Ivory Coast, known endonymously as Côte d'Ivoire and officially the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, is a country located in West Africa. Ivory Coast's political capital is Yamoussoukro, while its economic capital and largest city is the port city of Abidjan. It borders Guinea and Liberia to the west, Burkina Faso and Mali to the north, Ghana to the east, and Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) to the south.
Prior to its colonization by Europeans, Ivory Coast was home to several states, including Gyaaman, the Kong Empire, and Baoulé. The area became a protectorate of France in 1843 and was consolidated as a French colony in 1893 amid the European scramble for Africa. It achieved independence in 1960, led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who ruled the country until 1993. Relatively stable by regional standards, Ivory Coast established close political and economic ties with its West African neighbors while at the same time maintaining close relations to the West, especially France. Ivory Coast experienced a coup d'état in 1999 and two religiously-grounded civil wars, first between 2002 and 2007 and again during 2010–2011. In 2000, the country adopted a new constitution.
The 2006 Côte d'Ivoire toxic waste dump was a health crisis in Côte d'Ivoire in which a ship registered in Panama, the Probo Koala, chartered by the oil and commodity shipping company Trafigura Beheer BV, disposed of toxic waste in the Ivorian port of Abidjan. The substance was claimed by the company to have been "slops", or waste water from the washing of the ship's tanks, but a Dutch inquiry found the substance was more than 500 tonnes of a mixture of fuel, caustic soda, and hydrogen sulfide transported from Europe as toxic waste. The substance was then dumped by a local contractor in up to 12 sites around the country's largest city, Abidjan, in August 2006. The gas caused by the release of these chemicals is blamed by the United Nations and the government of Côte d'Ivoire for the deaths of 17 and the injury of over 30,000 Ivorians with injuries that ranged from mild headaches to severe burns of skin and lungs. Almost 100,000 Ivorians sought medical attention for the effects of these chemicals. Trafigura has denied any waste was transported from Holland, saying that the substances contained only tiny amounts of hydrogen sulfide, and that the company did not know the substance was to be disposed of improperly. In early 2007, the company paid US$198 million for cleanup to the Ivorian government without admitting wrongdoing, and the Ivorian government has pledged not to prosecute the company. A series of protests and resignations of Ivorian government officials followed this deal.
A Traditional Ivorian Head of village (Gbogolo, western Côte d'Ivoire)
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Félix Houphouët-Boigny (French pronunciation: [feˈliks uˈfwɛt bwaˈɲi]) (18 October 1905 – 7 December 1993), affectionately called Papa Houphouët or Le Vieux, was the first President of Côte d'Ivoire. Originally a village chief, he worked as a doctor, an administrator of a plantation, and a union leader, before being elected to the French Parliament and serving in a number of ministerial positions in the French government. From the 1940s until his death, he played a leading role in the decolonization of Africa and in his country's politics.
Under Houphouët-Boigny's politically moderate leadership, Côte d'Ivoire prospered economically. This success, uncommon in poverty-ridden West Africa, became known as the "Ivorian miracle" and was due to a combination of sound planning, the maintenance of strong ties with the West (particularly France), and development of the country's significant coffee and cocoa industries. However, the exploitation of the agricultural sector caused difficulties in 1980, after a sharp drop in the prices of coffee and cocoa.
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