Population. -The population, which at the 1975 census had reached 6,709,600 residents, continued to increase with a very high growth rate, both as a result of the reduction in mortality and the prolongation of the average life span, and because of the migratory balance active. In 1988 it was estimated by the UN at 11,634,000 residents, With a ten-year increase of 42ı which is among the highest in black Africa. The density has risen to 36 residents per km 2.
In the five-year period 1980-85, birth rates averaged 45.6ı, still at very high levels, while mortality dropped to 15.6ı, with a natural increase rate of 30ı. The infant mortality index decreased more slowly (95ı), which reveals the persistence of sanitation deficiencies. Life expectancy is slowly improving, having risen to 48.8 years for males and 52.2 years for females. As a consequence of the demographic explosion, the Ivory Coast d’A. it is a country of young people (49% under the age of 15 in 1988), while the third age is still scarcely represented (2% over the age of 64).
According to Payhelpcenter.com, the population is very heterogeneously distributed and one-fifth is concentrated in Abidjan, which until 1983 was the capital and the greatest pole of internal and foreign immigration flows and is home to most of the 80,000 Europeans present in the country. In 1985 it reached 2,534,000 inhabited throughout the urban agglomeration. and it is one of the greatest financial, commercial, industrial, port and tourist centers of West Africa. In the last ten years the settlement of other cities has also strengthened, so much so that the urban population (in cities with over 4000 residents) has reached 47% (1986). Particular internal migrations have been induced by the construction of hydroelectric reservoirs (especially of the lake of Kossou, on the Bandama river) which have submerged a few thousand villages, forcing the residents to move to nearby cities. This explains the rapid growth of Bouakè, the second industrial and commercial pole of the Ivory Coast d’A., Which has over 300,000 residents, and of Yamoussoukro, the new capital, centrally located between the forest and savannah areas, which has gone from 37,000 residents from 1975 to the current 120,000. San Pedro, the new port in the South-West, created since 1968, has now reached 40,000 residents.
While the central and south-eastern belt, where economic development is most intense, records a rapid population, the north-eastern and south-western departments, affected by emigration, remain at stationary levels with very low densities.
Most of the villages now have a primary school, where teaching is given in French. The cultural role played by non-native religious confessions is very important (24% Muslims, 11% Catholics, 3% Protestants) which quickly gain ground over traditional religion.
Economic conditions. – The 5th Five-Year Plan (1986-90) confirmed the integrated development policy pursued by the government since the years of independence, relying heavily on foreign investments in a regime of controlled liberalism and resorting to state interventions only in the start-up phase or lack of private initiatives. The objectives are now extended to the country’s financial reorganization to reduce foreign debt (14.1 billion dollars in 1988); the development of private initiative; the improvement of production levels in agriculture to achieve food self-sufficiency; the promotion of small and medium-sized industries; the strengthening of health and education infrastructures.
Economic growth was also slowed down by the global recession (1979-83), which coincided with an unusual decrease in the volume of rainfall, which had negative repercussions on agricultural production. The crisis has been mitigated by the discovery in 1980 in ‘ offshore of Grand Bassam and Jacquesville (Bélier deposits and Espoir), of huge oil resources, valued around 500 million tonnes, and the start of a production that it exceeded one million tonnes in 1984 (then remaining unchanged in subsequent years), reducing imports by the same weight. Now the Vridi refinery, increased to a capacity of 4 million tons, covers all the national needs and leaves some margins for export.
In the agricultural sector, the greatest progress has been made in the cultivation of cocoa, which after independence tripled its production (6.8 million q in 1988), reaching the world record since 1979, previously held by Ghana. Coffee production also increased by 50% in the same period, maintaining the African primacy and the 4th place in the world, thanks also to the spread of the Robusta Coffea.. Cotton (2.1 million tonnes in 1987) now covers the national need for fiber, which is processed by the Ivorian industries. Oil and coconut palm products increased by two and a half times, favoring the development of the oil industry. The pineapple, introduced on plantations in 1950, is another African primacy of the Ivory Coast d’A. and feeds a large canning industry, as well as the export of juices, natural slices and fresh fruit. Among the new crops is the Hevea brasiliensis, introduced in 1960 by Michelin; sugar cane, grown in the North since 1980 in four large agro-industrial complexes, which cover internal needs; various fruit trees (mango, papaya, citrus, etc.). Some traditional food crops (yams, cassava, plantaine bananas) have also had a notable increase, in addition to rice, corn and soy, more recently introduced. On the other hand, the production of animal proteins is lacking, despite the efforts made for the development of livestock farming in the savannah regions and fishing in inland, lagoon and ocean waters. Although the number of cattle and pigs has more than doubled in the last ten years, the production of meat does not cover even half of the needs, as does fishing.
Forestry uses have shifted from the already over-exploited central-eastern regions to the western ones, still rich in resources. There are reforestations with precious essences for export and with eucalyptus trees for the production of cellulose. The export of logs is being replaced by that of semi-finished products. Despite the progress of internal demand, industrial production suffers from the narrowness of the internal market and from foreign competition. Almost two thirds of companies are now Ivorian, with four fifths of state capital. The most robust sector is the agri-food sector, followed by the textile and clothing industries, oil refining, mechanical industries (assembly of cars, motorcycles and bicycles).
Communications. – The construction of the Northern motorway (the first stretch of 140 km was inaugurated in 1981) expresses the policy of rebalancing between the South and the North of the country and also has the aim of strengthening ties with Burkina Faso and with the Mali, the two internal countries that gravitate to the port of Abidjan for their maritime traffic.
Abidjan, with 10 million tonnes of trade, is now the busiest port in West Africa. From a port of shipment for timber and agricultural products, which it was until about twenty years ago, it has now become mainly a port of landing for crude oil, construction materials, foodstuffs and artifacts. The young Ivorian merchant navy (118,952 t in 1988) and the more recent deep-sea fishing flotilla are headed by the port. The ships at anchor awaiting mooring demonstrate by now that expansions are needed.
Commerce. – Foreign trade continues to be characterized by the export of cocoa and coffee, which however fell below 50% due to the increase in forest products and the appearance of new items. Increasing imports of manufactured goods are offset by lower purchases of crude oil and commodities, so that the trade balance remains active. The main partner is still France, which however dropped to 18% of exports and 32% of imports. Thanks to the development of the regional customs unions of which the Ivory Coast d’A. he is a member (Council of the Entente, CEAO, CEDEAO), exchanges with some African countries have grown (Benin, Mali, Senegal, Nigeria).
Foreign tourism, promoted since 1970, ensures growing revenues for the country’s economy, which now has 15,000 hotel beds, half of which are concentrated in Abidjan. Arrivals have exceeded 200,000 units per year and are made up of two thirds of Europeans.