The Ivory Coast is a nation in West Africa. Also referred to as Côte d'Ivoire, the country encompasses a total area of 322,463 square km and has a population of approximately 23,740,424 individuals. The Ivory Coast is bordered by Mali and Burkina Faso to the north, Liberia and Guinea to the west, Ghana to the east, while the Gulf of Guinea is located to the south.
What Type of Government Does the Ivory Coast Have?
The Ivory Coast is governed as a presidential representative democratic republic. The President serves as both the head of government and head of state. The executive branch of government also includes a cabinet of ministers appointed by the president. The Ivory Coast's legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament, which is a bicameral body made up of the National Assembly and the Senate. The Supreme Court of the Ivory Coast is the country's highest court of law and leads the judicial branch of government.
What Is the Capital of the Ivory Coast?
Yamoussoukro is the political and administrative capital of the Ivory Coast, and holds the status as both a city and an autonomous district. Yamoussoukro has an area of approximately 3,500 square km and a population of 355,573 inhabitants.
Although Yamoussoukro is the political capital of the Ivory Coast, Abidjan is the country's largest city and is considered its economic capital. Abidjan served as the nation's politcal capital from 1933 until it was replaced by Yamoussoukro in 1980. As the former capital, the city is still home to important central government offices, institutions, and foreign embassies. The city and autonomous district of Abidjan occupies an area of 2,119 square km and has a population of 4,707,404 individuals.
Where Are the Capitals Located?
Yamoussoukro is located inland in the country’s center, approximately 240 km north-west of Abidjan. The landscape of the city features plains and rolling hills.
Abidjan is also located on the Gulf of Guinea’s coast, along the Ébrié Lagoon. The center of the city, named Le Plateau, is the main business district. The wealthiest neighborhoods are also located in this part of the city, while slums spread out from the edges of Abidjan.
History of the Two Capital Cities
The area of present-day Yamoussoukro had been inhabited since ancient times. France began to colonize the area in the 19th century, and encountered a small indigenous settlement named N'Gokro. The local population resisted French occupation, but France was able to establish a military base in the area. Yamoussoukro remained a relatively small settlement for many years, but grew in significance after the Ivory Coast gained independence from French colonial rule. The city's role as the national capital began when President Félix Houphouët-Boigny decided to shift the capital from Abidjan to his birthplace of Yamoussoukro. It was the fourth movement of Ivory Coast’s capital city in 100 years.
The site of the present-day city of Abidjan was initially a fishing village inhabited by the Akan people. The area was colonized by France in 1898 and was officially designated as a town in 1903. Although the town was important in terms of its economic significance, the nearby city of Bingerville was named the capital of the French colony in 1900 (replacing Grand-Bassam). Abidjan became the third capital of the Ivory Coast in 1933. The city remained capital when the Ivory Coast gained independence, but was later replaced by Yamoussoukro.
Role of the Capital Cities As Capitals of the Ivory Coast
Although Yamoussoukro is the Ivory Coast's political capital, many important central government buildings and institutions are located in Abidjan. The National Assembly, which is the lower house of parliament, meets in Abidjan, while the Senate, which is the upper house, meets in Yamoussoukro. Therefore, both Yamoussoukro and Abidjan play significant roles in the governance of the Ivory Coast.