Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
République de Côte d'Ivoire



Côte d'Ivoire (which means "Ivory Coast") is a West African country bordering the North Atlantic Ocean between Ghana and Liberia. It has an area of 322,460 square kilometers (124,502 square miles) of which 318,000 square kilometers (122,780 square miles) are occupied by land while water occupies the remaining 4,460 square kilometers (1,722 square miles). Its boundaries are 3,110 kilometers long (1,932 miles). These borders include 716 kilometers (445 miles) with Liberia in the west, 610 kilometers (379 miles) with Guinea in the northwest, 532 kilometers (330 miles) with Mali in the north, 584 kilometers (363 miles) with Burkina Faso in the north, and 668 kilometers (415 miles) with Ghana in the east. The country's coastline is 515 kilometers (320 miles) long.

Located on the Gulf of Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire has 2 major natural divisions. Its topography is a mix of plains and low hills containing a small mountainous area, with Mont Nimba rising to 1,752 meters (5,748 feet) above sea level in the Man region to the west. The south's equatorial rainforest (much of which has been logged) changes into woodland savanna to the north. The south has heavy rainfall and lush rain forests where foreign investors have large plantations of crops like coffee, cocoa, and bananas while the north is a granite plain characterized by savannas, where small landowners raise sorghum, corn, and peanuts. Côte d'Ivoire has one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the world.


The population was estimated to be 15.9 million in 2001, up from 13.9 million in 1995, and 11.8 million in 1990. The population density is 50 people per square kilometer (129 per square mile), up from 43.6 in 1995 and 37.1 in 1990. The population growth rate has been 3.1 percent a year in the period 1990-98, and the fertility rate is correspondingly high. The average number of children per woman is 5.1. Urban population has been growing, rising from 40 percent in 1990 to 46 percent in 1999. The structure of the population is youthful, with only 2 percent aged 65 and over, while 52 percent are aged between 15 and 65, and 46 percent are under 15 years. Life expectancy at birth has been decreasing from 50 in 1990 to 46 in 1999, and the incidence of AIDS has been one of the main factors in this decline, with more than 1 million Ivorians affected.

The population includes 5 major ethnic groups: the Kru, Akan, Volta, Mande, and Malinke, inhabiting both the savannas and rain forests, subdivided into approximately 80 smaller groups. Nearly two-thirds of the population follow traditional African religions, while 23 percent are Moslems, and 12 percent are Christians. French is the official language, but there are many other local languages. The most widely spoken are Diula in the north, Baule in the center and west, and Bete in the southeast.

The net out-migration rate was estimated in July 2000 to be 1.6 migrants per 1,000 of the population. After Liberia's civil war started in 1990, more than 350,000 refugees fled to Côte d'Ivoire, but by the end of 1999 almost all the Liberian refugees had returned.


Industry includes agricultural processing, mining, manufacturing, construction, and power. It comprises mostly foodstuffs, beverages, wood products, oil refining, automobile assembly, textiles, fertilizer, construction materials, mining, and electricity. It contributed an estimated 18 percent of the GDP in 1998 and employed about 12 percent of the labor force in 1994.


Mining contributed only an estimated 0.3 percent of the GDP in 1998. This sub-sector's contribution, however, is expected to increase considerably following commencement in the mid-1990s of commercial exploitation of important offshore reserves of petroleum and natural gas. Gold and diamonds are also produced, although the illicit production of the latter has greatly exceeded formal commercial output. There is believed to be a significant potential for the development of nickel deposits, and there are also notable reserves of manganese, iron-ore, and bauxite.


The manufacturing sub-sector contributed about 14.6 percent of the GDP in 1998. It is dominated by agro-industrial activities such as processing of cocoa, coffee, cotton, palm kernels, pineapples, and fish. Crude petroleum is refined at Abidjan while the tobacco industry uses mostly imported tobacco leaf. In 1998 almost two-thirds of Côte d'Ivoire's electricity was derived from thermal sources while the rest was from hydro-generation. Through exploitation of natural gas reserves, the country is expected to generate sufficient energy for its own requirements by 2000 and for regional export thereafter. Imports of petroleum products including crude oil accounted for 14.9 percent of the total value of imports in 1998.

Manufacturing output expanded in real terms at an average rate of 8.9 percent per year between 1965 and 1974, easing to 5.4 percent per year in the following decade after the main industrial opportunities had been exploited. However, this sector continues to be sustained by the high rate of growth in domestic demand, arising mainly from the rapid increase in the country's population and the boost in competitiveness to domestic industry resulting from the 1994 devaluation of the CFA franc. Between 1990 and 1998, industrial GDP increased by an average of 5.1 percent per year, while the industrial production growth rate was estimated to be about 15 percent in 1998.


Côte d'Ivoire has no territories or colonies.


"Côte d'Ivoire." Europa World Yearbook. London: Europa Publications, 2000.

"Côte d'Ivoire: Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix." International Monetary Fund. <http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.cfm?sk=3657.0> . Accessed February 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit Country Profile: Côte d'Ivoire. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2000.

Hodd, Michael. "Côte d'Ivoire." The Economies of Africa. Dartmouth: Aldershot, 1991.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/iv.html#Econ> . Accessed October 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Côte d'Ivoire, July 1998. <http://www.state.gov/www/background_notes/cote_d_ ivoire_0798_bgn.html> . Accessed October 2001.

—Allan C.K. Mukungu


Yamoussoukro has been the official capital since 1983. However, Abidjan remains the administrative center, and most countries maintain their embassies there.


Communauté Financiére Africaine franc (CFA Fr). 1 franc equals 100 centimes. Coins exist in 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 CFA Fr. Paper currency denominations are of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 CFAF.


Cocoa, coffee, tropical timbers, petroleum, cotton, bananas, pineapples, palm oil, cotton, and fish.


Food, manufactured consumer goods, heavy machinery, fuel, and transport equipment.


US$26.2 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$3.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.). Imports: US$2.5 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.).

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