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Geography of Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

Learn Information about the Country of Cote d'Ivoire


Cote d'Ivoire Flag

The Cote d'Ivoire flag has vertical bands of orange (hoist side), white, and green; similar to the flags of Ireland and Italy; design was based on the flag of France.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated January 21, 2011

Population: 21,058,798 (July 2010 estimate)
Capital: Yamoussoukro
Bordering Countries: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Mali
Area: 124,503 square miles (322,463 sq km)
Coastline: 320 miles (515 km)
Highest Point: Monts Nimba at 5,748 feet (1,752 m)

Cote d'Ivoire is a country located in western Africa along the Gulf of Guinea (map). It is bordered by five different countries and has a total area of 124,503 square miles (322,463 sq km). Cote d'Ivoire's capital is Yamoussoukro but its largest city is Abidjan. Originally the country was known as the Ivory Coast but in 1985 the government officially changed its name to Cote d'Ivoire and the country's official language is French.

History of Cote d'Ivoire

According to the U.S. Department of State little is known about Cote d'Ivoire's early history other than the fact that there was a Neolithic culture in the region. In 1637, France first reached the area when missionaries arrived near the Gold Coast near present-day Ghana. In the 18th century, Cote d'Ivoire was invaded by native groups from Ghana. In the early 1840s, the Bassam and Assinie regions were placed under a French protectorate after a French admiral signed a treaty with the kings of those areas.

In 1893 Cote d'Ivoire officially became a French colony and from 1904 to 1958, it was a part of the Federation of French West Africa. In 1946, all Africans in French West Africa were given French citizenship as a reward for supporting France during World War II. By gaining citizenship, Africans were given various political rights and many forms of forced labor in the region ended.

In 1958 Cote d'Ivoire became an autonomous republic within the French realm and on August 7, 1960 it became an independent nation. Throughout the decades following its independence, Cote d'Ivoire was a stable nation politically. This is because its president, Felix Houphouet-Boigny (who served from independence until he died in 1993) developed strong political and economic ties with western nations. In 1998 and 1999 however, government corruption began and foreign aid was reduced.

On December 24, 1999, Cote d'Ivoire underwent a government coup and in 2000 a new constitution was drafted and elections were scheduled for fall of that year. Increased government instability cancelled the elections though and in January 2001, another coup took place. Instability continued into 2002 when government ministers and military facilities in Abidjan were attacked.

Shortly after the attacks, a rebellion began and Cote d'Ivoire was divided between rebel groups and the government. The rest of 2002 was filled with instability as each group moved to claim more land. Troops also kept control of a cease-fire line called the Zone of Confidence, which divided Cote d'Ivoire.

In January 2003 the different political groups fighting over Cote d'Ivoire agreed to share power with the Linas-Marcoussis Accord and in July of that year a declaration to end the ear was signed. Instability and violence continued in the country through 2004 and 2005 and in 2006 the government began a series of reforms aimed at ending the violence. Several more government changes occurred through 2007 to 2009 and in 2010 a new government was established for Cote d'Ivoire.

Government of Cote d'Ivoire

Today Cote d'Ivoire is considered a republic but according to the CIA World Factbook, "the government is currently operating under a power-sharing agreement mandated by international mediators." It has an executive branch of government that is made up of a chief of state and a head of state, and a legislative branch that is composed of a unicameral National Assembly. Cote d'Ivoire's judicial branch is made up of a four chamber Supreme Court and the country is divided into 19 different regions.

Economics and Land Use of Cote d'Ivoire

The majority of Cote d'Ivoire's economy is based on agriculture and around 68% of the population works in agriculture. The main agricultural products of the country are coffee, cocoa beans, bananas, palm kernels, corn, rice, tapioca, sweet potatoes, sugar, cotton, rubber and timber. Other industries in Cote d'Ivoire include foodstuffs, beverages, wood products, oil refining, truck and bus assembly, textiles, fertilizer, building materials, electricity and shipbuilding.

Geography and Climate of Cote d'Ivoire

Cote d'Ivoire is located in west Africa along the Gulf of Guinea between Ghana and Liberia. Most of its topography consists of flat to some rolling plains, however there are mountains in the northwest part of the country. The highest point in Cote d'Ivoire is located in this region. It is Monts Nimba which rises to 5,748 feet (1,752 m).

The climate of Cote d'Ivoire is mainly tropical along the coast but inland and in its northern areas the climate is semiarid. The wettest part of the year for the country is from June to October.

To learn more about Cote D'Ivoire, visit the Geography and Maps section on Cote D'Ivoire on this website.


Central Intelligence Agency. (12 January 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Cote d'Ivoire. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/iv.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Cote d'Ivoire: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107434.html

United States Department of State. (16 July 2010). Cote d'Ivoire. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2846.htm

Wikipedia.com. (216 January 2011). Cote d'Ivoire - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%B4te_d%27Ivoire

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