Ivory Coast is one of the most forward-thinking countries on the African continent. Situated in West Africa, this country has a vibrant culture and exciting history worth discovering. Here are some fun facts about Ivory Coast that will help you understand the country better.
Common Facts About Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast, officially the “Republic of Cote d’Ivoire”, has an estimated population of approximately 30 million people.
Ivory coast is famous for producing some of the continent’s finest footballers (Soccer players). It is also known for its beautiful UNESCO World Heritage sites and amazing beaches. Beyond all that, if you want to learn more about this African country, here are some interesting facts about Ivory Coast that will come in handy.
Several countries in Africa are prone to armed conflicts and civil/social unrest. Always double check the latest situations from both your government and the local government advisories.
Historical Facts On Ivory Coast
Here is a fascinating story or fact about Ivory Coast that many don’t know.
One of the country’s famous and dominant ethnic groups (Baoule) was founded by Queen Poku, also known as (Awura, Aura, or Abla Pokou). She was born as a princess to the ruler of the Ashanti Empire (a Ghanian empire of Kumasi), Nyakou Kosiamoa.
Due to succession conflicts, she made a breakaway with her followers with intentions to move to the west. But as you know, there is no gain without pain. It was recorded that the queen lost her son during their journey in search of greener pastures.
She sacrificed him to the gods of the Comoe river by drowning him when they were crossing the river. After throwing her infant child into the water, it was said that hippos came from the water creating a bridge for the people to cross on their backs.
The Comoe river was one of many rivers they crossed before reaching their destination. When they arrived, they focused on agriculture as their primary source of living. Today, Baoule makes up the largest ethnic group in the country.
Oscar Movie Academy Award
A not-so-known but proud fact about Ivory Coast; the country has won an Oscar Academy Award for one of its movies.
In 1977, the country became the first black Republic nation and non-English speaking country to win an Academy Award for its French-Ivorian movie “Black and White in Colour.” It won the award for Best Foreign Language film.
An Old Nation
It is hard to determine how long present-day Ivory Coast has been inhabited. The humid climate in the country has not helped in preserving human remains. But the discovery of polished axes and remnants of cooking equipment suggests the country has been inhabited as far back as the Neolithic era or the Paleolithic era.
The Berbers from Maghreb landed in the region around the 11th century spreading Islam around all the neighboring regions. They are the first known and documented inhabitants of the region.
The French colonized Ivory Coast late in the 19th century. By 1915, they had total control of the country.
Although an interesting fact about Ivory Coast’s history is that Europeans didn’t fancy the region and seemed to prefer other coasts. As such, the country did not suffer as much from the slave trade compared to its neighbors.
However, the French still used some Ivorians as forced laborers in their plantations until forced labor was abolished in 1945.
Independence In Cote d’Ivoire
On the 7th of August 1960, Ivory Coast gained independence from France. The fight for independence was led by a member of the Baoule ethnic group Félix Houphouët-Boigny who happened to be the country’s first president.
He presided over the country for 33 years, from 1960, when the country gained independence, until 1993 when he died.
Useful Facts About Ivory Coast For Tourists
Largest Church In The World
Here is an exciting fact about Ivory Coast that you probably didn’t know. The country houses the largest church in the world.
Of course, various criteria determine how large a place is: structure, sitting capacity, and exterior area.
Glory Dome (Dunamis Church) in Abuja, Nigeria, has a bigger sitting capacity of 100,000. But the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro is considered the largest church in the world based on exterior area. It even made it to the Guinness World Record. The exterior area of the church is approximately 30,000 square meters.
Completed in 1990, the building was inspired by the Vatican Basilica, and you can spot similar Renaissance and Baroque styles. The church has a sitting capacity of 18,000.
5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Ivory Coast is one of only four countries on the African continent that boasts five beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Some historical sites like the Sudanese-style Mosque in the country’s north built between the 11th and 19th centuries, Grand-Bassam Colonial town, and natural beauties like the Tai National Park, Mount Nimba, and Comoe National Park.
This mountain is also known as Mount Richard-Molard. It is a mountain Range along the border between Ivory Coast and Guinea (another African country).
The mountain stands at about 1,752 meters above sea level, which makes it the highest point in the country. It is also the highest point in Guinea.
Dollars In Ivory Coast
If you are thinking of money, then you are way off track. When we talk about the dollar in Cote d’Ivoire, we talk about legends and symbols.
The sand dollar, also known as sand flowers, are sea urchins spotted all around beaches in Ivory Coast. These sea urchins may not look like it but they are living organisms. They have a rich burgundy color when full of life which becomes lighter when they die.
They earned the name sand dollars because of their shape and coin size. If you want to see the sand dollar, make sure to visit Assinie beach when traveling to Ivory Coast.
Cultural Fun Facts Of Ivory Coast
Abbreviations And Acronyms
Here is an interesting cultural fact about Ivory Coast. The Ivorians love to abbreviate, and it is safe to say abbreviating words is an Ivorian habit. They believe there is an initial for every word.
To put it in context, they call the president of the National Assembly(Pan) or the National Development Programme (P&D). they refer to the Country as (CI).
If you’re wondering why the abbreviation doesn’t seem to make full sense from the English words, that’s because it’s typically not based on English but French. E.g. Cote d’Ivoire (thus CI)
Negotiation Or Bargain
It is common to see open-air markets and many traders in the country, like in many African countries. Locals primarily buy food in the market at decent prices instead of in the mall. Unlike in western countries where negotiation is not common, it is a natural activity in this country.
How about this for a funny fact about Ivory Coast? Suppose you shop in the market and don’t negotiate even a little. In that case, you will come across as someone naïve and easy to take advantage of.
If it is impolite to bargain or negotiate in the western world, the reverse is the case in Ivory Coast. If you don’t bargain at all as an act of politeness, you will spend more than you are required to.
Bonus point if you ever go to the market in Ivory Coast; if you want to be polite, don’t do it by not negotiating, be polite by cutting the price just a little.
Football The National Sport
Football (soccer) is the national sport in Cote d’Ivoire, and it is safe to say it is national pride. The men’s football team is nicknamed “the Elephants.”
The Elephants won the biggest tournament on the African continent (AFCON) twice in 1992 and 2015. They have also qualified for the FIFA world cup three times in 2006, 2010, and 2014.
The country has also produced some of the finest footballers on the African continent, including Solomon Kalu, Yaya Toure, Wilfred Bony, and Didier Drogba, among others.
Languages In Cote d’Ivoire
French is the official language in Cote d’Ivoire. However, it is ojust ne of many languages spoken in the country. There are at least 75 local languages in the country.
Some of the famous indigenous languages include Baoule, Anyin, Senufo, and Dan. English is also spoken sparsely across the country.
Fufu The National Dish
Like many African countries, there are many delicacies in Ivorian cuisine. Some of the staple foods in Cote d’Ivoire include Yam (especially pounded), Plantain, cassava, different sauces, and stew, mainly vegetables.
The National dish, fufu, is popular all around the African continent. Fufu is a cassava-based meal. It is proceeded and cooked into a sticky dough enjoyed more with the hand than with utensils.
The fufu is enjoyed with a vegetable sauce, kedjenou. Accompanied by meat, often chicken or fish.
Geographical Facts About Ivory Coast
Two Capital Cities
Here is an interesting fact about Ivory Coast that many don’t know. The country is one of 4 African countries with two capital cities. The other 3 are Eswatini, South Africa, and Tanzania.
The two capital cities of Ivory Coast are Yamoussoukro and Abidjan. Yamoussoukro became the official capital in 1983 after the country’s independence. However, Abidjan has remained the country’s official administrative capital. Most countries’ embassy in Ivory Coast is situated in Abidjan.
Landscape In Ivory Coast
The terrain in Cote d’Ivoire is quite unique. The country features mainly flat plains with towering mountains in some regions of the country. The lowest point in the country is the sea level on the coast, with the highest point being in the country’s western region, Mount Nimba.
Climate In Ivory Coast
The climate in the country is located between a transitional humid equatorial climate and a dry tropical climate.
Typically, Cote d’Ivoire is always warm to hot all year round. Although the country experience rainfall every year, it is still warm. The temperature is cooler between December and March, making it the best time to visit the country.
Fascinating Ivory Coast Facts For Kids
A person from Cote d’Ivoire is called an Ivorian, while a group are referred to as Ivorians.
Cote d’Ivoire Coastline
The country has a decent coastline of a little over 500 km. Because of that, there are many beautiful beaches in Ivory Coast.
West African CFA Franc-The Currency
The West African Franc is the official currency in Cote d’Ivoire. The currency is minted in notes (500, 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10000 francs) and coins (1, 5,10,25,50,100,200,250, and 500 francs).
Here is an interesting fact about Ivory Coast currency, it is not unique to the country. Countries like Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo also use the same currency.
Largest French Speaking City
Did you know the country also houses the third-largest French-speaking city in the world? That’s a cool fact about Ivory Coast.
Abidjan in Ivory Coast is home to at least 5.6 million French-speaking people making it the third largest French-speaking city in the world behind only Paris (France) and Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo).
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Other Interesting Facts About Ivory Coast
More Famous Than The President
How about this for an exciting fact about Ivory Coast? The country’s most famous son is Didier Drogba. It’s hard to see anyone more popular than Didier Drogba in the country, at least not yet.
If you are a football (soccer) fan, you must have heard of Drogba or even watched him play. He is mostly remembered for his time at Chelsea (a football club in England) and his champions league-winning goal for the same club.
The mesmerizing striker was born in Abidjan and won 104 caps for the country, scoring 65 goals in that time. He was the national team captain from 2006 until he retired from international football. He hung his boots as the country’s all-time highest goal scorer.
Didier Drogba to Ivory Coast is almost like Diego Maradona to Argentina.
The Name Ivory Coast
This West African country is officially known as Côte d’Ivoire. The country was famous as “Ivory Coast” until the government in 1985 requested the official name be “Côte d’Ivoire.”
Here is a fun fact about the Ivory Coast name. It originated from what the region was known for between the 15th and 17th centuries. Within those periods, the country was infamous for its intensive trade of ivory or elephant tusks on the country’s coast. Hence the name Ivory Coast.
Do Not Call It Ivory Coast
How about this for a spoiler? When you are in the country, do not call it “The Ivory Coast.” You can probably see why now considering the story attached to the name.
The country gained independence under President Felix Houphouet-Boigny in 1960. The government changed the name from the Republic of the Ivory Coast to Republique de Cote d’Ivoire.
Despite the government’s request, most English media still prefer the English version of “Ivory Coast.” Probably because the old name is stuck and it is easier to pronounce for English speakers.
But when you’re in the country, remember it is Cote d’Ivoire, not Ivory Coast. The people will appreciate it.
Largest Cocoa Beans Producer
Did you know this fact about Ivory Coast Cocoa? It has some of the best cocoa beans in the world. That is not the best part; Cote d’Ivoire is the largest producer of cocoa in the world.
Here are some interesting demographics about Ivory Coast. In the 2021/2022 cocoa season, Cote d’Ivoire produced 43% of the world’s cocoa beans. At least 8 million of the country’s 27.7 million people depend on cocoa production for their livelihood.
The Ivory Coast Flag
The Ivory Coast flag is a tricolor flag featuring orange, white, and green. These colors divide the flag into three equal vertical bands.
The orange represents national growth. White represents purity, peace, and unity. Green represents hope for the country’s future.
Here is a fact about the Ivory Coast flag, it was inspired by the French flag, although it has different colors. The three colors also relate o the country’s motto: Unity, Discipline, Labor.
Discovering More Fun Facts About Ivory Coast
The amazing history and facts about Ivory Coast make this a fascinating country to explore. From its famous personalities to the thriving cocoa industry, there is much to discover about this African nation.
Whether you are interested in learning more or uncovering what it has to offer as a tourist destination, Ivory Coast will surely leave you enthralled! It is one of the lesser traveled regions for travelers but definitely worth considering if you ever get the chance.