Country Listing

Ivory Coast Table of Contents

Ivory Coast

Lagoon Cultures

Along the coastline from the nation's eastern border to the Bandama River is a series of lagoons, where fishing and trading dominate local economies. Lagoon societies include the Mekyibo, Attié, Mbato, Ebrié, Abidji, Adioukrou, Alladian, Avikam, Abbé, and others, each of which, in turn, is known by a variety of names within the region and is subdivided into smaller groups.

Residents of inland villages are subsistence farmers, and many lagoon peoples produce cash crops. Although not Akan language speakers, they speak related Kwa languages and are organized into matrilineages and chiefdoms similar to the Agni and Baoulé to the north. This cultural assimilation reflects the local history of occasional domination by Akan armies from the north. Ebrié, Attié, and Adioukrou societies are further segmented into age classes organized for warfare, mutual aid, and communal work projects. Age groups continued to operate in the 1980s, providing an important source of social cohesion.

Although the nation's capital, Abidjan, is in traditional Ebrié territory, the Ebrié made up less than 10 percent of the population of the city in the late 1980s. Many local groups have been displaced by Akan peoples and others moving into the densely populated southeast corner of the nation. Some of these survive in scattered villages; others were absorbed into the coastal economy by early French arrivals and flourished under this arrangement. As a result, this complex and heterogeneous lagoon region exhibits an eclectic variety of cultural and linguistic traits that defy simple classification.

Data as of November 1988