What is the Capital City of Ivory Coast?

By | June 24, 2024

City Overview

Yamoussoukro, the capital city of Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), is a fascinating blend of historical significance, modern development, and natural beauty. Located in the central part of the country, Yamoussoukro was designated the political capital in 1983 by the country’s first president, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who was born in the nearby village of N’Gokro. Despite this official status, the economic capital remains Abidjan, a bustling metropolis on the coast. Yamoussoukro is a unique city, marked by grand architectural projects, lush landscapes, and a tranquil atmosphere that contrasts with the frenetic pace of Abidjan.

Historical Background

Yamoussoukro’s history as a capital is relatively recent, but the region itself has a rich cultural heritage. The area was originally inhabited by the Baoulé people, who are known for their strong traditions and cultural practices. The decision to move the capital from Abidjan to Yamoussoukro was largely influenced by Félix Houphouët-Boigny’s vision to develop his hometown into a symbol of national pride and unity. Since then, the city has seen significant infrastructural developments, including the construction of roads, government buildings, and iconic landmarks.

City Facts

Area: Yamoussoukro covers an area of approximately 3,500 square kilometers, making it one of the larger cities in Ivory Coast in terms of land area.

Population: The city has a population of around 355,000 people as of the latest census. The population is diverse, with a mix of ethnic groups, including the Baoulé, the largest ethnic group in the region, as well as people from other parts of the country.

Time Zone: Yamoussoukro operates on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) throughout the year, without any daylight saving time adjustments.

Highest Mountain: The highest point in the vicinity of Yamoussoukro is Mont Nimba, which stands at 1,752 meters. Although Mont Nimba is not within the city itself, it is a prominent geographical feature in the region.

Longest River: The Bandama River, the longest river in Ivory Coast, flows through the region and plays a significant role in the local ecosystem and economy. The river stretches for about 1,050 kilometers from its source in the northern part of the country to its mouth in the Gulf of Guinea.

Major Landmarks

Yamoussoukro is home to several major landmarks that reflect its historical, cultural, and political significance. These landmarks attract visitors from around the world and are central to the city’s identity.

Basilica of Our Lady of Peace

The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace (Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix) is one of the most iconic landmarks in Yamoussoukro. It was commissioned by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny and completed in 1989. The basilica is an architectural marvel, inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, and is considered one of the largest churches in the world. The structure features a vast dome, intricate stained glass windows, and a serene interior that can accommodate up to 18,000 worshippers. The basilica stands as a testament to Houphouët-Boigny’s vision and the city’s aspirations.

Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace, also known as the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Foundation for Peace Research, is another significant landmark in Yamoussoukro. Surrounded by moats inhabited by crocodiles, the palace is a blend of traditional Ivorian and modern architectural styles. It serves as a symbol of political power and the country’s commitment to peace and stability. The palace is not only a governmental building but also a center for peace research and conflict resolution, reflecting Houphouët-Boigny’s dedication to fostering peace in Ivory Coast and beyond.

Félix Houphouët-Boigny Foundation for Peace Research

Named after the country’s first president, the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Foundation for Peace Research is dedicated to promoting peace and understanding. The foundation hosts conferences, seminars, and workshops focused on peace and conflict resolution. The building itself is a beautiful piece of architecture, surrounded by well-maintained gardens and reflecting pools. It stands as a symbol of Ivory Coast’s commitment to peace and international cooperation.

Grand Mosque

The Grand Mosque of Yamoussoukro is one of the largest mosques in Ivory Coast. It is a significant religious site for the Muslim community in the city and the country. The mosque’s architecture is notable for its large prayer hall, towering minarets, and intricate decorations. It serves as a place of worship, community gathering, and cultural exchange.

The Crocodile Lake

Adjacent to the Presidential Palace is the famous Crocodile Lake, home to a population of large Nile crocodiles. This unique attraction draws visitors who come to witness the crocodiles being fed by caretakers. The sight of these formidable reptiles in their natural habitat adds an element of adventure to the city’s attractions.

Climate Overview

Yamoussoukro has a tropical climate characterized by a distinct wet and dry season. The average annual temperature is around 26°C (79°F). The wet season extends from April to October, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in June and July. The dry season runs from November to March, with December and January being the driest months. The city’s climate is influenced by its inland location, which results in less humidity compared to coastal areas like Abidjan.

Climate Table

Month Avg. Temperature (°C) Avg. Precipitation (mm) Avg. Sunny Days
January 26 30 25
February 27 40 23
March 27 80 22
April 26 150 18
May 26 200 15
June 25 250 12
July 24 300 10
August 24 280 10
September 25 200 12
October 26 150 18
November 26 80 22
December 26 40 25

Other Cities That Served as Capitals in Ivory Coast’s History

Grand-Bassam (1893–1900)

Period as Capital: 1893–1900

Historical Background

Grand-Bassam was the first capital of Ivory Coast under French colonial rule. It was chosen for its strategic coastal location, which facilitated trade and administrative control. However, the city faced significant challenges, including outbreaks of yellow fever, which ultimately led to the decision to move the capital to Bingerville in 1900.

City Overview

Grand-Bassam is a picturesque town known for its colonial architecture and historical significance. The city is divided into two main areas: Ancien Bassam (Old Bassam), which was the administrative and commercial center during colonial times, and Nouveau Bassam (New Bassam), which developed later. The blend of colonial buildings and natural beauty gives Grand-Bassam a unique charm.

Major Landmarks

Governor’s Palace

The Governor’s Palace is one of the most iconic buildings in Grand-Bassam. This colonial-era structure served as the residence of the French governor and is an excellent example of colonial architecture. It is now a museum that offers insights into the history and culture of the region.

Cathédrale Sacré-Cœur

Built in the early 20th century, the Cathédrale Sacré-Cœur is a beautiful cathedral that stands as a testament to the city’s religious heritage. The cathedral’s architecture combines Gothic and Romanesque styles, and it remains an important place of worship for the local community.

National Museum of Costume

The National Museum of Costume is dedicated to showcasing traditional Ivorian clothing and artifacts. The museum provides visitors with an in-depth understanding of the diverse cultures and traditions of Ivory Coast. It is housed in a beautifully restored colonial building, adding to its historical ambiance.

Climate

Grand-Bassam has a tropical climate with high humidity and significant rainfall, especially during the rainy season from May to October. The city’s coastal location moderates temperatures, keeping them relatively constant throughout the year.

Bingerville (1900–1934)

Period as Capital: 1900–1934

Historical Background

Bingerville became the capital of Ivory Coast in 1900, succeeding Grand-Bassam. The decision to move the capital inland was primarily driven by health concerns, as Bingerville’s inland location was less susceptible to the diseases that plagued the coastal areas. The city played a crucial role in the early development of the country’s administrative and educational systems.

City Overview

Bingerville is a small, serene town with a rich colonial heritage. It is known for its well-planned layout, lush greenery, and historical significance. The city’s botanical garden, established in 1904, is one of the oldest in West Africa and serves as a major attraction for visitors and researchers alike.

Major Landmarks

Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden in Bingerville is a major highlight of the city. Established in 1904, it covers a large area and features a diverse collection of tropical plants and trees. The garden is a haven for nature lovers and offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Ecole Normale William Ponty

Ecole Normale William Ponty is an important educational institution that played a significant role during the colonial period. It was established to train teachers and administrators who would go on to serve in various parts of French West Africa. The school is named after William Ponty, a former governor of French West Africa.

Colonial Buildings

Bingerville is home to several well-preserved colonial buildings that offer a glimpse into the city’s past. These buildings, with their distinct architectural styles, stand as a reminder of the city’s historical importance.

Climate

Bingerville enjoys a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The city’s inland location means it experiences slightly less humidity than coastal areas, making it a pleasant place to live and visit.

Abidjan (1934–1983)

Period as Capital: 1934–1983

Historical Background

Abidjan became the capital of Ivory Coast in 1934, replacing Bingerville. The decision was driven by Abidjan’s strategic location and its potential as a major port city. Over the decades, Abidjan grew rapidly and became the economic and cultural hub of the country. Even after Yamoussoukro was designated the political capital in 1983, Abidjan remained the country’s largest and most important city.

City Overview

Abidjan is a bustling metropolis known for its modern skyline, vibrant culture, and economic significance. The city is divided into several districts, each with its own unique character. The Plateau district is the business and administrative center, featuring skyscrapers and government buildings. Cocody is a residential and diplomatic area, known for its luxury homes and embassies. Treichville and Marcory are lively neighborhoods with markets, cultural venues, and a bustling nightlife.

Major Landmarks

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Italian architect Aldo Spirito, is one of Abidjan’s most iconic landmarks. The cathedral’s modern design features a large stained-glass window and an expansive interior that can accommodate thousands of worshippers. It is a significant religious site and an architectural masterpiece.

The Plateau

The Plateau is the central business district of Abidjan. Known for its high-rise buildings and financial institutions, it is the heart of the city’s economic activities. The district is also home to several government offices, making it a crucial area for both business and politics.

Banco National Park

Banco National Park is a large urban park located in Abidjan. It offers a natural retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle and is home to various wildlife species. The park’s well-maintained trails make it a popular spot for hiking, bird watching, and nature walks.

Abidjan Zoo

Located in the Cocody district, Abidjan Zoo houses a variety of animal species, including some rare and endangered ones. The zoo is a popular attraction for families and tourists, offering educational programs and conservation initiatives.

Climate

Abidjan has a tropical rainforest climate, characterized by high humidity and significant rainfall throughout the year. The rainy season spans from May to July and October to November, while the dry season is from December to April. Despite the rainfall, Abidjan enjoys warm temperatures year-round, making it a pleasant place to visit or live.

Country Facts

According to wilsoncountries, Ivory Coast, officially known as the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, is a West African country with a rich cultural heritage and a diverse landscape.

Population

The population of Ivory Coast is approximately 26 million people. The country is known for its ethnic diversity, with over 60 ethnic groups. The largest ethnic groups include the Akan, Voltaiques or Gur, Northern Mandes, Krous, and Southern Mandes.

Area

Ivory Coast covers an area of 322,463 square kilometers, making it one of the larger countries in West Africa. The country’s landscape is diverse, ranging from coastal lagoons and rainforests in the south to savannahs in the north.

Largest City

Abidjan is the largest city in Ivory Coast and serves as the economic capital. It is a major port city and a hub for finance, commerce, and industry. The city is known for its modern infrastructure and vibrant cultural scene.

Currency

The currency of Ivory Coast is the West African CFA franc (XOF). The CFA franc is used by several countries in West Africa and is guaranteed by the French Treasury, providing a stable currency for the region.

Official Language

The official language of Ivory Coast is French, which is used in government, education, and the media. In addition to French, there are numerous local languages spoken throughout the country, including Dioula, Baoulé, and Senoufo.

ISO Country Codes

The ISO country codes for Ivory Coast are CI (alpha-2), CIV (alpha-3), and 384 (numeric).

Additional Country Facts

  • Independence: Ivory Coast gained independence from France on August 7, 1960. The country celebrates Independence Day annually on this date.
  • Government: Ivory Coast is a presidential republic. The president is the head of state and government, and there is a multi-party system in place.
  • Major Ethnic Groups: The major ethnic groups in Ivory Coast include the Akan, Voltaiques or Gur, Northern Mandes, Krous, and Southern Mandes. Each group has its own unique cultural practices and languages.
  • Religion: The population of Ivory Coast practices a variety of religions. Islam and Christianity are the predominant religions, with traditional African religions also being practiced by a significant portion of the population.
  • Economy: Ivory Coast has one of the largest economies in West Africa, primarily driven by agriculture, mining, and services. The country is the world’s leading producer of cocoa beans and also produces significant quantities of coffee, palm oil, and rubber. The mining sector includes the extraction of gold, diamonds, and manganese.

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