Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is a country in West Africa. It has a southerly facing North Atlantic Ocean coast, and is surrounded by Ghana to the east, Liberia to the west, Guinea to the northwest, Mali to the north, and Burkina Faso to the northeast.

Capital Yamoussoukro; Abidjan remains administrative center
Currency West African CFA franc (XOF), interchangeable at par with the Central African CFA franc (XAF)
Population 20,804,774 (2014)
Electricity 220V/50Hz (European plug)
Country code +225
Time zone UTC

Regions

Map of Côte d'Ivoire with regions colour-coded
Lagunes (Abidjan)
the coastal lagoons area around the de facto capital of Abidjan
Northern Savanna (Bouaké, Comoe National Park)
the largely Muslim area held in recent years by rebel "New Forces"
Southwestern Forests (Taï National Park, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve)
the tropical wet forest area inhabited by the Kru people bordering Liberia
Eastern Plantations (Yamoussoukro)
the partially cultivated area between Lac de Kossou and the border with Ghana

Cities

Other destinations

Three National Parks are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Understand

History

Close ties to France since independence in 1960, the development of cocoa production for export, and foreign investment made Côte d'Ivoire one of the most prosperous of the tropical African states, but did not protect it from political turmoil.

In December 1999, a military coup - the first ever in Côte d'Ivoire's history - overthrew the government. Junta leader Robert Guei blatantly rigged elections held in late 1999 and declared himself the winner. Popular protest forced him to step aside and brought runner-up Laurent Gbagbo into liberation. Ivorian dissidents and disaffected members of the military launched a failed coup attempt in September 2002. Rebel forces claimed the northern half of the country, and in January 2003 were granted ministerial positions in a unity government under the auspices of the Linas-Marcoussis Peace Accord. President Gbagbo and rebel forces resumed implementation of the peace accord in December 2003 after a three-month stalemate, but issues that sparked the civil war, such as land reform and grounds for citizenship, remain unresolved.

The northern government has yet to exert control over the northern regions and tensions remain high between Gbagbo and opposition leaders. Several thousand French and West African troops, and a moderately-sized United Nations contingent, remain in Côte d'Ivoire to maintain peace and facilitate the disarmament, demobilization, and rehabilitation process.

Elections were finally held in 2010. The first round of elections were held peacefully, and widely hailed as free and fair. Runoffs were held 28 November 2010, after being delayed one week from the original date of 21 Nov. Laurent Gbagbo, as president, ran against former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara. On 2 Dec, the Electoral Commission declared that Ouattara had won the election by a margin of 54% to 46%. The majority of the rest of the world's governments supported that declaration, but the Gbagbo-aligned Constitutional Council rejected it and then announced that country's borders had been sealed. An Ivorian military spokesman said, "The air, land and sea border of the country are closed to all movement of people and goods."

There has been an armed insurgency ever since, with pro-Ouattara forces on the one side and pro-Gbagbo forces on the other. By 1 Apr 2011, pro-Ouattara forces had penetrated Abidjan and street-level combat between the two sides was occurring. Most governments are still advising their citizens against travel to the country.

Climate

Tropical along coast, semiarid in far north; three seasons - warm and dry (Nov-Mar), hot and dry (Mar-May), hot and wet (Jun-Oct). The coast has heavy surf and no natural harbours; during the rainy season torrential flooding is possible.

Terrain

Mostly flat to undulating plains with mountains in the northwest. Most of the inhabitants live along the sandy coastal region. Apart from the capital area, the forested interior is sparsely populated. The highest point is Mont Nimba at 1,752 m.

People

Côte d'Ivoire has more than 60 ethnic groups but the Baoule are the largest ethnic group.

Get in

Visa

All non-CEFA citizens visiting Côte d'Ivoire must obtain a visa before arrival. The process is on-line at the Official website for visas.

By plane

The Felix-Houphouet Boigny International Airport has daily scheduled flights to and from Paris with Air France and Brussels with Brussels airlines. There are also regular flights to other West-African capitals. The airport is a modern facility and increased security has shaken its old reputation as a place for travellers to be ripped off.

By train

The train journey between Abidjan and Ougadougou cuts through rebel territory and should not be attempted by foreign travellers.

By car

It is ill advised to try to enter Côte d'Ivoire from Guinea, Liberia, Mali, or Burkina Faso. The Ghanaian border is fairly secure. If you enter at Elubo, you can easily catch a shared taxi to Aboisso and then a bus to Abidjan. There are about ten military check-points between the border and Abidjan so have your documents ready. If you do not have proper documentation of your inoculations at the border you will be forced to pay a small fine and they will give you an injection at an on-site clinic.

By bus

Buses run daily between Abidjan and Accra. The service is offered alternating between the STC (Ghana) and its Ivorian equivalent.

Get around

Inter-city travel in Côte d'Ivoire is usually more comfortable than travel in neighbouring African countries. The roads are generally in good condition and the bus service is relatively modern. The downside is the very frequent military check-points which add hours to a trip. Though the stops are a hassle, Ivorian soldiers tend to be pretty professional and don't hassle non-French western travellers. Soldiers in Ghana, for example, are much more likely to demand a bribe than in Côte d'Ivoire. Most western governments recommend that their citizens steer clear of Côte d'Ivoire. This should be taken particularly seriously by people travelling on French passports. An Ivoirian soldier's attitude towards you will change very quickly when you explain that you are not French.

Travel in Abidjan is the best when you have your own vehicle to travel around. The roads are very good and the traffic rules are obeyed to the T, excepting some taxi drivers who steer everywhere on the road. Lane discipline and traffic lights are followed with rigour.

Taxis are a great and easy way to get around in Abidjan. Just look for an orange coloured car and flag it down. Fares are very affordable: USD2–4 depending on the length of the journey. Always negotiate before you get in the taxi, but overall they are reasonably priced - unlike in Accra.

Talk

The official language is French, but there are 60 native dialects as well. The most widely spoken is Dioula. Other native languages include Hamdunga, Loftus Africanus, Gigala, Oloofid, and Ulam. But one cannot survive without French for longer time duration. And business travellers need French on their tongue to close any small deal.

See

Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro

Fine beaches, tourist villages and wildlife preserves are the principal attractions of Côte d'Ivoire.

Buy

The West African CFA franc (XOF) is used by Côte d'Ivoire. It is also used by Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. While strictly a separate currency from the Central African CFA franc (XAF), the two currencies are used interchangeably at par throughout all CFA franc (XAF & XOF) using countries.

Both CFA francs are guaranteed by the French treasury and are pegged to the euro at €1 = XOF655.957

Eat

Good eats are cheap and you can find very good restaurants in Abidjan. You should get a vaccine for Hepatitis A before coming but even street foods are fairly clean. Try the national dishes like "garba", "alloco" and "attiéké". Alloco is simply fried plantains, mostly accompanied by a spicy vegetable sauce and boiled eggs. L'attiéké—grated cassava that look like couscous but taste slightly sour—is often served with grilled fish and vegetables (tomatoes, onions, cucumber) and a must-try. Braised fishes and chickens are also very good and can be found on every corner. The most established chain is Coq Ivoire. When you order, make sure that you let them know whether you want the intestines. You can always ask for extra vegetables, especially avocados, which are amazing during the season. Another speciality is the excellent "shoukouilla" a blend of charbroiled meat! For the ones who are not adventurous you can find the Hamburger House or the French restaurant at the Sofitel Hotel.

Drink

Travellers from the west might want to take a security detail with them when visiting bars and night clubs. Bidul Bar, Havana Club and others are in Zone 4 or Zone Quatre. If you do go, be aware of prostitutes that will want to talk to you. Other places are in Treicheville and Cocody but you should have private transportation or a cab. If you do drive at night do not stop fully at lights or signs. Be aware of car jackers. Keep a brisk pace so they cannot carjack you.

Stay safe

Côte d'Ivoire experiences periodic political unrest and violence in northern regions, and it is recommended to contact your embassy or consult other travellers about the present situation prior to travel inland.

The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth office as well as the US State Department advises against all but essential travel to the western regions of Dix-Huit Montagnes, Haut-Sassandra, Moyen-Cavally and Bas-Sassandra of Côte d'Ivoire at this time.

Most of the crime committed in Abidjan is by unemployed youth. Should you ever feel in danger it would be wise to seek the help of a middle-aged man. This older generation is often very contemptuous of young criminals and will likely help you out if you are being hassled. Generally Ivorians will recognize the dangers to foreigners in their country and will often be very protective of naïve travellers. This is especially true in the Abidjan neighbourhoods of Treichville and Adjame.

On 14th March 2016, militants killed at least 16 people in a gun attack on a Grand Bassam beach resort about 40km from Abidjan. The attack was claimed by al Qaeda(AQIM). Côte d'Ivoire had been previously listed as at risk of attack by militants and security had been tightened.

Stay healthy

HIV/AIDS has once reached epidemic proportions in the country, but has since saw huge improvements with an adult prevalence of 4.7%.

Respect

Ramadan

Ramadan is the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar and lasts 29–30 days. Muslims fast every day for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) is supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset. Non-muslims are exempt from this, but should still refrain from eating or drinking in public as this is considered very impolite. Working hours are decreased as well in the corporate world. Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country. Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.

  • 6 June – 5 July 2016 (1437 AH)
  • 27 May – 24 June 2017 (1438 AH)
  • 16 May – 14 June 2018 (1439 AH)
  • 6 May – 3 June 2019 (1440 AH)
  • 24 April – 23 May 2020 (1441 AH)

If you're planning to travel to Côte d'Ivoire during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.

Although the country was previously referred to in English as "Ivory Coast", the country has requested that it be called "Côte d'Ivoire" (the equivalent in French). Pronouncing it "Coat di-VWAR" is close enough for an English-speaking person.

Connect


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, March 17, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.