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Introduction

Côte d'Ivoire offers an overwhelming list of things to do there and there can be no disappointment found in visiting. The capital Yamoussoukro offers the huge and ornate Basilica to check out, while the bustling city of Abidjan offers, well, anything you want. There are nightclubs, casinos, shopping outlets, craft shops, restaurants and bars, and the beaches are matched by not a single place on the face of the earth. The pleasant tropical climate, the friendly vendors, the delicious food, and the laid back atmosphere makes the Côte d'Ivoire a worthwhile visit that will change your life!

Côte d'Ivoire's history is one based on luck, prosperity and success. Côte d'Ivoire was not a heavy target for slave trade as was other neighboring countries, but, sadly, the development during French colonization was based heavily on forced labor. After retaining independence in 1960, the good times began to roll. 40% of exports coming from French West Africa were coming from Côte d'Ivoire alone while the coffee industry became a booming part the economy- Côte d'Ivoire was the 3rd largest coffee distributor falling only to Brazil and Colombia. Cocoa also made huge contribution to the economy of Côte d'Ivoire- by 1979, they were the world's largest supplier. Côte d'Ivoire was Africa's leading pineapple and palm oil distributor. The good times in Côte d'Ivoire were truly great! But by the time the 1980s had come, so had the world recession and the drought- things began to sadly decline as the external debt had tripled. Having been run by one-party regime, Ivorians began to protest for multi-party rule in the 1990s. At the turn of the century, a bloodless coup had overthrown the government and had looked promising, but the rivalry between the two candidates up for elections in 2000 had proven to neither peaceful nor democratic as it escalated into political unrest and violence. While accords for a united government have been signed, there is still sadly, a lot of tension between the parties.

Côte d'Ivoire is the home of about 17 million and the dominating language is French. Christianity and Islam are most commonly practiced, there are, however, many who practice indigenous beliefs. Ivorian culture is like none other, they speak a broken French, the people are very laid back, but like many people in Africa, foolish comments are retorted with a sharp sucking of the teeth. There is a heavy emphasis there on song and dance or mapouka. This song and dance can be found in the churches, which rejoice with West African drums and vibrant dance. Popular music group ‘Magic System' scored a major hit with song ‘Premier Gaou' and other popular music is contemporary gospel, which follows the same heavy drumming and bouncy rhythms of mapouka. Ivorian food is very delicious and is not at all expensive. Try a chawarma, which is a wrap with chicken or beef with lettuce, tomatoes, and a tasty salad dressing. Also try brochette and if you are bold, avec piment (with pepper). It is sandwich made baguette with assorted meat and spices (do not ask where the meat comes from). There are also restaurants that serve formal dishes including French food and cold drinks for very cheap.

There are quite a few airlines that land in the international airport in Abidjan including Ghana Airways, Air Ivoire, Air France and of course reliable Weasua Air, which is a smaller airline that travels West Africa several times a week. At the moment you arrive, there will be a group of porters swarming to assist you with your luggage; no problem- just pick one or two of them to help you and off a small tip, but be firm with those you have not asked to help you, as they will expect payment. Getting around Côte d'Ivoire is wonderful, but like much of West Africa, the drivers drive recklessly. Do not hesitate to tell him to slow down or ‘doucement.' There are yellow cabs, which pick up other people in need of a ride and there are orange private hire cabs that are much more expensive than the yellow cabs, but still very cheap. The people in Côte d'Ivoire are very friendly so do not be afraid or intimidated to engage in conversation with some of the cab drivers!

Côte d'Ivoire is very hospitable. To rest your body after shopping at Cocody Market for handicraft or perhaps after a night of clubbing in Plateau, find rest in the world renowned Hotel Ivoire, which offers plenty of amenities such as spacious rooms, shopping boutiques, restaurant and bar, gaming facility, and a lounge/bar. There are also a number of beach resorts out in Grand Bassam, which are perfect for quiet, romantic getaways with your special someone. Côte d'Ivoire is a very beautiful country and it would be a tragedy to dismiss it as a regular country that doesn't have limitless possibilities for the traveler.


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