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Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast, officially known as Côte d’Ivoire, is a country located on the West African coast. It is renowned for its cultural diversity, economic vitality, and significant contributions to African art, music, and cuisine. Despite facing political challenges and civil unrest in the early 21st century, Ivory Coast has made considerable progress towards stability and economic growth. This unit study delves into the geography, history, government, economy, and culture of Ivory Coast, offering a comprehensive look at a nation that plays a crucial role in the region.


Ivory Coast is bordered by Liberia and Guinea to the west, Mali and Burkina Faso to the north, Ghana to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. The country features a variety of landscapes, including coastal lagoons, dense tropical forests, and savanna plains. The climate is generally warm and humid, with a wet season and a dry season.

Administrative Divisions

The country is divided into 14 districts, which are further subdivided into regions and departments. These administrative divisions reflect the geographic and cultural diversity of the country, with Abidjan serving as the economic capital and Yamoussoukro as the political capital.


Inhabited for millennia, Ivory Coast’s modern borders were established during the European scramble for Africa and became a French colony in the late 19th century. It gained independence on August 7, 1960. The post-independence era was initially marked by stability and economic growth under President Félix Houphouët-Boigny’s leadership. However, the late 1990s and early 2000s saw periods of political instability, coups, and civil conflict. Recent years have witnessed efforts towards reconciliation and rebuilding.


Ivory Coast is a republic with a presidential system. The President is elected by popular vote and serves as both the head of state and government. The country has a multiparty system, and its legislative branch is a bicameral parliament, consisting of the National Assembly and the Senate. Recent constitutional reforms and elections reflect ongoing efforts to strengthen democracy and governance.


The economy of Ivory Coast is one of the most robust in West Africa, driven by agriculture, services, and industry. It is the world’s largest producer of cocoa, a significant exporter of coffee and palm oil, and has a growing oil and gas sector. Despite its economic potential, challenges such as poverty, unemployment, and infrastructure development persist.


Ivory Coast’s culture is a rich tapestry of ethnic groups, including the Akan, Guro, Baoulé, and Senufo, among others. This diversity is reflected in its music, dance, art, and festivals. The country is renowned for its vibrant arts scene, particularly its wooden sculptures and masks. Ivorian cuisine, featuring dishes like attiéké and kedjenou, showcases the country’s agricultural bounty and culinary traditions.


With a population of over 26 million, Ivory Coast is a melting pot of ethnicities, languages, and religions. French is the official language, facilitating communication across various linguistic groups. The country’s population is predominantly Muslim in the north and Christian in the south, with indigenous beliefs also widely practiced.

Fun Facts

  • Ivory Coast is the world’s top cocoa producer, responsible for more than 40% of global supply.
  • The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, is listed as the largest church in the world by the Guinness World Records.
  • The name “Ivory Coast” refers to the trade in ivory that once flourished in the region.


Ivory Coast’s diverse ecosystems are under threat from deforestation, pollution, and climate change. Conservation efforts focus on protecting its national parks and forests, such as Taï National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its biodiversity.


Improving infrastructure, including transportation, energy, and digital connectivity, is crucial for Ivory Coast’s continued economic development and regional integration. The government has initiated several projects to upgrade roads, ports, and power supply systems.

Challenges and Opportunities

Ivory Coast faces challenges including political reconciliation, economic inequality, and environmental sustainability. However, its strategic location, resource wealth, and cultural vibrancy present opportunities for growth in sectors like agriculture, tourism, and renewable energy.

Global Connections

As a member of the United Nations, African Union, and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ivory Coast actively participates in regional and international efforts to promote peace, development, and cooperation.

Personal Connections

Exploring Ivorian music, learning to prepare traditional dishes, or studying the country’s artistic traditions can provide students with a personal connection to Ivory Coast’s rich cultural heritage and contemporary society.

Ivory Coast’s journey from a colonial past to a future filled with promise highlights the resilience and diversity of its people. This unit study has provided an overview of the country’s key aspects, emphasizing the importance of understanding and appreciating the complexities of nations across Africa. Reflecting on Ivory Coast’s achievements and challenges encourages a deeper appreciation for cultural diversity, environmental stewardship, and the global community’s shared aspirations for peace and prosperity.