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Ivory Cost

Ivory Coast


Geography & Topography

Area : 322,462 km²

Population : 20,617,068

Capital : Yamoussoukro

Official language : French

Religion : Islam 38.6%, Christianity 32.8%, African Indigenous 28%

Currency : West African CFA Franc



Ivory Coast, officially Republic of Cote d’Ivoire is a West African country who has common boarders with Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana.

Prior to the French Colonization in 1893 the country included several states including Gyaaman, the Kong Empire and Baoulé. The country became independent in 1960.
From that time  until 1993, the country was led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny.

Since 1993, the country has known several political troubles. In 1999, the military organized a coup against president Bedié and put Robert Guéï in power. New presidential elections were organized in 2000 and Laurent Gbagbo was elected.

The country then had to face two civil wars: one in 2002 and the other in 2011.

Ivory Coast is member of several international organizations such as : Organization of Islamic Cooperation, African Union, La Francophonie, Latin Union, Economic Community of West African States and South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone.

Performing Arts



Considering the large number of different ethnic groups living in Ivory Coast, there are a lot of different kinds of music and dances. All these kinds of music have common characteristics such as vocal polyphony and talking drums. Popular music in Ivory Coast includes the  Zoblazo which first appeared in Abidjan at the beginning of the 1990’s. It is a cosmopolitan music with high tempo rhythm and high tech instrumentation. It is a blend of different  traditional music styles from the south of the country



The most recognizable instruments in traditional Ivorian music are:

Talking drum

Talking Drum: The talking drum is a music instrument native in West Africa. It is made by two skins linked by leather strings. The player holds the instrument between his arm and his body. It has different names but in Akan languages (about 30% of the population in Ivory Coast) it is called Dondo or Odondo.

Balafon: The balafon is percussion idiophone from West Africa, it is a tuned percussion instrument.

Balafon players

The player produces a sound by striking the wooden key with two sticks. A balafon usually has 17 to 21 keys and the tuning depends on player. It can produce 18 to 21 different notes. Keys are traditionally made with bene wood.







There is a large variety of traditional dances in Ivory Coast because of the large number of ethnic groups that populates the country.

Examples of traditional Ivorian dance are:

Zouglou: Zouglou is a dance oriented music born in Abidjan in the 1990’s. It was created by the students of the university of Abidjan. It is very popular among the youth and it is now famous in other countries such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon but also France and Belgium.



CoupéDécalé: Coupé-Décalé is a dance oriented music style created in Paris in 2002 by the Ivorian diaspora. It comes from Zouglou, Zouk and Congolese rythm. It is a very percussive style using African samples, deep bass and repetitive and minimalist arrangements.


Mapouka: The Mapouka is a traditional dance from the south east of the country (near the city of Dabou). This dance was performed during religious ceremonies and is also known as “la danse du fessier” “The dance of the behind”. Due to its suggestive nature, the government of Ivory Coast prohibited public performances in 1998.



Some interesting facts:

  • Ivory Coast motto is “Union – Discipline – Travail” which means “Unity – Discipline – Labor”.
  • Yamoussoukro is the capital city, but the largest city and the banking and trading center of Ivory Coast is Abidjan.
  • Ivory Coast is the world first exporter of cocoa.
  • Ivory Coast is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union.
  • In 1985, the country required that other countries name it Côte d’Ivoire, but most of the non-francophone media name it Ivory Coast.


Ivorian community in Australia


More information on the Ivorian Community