The Ivory Coast or Côte D’Ivoire has been occupied by various people’s since at least 10,000 BC.
In the more recent past the French started exploring the west African coast in 1483 but because of a lack of any sheltered harbours there were no settlements until the 1800s. There had been a thriving trade in Ivory, hence the eventual name of the country but much of this had died out, literally, by the 18th Century.
In 1886 the area did come under the formal control of the French and in 1893 Côte D’Ivoire became a French colony. From 1904 to 1958 the country was a constituent part of the Federation of French West Africa. In 1958 it became an autonomous republic within the French Community.
On 7th August 1960 the Ivory Coast finally gained independence from France, although its first president Félix Houphouët-Boigny was very much a Francophile and kept up the close ties.
Houphouët-Boigny remained the president until his death in 1993 and this period was subsequently seen as a period of calm and growth within the country. After his death, however, the country started to deteriorate and in 1999 there was a military coup.
Elections were held in 2000 and Laurent Gbagbo was elected president, a post he held on to until 2011.
Meanwhile, in 2002 tensions set in between the south and the north of the country and a civil war broke out which lasted until 2004. Gbagbo managed to retain control of the south of the country, but the north was controlled by the rebel leader, Guillaume Soro.
The two sides patched things up in 2004, but it was only in 2007 that a peace deal was signed and Soro took on the role of prime minister. Elections were due to be held immediately but it took until 2010 for elections to take place.
As prime minister Soro was not permitted to stand as president. When Laurent Gbagbo contested the result of the presidential election Soro decided to back the internationally adjudged winner Alassane Ouattara.
The post election period deteriorated into a farce with Gbagbo refusing to leave the presidential post and his forces virtually imprisoning Ouattara in a hotel in the capital. This led to a second civil war which involved the French and rebel forces from the north eventually taking over the country and releasing Ouattara from his hotel prison. Gbagbo was finally arrested in the presidential residency on 11th April 2011.
Alassane Ouattara was sworn in as the new president on 6th May 2011.
The hoped for final chapter in starting the reconciliation process will be when parliamentary elections are held on 11th December 2011.
The President is elected for a five year term with no term limits.
A unicameral National Assembly consisting of 255 seats (increased from the previous figure of 225 seats in September 2011) is elected in single and multi-member seats.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places the Ivory Coast at joint 108th out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 34 (where 100 is least corrupt).