- Republic of Côte d'Ivoire: Although it is commonly known in English as the Ivory Coast, the Ivorian government officially discourages this usage, preferring the French name Côte d'Ivoire to be used in all languages.
- National Symbol: the elephant
- Nationality: noun: Ivoirian(s), adjective: Ivoirian
- Location: in western sub-Saharan Africa, it borders Liberia and Guinea in the west, Mali and Burkina Faso in the north, Ghana in the east, and the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) in the south. The nation is roughly 5-10 degrees north of the Equator.
- Area: 322, 465 sq km (roughly 1.5 times the size of KS, SD, MN or CO)
- Languages: French (official) and at least 66 indigenous dialects with Dioula the most widely spoken
- 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)
- Topography: The coastline of Cote d'Ivoire varies from small rocky cliffs in the west to flat, sandy beaches in the east, with numerous lagoons. Moving north, the country's tropical forest (decimated by heavy deforestation) changes to comparatively flat savanna. The northwest region contains to mountainous regions.
- Population: approximately 19 million, more than 30 percent are of foreign origin [most of the inhabitants live along the sandy coastal region (urban population: 49%); apart from the capital area, the forested interior is sparsely populated]
- Age Structure: 0-14 years: 40.6%, 15-64 years: 56.6%, 65 years and over: 2.9%
- Literacy: total population: 48.7%, male: 60.8%, female: 38.6% (2000 est.) [definition: age 15 and over can read and write]
- Food: Meals are often a thick stew, soup, or sauce and a starch. The stew, soup, or sauce usually contains a variety of vegetables and maybe a little meat. The starch can be anything from bread to rice to fufu (a mashed potato-like substance). A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are also used as parts of dishes or as snacks.
- Money: West African CFA franc; US$1 = CFA500 [a franc being more comparable to a penny in its use]
- Communication: cell phones and internet cafes are prevalent, TV and radio stations available
- Environmental Issues: deforestation (most of the country's forests - once the largest in West Africa - have been heavily logged); water pollution from sewage and industrial and agricultural effluents
- Culture: While the country's cities have become quite modern, in the rural areas the Ivorian culture in terms of food, religion, dress, tribal roles, and daily life has remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
- Complete religious freedom exists, and the government is sympathetic to missions.
- Traditional religions are generally strong in the central and western parts of the country. Islam (Sunni) is strong in the northwest and in Abidjan.
- Both Islam and Christianity are highly syncretized (i.e. blended) with African traditional beliefs, often making the precise counting of adherents to each of three religions near impossible
- Most counts/estimates place 39% of the population as Muslim, 32% as Christian, and 29% as believers of traditional religions
- Of the over 4.5million estimated Christians approximately half are Catholic (at least nominally, due to an extensive educational system) and approximately 10% are Evangelical (within roughly 4,000 churches)
- Since 1990 the number of evangelical believers in Cote d'Ivoire has almost doubled.
- As a response to the nation's troubles denominations are beginning to work together more frequently
- The level of Bible knowledge and discipleship in Cote d'Ivoire is low, partly as a result of rapid church growth.
- National Church leaders are excited to have Journey Corps come to their country to partner in ministry.
- The central city of Yaoussoukro was designated the official capitol in 1983 by former president Félix Huphouet-Boigny, though a complete transfer of government offices from Abidjan, the old colonial capitol, has never really occurred. It is the fourth most populous city with roughly 300,000 people. Additionally, the city is home to the world's second largest Roman Catholic basilica after St. Peter's in Rome (which seats 7,000 worshippers), built during Huphouet-Boigny rule.
- The coastal city of Abidjan is the nation's main port and largest city. It has a population of over 3.3 million people, many from neighboring countries -- making it the nation's largest city and the region's most cosmopolitan city. It has been known as "The Paris of West Africa" based on its urbanization and cultural developments. The city is the hub of Cote d'Ivoire's rail and road system, the center of its cultural and commercial life, and home to the national university, several technical colleges, libraries and an art museum. Additionally, it has Africa's only ice rink at the Hotel Ivoire.
- Bouake (the city we will be living 5 miles from) is located in the center of the country where the southern forests meet the savanna. It is the second largest city with a population of 800,000. Founded in the 1890's as a French military post and also an important place in the slave market, it is now a major administrative and commercial center. It is also the central market for cocoa, coffee, cotton, yams, and other products produced in the region.
BRIEF POLITICAL HISTORY
Until the 1840s, the indigenous people of Cote d'Ivoire were protected from European colonialism by the inhospitable coastline. In this relative isolation, kingdoms such as the Krou, Senoufo, Lubi, Malinké and Akan flourished. When the French began a big push towards colonial exploitation, they met fierce resistance. However, an 1843--1844 treaty made Cote d'Ivoire a "protectorate" of France and in 1893, it became a French colony as part of the European scramble for Africa.
The country became independent on August 7, 1960 and was led by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny from 1960-1993. The president's dream was to have a mix of practical Western capitalism with benevolent African values. Never completely breaking from their French colonial rulers, the post-independence leaders pursued French investment to build a modern infrastructure and considerable prosperity. In it's early decades, Cote d'Ivoire was the economic miracle of Africa and a role model for stability on the continent. The country, through its production of coffee and cocoa, was an economic powerhouse during the 1960s and 1970s in West Africa. However, Cote d'Ivoire went through an economic crisis in the 1980s, eventually leading to the country's period of political and social turmoil. Following the death of President Houphouët-Boigny in 1993, Cote d'Ivoire experienced two coups (1999 and 2001) and a northern-led rebellion in 2002 which split the nation in half. However, recent political agreements between the government and the rebels have brought about a joint effort to unite the nation. Several thousand UN troops and several hundred French remain in Cote d'Ivoire to help the parties implement their commitments and to support the peace process.
Cote d'Ivoire is the world's largest producer and exporter of cocoa beans (42% of the world market), Africa's leading producer of coffee, and a significant producer and exporter of palm oil. Consequently, the economy is highly sensitive to fluctuations in international prices for these products, and, to a lesser extent, in climatic conditions. In recent years, Cote d'Ivoire has been subject to the greater competition and falling prices in the global marketplace coffee and cocoa. That, compounded with high internal corruption, makes life difficult for the grower and those exporting into foreign markets. Despite government attempts to diversify the economy, it is still heavily dependent on agriculture and related activities, engaging roughly 68% of the population. Since 2006, oil and gas production have become more important engines of economic activity than cocoa. While the southern part of the country has experienced much prosperity compared to other African nations over the years, the north is underdeveloped and many people there live in poverty. Recent political turmoil has continued to damage the economy, resulting in the loss of foreign investment and slow economic growth.
- Agricultural Products: coffee, cocoa beans, bananas, palm kernels, corn, rice, manioc (tapioca), sweet potatoes, sugar, cotton, rubber; timber
- Industries: foodstuffs, beverages; wood products, oil refining, truck and bus assembly, textiles, fertilizer, building materials, electricity, ship construction and repair
- Natural Resources: petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, manganese, iron ore, cobalt, bauxite, copper, gold, nickel, tantalum, silica sand, clay, cocoa beans, coffee, palm oil, hydropower
- Export Partners: Germany 10.9%, US 10.1%, Netherlands 9.7%, Nigeria 9.3%, France 6.4%, Burkina Faso 4% (2008)
- Import Partners: Nigeria 31.5%, France 14.9%, China 7.2% (2008)