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Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire)

The West African country of Ivory Coast, officially the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, borders the North Atlantic Ocean, between Ghana and Liberia. The official language is French but an estimated 65 languages are spoken in the country.

Yamoussoukro is the official capital city however the busy port of Abidjan is the largest city and serves as the commercial and banking center of Ivory Coast as well as the de facto capital.

Once the most prosperous country in West Africa, the Côte d’Ivoire has been in turmoil for many years incluing a state of civil war since 2002. The Côte d’Ivoire’s economy is largely market-based and relies heavily on agriculture, with smallholder cash crop production being dominant.

The Baoulé, Senoufo and Dan peoples are skilled at wood carving and each culture produces wooden masks in wide variety. The Côte d’Ivorian peoples use masks to represent animals in caricature to depict deities, or to represent the souls of the departed. As the masks are held to be of great spiritual power, it is considered a taboo for anyone other than specially trained persons or chosen ones to wear or possess certain masks. Music plays a large part of life and each of the ethnic groups in Ivory Coast has its own music genres.

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