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Ghana and Liberia
Area(sq km)total: 322,463 sq km
land: 318,003 sq km
water: 4,460 sq km
Geographic coordinates8 00 N, 5 00 W
Land boundaries(km)total: 3,110 km
border countries: Burkina Faso 584 km, Ghana 668 km, Guinea 610 km, Liberia 716 km, Mali 532 km

Coastline(km)515 km

Climatetropical along coast, semiarid in far north; three seasons - warm and dry (November to March), hot and dry (March to May), hot and wet (June to October)

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Gulf of Guinea 0 m
highest point: Mont Nimba 1,752 m
Natural resourcespetroleum, natural gas, diamonds, manganese, iron ore, cobalt, bauxite, copper, gold, nickel, tantalum, silica sand, clay, cocoa beans, coffee, palm oil, hydropower
Land use(%)arable land: 10.23%
permanent crops: 11.16%
other: 78.61% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)730 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)81 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 0.93 cu km/yr (24%/12%/65%)
per capita: 51 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardscoast has heavy surf and no natural harbors; during the rainy season torrential flooding is possible
Environment - current issuesdeforestation (most of the country's forests - once the largest in West Africa - have been heavily logged); water pollution from sewage and industrial and agricultural effluents
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - notemost of the inhabitants live along the sandy coastal region; apart from the capital area, the forested interior is sparsely populated
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 40.6% (male 4,215,912/female 4,146,077)
15-64 years: 56.6% (male 5,942,642/female 5,720,108)
65 years and over: 2.9% (male 296,074/female 296,255) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 19.2 years
male: 19.4 years
female: 19.1 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)2.133% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)32.11 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)10.78 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)NA (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 49% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 68.06 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 75.17 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 60.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 55.45 years
male: 54.64 years
female: 56.28 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)4.12 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Ivoirian(s)
adjective: Ivoirian
Ethnic groups(%)Akan 42.1%, Voltaiques or Gur 17.6%, Northern Mandes 16.5%, Krous 11%, Southern Mandes 10%, other 2.8% (includes 130,000 Lebanese and 14,000 French) (1998)

Religions(%)Muslim 38.6%, Christian 32.8%, indigenous 11.9%, none 16.7% (2008 est.)
note: the majority of foreigners (migratory workers) are Muslim (70%) and Christian (20%)
Languages(%)French (official), 60 native dialects with Dioula the most widely spoken

Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Cote d'Ivoire
conventional short form: Cote d'Ivoire
local long form: Republique de Cote d'Ivoire
local short form: Cote d'Ivoire
note: pronounced coat-div-whar
former: Ivory Coast
Government typerepublic; multiparty presidential regime established 1960
note: the government is currently operating under a power-sharing agreement mandated by international mediators
Capitalname: Yamoussoukro
geographic coordinates: 6 49 N, 5 17 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: although Yamoussoukro has been the official capital since 1983, Abidjan remains the commercial and administrative center; the US, like other countries, maintains its Embassy in Abidjan
Administrative divisions19 regions; Agneby, Bafing, Bas-Sassandra, Denguele, Dix-Huit Montagnes, Fromager, Haut-Sassandra, Lacs, Lagunes, Marahoue, Moyen-Cavally, Moyen-Comoe, N'zi-Comoe, Savanes, Sud-Bandama, Sud-Comoe, Vallee du Bandama, Worodougou, Zanzan
Constitutionapproved by referendum 23 July 2000

Legal systembased on French civil law system and customary law; judicial review in the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Laurent GBAGBO (since 26 October 2000)
head of government: Prime Minister Guillaume SORO (since 4 April 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president; note - under the current power-sharing agreement the prime minister and the president share the authority to appoint ministers
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held 26 October 2000 (next to be held 29 November 2009 after being repeatedly postponed by the government; the UN Security Council has extended the government's mandate); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Laurent GBAGBO elected president; percent of vote - Laurent GBAGBO 59.4%, Robert GUEI 32.7%, Francis WODIE 5.7%, other 2.2%

Legislative branchunicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (225 seats; members are elected in single- and multi-district elections by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: elections last held 10 December 2000 with by-elections on 14 January 2001 (elections originally scheduled for 2005 have been repeatedly postponed by the government)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FPI 96, PDCI-RDA 94, RDR 5, PIT 4, other 2, independents 22, vacant 2
note: a Senate was scheduled to be created in October 2006 elections that never took place

Judicial branchSupreme Court or Cour Supreme consists of four chambers: Judicial Chamber for criminal cases, Audit Chamber for financial cases, Constitutional Chamber for judicial review cases, and Administrative Chamber for civil cases; there is no legal limit to the number of members

Political pressure groups and leadersFederation of University and High School Students of Cote d'Ivoire or FESCI [Serges KOFFI]; Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace or RHDP [Alphonse DJEDJE MADY]; Young Patriots [Charles BLE GOUDE]
International organization participationACCT, ACP, AfDB, AU, ECOWAS, Entente, FAO, FZ, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WADB (regional), WAEMU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag descriptionthree equal vertical bands of orange (hoist side), white, and green
note: similar to the flag of Ireland, which is longer and has the colors reversed - green (hoist side), white, and orange; also similar to the flag of Italy, which is green (hoist side), white, and red; design was based on the flag of France

Economy - overviewCote d'Ivoire is the world's largest producer and exporter of cocoa beans and a significant producer and exporter of coffee and palm oil. Consequently, the economy is highly sensitive to fluctuations in international prices for these products, and, to a lesser extent, in climatic conditions. Despite government attempts to diversify the economy, it is still heavily dependent on agriculture and related activities, engaging roughly 68% of the population. Since 2006, oil and gas production have become more important engines of economic activity than cocoa. According to IMF statistics, earnings from oil and refined products were $1.3 billion in 2006, while cocoa-related revenues were $1 billion during the same period. Cote d'Ivoire's offshore oil and gas production has resulted in substantial crude oil exports and provides sufficient natural gas to fuel electricity exports to Ghana, Togo, Benin, Mali and Burkina Faso. Oil exploration by a number of consortiums of private companies continues offshore, and President GBAGBO has expressed hope that daily crude output could reach 200,000 barrels per day (b/d) by the end of the decade. Since the end of the civil war in 2003, political turmoil has continued to damage the economy, resulting in the loss of foreign investment and slow economic growth. GDP grew by nearly 2% in 2007 and 3% in 2008. Per capita income has declined by 15% since 1999.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$34.12 billion (2008 est.)
$33.36 billion (2007 est.)
$32.79 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$23.51 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)2.3% (2008 est.)
1.7% (2007 est.)
0.7% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$1,700 (2008 est.)
$1,700 (2007 est.)
$1,700 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 28%
industry: 21.6%
services: 50.4% (2008 est.)
Labor force7.346 million (68% agricultural) (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 68%
industry and services: NA (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)note: unemployment may have climbed to 40-50% as a result of the civil war
Population below poverty line(%)42% (2006 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 34% (2002)
Distribution of family income - Gini index44.6 (2002)
36.7 (1995)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)9.5% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $4.823 billion
expenditures: $4.915 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)6.3% (2008 est.)
1.9% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$NA (31 December 2008)
$4.451 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$NA (31 December 2008)
$1.915 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$NA (31 December 2008)
$4.404 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$7.071 billion (31 December 2008)
$8.353 billion (31 December 2007)
$4.155 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipientODA, $60 million (2007 est.)

Public debt(% of GDP)66.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
74.8% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productscoffee, cocoa beans, bananas, palm kernels, corn, rice, manioc (tapioca), sweet potatoes, sugar, cotton, rubber; timber
Industriesfoodstuffs, beverages; wood products, oil refining, truck and bus assembly, textiles, fertilizer, building materials, electricity, ship construction and repair

Industrial production growth rate(%)3% (2008 est.)

Current account balance$488 million (2008 est.)
-$146 million (2007 est.)
Exports$10.09 billion (2008 est.)
$8.476 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)cocoa, coffee, timber, petroleum, cotton, bananas, pineapples, palm oil, fish
Exports - partners(%)Germany 10.9%, US 10.1%, Netherlands 9.7%, Nigeria 9.3%, France 6.4%, Burkina Faso 4% (2008)
Imports$6.76 billion (2008 est.)
$5.932 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)fuel, capital equipment, foodstuffs
Imports - partners(%)Nigeria 31.5%, France 14.9%, China 7.2% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$2.252 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$2.519 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$14.05 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$13.79 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$NA
Exchange ratesCommunaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 447.81 (2008 est.), 481.83 (2007), 522.89 (2006), 527.47 (2005), 528.29 (2004)
note: since 1 January 1999, the West African CFA franc (XOF) has been pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 CFA francs per euro; West African CFA franc (XOF) coins and banknotes are not accepted in countries using Central African CFA francs (XAF), and vice versa, even though the two currencies trade at par

Currency (code)Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States

Telephones - main lines in use356,500 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular10.449 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: well developed by African standards; telecommunications sector privatized in late 1990s and operational fixed-lines have more than quadrupled since that time; with multiple cellular service providers competing in the market, cellular usage has increased sharply to roughly 55 per 100 persons
domestic: open-wire lines and microwave radio relay; 90% digitalized
international: country code - 225; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) (2008)
Internet country code.ci
Internet users660,000 (2008)
Airports28 (2009)
Pipelines(km)condensate 86 km; gas 180 km; oil 92 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 80,000 km
paved: 6,500 km
unpaved: 73,500 km
note: includes intercity and urban roads; another 20,000 km of dirt roads are in poor condition and 150,000 km of dirt roads are impassable (2006)

Ports and terminalsAbidjan, Espoir, San-Pedro
Military branchesCote d'Ivoire Defense and Security Forces (FDSCI): Army, Navy, Air Force (2006)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary male and female military service (2008)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 4,369,735
females age 16-49: 4,287,042 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 3,122,106
females age 16-49: 2,936,391 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 236,159
female: 232,617 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)1.6% of GDP (2005 est.)
Disputes - internationaldespite the presence of over 9,000 UN forces (UNOCI) in Cote d'Ivoire since 2004, ethnic conflict still leaves displaced hundreds of thousands of Ivorians in and out of the country as well as driven out migrants from neighboring states who worked in Ivorian cocoa plantations; the March 2007 peace deal between Ivorian rebels and the government brought significant numbers of rebels out of hiding in neighboring states

Refugees and internally displaced personsrefugees (country of origin): 25,615 (Liberia)
IDPs: 709,000 (2002 coup; most IDPs are in western regions) (2007)
Trafficking in personsCote d'Ivoire is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation; trafficking within the country is more prevalent than international trafficking and the majority of victims are children; women and girls are trafficked from northern areas to southern cities for domestic servitude, restaurant labor, and sexual exploitation; boys are trafficked internally for agricultural and service labor and transnationally for forced labor in agriculture, mining, construction, and in the fishing industry; women and girls are trafficked to and from other West and Central African countries for domestic servitude and forced street vending
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Cote d'Ivoire is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to eliminate trafficking in 2007, particularly with regard to its law enforcement efforts and protection of sex trafficking victims; in addition, Ivoirian law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking, and Cote d'Ivoire has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (2008)
Electricity - production(kWh)5.275 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 61.9%
hydro: 38.1%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)3.231 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)772 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)60,100 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)25,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)115,700 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)80,960 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)100 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)1.3 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)1.3 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)28.32 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)3.9% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS480,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths38,000 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
water contact: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 48.7%
male: 60.8%
female: 38.6% (2000 est.)

Education expenditures(% of GDP)4.6% of GDP (2001)

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