Nation at a Glance - Ivory Coast

History

Close ties to France following independence in 1960, the development of cocoa production for export, and foreign investment all 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 an election brought Laurent GBAGBO into power. Ivoirian dissidents and disaffected members of the military launched a failed coup attempt in September 2002 that developed into a rebellion and then a civil war. In 2003, a cease-fire resulted in the country being divided with the rebels holding the north, the government the south, and peacekeeping forces a buffer zone between the two. In March 2007, President GBAGBO and former New Forces rebel leader Guillaume SORO signed an agreement in which SORO joined GBAGBO's government as prime minister and the two agreed to reunite the country by dismantling the buffer zone, integrating rebel forces into the national armed forces, and holding elections. Difficulties in preparing electoral registers delayed balloting until 2010. In November 2010, Alassane Dramane OUATTARA won the presidential election over GBAGBO, but GBAGBO refused to hand over power, resulting in a five-month resumption of violent conflict. In April 2011, after widespread fighting, GBAGBO was formally forced from office by armed OUATTARA supporters with the help of UN and French forces. The UN peacekeeping mission is drawing down and is scheduled to depart in June 2017. OUATTARA is focused on rebuilding the country's economy and infrastructure while rebuilding the security forces. GBAGBO is in The Hague on trial for crimes against humanity.

Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Ghana and Liberia

Border Countries: Burkina Faso 545 km, Ghana 720 km, Guinea 816 km, Liberia 778 km, Mali 599 km

Total Area: 322,463 sq km Land: 318,003 sq km Water: 4,460 sq km

Climate: Tropical 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)

Terrain: Mostly flat to undulating plains; mountains in northwest

Natural resources: Petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, manganese, iron ore, cobalt, bauxite, copper, gold, nickel, tantalum, silica sand, clay, cocoa beans, coffee, palm oil, hydropower

Land use: Agricultural land: 64.8% arable land 9.1%; permanent crops 14.2%; permanent pasture 41.5%Forest: 32.7% Other: 2.5% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Akan 32.1%, Voltaique or Gur 15%, Northern Mande 12.4%, Krou 9.8%, Southern Mande 9%, other 21.2% (includes European and Lebanese descent), unspecified 0.5% (2011-12 est.)

Languages: French (official), 60 native dialects of which Dioula is the most widely spoken

Religions: Muslim 40.2%, Catholic 19.4%, Evangelical 19.3%, Methodist 2.5%, Other Christian 4.5%, Animist or no religion 12.8%, Other religion/unspecified 1.4% (2011-12 est.)

Population: 23,740,424

Literacy: 43.1% Male: 53.1% Female: 32.5% (2015 est.)

Administrative divisions: 12 districts and 2 autonomous districts*; Abidjan*, Bas-Sassandra, Comoe, Denguele, Goh-Djiboua, Lacs, Lagunes, Montagnes, Sassandra-Marahoue, Savanes, Vallee du Bandama, Woroba, Yamoussoukro*, Zanzan

Economy: Cote d'Ivoire is heavily dependent on agriculture and related activities, which engage roughly two-thirds of the population. Cote 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 in climatic conditions. Cocoa, oil, and coffee are the country's top export revenue earners, but the country is also mining gold.Following the end of more than a decade of civil conflict in 2011, Cote d’Ivoire has experienced a boom in foreign investment and economic growth. In June 2012, the IMF and the World Bank announced $4.4 billion in debt relief for Cote d'Ivoire under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.

Agriculture - products: Coffee, cocoa beans, bananas, palm kernels, corn, rice, cassava (manioc, tapioca), sweet potatoes, sugar, cotton, rubber; timber

Industries: Foodstuffs, beverages; wood products, oil refining, gold mining, truck and bus assembly, textiles, fertilizer, building materials, electricity

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