Ethnic Groups Of Ivory Coast

Men in a mosque in the Ivory Coast. Editorial credit: vystekimages /
Men in a mosque in the Ivory Coast. Editorial credit: vystekimages /

Ivory Coast is a unitary presidential republic found in the western parts of Africa. It has an estimated population of 24 million and a population density of 1-65.6 persons per square mile. Yamoussoukro City is the political capital while Abidjan is the both the economic capital as well as the largest city in the country. The Akan are the predominant ethnic group in the country making 42.1% of the entire population. There are over 60 ethnic groups in the country. In this article, we will discuss the ethnic communities found in Ivory Coast.

Ethnic Groups Of Ivory Coast

Akan Community

The Akan community has an estimated population of twenty million members occupying both Ghana and Ivory Coast, and they are the largest ethnic group in the two countries. They are believed to have migrated from the Saharan desert where they faced a hostile Nubian community. They settled in the present day Ghana where their main economic activity was gold mining and sale of cash crops. Their gold trade made the community wealthy and in the long run attracted the interest of the European traders. Among the European traders were the Portuguese who also dealt with the slave trade. The Akans started wars with the neighboring communities with the aim of capturing people to sell them as slaves. The Akan community has several subgroups which include; the Ashanti, Abinghi, Abbe, Abidji, and Ahafo among others. Some of the notable individuals from the Akan community are; Koffi Annan (former UN sec. Gen), Kwame Nkrumah, and Arthur Wharton (the first black professional footballer).

Gur Community

This is a large community with over 70 languages and distributed in Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast and Benin. The community was previously known a Voltaiques which was the French name for River Volta. There are two subdivisions of the ethnic group which are the Northern Gur and the Southern Gur.

Krus Community

The Kru community originated from Liberia and settled along the western Africa Coast. They were renowned fishermen and navigators of the Atlantic Ocean. Traditionally, they were fishermen and traders but were later employed by Americans and the Brits as sailors due to their vast experience in Maritime. Currently, the Kru are distributed in three countries namely; Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone. The majority of the community is found in Liberia while their population in Ivory Coast is estimated at 14,000 members.

Southern and Northern Mandes

Southern and Northern Mandes is a huge ethnic group that is spread in several countries. In Ivory Coast, the community is divided into two primary groups; the Southern Mandes who occupy the western parts of the country and Northern Mandes occupy in the northwestern parts. The community is believed to have descended from ancient Saharan people and spread throughout West Africa. The primary economic activity of the Mandes was production trade of woven textiles. They also engaged in mixed farming until climatic changes left the area being semi-arid. One of the most successful rulers was Askia Muhammad who led expansion plans for the kingdom. When the French invaded their territory, they fiercely fought back but lost the war, and most of their soldiers were left dead. They went back into slave trade as their primary economic activity. The community is predominantly Islamic, but this is not exhibited especially in their clothing and women do not wear veils. Some of the most important cultural practices include; caste system, Fadenya, and traditional music. The kora is a traditional music instrument resembling a harp and is very popular among the Mande community.

Other Ethnic Groups In Ivory Coast

Other ethnic groups including the French, Lebanese, and Guineans make up 11% of the population. The French are the majority westerns in the country because Ivory coast was a french colony.

Ethnic Groups Of Ivory Coast

RankEthnic GroupShare of Population of Ivory Coast
2Voltaiques (or Gur)16.8%
3Northern Mandes14.5%
5Southern Mandes9.5%
French, Lebanese, Liberians, Guineans, and Other Peoples11.7%

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