Cote d’Ivoire is one of the most beautiful countries in Central Africa. The most powerful attraction of the Cote d’Ivoire or as it is also known as the Ivory Coast is its people, so if you’re interested in African history, art or music, this is the place to be. There’s also a whole lot of physical beauty, from towering mountains to fishing villages, easily reached on some of the best roads in Africa.Short History Facts:Not much is known about Cote d’Ivoire prior to the arrival of European ships in the 1460s. The major ethnic groups came relatively recently from neighbouring areas: the Kru peoplemigrated from Liberia around 1600; the Senoufo and Lubi moved southward from Burkina Faso and Mali. It wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries that the Akan people, including the Baoule, migrated from Ghana into the eastern area of the country and the Malinke migrated from Guinea into the northwest.
Compared to neighbouring Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire suffered little from the slave trade. European slaving and merchant ships preferred other areas along the coast with better harbours. France took an interest in the 1840s, enticing local chiefs to grant French commercial traders a monopoly along the coast. Thereafter, the French built naval bases to keep out non-French traders and began a systematic conquest of the interior. They accomplished this only after a long war in the 1890s against Mandinka forces, mostly from Gambia. Guerrilla warfare by the BaoulÃ© and other eastern groups continued until 1917.
The French had one overriding goal: to stimulate the production of exports. Coffee, cocoa and palm oil crops were soon planted along the coast. Cote d’Ivoire stood out as the only West African country with a sizeable population of ‘settlers’; elsewhere in West and Central Africa, the French and English were largely bureaucrats. As a result, a third of the cocoa, coffee and banana plantations were in the hands of French citizens and a hated forced-labour system became the backbone of the economy.
At the time of Cote d’Ivoire’s independence in 1960, the country was easily French West Africa’s most prosperous, contributing over 40% of the region’s total exports. When Houphouet-Boigny became the country’s first president, his government gave farmers good prices to further stimulate production. Coffee production increased significantly, catapulting Cote d’Ivoire into third place in total output behind Brazil and Colombia. Cocoa did the same; by 1979 the country was the world’s leading producer. It also became Africa’s leading exporter of pineapples and palm oil. Behind the scenes, it was French technicians who had masterminded the programme, which was often referred to as the ‘Ivorian miracle’. In the rest of Africa, Europeans were driven out following independence; in Cote d’Ivoire, they poured in. The French community grew from 10,000 to 50,000, most of them teachers and advisors. For 20 years, the economy maintained an annual growth rate of nearly 10% – the highest of Africa’s non-oil exporting countries.
Weather:Apart from a short period in and around August, conditions on the coast remain sultry throughout the year with plenty of very humid days that rarely stray from 30-33Â°C (86-91Â°F). December to March sees a lull in rainfall; otherwise the north has a single rainy season from May to October and overall hotter temperatures.Places to visit in Cote d’Ivoire:
Parc National de Tai
Tai National Park is one of the last remaining areas of virgin rainforest in West Africa. Trees grow over 50m (165ft) high, with massive trunks and huge supporting roots. The towering trees, hanging lianas, swift streams and resident wildlife combine to create a peaceful and enchanting environment.
The park is in a very rainy and humid area, so the best time to visit is during the dry spell from December to February. A permit from the MinistÃ¨re des Eaux et Forets in Abidjan is required and strictly enforced. This however is just the first obstacle as getting to the park isn’t exactly easy.
YamoussoukroYamoussoukro is a bizarre, lively city where deserted eight lane highways lined with over 10,000 lights have avenues that end in the jungle and a full scale replica of St Peter’s in Rome stands surrounded by lush jungle. There is no other city like it in Africa.Yamoussoukro became the capital in 1983, but in name only. During the 1960s, President HouphouÃ«t-Boigny began spending lavishly on his native village. The result is a wasteful, bizarre example of what not to do with a lot of money, the centrepiece of which is the Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix.