Reshaping the nation

Introduction - Language / People - Climate - Communication - Key indicators
Politics, economics and legal system - Oil and Gas - The oil elephant of Africa Committee
Coffe and Cocoa
- Future Developments - Statistical Survey - Surf

Location and Area

The Côte d'Ivoire is located in the tropical zone of West Africa, between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer and between latitudes 4° 30' and 10° 30' north. It covers an area of 322 462 km2 and has 500 Km of Sea coasts and 300km of lagoon coasts. It bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Guinea) in the South, Ghana in the East (over 670 Km), Liberia (over 580 Km) and Guinea (over 610 Km) in the West, Mali (over 370 Km) and Burkina Faso (over 400 Km) in the North.


Like most West African countries, the Côte d'Ivoire belongs to the old African base and as a whole, its mountains which are undistinguished are linear in fashion. The landscape risesgradually from the South-East to the North-West. Nevertheless, the country can best divide into three geographical characteristics.

They involve the Southern area with a relief of plains, the Central and Northern areas where there are mainly terraced plateaux, and the Western and North-Western areas with contrasting landscapes, ending in a mountainous area. The Southern area: an area of vast plains, lies between altitudes of 0 to 200 meters. It is characterized by an overall planitude. The chaotic landscape is due to a juxtaposition of small and low hills (20 m to 30 m), leveling with the low-lands in a clear-cut angle. This zone has developed on a thick stratum of laterites, resulting from the decomposition of underlying rocks. The whole area is showered by dense forested mantle which conceals the shapes of mountains which are not very rugged. Heading Southward, one reaches a low plateau ending in a slope into the lagoons.

In the North, beyond an altitude of nearly 200 m, the landscape changes, horizontal lines dominate in the region. One reaches the area of the plateaux. The evenness of the outlines is the basic feature of the landscape. One can distinguish several levels of plateaux , terracing between 200 m and 500 meters, separated one another by a slope (10 to 30 m) though not a significant one, but often with a sharp contrast in the landscape. This is not typical of the Côte d'Ivoire, but can be seen in the whole Sudanese part of Western Africa. In the plateau area, there are isolated mountains called inselbergs by the geographers. There are three types of outlines:

- alignments of South-West, North-East oriented hills, sideswipe the whole country. These are the Grabo hills (424 m) in the South-West, the hills or the Baule range (500 to 600 m), in the Center, the Bongouanou hills (400 to 600 m) towards the East. These smooth shaped hills follow each other in this relief over several tenths of kilometers;

- tabular outliers (flat topped and stiff-slanted ones) overlooking the neighboring plateaux from. 200 to 300 m;

- granitic domes, with round tops, very stiff versants, leveling with the plateau in a clear-cut angle. These domes can be found, either isolated (mount Nienokue-mount Mblibo) or in groups of two fields of inselbergs uniting several tenths of granitic domes (area of Séguéla). All these isolated edges rise abruptly over the quiet and smooth outlines of the plains and plateaux, just like islands over the sea.
The Western and North-Western part: when one goes towards the Western and North-Western part, one encounters an area with much more rugged mountains. This is the Eastern end of a mountainous area called "Guinean backbone". The slopes are stiff, there are large differences of altitudes, and the summits often culminate at over 1,000meters.

The real mountainous area is located in the surrounding of Man, with mounts Tonkui (1,293 m) and Momi (1,302 m). At last, isolated at the border between the Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia, there is mount Nimba, with a height of 1,752 m meters, dominating the neighboring plateaux at a height of about 400 m.


One hardly knows anything about the ancient settlement in the Côte d'Ivoire. An ancient population close to the Gagou seems to have existed. The Ehotilé, Agoua and Sénoufo are also concerned by this ancient settlement.

The settlement of the current populations which is recent, is characterized by the successive waves which stretched from. the 12th empires. Those migrations may be broken down into two major waves. The first wave is relative to the Mande. After the empire of Mali broke up, the latter ones went in search for new trade opportunities and repulsed the Senoufo to the South. They were to spread and establish several kingdoms. In 1705, they also established the Kong empire and in the 19th century, a new empire that supposed to have extended all over the North of the country, driving back to the South the Gouro and the Yacouba who had settled between the 16th and the17th centuries. The second migration wave dates back from. the 18th century. It resulted from. the upheavals of the eastern kingdoms (Ghana). It was to cause the migrations of the Agni and the Baoulé to the Côte d'Ivoire. They were followed by other Akan migration waves, like the Akye, Abbey etc.

In the 19th century, these various migration waves were to bring together about 70 ethnic groups on the national territory. These ethnic groups may be broken down into four large ethno-cultural areas including both the bordering countries like Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, and Togo. These are the Mande, Krou, Gur or Voltaic and Akan ethno-cultural areas.

The different kingdoms accruing from. the settlement groups in the Côte d'Ivoire, were to put up a resistance against the French settlements which, in spite of the advent of the French missionaries from. 1687 on, will start officially only in 1838 after treaties were signed with the tribes on the coast, until the creation in 1893 of the Colony of the Côte d'Ivoire. But the French conquerors will bear on these kingdoms, which they gradually were to do away with. The so-called Pacificatory period was to end in 1915.

Later on, the Côte d'Ivoire will experience development stages, the most important ones being between 1946 and 1960. Indeed the Côte d'Ivoire became an Overseas Territory and was part of the Republic within the French Union in 1946. A government Council whose members were appointed by the Territorial Assembly was formed up. In 1958, the Côte d'Ivoire became a Republic within the French Community, regrouping the Overseas Territories and Departments. The Côte d'Ivoire got independent on 7th August 1960.

 Read onNext

© World INvestment NEws, 2000.
This is the electronic edition of the special country report on Côte d'Ivoire published in Forbes Global Magazine.
August 21th 2000 Issue.
Developed by AgenciaE.Tv