Country Listing

Ivory Coast Table of Contents

Ivory Coast


Population density increased steadily from twenty-one inhabitants per square kilometer in 1975 to thirty-two in 1987. This national average masked uneven distribution, however, with much of the population concentrated in the south and fewer than ten inhabitants per square kilometer in parts of the north. The southwestern corner of the country presented a low-density exception to this pattern. Population distribution reflected Ivoirian history more than physical environment. Most areas of high density corresponded to the first centers of settlement by major ethnic groups, especially the Akan and Mandé, altered in the north by nineteenth-century conquests by Samori Touré (see Pre-European Period , ch. 1). Colonial policy moved villages nearer transportation routes in order to control the population and to provide a ready labor supply. In the late 1980s, the population was still distributed along main roads as the result of resettlements, which had continued into the 1930s in the southwest.

Ivoirian settlement patterns in the late 1980s also revealed continued southward migration from the savanna to the forest, a process first set in motion by precolonial invasions from the north and continued by colonial policies emphasizing cash crop and plantation agriculture. This migration pattern was aided by postindependence urban and industrial development, which took place primarily in the southeast.

Data as of November 1988