The Ivory Coast, known as the Côte d’Ivoire in French, lies on the Western coast of Africa. Five countries share a border with the country—Ghana to the east, Burkina Faso and Mali to the north, along with Guinea and Liberia to the west. The Gulf of Guinea, a bay of the Atlantic Ocean, hugs the southern shores of the Ivory Coast. The country, today a republic ruled by a president with Yamoussoukro its capital, was part of France during the Colonial era. It gained its independence in 1960 and experienced a civil war in 2002 that has wrapped up peacefully.
Ivory Coast Culture
The French influence still looms large, as evidenced by the country’s official language, culture, and food, in the country of 20 million people. While the Ivory Coast culture has a French flair, it’s also distinctly West African. More than 60 ethnic groups make their home in the country, whose name comes from the Colonial era when the Portuguese traders talked about the five different economies along the western coast of Africa. Then called Costa do Marfim, the French renamed it in their own language while keeping the same translation. Côte d’Ivoire was once known for its trade in ivory, which has since been made illegal to protect the elephants.
Ivorian culture has also been shaped by faith. Both Sunni Muslims and Romans Catholics represent some half of the country’s residents with a quarter practicing traditional faiths. One of the world’s largest church buildings, Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, is found in the capital city.
The food in the Ivory Coast relies heavily on the local bounty, which is rich in grains and plants. The cassava plant is the star of one the traditional dishes, Attiéké. Cassava and chicken dishes are served in open-air restaurants, which the locals call a maquis. You can also pick up food at street vendors—don’t miss the aloko (banana cooked in palm oil with chili and onions) often served with bangui (wine made from palms). The music, too, is worth savoring, expertly blending melody and rhythm.
Ivory Coast Beaches
Ivory Coast Beaches Image: abdallahh (flickr)
As expected for a coastal country, the beaches top the list of things to do in the Ivory Coast. Many lovely stretches of sand and surf are found in and around the country’s largest city of Abidjan. Less than an hour east, you’ll find one of the best beaches in the Côte d’Ivoire—Bassam Beach. Grand resorts line the shores of the beach, which is fairly crowded on the weekends and blissfully quiet during the week. Another favorite beach, Assini Beach, is popular with surfers and sports enthusiasts. Many of Assini’s resorts can equip you with everything you need for fun on and off the shore.
Ivory Coast Hotels and Resorts
Ivory Coast Hotels and Resorts Image: fr.zil (flickr), CC BY-SA
The beach resorts are popular with visitors, but they’re just one part of the hotel scene. The bulk of hotels are located in Abidjan. The port city is home to a mix of styles, including sleek hotel towers operated by international brands and locally run lodges. The same goes for the other regions of the country. Whether you’re looking for luxury hotels or a distinctive bed-and-breakfast, it’s easy to find a place to stay regardless of what’s on your itinerary.
Ivory Coast Map
Ivory Coast Map
No matter where you plan to roam, it’s helpful to have an Ivory Coast map at hand. The sub-Saharan country encompasses 322,462 square kilometers (nearly 125,000 square miles), giving you plenty of space to explore.
Top image: fr.zil (flickr), CC BY-SA