Interesting facts about Ivory Coast

ivory coast flag

Ivory Coast or Côte d’Ivoire is a West African country with beach resorts, rainforests and a French-colonial legacy.

The official name of the country is the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.

It is bordered by Guinea and Liberia in the west, Burkina Faso and Mali in the north, and Ghana in the east and the Atlantic Ocean in the south.

The official language is French.

As of 1 January 2017, the population of Cote d’Ivoire was estimated to be 23,518,859 people.

It is the 68th largest country in the world in terms of land area with 322,463 square kilometers (124,504 square miles).

Ivory Coast’s political capital is Yamoussoukro, and its economic capital and largest city is the port city of Abidjan [photo below]. In 1983, the city of Yamoussoukro was designated as the official political capital of Ivory Coast. However, almost all political institutions and foreign embassies continue to be located in Abidjan.


Ivory Coast’s terrain can generally be described as a large plateau rising gradually from sea level in the south to almost 500 meters (1,640 feet) elevation in the north. Exceptions are the edges of the Guinea Highlands on its western border with Guinea, in the far northwest and the elevated savanna and forest of the northeast.

The highest elevation is Mount Richard-Molard, at 1,752 meters (5,748 feet) in the far west of the country along the border with Guinea and Liberia.

mount nimba

Ivory Coast has 590 kilometers (370 miles) of coastline.

Ivory Coast has many gorgeous beaches found in nearly all of the coastal towns, many of which have developed lush resorts to cater to tourists. Grand Bassam and Aasouinde are two of the most popular, with sandy beaches and warm water to lure swimmers and sunbathers alike.

ivory coast beach

The network of protected areas in Congo covers about 23% of the national territory (74,200 square kilometers / 28,650 square miles). It is made up of eight national parks, plus nature reserves, game reserves and other types of protected areas.

The Comoé National Park is a Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the largest
protected area in West Africa, with an area of 11,500 square kilometers (4,440 square miles), and ranges from the humid Guinea savanna to the dry Sudanian zone. This steep climatic north-south gradient allows the park to harbour a multitude of habitats with a remarkable diversity of life.

comoé national park

Taï National Park containing one of the last areas of primary rainforest in West Africa. It was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1982 due to the breadth of its flora and fauna. Five mammal species of the Taï National Park are on the Red List of Threatened Species: pygmy hippopotamus, olive colobus monkeys, leopards, chimpanzees and Jentink’s duiker. The park covers an area of 3,300 square kilometers (1,274 square miles).

taï national park

The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace is a Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro. The basilica was constructed between 1985 and 1989 with different cost estimates given by various groups. Some stated that it cost US$175 million, US$300 million, or US$400 million, ranging as high as US$600 million. The designs of the dome and encircled plaza are clearly inspired by the Basilica of Saint Peter in Vatican City, although it is not an outright replica. This church was listed (in 1989 by Guinness World Records) as the largest church in the world, having surpassed the previous record holder, St. Peter’s Basilica, upon completion. It has an area of 30,000 square meters (322,917 sq ft) and is 158 m (518 ft) high. However, it also includes a rectory and a villa (counted in the overall area), which are not strictly part of the church. It can accommodate 18,000 worshippers, compared to 60,000 for St. Peter’s.

basilica of our lady of peace

St Paul’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in the city of Abidjan. The first stone of the cathedral was consecrated on May 11, 1980 by Pope John Paul II during his first pastoral visit to Ivory Coast. The cathedral was formally consecrated by the pope during his second visit to Abidjan in August 1985. It is the second largest cathedral in Africa. The striking external feature of the cathedral which attracts visitors at the entrance itself is the tall concrete structure which is shaped like an anthropomorphic giant.

st paul's cathedral abidjan

Little is known about Ivory Coast’s first inhabitants, but weapon and tool fragments confirm the presence of early settlements (15,000 to 10,000 BC.).

Between 1000 to 1500 AD, Muslim merchants established trade routes from northern Africa to Ivory Coast. They came for gold, ivory and slaves.

Five important states flourished in Ivory Coast during the pre-European era.

Ivory Coast became a protectorate of France in 1843–1844 and was later formed into a French colony in 1893 amid the European scramble for Africa.

Ivory Coast achieved independence in 1960, led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who ruled the country until 1993.


Ivory Coast was hailed as a model of stability. But an armed rebellion in 2002 split the nation in two. Since then, peace deals have alternated with renewed violence as the country has slowly edged its way towards a political resolution of the conflict.

Despite the instability, Ivory Coast is the world’s largest exporter of cocoa beans and its citizens enjoy a relatively high level of income, compared to other countries in the region.

The name “Ivory Coast” reflected the major trade that occurred on that particular stretch of the coast, the export of ivory.

Ivory Coast is famous for its biodiversity, with more than 230 mammals, 700 birds, 125 reptiles, 100 fish and over 35 different types of amphibians, not to mention around 4,700 plant species.

The most popular sport in Ivory Coast is football. The national football team is nicknamed “Les Eléphants” (the elephants).

The West African Franc is the official currency of the state.

A popular snack is aloko, fried banana served with onions and chilies.

The colors of the ivory coast flag are similar to the flag of Ireland except that the colors are reversed with green on the hoist side.