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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

District d'Abidjan
—  City  —


Coat of arms
Abidjan is located in Côte d'Ivoire
Location in Côte d'Ivoire
Coordinates: 5°20′11″N 4°1′36″W / 5.33639°N 4.02667°W / 5.33639; -4.02667
Country  Côte d'Ivoire
Region Lagunes Region
 - Mayor Pierre Djédji Amondji
 - City 818.2 sq mi (2,119 km2)
 - Urban 162.9 sq mi (422 km2)
Population (2007)[1]
 - City 3,802,000
Time zone GMT (UTC+0)

Abidjan is the economic and former official capital of Côte d'Ivoire (the current capital is Yamoussoukro). It is the largest city in the nation, and the third largest French speaking city in the world. It has, according to the authorities of the country in 2006, 5,068,858 residents in the metropolitan area and 3,796,677 residents in the municipality. Only Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria has a larger number of inhabitants in this region. Considered a cultural hub of West Africa or Africa, Abidjan in the 21st century is characterized by high industrialization and urbanization. The city stands in Ébrié Lagoon on several converging peninsulas and islands, connected by bridges.

The city grew after the construction of a new wharf in 1931 and its designation as the capital of the then French colony in 1933. The completion of the Vridi Canal in 1951 enabled it to become an important sea port. In 1983, Yamoussoukro was designated as the nation's capital, but most government offices and foreign embassies are still in Abidjan.


Origin of the name "Abidjan"

Supposedly, when the first colonists asked native women the name of the place, the women misunderstood and replied "T'chan m'bi djan": "I've just been cutting leaves"[2].

Population and language

A 1995 estimate placed Abidjan's population at around 2,793,000. Estimates for the population of the Abidjan metropolitan area as of 2005 vary between 4 and 5 million inhabitants. As Abidjan is inhabited by people from a wide array of different ethnicities, the French language is used as the language of communication in the metropolitan area, which is the third-largest French speaking metropolitan area in the world after Paris and Kinshasa[citation needed]. A specific colloquial Abidjan French has even appeared, with a pronunciation and some colloquial words distinct from standard French. The area of Abidjan is recognized as one of only two areas in Africa where French (colloquial Abidjan French) is truly a native tongue[3], the other one being Libreville, Gabon.[4]

Geography and neighborhoods


Abidjan lies on the south-east coast of the country in the Gulf of Guinea. The city lies on the Ébrié Lagoon. The business district Le Plateau is the centre of the city. It lies with Cocody', Deux Plateaux (the richest neighbourhood with big mansions for rich people and diplomats) and the slum area of Adjamé on the north shore of the lagoon, while Treichville and Marcory lie to the south, Abobo-Doume and Yapougon to the west and Boulay Island in the middle of the lagoon. Further south lies Port Bouët, home to the airport and main seaport. Abidjan is located at 5°25' North, 4°2' West (5.41667, -4.03333).[5]


Abidjan was the third city to be the capital of Côte d'Ivoire, after Grand-Bassam and Bingerville, which is now considered to form a suburb of the current capital. Its populace, the Tchaman, were renamed ébrié, derived from the "quolibet" given to the lagoon pirates by the inhabitants of Grand-Bassam. As such, in their language, ébrié means "salty/dirty skin".

Under the direction of engineer, Houidaille, Bingerville was created in 1899. Following an epidemic of yellow fever, the colonies of Grand-Bassam decided to relocate here because of its healthy atmosphere. This was also when the Colonial government started its relocation to the remote village of Adjamé, which would come to be named Bingerville after the first governor of the colonies, Louis-Gustave Binger.

Abidjan ville 1.JPG

The future Abidjan, nearby, also situated by the Lagune n'doupé (Lagoon of Warm Waters, the future ébrié Lagoon) offered more space and greater possibilities for commercial expansion. The Petit-Bassam Wharf, the current Port Bouët, south of the metropolitan area, grew rapidly in competition with the Grand-Bissam Wharf, until then the principal economic gateway for the colony. In 1904, when Bingerville had not yet been completed, Abidjan became the principal economic pillar of the Côte d'Ivoire colonies, a primary relay point for distribution of European goods further inland, notably by an increasingly important Lebanese community.

On 10 August 1933, a decree was passed, moving the capital from Bingerville to Abidjan (or Abidjean), displacing many tchaman villages, which moved mostly to Adjame, the 'confluence" or "centre" for tchaman, located north of the Plateau and which again became the chief tchaman community. It is here that the community lost the "Sacred Drum" (A very characteristic drum which is currently in the possession of the Musée de l'Homme - the Museum of Man) as currency of blackmail, to force Tchaman participation in the construction of the Abidjan-Niger Railway system.

South of the Plateau District, currently the central district of the Abidjan metropolitan area, the village of Dugbeyo was moved to the other side of the Lagoon, in Anoumabo, "the forest of the dogfish", which would later become the district of Treichville in 1934, renamed in honour of Marcel Treich-Laplène (1860–1890), the first explorer of Côte d'Ivoire and its first colonial administrator, considered its founder. Where Dugbeyo once stood, today the Avenue Treich-Laplène serves as the main bus and ferry terminal, and is also the location of Avenue Charles de Gaulle, commonly called Commercial Street.

The city is designed along the usual colonial guidelines, on the basis of rather Utopian town-planning. The colonists inhabit The Plateau ("m'brato" in the Tchaman language) while the colonized people live in the north. The two zones were separated by the Gallieni Military Barracks, where the current Law Courts are located.

In 1931, the Plateau and Treichville (which became Commikro, "the city of clerks") were roughly connected by a floating bridge at the place du pont Houphouët Boigny. In this year, the first of the street addresses of Abidjan were set up. These remained in place until in 1964, at the whim of mayor Conan Kanga, they were (badly) supplemented with the American system in 1993.

In years 1940 and 1950, like Cairo, Tangier and Istanbul, Abidjan became a part of popular imagination as a nest for spies and criminals.

In 1951, the colonial authorities decided to build the Vridi Canal from the sea to the lagoon so that ships could access the port at Abidjan, causing a drop in temperature of the hot waters of the Lagoon n'doucé.

The business district of Abidjan

After independence, in 1960, the old colonial cities became administrative and business centres, as well as the Presidential seat. The southern areas of Treichville, towards the international airport and the beaches, became the district for Europeans, and the middle class Abidjanians.

The Cocody district (famous for the movie Le Gentleman de Cocody by Jean Marais) which according to colonial urban planning was to be a vast indigenous district, instead became a smart district which contained the Presidential Residence, the French Embassy, the Ivory Hotel and since 2006, the largest US Embassy in Africa.

Abidjan now entered a long phase of economic boom and huge growth which would last until the 1980s, making it the "Paris of Africa". With elegant casinos and world-class hotels, the city billed itself as the safest and most desirable tourist destination in West Africa. Its skyscraper studded skyline and fashionable shopping district became emblems of the stability and prosperity touted by the Houphouët-Boigny government and its capital-friendly pro-western policies.

Large working class zones of migrants developed between these poles, marked by precarious living conditions, feeding off the misery caused by rural migration and exploitation of sub-regional migration. It is here that the anti-French and anti-Whites riots of November 2004 were concentrated. With decline in the 1990s blamed on negligent civil servants, political infighting following Houphouët-Boigny death, and high levels of corruption, and in spite of undeniable modernization since 1980, there has been a general degradation of Abidjan's infrastructure and a growth of pollution. The 2006 poisoning of over 10,000 by foreign toxic waste dumped in the city's refuse tips is but one, extreme, example. Since 1999 the city has suffered further from the chaos and economic dislocation caused by civil war in the north, political tumult, and flight of capital.

In 1983, the town of Yamoussoukro became the new capital of Côte d'Ivoire under president Felix Houphouët-Boigny, who wanted to transform his native village into the Brasilia of the African savannah. The new capital, an important crossroads as well as an active commercial pillar, remains eclipsed by Abidjan.


Climate chart (explanation)
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: [1]

The city has a tropical monsoon climate with a long rainy season from May through through July, a small rainy season (September-November) and two dry seasons, though rain is seen even during the dry season. Abidjan is also generally humid throughout the year. During the rainy season it can rain continuously for several consecutive days, or intensely for over an hour. The rainfall is abundant, about 2000 millimeters of water per year.[6]. The monthly rainfall varies between about 40 mm and 500 mm in January to June and the temperature is almost constant at around 27 degrees celsius.[7] The degree of humidity reaches 80.


The figures as of 2006 estimate the abidjanaise population at 3,796,677. In 2006 the metropolitan area of Abidjan had 5,060,858 inhabitants. This increase in the population can be attributed to the displacement caused by the war (since September 2002). This city has many inhabitants who come to live downtown because they seek employment and safer lodgings.

Demographic evolution
1920 1946 1970 1978 1998 2003
1,000 48,000 500,000 1,200,000 3,125,890 3,660,682
Numbers since 1920: Population without duplication
Abidjan Centre

By 1950, Abidjan had just exceeded a population of 50,000 (at the end of 1948). Reaching a population of a million by the end of the year 1975, the city grew at a rate of 10 to 12 % a year: a doubling every 6 or 7 years. But this growth underwent a sharp decline due to the crises of the 80s and 90s. In the last 20 years of the 20th century the growth rate dropped to 6%. Growth by birth rate was supplemented by migration, with the influx being substantial and the outflow only partly compensating the arrivals. Positive migration, prior to the census of 1988, contributed a growth of about 80,000 with 50,000 people from within Côte d'Ivoire, and about 30,000 from abroad per year. From within Côte d'Ivoire, the migration pattern was dominated by Akan (South-east, 48%), then Mande (North-west, 24%) and Krou (South-west, 20%). From abroad, the migration was Burkinabes (30%), Malians (22%), Ghanaians (19%), Nigerien (11%), Guineans (9%). It should be noted that of the Non-African migration, Lebanese migration exceeded that of Europeans, with the French being largest of these. All in all, Non-African migration represents hardly 3% of the total population of Abidjan, which is still the highest in the area.





Formerly managed by the French "colonial administration", divided into administrative areas by lagoons Abidjan became a municipality in 1956. Its first municipal council was elected on 18 November 1956 and the first mayor in the context of the Framework Law of 1956, was president Félix Houphouët-Boigny. A law of 1978 established twenty-seven municipalities full year in the country. After the application of this new organization, Dioulo Emmanuel was elected mayor of Abidjan on 30 November 1980.

List of successive mayors
Date of election Name Party Background Status
1956 Félix Houphouët-Boigny PDCI-RDA Politician Elected
Antoine Filidori Industry Appointed
Jean Porquet Industry Appointed
Antoine Konan Kanga PDCI-RDA Politician Appointed
1980 Emmanuel Dioulo PDCI-RDA Politician Elected
1985 Mobio N'Koumo PDCI-RDA Politician Elected

Since 2001, the city has been run as a department with 10 municipalities and three new sub-prefectures Anyama, and Songon Bingerville. The post of Mayor of Abidjan was replaced by the District Governor, appointed by the head of state. The position is currently occupied by Pierre Djedji Amondji since 2002. However, each of the 10 municipalities of Abidjan has its own municipal council headed by a mayor. The last municipal elections were held in March 2001.

The 10 communes of Abidjan
Commune Mayor Political party
Abobo Adama Toungara RDR
Adjamé Youssouf Sylla RDR
Attécoubé Danho Paulin PDCI-RDA
Cocody Jean-Baptiste Gomont Diagou FPI
Le Plateau Akossi Noel Bendjo PDCI-RDA
Yopougon Gbamnan Djidan Jean Félicien FPI
Treichville François Amichia PDCI-RDA
Koumassi N'Dohi Yapi Raymond PDCI-RDA
Marcory Marcellin Akanda Assi FPI
Port-Bouët Hortense Aka-Anghui PDCI-RDA

Abobo, Adjamé, Attécoubé, Cocody, Plateau and Yopougon are located north of the lagoon Ebrie (hence the name "Abidjan north). This is the continental part of Abidjan.

Treichville, Koumassi, Marcory and Port-Bouet in Abidjan are south.

Blokosso and Locodjro villages are included within the city and who maintain cultural identity in urban areas.

Places of interest

Le Plateau, Abidjan

The University of Abidjan, several technical colleges, and the national library and museum are in the city.

Sights in Abidjan include St Paul's Cathedral, designed by Aldo Spiritom, the Cocody Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art and the Parc du Banco rainforest reserve. Le Plateau is known for its skyscrapers, unusual in West Africa.

Le Plateau is the business centre of Abidjan. With its gleaming skyscrapers, chic boutiques and outdoor cafes, le Plateau is a favourite place of business travellers. There are many different banks located in the le Plateau district.


The principal stock exchange of the country, the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM), is located in the city.[citation needed] Air Ivoire has its head office in Abidjan.[8]

Prior to its dissolution, Air Afrique was headquartered in Abidjan.[9]


Major industries include food processing, lumber, automobile manufacturing, and the manufacture of textiles, chemicals, and soap. There is also a large oil refinery. Kalys Engineering (, an US based company presided by an ivorian is initiating a homegrow business in Civil Engineering,Environment and the production of Clean Energy from biomass and Municipal Solid Waste. In the nearly year, Kalys Engineering, in partnership with Groupe Eoulee and US world class companies, will get the Akouedo landfill in the production of the Electricity and /or bio-fuel from an average of 1000 tons/day garbage dumped over 3000 tons/day generated by the town of Abidjan.


Trains on the line to Ouagadougou run from several stations in the city, the most important being in Treichville. Ferries link Treichville, Abobo-Doumé and Le Plateau. Felix Houphouet Boigny International Airport [10] serves the city.


The musical group Magic System were founded in the city in the 1990s.


Association football is one of the most popular sports. Abidjan is home to the ASEC Mimosas football club, one of the country's leading clubs followed by Africa Sport National. It is an important academy for nurtuting talented young players in the country and is one of the most important in west Africa in this respect. Notable players who developed at the academy include Kolo Touré, Aruna Dindane, Salomon Kalou, Didier Zokora, Yaya Touré, Emmanuel Eboué, and Gilles Yapi Yapo, all of whom are now based in top-flight European clubs. ASEC provided the backbone of the national team for many years, including key members of the side that won the 1992 African Nations Cup such as Abdoulaye Traoré and Donald-Olivier Sié. The city is also the home town of national team players including Zokora, Dindane, Eboué, Didier Drogba as well as Swiss international Johan Djourou.

Abidjan is the centre of Ivorian rugby, and most of the Côte d'Ivoire national rugby union team have come from here. Although the origins of Ivorian rugby go back to the 1960s and earlier, real growth came about when the paid French official Jean-François Turon managed to get the game adopted by Abidjan University at the turn of the 1980s, but it is François Dali who is seen as the father of Ivorian rugby, and his son was the national captain during the 1990s.[11]


  1. ^ UN world Urbanization Prospects estimate for 2007
  2. ^
  3. ^ (French) Le français à Abidjan : Pour une approche syntaxique du non-standard by Katja Ploog, CNRS Editions, Paris, 2002.
  4. ^ (French) "De plus, le français est également devenu la langue maternelle de plus de 30 % des Librevillois et il est de plus en plus perçu comme une langue gabonaise."
  5. ^
  6. ^ Atlas de la Côte d'Ivoire, 2 éd de Pierre Vennetier et Geneviève Daverat (1983)
  7. ^ Températures et précipitations à Abidjan
  8. ^ "Contacts." Air Ivoire. Retrieved on 8 October 2009.
  9. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 30 March 1985. 33." Retrieved on 17 June 2009.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1 86200 013 3) p69

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Abidjan is the biggest and most important city of Cote d'Ivoire. Formerly it was the country's capital.

The city is a major sea port. In 1995 the population was estimated at 2,793,000.

In 1934 the city became capital of the French colony Cote d'Ivoire.

Get in

Abidjan has regular flights of Air France from Paris, Emirates from Dubai (via Accra, no change of aircraft), Virgin Nigeria from Lagos apart from Air Ivoire, Kenyan & Ethiopian air.

Get around

The easiest way to get around in Abidjan is per orange taxi. They are not too expensive; a ride from Adjame to Plateau should cost around CFA 1000. From the airport to downtown Plateau should set you back some CFA 3000. The taxi's have meters but make sure that you always agree on a price before you get in. Many taxi drivers will try to overcharge whites but if you insist on the normal rate they will usually accept the ride. The best thing is to ask locals what the going rates are.

Even cheaper are the small white vans, locally known as "gbakas". They connect the different neighbourhoods and will cost no more then CFA 200-300.

Lastly, Abidjan also has some public transportation in the form of large buses that drive along fixed routes. However, the number of lines is limited and you have to beware of numerous pickpockets.


Abidjan is sometimes referred to as the "Paris of West-Africa". During the long and stable rule of the Ivory Coast's Godfather Felix Houphigny-Bouet the city of Abidjan has flourished. However, the political instability and the civil war of the past decade have taken their toll on the city. Neglect, low maintenance of buildings and public space and the mass exodus of foreigners have given the city an atmosphere of "lost glory". Nowhere is this to be seen better then in the famous Hotel Ivoire. Entering it is like taking a trip to the sixties; since its construction there have been no significant changes or modernisation to its interior and furniture. Too bad though that its massive swimming pool has weeds growing on the bottom instead of blue waters. Very nice is the public zoo. It really is a beautiful place with loads of interesting animals for just CFA 200, well worth this small sum. Also don't forget a trip to Bassam, Abidjan's no. 1 beach.


There are many places to eat Ivorian food, most of them on the sidewalk or on a small road side terrace. Make sure that you ask about the price before you sit down, in order to avoid lengthy discussions about the price when they try to overcharge you after the meal. The staple foods in the Ivory Coast are rice, cassava, yam and bread. Bread is usually eaten at breakfast or as a supplement to the meal. The cassava (manioc) can be eaten cooked whole, as a mash called plakali, mixed with banana (foutou) or in crums (atchiki). Fish is usually the cheapest meal. European style cuisine can be found in the wealthier neighbourhoods such as Plateau, Cocody, Deux Plateaux and Zone 4.


For budget travellers staying in Abidjan, a good option is Hotel Banfoura in Adjame, near the bus terminal. They serve delicious French cuisine and offer rooms with a great view of the city for about US$10/night. The employees are also very helpful and protective of foreign guests. Another good budget place is Hotel du Nord, also in Adjame. The rooms have double bed, airco and bathroom for CFA 10.000 per night. Most hotels in the Yamoussoukro are also brothels but there are some decent places to stay cheaply.

Get out

The number one place to go out at night in Abidjan is Princess Road in Yopougon. There are many bars to just relax and drink and also loads of dancings with live music or deejays. Don't forget to order some fried spicey chicken from one of the guys that prepare it for you right on the street!

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




Proper noun


  1. The de facto capital and largest city of Côte d'Ivoire.



Proper noun


  1. Abidjan



Proper noun


  1. Abidjan

Simple English

District d'Abidjan
(District logo)
File:District d'
Région Lagunes
District Governor Pierre Djédji Amondji
(FPI) (since 2002)
Area 2,119 km²
Subdivisions 10 communes of Abidjan Ville
3 subprefectures outside of Abidjan Ville
2003 official estimate
1998 census

Density 1,728/km² (2003)

Abidjan is the largest city and former capital of Côte d'Ivoire. It is the commercial and banking center of Côte d'Ivoire as well as the de facto capital. Yamoussoukro is the official capital. The city is located in Ébrié Lagoon. It is built on many peninsulas and islands which are connected by bridges. There are an estimated 4 to 5 million people living in the metropolitan area.


The city grew after the construction of a new wharf in 1931. It was made the capital of the French colony located there in 1933. In 1983, Yamoussoukro was made the capital of the country, but most government offices and foreign embassies are still in Abidjan.

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