Ivory Coast


The population of the Ivory Coast is diverse, reflecting the many tribes that led small rival kingdoms before the 1700s. The Portuguese arrived to the western coast of Africa in the 1400s, setting up stations for trade. After the Portuguese came the Dutch, the British, and the French. Because of the dense jungle vegetation and the lack of natural harbors, exploration of the area by Europeans was slowed. In 1842, the French made the area its protectorate and fifty years later, it became a full-fledged colony. In 1904, the French named it part of French West Africa. During World War II, the Vichy government worked hard to quash the nascent nationalist movements in west Africa, but after the war, efforts redoubled to gain independence. This was achieved in 1960. The same man, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, served as president until his death in 1993 and the country enjoyed stability and prosperity. In 1999, some cracks in the political firmament appeared when Houphouet-Boigny's successor arrested members of an opposition party.