Ivory Coast - Country Portrait

  • Area: 322,000 square kilometers 
  • Population (2012): 22.6 million 
  • Official language: French 
  • Independent: since 1960 
  • Capital: Yamoussoukro 
  • Form of government: Presidential system; Constitution from 2000 
  • Average life expectancy: 58.1 years 
  • Illiteracy rate (2010 est.): 43% (population over 15 years) 
  • Top 3 export goods: Petroleum products, cocoa, and coffee 
  • Number of "Cotton made in Africa" farmers (2013): 57,000
  • Average family size of a cotton farmer: 9.7 people
  • Known for: world's largest cocoa producer

Bilder Elfenbeinküste

Elfenbeinküste ZoomCôte d'Ivoire (official name: République de Côte d'Ivoire) is a country in West Africa with a 500 km long coastline on the Gulf of Guinea. The country is divided into three climatic zones: the equatorial climate in the south, the moist savanna climate that begins about 200 kilometers north of the coastline, and the dry savanna climate in the northern savanna regions. The wildlife in Côte d'Ivoire is particularly rich in species, the tusks of elephants, which were traded as ivory, gave the country its name. 

The ethnic and linguistic diversity of Côte d'Ivoire is vast, with about 60 ethnic groups who lived together peacefully for a long time. Marriages between different ethnic groups are not uncommon, especially in the cities. In addition to the official language of French over 70 languages are spoken. 

Until the early 1980s, Côte d'Ivoire was a model of stability and economic success in Africa. Export earnings from cocoa and coffee guaranteed a relative level of prosperity for many years. According to Human Development Index of the United Nations, the country is now ranked 168 of 187. 23.8% of the population live in extreme poverty which means they live on less than $1.25 per day. The majority of households have no access to clean water which is a breeding ground for the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis, yellow fever, and hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Despite mandatory attendance to elementary school, the illiteracy rate is still very high at over 40 percent. 

The agricultural sector, in which two-thirds of the people work, is still the dominant economic industry in Côte d'Ivoire which benefits from large deposits of raw materials and fertile soil. Cocoa has long been the main source of export revenue, but the importance of cocoa has recently fallen in favor of oil. Another important agricultural product is coffee. Other major products are palm oil, coconuts, sugar cane, tropical fruits, and cotton.  

Sources: Human Development Report 2013 (UN); The World Fact Book 2014, Auswärtiges Amt 2012; World Development Indicators 2014;2010-2014 Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) Digitale Kommunikation Referat L 5.

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