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keskiviikko 4. marraskuuta 2015

Cote D'Ivoire, Cool Facts #76

<= 75. Niger                                                                                       77. Central African Republic =>

1. Origins of the name

The name of Cote D'Ivoire means Ivory Coast, which is sometimes used as a translation of the country's name. Actually Cote D'Ivoire decided in 1986 that the official name of the country is Cote D'Ivoir in all languages and it refuses to recognize any other translation in international dealings. 

So the commonly used name Ivory Coast would be politically incorrect. 
The Portuguese called the area Costa do Marfim meaning the same as in French, Ivory Coast. 

The French and Portuguese divided the West African areas into different coasts considering their local economies. There were also Grain Coast, Gold Coast and Slave Coast. So the name of Cote D'Ivoir came from the fact that ivory was traded at the area. 

2. Notre Dame de la Paix

Notre Dame de la Paix is the world's largest Christian church. The late president Felix Houphouet-Boigny decided in 1983 to build the world's greatest church in his birthplace Yamoussoukro. The building was constructed between 1985-1989 and consecrated by Pope John Paul II in September, 1990. 

The decision to build the church was quite controversial because Cote D'Ivoire had an economic crisis at the time and the construction of the 300 million dollar church didn't help the situation, it only worsened the situation doubling the country's national debt. 

Houphouet-Boigny was the first president of Cote D'Ivoire after gaining independence in 1960. Houphouet-Boigny was in power 33 years until his death. During his autocratic rule he created political stability and conditions for economic growth.

France was a close ally, capitalism was favored, foreign investments were allured to the country and it had good relations with USA, Israel and even South Africa unlike many other African countries because of the apartheid. Houphouet-Boigny wanted to commemorate himself by building the church and he succeeded in that goal.

Houphouet-Boigny was buried after an exuberant funeral ceremony in the church where he is depicted next to Jesus in one glass-stained panel.

Notre Dame de la Paix, in Yamoussoukro

3. Michael Jackson and Sanwi Kingdom 

How are Michael Jackson and Sanwi Kingdom in Cote D'Ivoire related ? Well first of all, the Sanwi Kingdom was established in Cote D'Ivoire in 1740 by Anyi migrants from Ghana. In 1843 Cote D'Ivoire became a protectorate of France and Sanwi kingdom as a part of Cote D'Ivoire.

The kingdom tried to stay independent but in 1959 Cote D'Ivoire abolished the kingdom formally before becoming independent itself in 1960. The royalties of Sanwi went into exile to Ghana before returning back in 1981.

Before that they had done two desperate independence declarations in 1961 and 1969. Finally in 1992 the Sanwi kingdom got a lot of international attention as they declared the pop star Michael Jackson as the king of the Sanwi.

Below you can see the coronation video of Michael Jackson in the village of Krindjabo.

4. Harmattan

Harmattan is a dust storm frequently twirling in Cote D'Ivoire.  It blows from the Sahara desert to the countries in the Gulf of Guinea. The Harmattan blows usually between November and March during the dry season. It brings desert-like weather conditions lowering the humidity of the air and preventing rainfall. 

The troubling winds can damage the crops and even turn into tornadoes if they interact with monsoon winds. The Harmattan can limit the visibility and block the sun for several days, which is the cause why airlines have lost millions of dollars after having cancelled flights because of the Harmattan. 

Example of Harmattan, filmed in Niger 


5. World's biggest cocoa producer

Cote D'Ivoire is currently the world's leading producer of cocoa. Cocoa was also an important factor in the early decades of independence. Cote D'Ivoire became independent in 1960 and during the following two decades the economy grew rapidly. 

Cote D'Ivoire was the most prosperous country in the area of the previous French West Africa. It contributed over 40% of the region's total exports. The government boosted the growth by giving farmers good prices for their products to stimulate production. Immigrant workers poured from the neighbouring countries to Cote D'Ivoire and by 1979 it had surpassed Brazil and Colombia as the world's biggest cocoa producer. 

Cote D'Ivoire was also a leading exporter of pineapples and palm oil in Africa. In the 1980s the world recession and local drought stopped the economy growth in Cote D'Ivoire and the following decades were harder than the prosperous 60s and 70s. 

Cocoa beans
Cocoa producers worldwide 2013


1500s The Portuguese establish bases on Cote D'Ivoire and afterwards the French followed them 
1870 The French had lost interest in Cote D'Ivoire and they wanted to trade it to Gambia with the British but the exchange wasn't carried out because the British didn't want to 
1893 Cote D'Ivoire becomes a French colony being part of the French West Africa 
1946 Felix Houphouet-Boigny, the son of a tribal chief had become a doctor after studying in France and he established the democratic party in Cote D'Ivoire called the PDCI 
1958 Cote D'Ivoire gets autonomy
1959 Cote D'Ivoire seizes the autonomy of the Sanwi kingdom, which had been established in 1740 by the Anyi tribe 
1960 Cote D'Ivoire becomes independent with Houphuet-Boigny as the president, other parties than the PDCI were forbidden to operate in the country
1993 Houphuet-Boigny was buried in the world's biggest church Notre Dame de la Paix 
1990s Cote D'Ivoire returns to multiparty system
1999 First military coup in the country's history when the military officers overthrow president Henri Konan Bedien, who had been accused of corruption 
2000 Laurent Gbagbo was elected as president but the country drifted into civil war as the other candidate Robert Guein didn't accept his loss
2002 Part of the army started a rebellion and took over the northern parts. The Muslim soldiers and rebellions formed FNCI, which fought against the government representing the Christians
2004 The civil war ends as the French peace keepers arrive with the mandate of the UN
2010 Alessane Ouattara wins the elections and as Gbagbo doesn't accept the result the country goes into civil war again
2011 Ouattara rises in power with the help of FNCI and French troops 

"Maailman maat liput ja historia" by Kimmo Kiljunen

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