Facts About Ivory Coast’s Culture, Geography, and History
Ivory Coast is a country located on the west coast of Africa. It has a rich cultural tradition, artistic talents, and French-speaking prowess, among other things. To offer you an insight into this unique country, we have compiled 11 interesting facts about Ivory Coast.
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11. The Republic of Cote d’Ivoire (previously known as the Ivory Coast) is a West African country that was once called the ‘teeth coast’ due to the trade in ivory.
Ivory is a precious material traditionally used in the making of ornamentals, sculpture, and furniture among other items. West Africa had a large population of elephants. However, thanks to this trade that these populations were decimated. As the name gives ancient glory, it provides a paradox of what happens to a natural heritage lost at the urgent need of man’s ego.
10. Cote d’Ivoire is the world’s largest exporter of cocoa, which is used to make chocolate. It is also one of the largest producers and exporters of coffee and palm oil.
The chocolate industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Chocolate is used in beverages and snacks. The probability of you having consumed cocoa from Ivory Coast increases with every cup of chocolate you drink or every chocolate snack that you take.
9. Cote d’Ivoire’s Tai National Park is an ancient forest and home to the pygmy hippopotamus. It is one of the last remaining areas of virgin rainforest in West Africa.
Tai National Park was declared World Heritage Site in 1982 due to it being one of the last remaining primary natural forests in West Africa. Due to the high rate at which forests are being mauled in favor of cocoa plantations, this is probably the last heritage of virgin forest that Ivorian future generations will be able to set their eyes on.
Pygmy hippopotamus is the most famous of the species found in this 3,300 km sq. national reserve. There are 50 endemic plant species and almost 1,000 vertebrate species.
8. Abidjan is the largest city in Cote d’Ivoire and serves as its economic capital. It is the third-largest French-speaking population in the world.
Abidjan is commonly referred to as ‘the French capital of Africa’. This is due to it harboring the largest and highest concentration of French-speaking people in Africa in one locality. Abidjan has a population of over 4 million people. Its famous landmarks include St. Paul’s Cathedral, the beach of Vridi, the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Stadium, and the Le Plateu (CBD).
7. The African country of Cote d’Ivoire was the first black Republic and first non-English speaking country to win an Academy Award.
Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, ‘Black and White In Color’ won Ivory Coast’s first academy award in 1976. This also debuted as the first non-English Academy Award in Sub-Saharan Africa.
6. Côte d’Ivoire was originally made up of numerous isolated settlements; today it represents more than sixty distinct tribes, including the Baoule, Bete, Senoufou, Agni, Malinke, Dan, and Lobi.
Ivory Coast is a diverse country in terms of ethnicity. However, three indigenous groups take up over half of the population. Baoulés are the largest group taking about 20% of the population. Betes form the second largest group with 18% of the population followed closely by Senoufu (16%) and Malinke (11%).
Other groups include the Agni, Dan, and Lobi. There are about 5 million Africans of foreign origin from the rest of West Africa with almost half of them being Burkinabes. French and Lebanese comprise the largest non-African group.
5. Little is known about Cote d’Ivoire’s first inhabitants, but weapon and tool fragments confirm the presence of early settlements.
Ivory Coast falls into a region that has been contested by various empires and invaders such that it is hard to know who were the original inhabitants.
4. Before being occupied by Europeans, Côte d’Ivoire played host to important states like the Kong Empire, Gyaaman, and Baoule.
There were many conquests in Ivory Coast before the advent of European colonialism. Some of the earliest empires to have occupied the land include the Songhai Empire and Kong Empire. Later on, the Anyi and Baoule invaded the region and the Grand Assam and Assinie Kingdoms emerged. It was largely a contested land with reigns changing hands from one group to another in quick succession.
3. Côte d’Ivoire first took part in the Miss Universe pageant in July 1986, in Panama City when the country was represented by Marie Francoise Koume.
Ivory Coast made its debut in the Miss Universe beauty pageant held in Panama in 1986. Since then, Ivory Coast hasn’t made much effort to keep the flame of Marie Francoise Koume in this pageantry burning despite it being home to some of the beautiful ladies in the world.
2. The traditional music style of many of the ethnic groups of Cote d’Ivoire is characterized by a series of rhythms and melodies that occur simultaneously, without one dominating the other. Music is used in many aspects of the culture; the Dan celebrates rice, death, marriage, birth, and weather all with music.
Music is the best language of culture. As such, each society has its own unique music. Ivorian music blends rhythms and melodies in a deeply collaborative way without one imposing on the other. Traditionally, singing is a past-time activity that most family members participate in as part of the folklore sessions. Welcoming guests, new seasons, fresh harvest, the birth of a newborn, rights of passage, deaths and other events involve music.
1. The Fêtes des Masques, (Festival of Masks) held in November in the region of Man is one of Cote d’Ivoire’s biggest and best-known festivals.
Mask festivals are a common feature in most West African countries. They only vary in terms of mask design, the event being celebrated and the period of celebration. In Ivory Coast, Festival of Masks is held in November each year in the region of Man.
This is usually carried out to pay homage to the forest spirits. Small villages contest in order to find the best mask dancers to carry out the homage task.
Ivory Coast has for long been dubbed ‘the jewel of West Africa’. There is more to explore about this jewel. Though it might have gained some dust for a while, it is back to shining again.