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Ivory Coast - Kong Mosque

“From a tourism perspective, Ivory Coast is practically untouched – I gathered this not just from the complete absence of other tourists/travelers, but also from the fact that I couldn’t even get a fridge magnet! This obviously suits me, but not an easy country to travel through, not least because of the condition of the vehicles and the corrupt police/gendarmes who man checkpoints outside every village. On the other hand, though, this is real Africa. The colors are spectacular – dark red earth, emerald forests, blue and white clouds, and the cavalcade of color in the locals’ clothes.

You may, by accident or design, stumble upon genuine tribal rites, masked dances, initiations, funerals, weddings, and much more. Some of these are not public (for instance, it is forbidden to enter the Holy Forest, and even initiates may only enter barefoot), but at most, you are welcome to participate. The people, and especially the children, are beautiful, and globalized tourism has not yet affected their behavior – they still greet tourists with genuine, natural curiosity.

The food was less to my taste than in, say, Ghana, but they do have alloco, my favorite kind of banana fried in palm oil, and fufu (which is, in fact, more like the plantain version, foutou) as well as peanut soup, aguti – an indigenous rodent – and giant snails.” (2018)

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“The center of Abidjan is full of elegant cars and businesspeople. The open-air launderettes of this pleasantly hilly, bayside city are daily given thousands of shirts and sheets, to be soaked by skilled hands in the cloudy water and made snowy white once more. A strange contrast to the rest of the country, but this is Africa too. Of course, like all big cities, it has areas of ill repute, but luckily you don’t have to travel out to these districts to feel the atmosphere of an African market, for example. In these downtown markets, the housewives in their brightly colored dresses are just as conspicuous, bargaining fiercely over the price of some ingredients for a family’s lunch.”

Practicals

Transport

Public transport is unreliable; vehicles are generally in poor condition; drivers are not careful. The roads are old; their condition is unsafe and serious, fatal car accidents are common. It is safest to use cars that can be rented in larger hotels.

Ivory Coast - Abidjan - Woro Woro-s, communal share taxis in the outskirts - k.a. photo

Ivory Coast - Abidjan - buses

Ivory Coast - Abidjan - Le Plateau modern area - taxis - k.a. photo

Food

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Abidjan - the prestigious Zone 4 neighborhood - k.a. photo

Shopping

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Ivory Coast - fragile items - y.m. photo

Ivory Coast - Abidjan - CAVA (Centre Artisanal de la Ville d'Abidjan), the best souvenir market - k.a. photo

Ivory Coast - Abidjan - CAVA (Centre Artisanal de la Ville d'Abidjan), the best souvenir market - k.a. photo

Ivory Coast - Abidjan - market scene - k.a. photo

Fun

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Ivory Coast - tribal dance

Public safety

Crimes against foreign visitors are not common but can occur. As the arms trade in the country is practically uncontrolled, armed attacks and robberies can happen anywhere.

After dark, foreign tourists should be very cautious in public places, in busier city centers, on public roads outside the cities, in Abidjan.

If you are a victim of a robbery, behave restrained, don't resist to avoid physical abuse.

Health

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Ivory Coast - under a spell - y.m. photo

Others

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Ivory Coast - Drogba Beach - y.m. photo

Ivory Coast - tabloid magazines - k.a. photo

Ivory Coast - Abidjan - street scene in the outskirts - k.a. photo

Background

Ivory Coast - national flag

Destination in brief



Ivory Coast in brief

Ivory Coast is a country in West Africa. Neighbors: Liberia and Guinea (west), Mali and Burkina Faso (north), Ghana (east)

Ivory Coast was a French colony until 1960.

The name Ivory Coast goes back to pre-colonial times, when European traders gave names to coasts according to the dominant traded product (e.g. Gold Coast). Ivory Coast got its name from the big number of elephants and hence ivory. The French name is Côte d'Ivoire.

Size: 322,463 km² (124,504 mi²) - The country is dominated by flat to undulating plains, with mountains in the northwest.

Capital city: there are two – Yamoussoukro, an artificial city built in the 1970s, is the political capital and seat of the government and Abidjan is the commercial capital. – Yamoussoukro (pop. 200,000) is located deep inside the county and is surrounded by rainforest, while the far bigger Abidjan (pop. 3.6 million) lies on the southeastern coast of the country, on the Gulf of Guinea.

Population: 26.3 million (2020) - The country is ethnically very diverse, with more than 60 ethnic groups. The Akan group, which primarily lives in the eastern and central regions, makes up about 42% of the population.
Life expectancy in Ivory Coast is 57 years - lower than the African average (62). 

Language: French is the official language - around 60 native languages are also spoken  (but not written)

Religion: 44% Christian (mostly Catholic and Evangelical), 37.2% Muslim (mostly Sunni), 10.5% Animist (local traditional beliefs) – Many Christians and Muslims also practice some elements of indigenous religious beliefs in private. These religions all coexist rather peacefully.
Apropos, the people of Ivory Coast also worship an actual, living God: the international soccer star, Didier Drogba, born in Abidjan. Seeing beyond his responsibilities on the pitch, Drogba was an outspoken champion for peace in civil war-worn Ivory Coast around 2006.

Political system: republic – The political situation of the country is fragile. The arms trade and carrying of arms is totally uncontrolled.
Ivory Coast is the world’s leading producer of cocoa beans, supplying one-third of the world total. 

Currency: CFA franc

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 180 USD - but  52% of the population lives on less than 4 USD a day.

Most common surname: Kone

Safety: The security situation is not great, but not so bad either. The terror threat should be taken seriously, but the most common safety concern are: the pickpockets and the crooks specialized on cheating foreigners. Mugging on streets, roads is not rare. Ivory Coast is not recommended for solo female travellers.
Ivory Coast is a malaria risk area.

Optimal timing for a tourist visit? November-April

Top tourist attractions:
Ivory Coast is a good tourist destination for combining urban, cultural and nature experiences with some beach vacation.
Tai National Park, Comoé National Park, Grand-Bassam (a historic town), Notre-Dame de la Paix in Yamoussoukro, the vibrant Abidjan, La Cascade waterfall, the beaches around San Pedro
The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro surpasses even St Peter’s Basilica in size. With an exterior area of 30,000 square meters, it is the largest church building in the word! Finished in 1990, its design was apparently copied from its Vatican City sibling, with a massive dose of Baroque and Renaissance style influences. It has a capacity of 18,000 worshipers, but is almost never full. Many people think that its very existence is a lofty nonsense.



 

 

 

 

Geography

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Ivory Coast - Dimbokro

History


Historically, the Ivory Coast has been an island of security and stability in West Africa, where members of different ethnic groups coexisted without too much conflict.

Nowadays

“The country is made of up some sixty ethnic groups with no common, indigenous language. The official language of the country is, therefore, French. Unfortunately, it is often the case that even people who speak the same local language will opt to communicate in French instead. On the other hand, most people feel a much deeper attachment to their particular ethnic group than to their country; especially since so many of the inhabitants are in fact immigrants from neighboring states – a fact which makes it difficult to say who precisely is a citizen and who isn’t. This is particularly true of migrants who have arrived in the north of the country from Burkina Faso, and have lived in the Ivory Coast for perhaps two or three generations, but as social outcasts.

The largest ethnic group in the country is the Baoulé, but even they make up only one million or people in this country of around twenty million. They fought the longest against French colonization and, in spite of all difficulties, have retained their traditional beliefs and customs. The art of the Baoulé is very diverse, but their masks and sculptures always have a deep connection to the supernatural world.”


Ivory Coast - Abidjan - modern - k.a. photo

Abidjan - a northern neigborhood - k.a. photo

Ivory Coast - Abidjan - housing in the outskirts - k.a. photo

People

On our travels, we met a couple of young boys, nicely dressed in tribal clothes and feathered headdresses. They were returning home from an induction ceremony. This is a sort of ‘school of the forest’ where they learn everything they need to know to be accepted as adult men in the tribe – fighting, hunting, medicine, and so on. These two 16-year-olds had spent seven months in the woods, presumably giving up their school studies, if they had still been attending. But this initiation was more important to them since without it there is no adult life – even if you were to become a government minister without it, you still wouldn’t be accepted.” (2018)

Stereotypes:

1. Ivorians do not say what they think directly to the person concerned: "They say yes, even when they want to say no".

Ivory Coast - kids

Ivory Coast - local belle

Ivory Coast - Abidjan - elegance

Ivory Coast - village women

Ivory Coast - girls - y.m. photo

Ivory Coast - just so everyone knows - f.l. photo

Tourist etiquette

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Ivory Coast - Abidjan - market scene in the outskirts - k.a. photo

Attractions

Abidjan

Population (in 2020): 5.2 million

,, Its nickname is "the Paris of West Africa". The modernity of certain districts such as "the Plateau" and its high buildings or "Cocody" a residential district contrast with the authentic neglect of other parts of the city such as Treichville, Marcory, or Adjamé. Each district has its specificity and this beautiful mixture gives us a very cosmopolitan and interesting city to discover."

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“On our first day in Abidjan we watched the launderettes washing clothes by a small stream. It’s as hard a job as there is, and it’s mostly done by refugees from other African countries – Mali, Burkina Faso etc. From each customer they collect a big sack of clothes and, standing in the stream, they scrub each item with gray laundry soap and a brush. Their only washboard is a stone placed on a car tire, and after rinsing in the stream, the clothes are laid out on the grass to dry. And somehow, even though they wash more than 50 sets of clothes, they always seem to know which is whose. All I’ll say is that none of them are putting on weight…

We took a boat trip on the lagoon, to see the city from another angle, but the waters of the lagoon smell like a cesspool, and its microbiological purity is, to say the least, doubtful.” (2018)


Abidjan - Le Plateau area - k.a. photo

Ivory Coast - Abidjan - St. Paul's Cathedral - k.a. photo

Ivory Coast - Abidjan - St. Paul's Cathedral - a Roman Catholic church - stained glass - k.a. photo

Ivory Coast - Abidjan - a market in the outskirts - k.a. photo

Grand Bassam

Its French Quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

,, All the colonial buildings overgrown with vegetation gives us the impression of a ghost town and although inhabited, we do not meet many people there."




Ivory Coast - Grand-Bassam - totally neglected house in the French Quarter - a.c. photo

Yamoussoukro

3 hours from Abidjan, Yamoussoukro is the political and administrative capital of Côte d'Ivoire.

The huge and empty Notre Dame de la Paix towers over the savannah - Italian marble, French stained glass windows. Around - no one

Ivory Coast - Yamoussoukro - Basilica

Ivory Coast - Yamoussoukro - Notre-Dame de la Paix - k.a. photo

Yamassoukrou - Notre Dame de la Paix - k.a. photo

Yamassoukrou - Grand Mosque - k.a. photo

Yamassoukrou - station of the long-distance busses - k.a. photo

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