Western Africa

Ivory Coast

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The powerful Sudanese empires dominate the history of the Ivory Coast. It was from these empires that Islam spread to the northernmost regions. After the collapse of these empires, the Juula people established the Kong kingdom, later dominated by the Akan people, who founded the Abron kingdom and introduced centralized political systems. Until the 19th century, European contact was confined to the coast, where French and Portuguese traders sought slaves and ivory, whence the name “Ivory Coast” comes from. In 1842 the French declared the area their protectorate and later claimed it as a colony, but the imposition of forced labor and taxes led to fierce resistance and revolts. For many years after independence in 1960, the new nation was ruled by president Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who led the country from independence to economic prosperity. Before his death and the subsequent military coup in 1999, Ivory Coast was a model of growth and stability. Then, the coup caused an economic breakdown and civil war splitting the country into two: a rebel-held north and a government-held south.

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