Côte d'Ivoire

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Although it is one of the smallest countries of Africa, the Cô d'Ivoire is a country of extraordinary cultural richness. While the southern coastal area has for the last several decades served as an archetype of prosperity and modernisation, the northern and western regions of the Côte d'Ivoire are home to two fascinating and vital traditional cultures-the Senufo and the Dan.

Location, Geography & Climate

The Côte d'Ivoire is the westernmost country bordering on the Gulf of Guinea. Its neighbours are, to the west, Liberia and Guinea, to the north, Mali and Burkina Faso, and to the east Ghana. The Côte d'Ivoire's geographic make-up is fairly simple. From a coastal lowland, including many fine beaches, the terrain gradually rises to a smooth forest plateau in the central region and then to upland savannas in the north. Rainfall is heavy, particularly in the low coastal region; the rainy season is from May to October.

History & People

The Côte d'Ivoire lies too far west to have been significant in the 17th and 18th century development of the Guinea coast gold, and slave trade. Although a French protectorate was established over the coastal zone in 1842, the interior remained free from European control until the very end of the century. The central political figure of the Côte d'Ivoire in modern times is Felix Houphouet-Boigny, an early leader of the post-WWII nationalist cause. Houphouet-Boigny became the country's president upon its independence from France in 1960 and remained in that position until his death in December of 1993. Along the way, the Côte d'Ivoire became a model of the prosperity that seemed available through the continuation of close cooperation with former colonial powers. In the 1980s the country's economy began to suffer, and today the Ivory Coast is struggling to maintain economic and political vitality.

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