Ivory Coast
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Ivory Coast

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Ivory Coast Travel Guide

Key Facts

322,462 sq km (124,503 sq miles).


23.3 million (2015).

Population density

72.2 per sq km.





Head of state

President Alassane Ouattara since 2010.

Head of government

Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan since 2012.


220 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are standard.

Ivory Coast is a country of extremes; a land of pulsating metropolises and pristine rainforests, vast churches and verdant hills, fancy restaurants and sprawling street stalls. Its reputation might be sullied by the recent civil war, but most areas are now stable and ripe for discovery.

Coastal Abidjan is the unofficial capital and the entry point for most travellers. The French influence is clear to see here, not least in the food, which is served in some bistros with the kind of pomp you might expect in downtown Paris. These eateries are a stark contrast to the traditional maquis restaurants, which sprawl out onto the city’s bustling streets. Pull up a plastic pew, order some food and share a meal with locals.

Dubbed the “Manhattan of Africa” the gleaming skyscrapers and manicured gardens of The Plateau give downtown Abidjan a decidedly modern feel. This commercial district is also home to St Paul’s Cathedral, which boasts impressive stained glass windows and great views across the city.

While most of the action takes place in Abidjan, Yamoussoukro is the official capital. It is notable for its massive mosque and even bigger Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, which is the largest church in the world. Football is also a religion here and watching The Elephants, the national football team, offers a memorable day out for sports fans.

Ivory Coast’s true beauty really shines through when you get out of the cities. There are no fewer than eight national parks in the country, including Comoé, the largest protected area in West Africa, which boasts the most biodiverse savannah in the world. Expect to see anything from lions and leopards to aardvarks and African elephants. The pygmy hippos of Tai National Park are also a big draw for naturalists, while the beautiful beaches around San Pedro,Assine and Grand Bassam attract bathers of all stripes.

Sure, Ivory Coast has had its problems, but a sanguine spirit is binding this country together again and putting it back on the map.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 29 May 2016

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


The security situation in Abidjan can deteriorate at short notice.

Following peaceful, free and fair Presidential elections in 2015 the risk of a return to the levels of conflict experienced between December 2010 and May 2011 is low. Legislative elections are due in late 2016. If you’re staying longer in Côte d’Ivoire you should regularly review personal security arrangements and take professional security advice. Keep up to date with local developments through the local media. Keep a stock of food and water, avoid all large public gatherings and political rallies and adopt a low profile, particularly at night.


There’s a risk of crime in Abidjan, including violent crime, car-jackings, armed break-ins to private residences, hold-ups in the street, and stealing from cars. Weapons circulate freely. These incidents aren’t common, but they do occur. Avoid using public transport, shared taxis, or walking around after dark. Avoid displaying your wallet; for instance, have a coin to hand for tipping supermarket trolley attendants. In vehicles, keep doors locked, windows shut and valuables out of sight.

Local travel

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the western regions of Dix-Huit Montagnes, Haut-Sassandra, Moyen-Cavally and Bas-Sassandra, in particular the area to the west of Duékoué up to the border with Liberia owing to the risk of serious violence by local militias. Fatal clashes between militias and the security forces have taken place in this area as recently as February 2015. Seek professional local advice before embarking on any travel to these areas. Take care if you intend to travel to any rural areas.

Roadblocks and checkpoints

There are permanent checkpoints in and around Abidjan. There are official and unofficial roadblocks and checkpoints on the major routes outside of Abidjan. Take great care and co-operate with those operating them.

Road travel

Driving standards and road conditions in Côte d’Ivoire are poor. Avoid driving outside towns and cities at night as roads and vehicles can be poorly lit. You should be cautious of stray livestock that could cause a safety hazard. Grass or leaves strewn in the carriageway often means an accident or other hazard ahead. During the rainy season roads, especially minor, unpaved ones, may become impassable.

Take care when using public transport; driving standards and vehicle maintenance are poor.


The rainy season in Côte d’Ivoire is from May to November. Torrential rains can cause floods, landslides and large potholes. Monitor local weather reports and expect difficulties when travelling to affected areas during this season.

Air travel

The European Commission has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the European Union. You should check the list to see whether this will affect your travel.

While Ebola Virus Disease is still affecting the region you should monitor changes to travel restrictions and make sure that you have adequate and flexible travel arrangements in place for your onward journey from Côte d’Ivoire.


Avoid swimming in the sea as ocean currents are very strong along the coast. Many drownings occur each year.

Consular assistance

The British Embassy in Abidjan (Telephone: +225-22 44 26 69) can provide help only in an emergency.