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Côte d'IvoireCountry profile

    • Area: 322,000 square kilometres
    • Population: approx. 20.6 million
    • Population density: 64 per square kilometre (cf. Germany: 229 per square kilometre)
    • Official language: French
    • Independence: 1960
    • Capital: Yamoussoukro
    • Form of government: Presidential Republic; constitution of 2000
    • Average life expectancy: 57 years
    • Illiteracy rate: approx. 51% (population over the age of 15)
    • Top 3 exports: petroleum products, cocoa and cocoa products, fish
    • Number of cotton farmers: 90,000 (status 2010)
    • Number of “Cotton made in Africa” farmers: 29,212 (status 2010)
    Côte d'Ivoire map

    Until the early 1980s, Côte d'Ivoire was a model of stability and economic success in Africa. For many years it enjoyed relative prosperity thanks to export revenues from cocoa and coffee. But the country was plunged into political troubles by the economic crisis in the early 1990s, and they are still going on today. Development of the country is hindered by conditions close to civil war.  

    Côte d'Ivoire (official name: Republic of Côte d'Ivoire) is a country in West Africa with a total of about 500 kilometres of coastline on the Gulf of Guinea. Three climate zones are distinguished: with equatorial climate in the south, humid savanna climate beginning about 200 kilometres north of the coastline, and dry savanna climate in the northern regions. The vegetation is roughly divided into two zones – the southern zone is characterised by evergreen rainforest and mangroves, while the north is dominated by dry forest and savanna. Since colonial times, the forests have been very much reduced, in many cases by clearing to create plantations. Wildlife in Côte d'Ivoire is characterised by a wide range of species; the country has its name from the tusks of the elephant, which were traded for ivory.

    Africa map

          Vegetation zones of Africa with CmiA growing areas

    Côte d'Ivoire is characterised by great ethnic and linguistic diversity, with about 60 ethnic groups, who lived together peacefully over a long period. Marriages between different ethnic groups are not unusual, especially in the towns and cities. Apart from French as the official language, more than 70 indigenous languages are spoken. But this diversity also has the potential to be highly explosive. The borders of Côte d'Ivoire were drawn during the French colonial period, in what we would now consider a thoughtless manner, because they take virtually no account of the settlement areas of African peoples, and often divide them. That is also one of the reasons for the conflicts between the ethnic groups which now trouble Côte d'Ivoire.

    Cotton made in Africa images
    In the 1980s, the collapse in prices of commodities, which are present in large quantities in the country, led to a massive economic crisis. Since then, and particularly in the second half of the 1990s, there were major political troubles, culminating in 2002 in a bloody civil war between the northern and southern parts of the country. Despite the presence of UN peacekeepers in the country since 2002, Côte d'Ivoire has found it hard to maintain the peace. It is the people that suffer, especially the poor rural population. Many of the poor households have no access to clean water, which promotes the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis, yellow fever, and hepatitis A and B. Despite compulsory primary schooling, the illiteracy rate is still very high at more than 50%.

    Agriculture is still the dominating economic sector in Côte d'Ivoire, which benefits from large raw material resources and fertile soil. Two thirds of the population work in agriculture. For a long time cocoa was the main source of export revenues, but its important has now declined in favour of petroleum. Côte d'Ivoire’s petroleum reserves are estimated at about 600 million barrels. Another important agricultural product is coffee. While cocoa production, formerly the dominant sector, is now in decline, coffee production rose by 45.9% in 2007 to 170.8 thousand tonnes, according to IMF figures. Other important products are palm oil, coconuts, sugar cane, tropical fruit and cotton.


    The industry of Côte d'Ivoire accounted for about 26% of gross national product in 2007. It is dominated by small and medium sized businesses. Despite many problems, it is the most diversified industry in West Africa.
    Current information on Côte d'Ivoire is available at the website of the German Federal Foreign Office.
    CmiA graphic

    Sources: Human Development Report 2009 (UN); Foreign Office; World Development Indicators 2009; Fischer Weltalmanach (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/Federal Political Education Centre); CIA Factbook; Germany Trade & Invest

    Teaser Milestones

    Albert Watson: Visions feat. Cotton made in AfricaThe exhibition and the project behind it

    This exceptional collaboration with fashion and commercial photographer Albert Watson will provide insight into the cotton farmers' worlds and transport a better awareness of CmiA's work.

    The photos will illustrate the initiative's goal to improve social conditions in the smallholder farmers’ lives without visual stereotypes. The aim is in contrast to show a new image of African living environments – through the eyes of Albert Watson. In addition to the cotton harvest, that was underway during the journey, Watson has also visited traditional markets and a regional king in Benin to get an impression of the diversity of life in Benin and its people.

    African cottonIn demand worldwide

    African cotton is almost exclusively grown by smallholder farmers, using sustainable growing methods with harmony between agriculture, the natural environment and human beings. About 8% of the cotton traded in the world market is harvested in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Africa cotton is almost exclusively grown by smallholder farmers, and there are only very few large plantations. ...