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The République Côte d’Ivoire – the official name of the country – is located in western Africa. At 322,450 km², the republic is about the size of Germany and borders on five neighbouring states: Mali and Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) to the north, Ghana to the east and Guinea and Liberia to the west. The 550 km long south coast borders on the Gulf of Guinea.

To the north, the country rises slowly. Beside the narrow coastal plain there are highlands in the west and a central plateau. The eastern coastal section is characterized by a lagoon landscape covering 2,400 km², the western by rocky peninsulas. The plateau in the interior lies 200 to 500 m above sea level, the highlands in the west reach a height of up to 1,500 m as an offshoot of the Guinea highlands. The 1 752 m high Mount Nimba, the highest mountain in the country, is also located here. The current seat of government is in Abidjan, which with 4 million inhabitants (agglomeration) is one of the most important metropolises in Africa. The official capital is Yamoussoukro (150 000 inhabitants) inland.

Climate

The country’s climate can be divided into two major regions: The south near the equator belongs to the tropical humid monsoon climate with two rainy seasons. Rainfall reaches its maximum in June, its minimum in August (1,500 to 2,300 mm per year). The savannah areas in the north, on the other hand, have a single summer rainfall from June to October. Rainfall here reaches up to 1 500 mm per year. In the dry season from December to February the Harmattan, a dry hot trade wind coming from the Sahara, blows over the savannah. The large rivers Cavally, Sassandra, Bandama and Comoe, which all flow into the Atlantic, have numerous rapids and waterfalls and are therefore only navigable to a very limited extent. The largest lake is the Bandama River, dammed north of Yamoussoukro.

The average temperature in the metropolis of Abidjan on the Atlantic Ocean is 27 °C in January and 26 °C in July, while in the interior of the country there are greater temperature fluctuations.

Political System

According to the constitution of 2000, the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire is a presidential republic with a multiparty system. The president, elected for five years (since May 2011 Alassane Ouattara), has extensive powers. Since 1990, the Cabinet has been chaired by a Prime Minister (Daniel Kablan Duncan since November 2012), who is appointed by the President.

A National Assembly with 255 deputies is the centre of legislation. The representatives of the people are elected directly every five years. The state administration is divided into 19 regions.

Economy

The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire’s main economic sector is agriculture, which employs about half of the working population. The rainforest belt has fertile soil, which enables the cultivation of numerous agricultural goods. Palm kernels, cocoa and coffee are cultivated and exported in plantations, as are bananas, rubber, tobacco and cotton. The commercially valuable hardwoods such as mahogany and macoré are still of economic importance.

In addition to agriculture, industry is also very well developed compared to neighbouring African countries, a fact manifested in the numerous guest workers in the country. The food industry dominates, but there are also textile companies, building material and fertilizer factories as well as oil refineries in the country. There are numerous mineral resources, including gold, iron ore, manganese, diamonds and – in the coastal region – oil and natural gas. The most important trading partners are Nigeria, France, the USA, the Netherlands and China. The hydroelectric power plants on the rivers play an important role in electricity production.

A well-developed transport network, three international airports and the port of Abidjan also make the republic an important transit country for the neighbouring countries within the continent. The currency is the CFA franc.

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