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Country Profile

Area: 322,463 sq km; 133,425 sq miles
Population: 20,000,000 (2008 UN estimate)
Capital City: Yamoussoukro (110,000)
Economic Capital: Abidjan (over 3 million)
People and Languages: Côte d'Ivoire is home to 60 ethnic groups, including the Akan, of which the Baoule is the largest sub-group, the Senoufou, the Mande/Dioula, the Krou and the Yacouba. The official language is French, but Dioula, Baoule and other local languages are widely used.
Religion: Muslim, Christian, indigenous beliefs.
Currency: CFA Franc (FCFA). Pegged at FCFA 655.957 = euro 1.00
Major Political Parties: PDCI-RDA - Parti democratique de Cote d'Ivoire-Rassemblement democratique africain; FPI – Front populaire ivoirien; RDR – Rassemblement des Republicains; UDPCI – Union pour la Democratie et la Paix en Cote d'Ivoire.
Head of State: Alassane Ouattara.
Prime Minister: Charles Guillaume Soro.
Membership of international groups/organisations: United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Union economique et monetaire ouest africaine (UEMOA), African Development Bank (AFDB), International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF).

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GDP (per capita): $1,700 (2008)
Annual Growth: 2.5% (2008)
Inflation: (consumer prices) 6.1 (2008)
Major Sectors: Agriculture, Industry and Services.
Agricultural Products include coffee, cocoa beans, bananas, palm kernels, corn, rice, sugar, cotton, rubber, timber. Industries include foodstuffs, beverages, wood products, oil refining, truck and bus assembly, textiles, fertilizer, building materials, electricity.
Major Trading Partners: The European Union, US, Nigeria, China.
Exchange rate: The Currency of Ivory Coast is the CFA Franc, which is pegged to the Euro at Euro 1 = 655.957 FCFA.

Côte d'Ivoire's economy is based on the export of cash crops. It is the largest producer of cocoa in the world, producing 40% of global supply, and the fifth largest producer of robusta coffee. It is estimated that 650,000 farmers work solely in the cocoa sector, which represents 40% of GDP and 60% of export revenues. The economy has expanded into agro-industry and the manufacture of consumer goods for domestic and regional markets.

The conflict has had a negative effect on the economy. Many foreign-owned small businesses have left, tourism has collapsed and the economy of the north of the country has been especially badly hit (for example the cotton growing sector). A few sectors (such as plantation agriculture in the south) have come through relatively unscathed. The new factor in Cote d’Ivoire economy is the oil sector, which now constitutes a significant part of the economy, through offshore fields. Output has declined recently due to technical problems, but the refined petroleum products industry is faring well, and a new oil pipeline was inaugurated in November 2007 to transport petroleum products to the north of the country. The country remains important to the regional economy, as migrant labourers from the Sahelian states of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger send significant remittances home. Land disputes are a serious issue as agricultural land has become more scarce and the area of forest which can be opened up for new agricultural development has all but disappeared.

International Monetary Fund - Ivory Coast (

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Cote d'Ivoire was part of French colonial West Africa. It was a major area of agricultural development under French rule, attracting immigrant workers from throughout the French African Empire. It gained independence from France in 1960, retaining close ties with the former colonial power through a number of bilateral agreements including membership of the Franc Zone, a defence pact, and provision for a French military base in the country.

Felix Houphouet-Boigny became the first President and ruled for 33 years until his death in 1993. His party, the PDCI, was the sole legal party until 1990 when multipartyism was introduced. During his time in office, Cote d'Ivoire was renowned as the most prosperous and most stable country in the West African region. It also hosted the largest French community in francophone Africa. But his rule was shaken by economic recession in the 1980s, when prices of the main exports, cocoa and coffee, plunged.

The first multi-party elections since independence were held in 1990, which Houphouet-Boigny easily won against veteran opposition leader Laurent Gbagbo. At his death in 1993, he was succeeded by Henri Konan Bedie, the speaker of the National Assembly. The careful ethnic and regional balance which Houphouet-Biogny had nurtured, together with his welcoming of immigrant workers, was soon compromised by the concept of 'Ivoirite' (Ivorian nationalism), which quickly acquired xenophobic connotations. This began a sequence of events which was to deprive the country of its long record of stability and prosperity.

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The xenophobia which preceded and accompanied the civil war has strained the country's relations with its neighbours, particularly those sahelian countries to the north, which provide migrant labour for the cocoa farms. Large numbers have returned to their countries of origin during the civil war putting pressure on their home states and resulting in a serious loss of remittance revenues. Trade routes have also been disrupted.

France remains the country's main trading partner and principal bilateral aid donor in spite of current difficulties in the relationship. Although the number of expatriate French in Côte d'Ivoire has reduced significantly as a result of the upheavals, there are still several thousand French passport holders in Côte d'Ivoire, many of whom are dual-national Ivorians. The number of other expatriates has similarly declined. The HQ of the African Development Bank was relocated from Abidjan, where it has sat since 1966, to Tunis in February 2003.

The United Nations deployed a peace keeping operation to Cote d’Ivoire in April 2004. Its mandate was renewed in July 2007 and, following further extensions is next due to be discussed again at the UN in June 2011. In November 2007 a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General was named to head the mission - the Korean Choi Young-Jin.

Union Economique et Monetaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA) (
African Union (
UN mission in Cote d’Ivoire (

Cote d'Ivoire's Relations with the UK

The British Embassy in Abidjan has suspended its operations due to the uncertain security situation. The UK was named member of the International Working Group in October 2006. Baroness Amos, the Leader of the House of Lords, visited Cote d’Ivoire in January 2006 to participate in an IWG meeting. The Princess Royal visited Côte d'Ivoire in 1998. Robin Cook MP, the then Foreign Secretary, visited Abidjan in 1999 on a joint visit with the French Foreign Minister. The Prime Minister of Cote d'Ivoire held a meeting with Lord Malloch-Brown in London May 2009.

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Côte d'Ivoire is situated on the West Coast of Africa and borders Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana. The country can broadly be divided into 2 areas with forests along the coast, and a drier savannah region with a sahelian climate in the North. However, many of the forests have been lost due to agricultural expansion dating from colonial times, and the savannah area is increasing.

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Trade and Investment with the UK

British companies are involved in the oil and gas sectors. Other UK companies in the Ivorian market are Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline, Ralph Martindale, Standard Chartered Bank, ED&F Man and CDC Capital (formerly the Commonwealth Development Corporation).

In 2009, UK exports of goods and services to Côte d'Ivoire totalled £134m. UK imports of goods in 2009 totalled £184m.

UK Trade & Investment Country Profile: Ivory Coast (
Investir en Zone Franc (IZF) (


Côte d'Ivoire is the most developed country in francophone West Africa, but there is a strong north/south imbalance. Economic activity is concentrated in the south. UNDP ranked the country 163 out of 182 on the Human Development Index in 2007. Poverty is a growing problem and social services have deteriorated. AIDS is estimated to affect 7% of the population, one of the highest in West Africa.

In June 2007, the government successfully negotiated an emergency post conflict assistance programme with the IMF. The terms of this agreement have been successfully implemented according to the IMF. The government's Poverty Reduction Strategy and its application for HIPC status are still on hold and are generally considered to depend on a resolution of the country’s political problems.

Since 2005, DFID, UK, has contributed over £2.5 million in humanitarian aid to Cote d'Ivoire through UN, Red Cross and NGO agencies to support health, nutrition and the protection of civilian programmes. In addition, in 2009/10, DFID has provided £1.8 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to assist conflict-affected people across the West Africa region'.

World Bank - Ivory Coast (
EU Development Directorate (

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Soon after Bedie took over, the ruling PDCI split. In 1994, the then Prime Minister, Allasane Ouattara, joined the breakaway RDR. Ouattara and the RDR increasingly came to be seen as representatives of the North of the country. Ouattara’s exclusion from running in subsequent elections came to symbolise the increasingly acrimonious and violent social problems of migrant labour, ethnic divisions and citizenship. In December 1999 General Robert Gueï led the country's first ever military coup. A new constitution was approved by referendum in July 2000, but under chaotic and violent conditions. The new constitution is based on a strong Presidential system, as before, with a 225- member unicameral Parliament. In October 2000 opposition leader Laurent Gbagbo won the presidential election, Bedie and Ouattara having been barred from running. The acrimonious debate around nationality and citizenship continued, now added to by debate around the legitimacy of Gbagbo's electoral victory.

On 19 September 2002, an attempted coup took place. It failed, but rebels gained control of the northern half of the country. They expressed dissatisfaction at retirement plans for the army, and expressed grievances over the government's treatment of northerners. A cease-fire was signed in May 2003, followed by a protracted stand off between rebel and loyalist forces. A series of negotiations followed over a period of nearly 5 years, involving, at different points, the mediation efforts of France, Ghana, South Africa and the African Union. An international contact group met monthly to discuss the problem from November 2005 to February 2007. Various formulations of unity governments have been tried, offering ministerial posts to former rebels (now called the New Forces) and political opposition. No progress was made during this time on the key 2 issues the country faces; disarmament of the former rebels and other militia, and the identification of the population and establishment of credible and accepted electoral lists. In April 2004 a UN mission (UNOCI) was established, with the French 'Licorne' force taking the role of rapid deployment support. In November 2004 government forces attempted to attack the New Forces across the cease-fire line. On 6 November government planes bombed French positions, killing 9 French peacekeepers. The French retaliated by destroying the Ivorian airforce. Riots ensued across Abidjan, targeting French nationals and the French army. Around 8,000 French nationals were evacuated or subsequently left.

In March 2007 a new agreement was signed between the President and the leader of the New Forces, Guillaume Soro, under the mediation of Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore (the Ouagadougou Accords), under which Soro became Prime Minister. The formal division between the rebel-held north and the government south ended and the country was officially re-united in April 2007. But significant progress has yet to be made on re-integrating the rebel forces into the army, or on the national identification process, and the Ouagadougou accord has had to be supplemented by a further agreement in November 2007. In February 2010, President Gbagbo dissolved the government and electoral commission following accusations of irregularities in the electoral process. A new government and Electoral Commission was put in place leading to the first round of Presidential elections on 31 October. Following the second round vote in the Presidential elections, on 28 November 2010, the Independent Electoral Commission and the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General, Mr Choi Young-Jin, confirmed that Alassane Ouattara had defeated the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo. Former President Gbagbo has refused to accept the outcome of the elections and an unstable stalemate now exists in Abidjan.

International pressure to persuade Gbagbo to cede power continues. The UK has recognised Alassane Ouattara as the legitimate President. ECOWAS and the African Union have been leading calls for former President Gbagbo to stand down. In the meantime, a stand-off continues with Ouattara holed up in an Abidjan hotel protected by UN forces.

BBC News Country Profile: Ivory Coast (

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There are serious human rights problems in Côte d'Ivoire, linked to discrimination against foreigners, brutality by the security forces and armed groups in the context of the breakdown in law and order flowing from the conflict. A large number of people, including immigrant workers and refugees, have been displaced by the fighting.

Several UN reports have found that all sides to the conflict had committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, that reports of mass graves in conflict areas are credible, and that death squads operate in Abidjan. In March 2004 an opposition march ended in widespread violence. In April 2004 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' report on the events concluded that 'indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians and the committing of massive human rights violations' occurred under the 'direction and responsibility of the highest authorities of the State'.

An Amnesty Law was passed in August 2003, and there are amnesty provisions in the Ouagadougou Accords. Serious human rights abuses and economic crimes do not fall under the scope of the 2003 amnesty. In April 2004, the National Assembly voted in favour of the creation of a National Commission on Human Rights. Since the coup of 1999 there have been very few prosecutions for human rights violations. In January 2006 the United Nations imposed individual travel and asset freeze sanctions on three individuals, in part for their role in human rights abuses.

Annual Human Rights Reports (#)

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Last Updated: February 2011

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