Demographic profile: Cote d’Ivoire’s population is likely to continue growing for the foreseeable future because almost 60% of the populace is younger than 25, the total fertility rate is holding steady at about 3.5 children per woman, and contraceptive use is under 20%. The country will need to improve education, health care, and gender equality in order to turn its large and growing youth cohort into human capital. Even prior to 2010 unrest that shuttered schools for months, access to education was poor, especially for women. As of 2015, only 53% of men and 33% of women were literate. The lack of educational attainment contributes to Cote d’Ivoire’s high rates of unskilled labor, adolescent pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS prevalence.
Following its independence in 1960, Cote d’Ivoire’s stability and the blossoming of its labor-intensive cocoa and coffee industries in the southwest made it an attractive destination for migrants from other parts of the country and its neighbors, particularly Burkina Faso. The HOUPHOUET-BOIGNY administration continued the French colonial policy of encouraging labor immigration by offering liberal land ownership laws. Foreigners from West Africa, Europe (mainly France), and Lebanon composed about 25% of the population by 1998.
Ongoing economic decline since the 1980s and the power struggle after HOUPHOUET-BOIGNY’s death in 1993 ushered in the politics of “Ivoirite,” institutionalizing an Ivoirian identity that further marginalized northern Ivoirians and scapegoated immigrants. The hostile Muslim north-Christian south divide snowballed into a 2002 civil war, pushing tens of thousands of foreign migrants, Liberian refugees, and Ivoirians to flee to war-torn Liberia or other regional countries and more than a million people to be internally displaced. Subsequently, violence following the contested 2010 presidential election prompted some 250,000 people to seek refuge in Liberia and other neighboring countries and again internally displaced as many as a million people. By July 2012, the majority had returned home, but ongoing inter-communal tension and armed conflict continue to force people from their homes.
Source: CIA World Factbook - This page was last updated on July 9, 2017