Abidjan is the largest city and main port of Ivory Coast. It is also the most populated city in French-speaking Western Africa. The city lies along the Ébrié Lagoon, which is separated from the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean by the Vridi Plage sandbar.
According to the Köppen climate classification, Abidjan experiences a tropical wet and dry climate.
The city of Abidjan was founded by French colonists at the end of the 19th century and became the capital of the colony in 1934 although it lost its capital status to Yamoussoukro in 1983.
Nevertheless, Abidjan is considered the cultural and economic centre of West Africa. Its long economic boom brought such prosperity and growth that it earned the nickname "Paris of West Africa". However the political instability that followed the nation's civil war of the early twenty-first century have taken their toll on the city
Data and Facts
- Etymology: According to the oral tradition, the name "Abidjan" results from a misunderstanding. Legend states that an old man carrying branches to repair the roof of his house met a European explorer who asked him the name of the nearest village. The old man did not speak the language of the explorer, and answered "min-chan m'bidjan", which means in the Ébrié language: "I just cut the leaves." The explorer, thinking that his question had been answered, recorded the name of the locale as Abidjan.
- Head of State: President Alassane Ouattara
- Language: French
- Country motto: Union, Discipline, Work
- Currency: West African CFA franc (CFA)
- Ivory Coast GDP nominal: US$ 45.3; US$ 4,454 per capita.
- Median Age: 19.9 years
- Life Expectancy: 60.1 years
- Religion: 44% Christianity, 37.2% Islam, 8.1% unaffiliated, 10.5% Folk
Historically the city was managed by the French colonial administration, however Abidjan became a municipality in 1956, divided into administrative areas by lagoons. Its first municipal council was elected in 1956, and the first mayor was president Félix Houphouët-Boigny.
A 1978 law created twenty-seven municipalities in the country and since 2001, the city has been divided into ten boroughs.
In 2011, the autonomous district of Abidjan was established by a decree instituting a system based on districts and regions instead. The post of Mayor of Abidjan was replaced by the District Governor, appointed by the head of state. The position has been occupied by Robert Beugré Mambé since 2011. Each of the ten communes of Abidjan has its own municipal council, headed by a mayor. The last municipal elections were held in March 2001. The sub-prefectures of the autonomous district also have their own mayors and councils.
The majority of Ivorian government institutions are still located in Abidjan and have not been transferred to the political capital, Yamoussoukro.
The region near the lagoons is the most industrialized region of the country. Manufacturing, which has ballooned since the 1960s, includes food processing, lumber, automobile manufacturing, textiles, chemicals, and soap. There is also several offshore oil wells in operation, which leads to the presence of a chemical industry with oil refineries, and an oil port. It also works on stones and precious metals for exportation.
There are textile industries with the packaging of cotton in the north both for export or for on-site processing of cloth, canvas, batik clothing and miscellaneous. The textile sector is very dynamic, and represents 15.6% of net investment, 13% of turnover and 24% of the value added in Ivorian industry.
The city also has a large wood processing plant from the forests of central Canada.
The industries in Abidjan are mainly in construction and maintenance with the presence of major international groups: the furnace SETAO, Colas, Bouygues, Jean Lefebvre, and Swiss Holcim.
Food industry mainly includes the production of palm oil, bergamot and Seville oranges.
In the west, rubber is processed as well as beverages from pineapples, oranges and mangoes. Côte d'Ivoire is the third largest producer of cocoa and coffee.
Abidjan is also the first African tuna port for the European market, having a modern deepwater commercial seaport. This generated 3,000 salaried jobs and is an important source of foreign exchange.
Abidjan has branches of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Regional Values Exchange, the African Bank of Development, Crédit Lyonnais, Citibank, Chase, Barclays, among others. The Common Stock Exchange of West Africa is also located there.
The development of tertiary industry, with the establishment of international commercial banks and the increasing number of service companies of all types, appears to be the trend of recent years. Abidjan is the main financial center of French West Africa.
To sustain one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, the government is investing more than $7 billion in infrastructure between 2018 and 2023.
Abidjan is the bridgehead of the country's only highway linking the city to the administrative and political capital, Yamoussoukro.
Trains on the line to Ouagadougou run from several stations in the city, the most important being in Treichville. The city is currently working on the construction of a new metro system but for the moment the main urban transportation in Abidjan is via bus, taxi and luggage Line Express. There are two kinds of taxi: the taxi-meter, which can travel throughout the city, and woro-woro, which are limited to a neighborhood.
Felix Houphouet Boigny International Airport, also known as Port Bouet Airport, serves the city and has a large capacity that allows it to accommodate all existing large aircraft. Abidjan is located an hour's flight from all the capitals of the sub-region. The airport had nearly 2,070,000 passengers in 2017.
Abidjan has also one of the biggest ports in the sub-region where a line of Ferries link Treichville, Abobo-Doumé and Le Plateau. Abidjan receives the bulk of the country's industrial activity and its port alone receives 60% of the ivory park industry.
Almost 130 tech hubs have opened across Africa in under two years, showcasing a maturing entrepreneurial ecosystem and a rising interest in the potential of local markets.
With just around $2 million of funding received by local tech start-ups in 2018 Cote d’Ivoire remains a nascent tech ecosystem only now entering the top 20 African markets in terms of funding. This young ecosystem hides a couple of very promising tech ventures, most of which have a common specificity: they are using mobile and digital technologies to offer hyperlocal solutions tackling local socio-economic challenges. Case in point are two local start-ups, which had the opportunity to pitch on the Mobile 360 West Africa event stage: Keiwa is an accounting and stock management mobile-based solution for local MSMEs while Chez Nous is a digital marketplace that matches local cooks (at home or restaurants) to customers.
In October 2017, MTN Business Cote d’Ivoire launched the programme Y’ello Startup aimed at supporting young local tech entrepreneurs and identifying future business partners for the Company.
In 2018, Ivory Coast also launched a national master plan that pretends to
establish a regulatory framework for the telecoms and ICT sector, developing infrastructures and creating accessibility to ICTs. The objective would be to achieve a contribution of ICTs to 15% of GDP by the end of 2020
Social wellness and human resources
The healthcare system in Ivory Coast has been negatively affected by socio-political disturbances in the country since December 1999 and the post-election crisis of 2010-2011. Although the country recovered well, basic services have still not been completely re-established and structural problems remain. The country’s Ministry of Health and the fight against AIDS summarised in a report on national health policy that its funding is inadequate and the population’s geographical and financial accessibility to quality basic healthcare is limited.
Rural areas in particular suffer from a shortage of hospitals and medical staff. Large cities have more of a medical infrastructure, both private and public, and it is generally recommended to go to Abidjan for treatment. Some private hospitals, such as the Sainte Anne-Marie International Polyclinic or the Hôtel Dieu offer good quality care. However, as a general rule, medical facilities in Abidjan remain below the quality standards of Western medical centres.
Malaria, yellow fever, sleeping sickness, yaws, leprosy, trachoma, and meningitis are endemic in the region although a broad program setted since 1961 control these and other diseases through compulsory vaccinations and other health measures.
Nowadays education in Ivory Coast continues to face many challenges. The literacy rate for adults remains low: in 2000, it was estimated that only 48.7% of the total population was literate (60.8% of males and 38.6% of females) and many children between 6 and 10 years were not enrolled in school, mainly children of poor families.
In February 2019, it adopted The Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education. The Abidjan Principles seek to strengthen existing efforts to ensure that everyone’s right to education is protected in the context of growing, and often unregulated private actor involvement in education.
The Université de Cocody is located in Abidjan.
Most mass media in Côte d'Ivoire can be found in Abidjan. Radiodiffusion Television Ivoirienne (RTI) is the radio and television broadcasting authority for Côte d'Ivoire and it has four television channels and two radio stations.
Due to the political situation before the 2000s, only one daily newspaper was distributed throughout the country: Fraternité Matin. Since 1999 however, different newspapers and magazines like L’intern or Nord-Sud, proliferated in the country, being the majority of them published in Abidjan.
According to Tripadvisor, the top 5 museums in the city are Musee des Civilisations de Cote d’Ivoire, Galerie Dominantes, Galerie Loui Simone Guirandou, Loubo and Galerie d'Art MBengue
Since the 1990s, Abidjan has had a significant variety of musical styles being exported throughout Africa and the West and it has become a major producer of musical art in Africa. The city attracts the majority of musicians from the Côte d'Ivoire mainly because of its many dance and night clubs.
Africa Sports d'Abidjan is an Ivorian multi-sports club founded in 1947 and based in Abidjan. The club fields teams in the sports of track and field, handball, basketball and association football, of these the football team is the most prominent. They play at the Stade Houphouet-Boigny.
The only Olympic gold ever won by the Ivory Coast was in Taekwondo at Rio 2016 by Cheick Sallah Cisse. A second in the sport - bronze in the same Games - and a silver at the LA Games in 1984 in the Men’s 400 Metres complete its modest tally.