In the 15th century, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the Ivory Coast of Africa.
During the 17th and 18th centuries the French established coastal settlements and began a long relationship that would change the culture, and for that matter, the economic future (and name) of this African nation.
Even after declaring independence in 1960, Cote d'Ivoire retained close economic (export/import) ties with France, and became one of the most prosperous African countries.
Over the centuries it suffered through very little political turmoil, but recently, a few poorly-timed military coups and subsequent internal conflicts increased its national debt, and dramatically curtailed its once profitable tourism industry.
Long famed for its coastal scenery, beautiful national parks and abundant wildlife, Cote d'Ivoire is, or was, a true slice of African culture, once visited by travelers from around the world.
Its modern difficulties are sadly endemic on much of the African continent, as it, like many other countries, suffers from internal unrest, financial instability, low literacy levels and serious health care problems.
Facts and Figures
Official Name Republic of the Cote d'Ivoire, formerly the Ivory Coast.
Capital City Yamoussoukro (190,000)
Largest Cities Abidjan, Bouaké, Daloa, Yamoussoukro, Korhogo
Currency CFA Franc
Latitude/Longitude 5º33' N, 4º03' W
Languages French (official), and local dialects
National Day 7 August; Independence Day
Religions Christian, Muslim, others
Land Area 320,763 sq km (123.847 sq miles)
Landforms Most of Cote d'Ivoire (north to south) is a forested plateau, one that gradually slopes down to the Atlantic Ocean coastal areas. Exceptions are the edges of the Guinea Highlands (4000 - 5000 ft. peaks) on its western border with Guinea, and in the far northwest, and the elevated savanna and forest of the northeast.
Major rivers drain the plateau, including the Bandama, Komoe and Sassandra. Large lakes include Loc de Ebire and Loc de Kossou.
Highest Pt. Mt. Nimba (1,752 m) (5,748 ft)
Lowest Pt. Gulf of Guinea (0 m) (0 ft)
Land Divisions 58 departments; including Abengourou, Abidjan, Aboisso, Adiake, Adzope, Agboville, Agnibilekrou, Alepe, Bocanda, Bangolo, Beoumi, Biankouma, Bondoukou, Bongouanou, Bouafle, Bouake, Bouna, Boundiali, Dabakala, Dabou, Daloa, Danane, Daoukro, Dimbokro, Divo, Duekoue, Ferkessedougou, Gagnoa, Grand-Bassam, Grand-Lahou, Guiglo, Issia, Jacqueville, Katiola, Korhogo, Lakota, Man, Mankono, Mbahiakro, Odienne, Oume, Sakassou, San-Pedro, Sassandra, Seguela, Sinfra, Soubre, Tabou, Tanda, Tiebissou, Tingrela, Tiassale, Touba, Toulepleu, Toumodi, Vavoua, Yamoussoukro and Zuenoula