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The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, commonly known in English as Ivory Coast, is a country in West Africa. It has an area of 322,462 km2, and borders the countries of Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana; its southern boundary is along the Gulf of Guinea. The country's population which was 15,366,672 in 1998, was estimated to be 20,617,068 in 2009.
Prior to its occupation by Europeans, Côte d'Ivoire was home to several important states, including Gyaaman, the Kong Empire, and Baoulé. There were also two Anyi kingdoms, Indénié and Sanwi, which attempted to retain their separate identity through the French colonial period and even after Côte d'Ivoire's independence. An 1843–1844 treaty made Côte d'Ivoire a "protectorate" of France and in 1893, it became a French colony as part of the European scramble for Africa.
Côte d'Ivoire became independent on 7 August 1960. From 1960 to 1993, the country was led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny. It maintained close political and economic association with its West African neighbours, while at the same time maintaining close ties to the West, especially to France. However, since the end of Houphouët-Boigny's rule, Côte d'Ivoire has experienced two coups d’état (1999 and 2001) and a civil war, although elections and a political agreement between the new government and the rebels have brought a return to peace. Côte d'Ivoire is a republic with a strong executive power personified in the President. Its de jure capital is Yamoussoukro and the biggest city is the port city of Abidjan. The country is divided into 19 regions and 81 departments. It is a member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, African Union, La Francophonie, Latin Union, Economic Community of West African States and South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone.
The official language is French although there are many other local languages, including Baoulé, Dioula, Dan, Anyin and Cebaara Senufo. The main religions are Islam, Christianity (primarily Roman Catholic) and various indigenous religions.
The country, through its production of coffee and cocoa, was an economic powerhouse during the 1960s and 1970s in West Africa. However, Côte d'Ivoire went through an economic crisis in the 1980s, leading to the country's period of political and social turmoil. The 21st century Ivorian economy is largely market-based and relies heavily on agriculture, with smallholder cash crop production being dominant.