The Ivory Coast is a nation located in western Sub-Saharan Africa. It is bounded on the west by Liberia and Guinea, on the north by Mali and Burkina Faso, on the east by Ghana, and on the south by the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean). The nation is located between the latitudes of 4° and 11°N and the longitudes of 2° and 9°W. Around 64.8 percent of the land is agricultural land, with arable land accounting for 9.1 percent, permanent pasture accounting for 41.5 percent, and permanent crops accounting for 14.2 percent. Water contamination is one of the most serious problems confronting the country today.
The population of the nation was 15,366,672 in 1998, 20,617,068 in 2009, and 23,919,000 in July 2014. In 1975, the Ivory Coast’s first national census recorded 6.7 million people.
According to a government study conducted in 2012, the fertility rate was 5.0 children born per woman, with 3.7 born in urban areas and 6.3 born in rural regions.
Akan make up 42.1 percent of the population, Voltaiques or Gur 17.6 percent, Northern Mandes 16.5 percent, Krous 11%, Southern Mandes 10%, and other 2.8 percent (includes 30,000 Lebanese and 45,000 French; 2004). Approximately 77 percent of the population is Ivoirian.
Since Ivory Coast has established itself as one of the most prosperous West African countries, workers from neighboring Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Guinea account for about 20% of the population (3.4 million).
Non-African ancestry accounts for around 4% of the population. Many are French, Lebanese, Vietnamese, and Spanish nationals, as well as American and Canadian Protestant missionaries. Due to assaults by pro-government youth militias, about 10,000 French and other foreign people were forced to flee Ivory Coast in November 2004. In addition to French nationals, there are native-born descendants of French immigrants who came during the country’s colonial era.
The primary faiths of Ivory Coast are Islam (nearly mostly Sunni Muslims, with some Ahmadi Muslims) and Christianity (mainly Roman Catholic, with a lesser number of Protestants, especially Methodists). Muslims rule the north, while Christians rule the south. According to US Department of State estimates, Christians and Muslims each made up 35 to 40% of the population in 2009, while traditional (animist) faiths were practiced by an estimated 25% of the population.
Yamoussoukro, the capital of Ivory Coast, is home to the world’s biggest church edifice, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro.
Ivory Coast has a relatively high per capita GDP for the area (US$1014.4 in 2013) and plays an important role in transit commerce for neighboring, landlocked nations. The nation has the biggest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union, accounting for 40% of the overall GDP of the monetary union. The nation is the world’s biggest exporter of cocoa beans, as well as the fourth-largest exporter of commodities in Sub-Saharan Africa in general (following South Africa, Nigeria, and Angola).
Cocoa growers made $2.53 billion in cocoa exports in 2009 and were projected to produce 630,000 metric tons in 2013. The Hershey Company predicts that the price of cocoa beans will skyrocket in the next years. In 2012, 100,000 rubber growers in the Ivory Coast received a total of $105 million.
Maintaining strong connections with France since independence in 1960, diversifying agriculture for export, and encouraging international investment have all contributed to Ivory Coast’s economic development. In recent years, Ivory Coast’s main agricultural products, coffee and cocoa, have seen increased competition and decreasing pricing on the worldwide market. This, combined with high internal corruption, makes life difficult for growers, exporters, and laborers, as instances of indentured labor have been reported in the cocoa and coffee production in every edition of the U.S. Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor since 2009.
With the exception of South Africa, most African economies have not developed faster since independence. One potential explanation for this is the taxation on export agriculture. Ivory Coast and Kenya were outliers because their monarchs were major cash-crop producers, and the newly independent nations refrained from imposing punitive rates of taxes on export agriculture, resulting in thriving economies.