Flag description: Three equal vertical bands of orange (hoist side), white, and green; similar to the flag of Ireland, which is longer and has the colours reversed - green (hoist side), white, and orange; also similar to the flag of Italy, which is green (hoist side), white, and red; design was based on the flag of France
Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Ghana and Liberia
Geographic coordinates: 8 00 N, 5 00 W
Climate: tropical along coast, semiarid in far north; three seasons - warm and dry (November to March), hot and dry (March to May), hot and wet (June to October)
Independence: 7 August (1960) (from France)
Capital City: Yamoussoukro, Abidjan remains the administrative centre.
Head of State: Gen. Robert GUEI.
Area: 322,460 sq km.
Type of Government: republic; multiparty presidential regime established 1960.
Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes.
Major peoples: Baoule 23%, Bete 18%, Senufu 15%, Malinke 11%, Agni, Africans from other countries (mostly Burkinabe and Malians, about 3 million), non-Africans 130,000 to 330,000 (French 30,000 and Lebanese 100,000 to 300,000).
Religion: Muslim 60%, Christian 22%, indigenous 18% (some of these are also numbered among the Christians and Muslims).
Official Language: French
Principal Languages: French (official), 60 native dialects with Dioula the most widely spoken.
Major Exports: cocoa 37%, coffee, tropical woods, petroleum, cotton, bananas, pineapples, palm oil, cotton, fish (1998).
History: Little is known of Ivory Coast's history before European involvement in the ivory and slave trades.
French missionary contact in Ivory Coast began as early as 1637, but an official French protectorate was not established until 1843-45, when treaties were concluded with local chiefs.
Ivory Coast became a French colony in 1893 and was a constituent of French West Africa from 1904 until 1958. It was made an overseas territory in 1946, and its inhabitants were given French citizenship. Ivory Coast was proclaimed a republic within the FRENCH COMMUNITY in December 1958; in 1960 it became independent.
Ivory Coast is a republic, with a president elected for a 5-year term, an appointed cabinet, and a unicameral national assembly of 120 members, popularly elected for 5-year terms.
Although voters have been offered a choice of legislative candidates within the ruling party since 1980, the country was a de facto one-party state until 1990, when unprecedented popular protests led the government to legalize multiple political parties.
Despite calls for his resignation, Felix HOUPHOUET-BOIGNY, who had been president since independence, won a seventh term and his party retained its legislative majority in multiparty elections held later that year.