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Country Guides for Africa

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast Close ties to France since independence in 1960, the development of cocoa production for export, and foreign investment made Cote d'Ivoire one of the most prosperous of the tropical African states, but did not protect it from political turmoil. On 25 December 1999, a military coup - the first ever in Cote d'Ivoire's history - overthrew the government led by President Henri Konan BEDIE. Junta leader Robert GUEI held elections in late 2000, but excluded prominent opposition leader Alassane OUATTARA, blatantly rigged the polling results, and declared himself winner. Popular protest forced GUEI to step aside and brought runner-up Laurent GBAGBO into power. GBAGBO spent his first two years in office trying to consolidate power to strengthen his weak mandate, but he was unable to appease his opponents, who launched a failed coup attempt in September 2002. Rebel forces claimed the northern half of the country and in January 2003 were granted ministerial positions in a unity government. However, the central government has yet to exert control over the northern regions and tension remains high between GBAGBO and rebel leaders. Several thousand French and West African troops remain in Cote d'Ivoire to maintain peace and help implement the peace accords.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout the region and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal.Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. All travelers to West Africa, including infants, children, and former residents of West Africa, are at risk for malaria. All travelers should take one of the following drugs (listed alphabetically): atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine (in special circumstances).

Yellow fever vaccination is recommended and may be required for entry into certain of these countries. If you travel to West Africa, the easiest and safest thing to do is get a yellow fever vaccination and a signed certificate. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.

Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection, is found in fresh water in the region. Do not swim in fresh water (except in well-chlorinated swimming pools) in these countries.

Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid nighttime travel if possible and always use seat belts.

CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):

See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • Meningococcal meningitis, for travel to most of these countries from December through June.
  • Yellow fever.
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not complete the series as infants.

To stay healthy, do...

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an “absolute 1-micron or less” filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. “Absolute 1-micron filters” are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
  • Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
    • Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
    • Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
    • Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
    • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
    • Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
    • Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
    • Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
    • DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
    • Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Cote d'Ivoire has experienced an extended period of instability since a military coup d'état in 1999. In September 2002, a large-scale military rebellion divided the country. Under the Linas-Marcoussi Agreement of January 2003, the former rebels, now known as the New Forces, entered the government. However, New Force elements continue to control the north of the country above an east-west line running just south of Bouake, the country's second largest city. In the west, the New Forces also continue to control the cities of Man and Danane and a strip of territory running along the border with Liberia. There are armed forces and volunteer barricades at many points on the highways through both the government-controlled and New Forces-controlled portions of the country; they check documents and frequently demand cash for permission to pass. Cote d'Ivoire's border with Liberia is closed.

Political instability has led to economic decline and high unemployment, exacerbating social tensions and creating the potential for labor unrest and civil disorder. Americans should avoid crowds and demonstrations, be aware of their surroundings, and use common sense to avoid situations and locations that could be inherently dangerous. Diplomatic efforts to end the crisis are ongoing. However, further coup attempts or the resumption of hostilities cannot be ruled out.

Recreational Safety: Swimming in coastal waters is dangerous and strongly discouraged, even for excellent swimmers. The ocean currents along the coast are powerful and treacherous, and numerous drownings occur each year.

CRIME: Crime continues to be a major security threat for Americans living in Cote d'Ivoire. Street crime of the "grab and run" variety, as well as pickpocketing in crowded areas, is widespread. Armed carjacking, robberies of businesses, and home invasions are very common, and they are often targeted at expatriate residents who are perceived as wealthy. Armed criminals have used force when faced with resistance. Travelers displaying jewelry and carrying cameras are especially at risk. Travelers have found it advisable to carry only limited amounts of cash and only photocopies of key documents.

Travel outside of Abidjan or at night is strongly discouraged, and it is particularly dangerous to visit Abidjan's Treichville, Adjame, Abobo, and Plateau districts after dark. The DeGaulle and Houphouet-Boigny bridges, which cross the lagoon in Abidjan, are dangerous areas for pedestrians. Inadequate resources and training reduce the ability of the police to apprehend criminals and deter crimes. Many hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and supermarkets provide security guards to protect clients and vehicles.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately both to the local police and to the U.S. Embassy. If you are the victim of a crime in Cote d'Ivoire, immediately report the crime to local police and contact the U.S. Embassy at 2021-0979, extension 6000. The staff of the Consular Section can assist you in a number of ways, such as finding appropriate medical care, contacting family members or friends, and explaining how funds can be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can also help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs Home Page at

BUSINESS FRAUD: Perpetrators of business fraud often target foreigners, including Americans. While such fraud schemes in the past have been largely associated with Nigeria, they are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Cote d'Ivoire. The scams pose a danger of grave financial loss. Typically, these scam operations begin with an unsolicited communication (usually by e-mail) from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by assisting in the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out of the country. A series of "advance fees" must then be paid in order to conclude the transaction; for example, fees to provide legal documents or to pay certain taxes. In fact, the final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. One common variation of this scheme involves individuals claiming to be refugees or other victims of various western African conflicts (notably Sierra Leone) who contact U.S. citizens to request their help in transferring large sums of money out of Cote d'Ivoire. Another typical ploy has persons claiming to be related to present or former political leaders who need assistance to transfer large sums of cash. Other variations include what appear to be legitimate business deals requiring advance payments on contracts. Sometimes, perpetrators manage to induce victims to provide bank account and credit card information and financial authorization that allow them to drain the accounts and incur large debts against the victim's credit. In many instances, victims have lost their life savings.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of advance-fee fraud is common sense - if a proposition looks too good to be true, it probably is. Any unsolicited business proposal originating from Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, or any other source, should be carefully checked and researched before any funds are committed, any goods or services are provided, or any travel is undertaken. One common indicator of a possible scam is the phone number provided to the scam victim; legitimate businesses and offices should be able to provide fixed telephone numbers, while scams typically use only cell phone numbers. In Cote d'Ivoire, all cell phone numbers start with the number zero.

To date, the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan is unaware of any scam victim who has been able to recover money lost through these scams. Please check the Embassy web site at (go to Foreign commercial service) for the most current information on fraud in Cote d'Ivoire. The Department of State's brochure Advance Fee Business Scams is available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at Single copies are available at no charge by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Office of Overseas Citizens Services Room 4811, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-4818.

Source: U.S. Department of State

tropical along coast, semiarid in far north; three seasons - warm and dry (November to March), hot and dry (March to May), hot and wet (June to October)

Source: CIA World Factbook

Ivory Coast's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Please note: Not all electrical sockets in this country provide grounding. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. U.S. citizens traveling to Cote d'Ivoire for business or tourism do not require visas for stays of 90 days or less. Those intending to stay for longer than 90 days may still enter without a visa, but they then must apply for a "visa de sejour" or "carte de sejour" within 90 days of their arrival. (Note: "Cartes de sejour" are not issued to children under the age of 16; minors under 16 are covered under their parents' "cartes de sejour".) An international health certificate showing current yellow fever immunization is required for entry into Cote d'Ivoire; without it, the traveler will be required to be vaccinated at the airport health office before clearing immigration. The cost of the immunization is 15,000 cfa at this time.

Foreign travelers arriving at or departing from Abidjan's international airport or over land borders sometimes experience harassment from customs or immigration officials. Individuals may approach the travelers within the customs and immigration areas and offer to complete their immigration forms and expedite the passport control and customs clearing processes. Afterward, the individual demands an exorbitant fee, both for himself and for the passport and customs officers. Travelers to Cote d'Ivoire are advised that there is no need to pay a police officer or customs officer at the airport for any service rendered during an arrival or departure, and they should not surrender their passports or other important documents to anyone except to easily identifiable government officials in uniform.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Travelers may obtain the latest information and details on entry requirements from the Embassy of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, 2424 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone (202) 797-0300. There are honorary consulates for Cote d'Ivoire in San Francisco and Detroit. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Ivoirian embassy or consulate.

Source: U.S. Department of State

The time zone for Ivory Coast is 0 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Ivory Coast would be 5:00 pm

The unit of currency in Ivory Coast is the Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States.

Look up the current exchange rate using's Universal Currency Converter

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