One of the wealthiest members of what was French West Africa, Côte d'Ivoire enjoyed a high economic growth rate from its independence through the 1970s. In the 1980s it faced economic difficulties, including a drop in commodity prices and huge foreign debt payments. Economic productivity and exports subsequently grew with the introduction of a market economy and International Monetary Fund–sponsored reforms, but since the late 1990s ethnic and political unrest have hurt the economy.
Despite steady industrialization since the 1960s, the country is still predominantly agricultural, with some 68% of the population engaged in farming. Corn, rice, manioc, sweet potatoes, and sugarcane are the main subsistence crops. Côte d'Ivoire is among the world's largest producers and exporters of coffee, cocoa beans, and palm-kernel oil. Cotton, bananas, and pineapples are also raised for export. Mahogany and other hardwoods provide timber, which is also a valuable export, and the production of rubber has increased substantially in recent years. Livestock is raised in the savannas, and fishing is important. Among the country's industries are the production of foodstuffs, beverages, wood products, textiles, and fertilizer; oil refining (offshore production of petroleum and natural gas began in the early 1980s); motor vehicle assembly; and ship construction and repair. There is some mining, including gold, diamonds, and nickel, but in 2005 the UN Security Council banned Ivoirian diamond exports because the gems financed the purchase of guns used in the country's civil strife. Fuel, capital equipment, and foodstuffs are imported. France, Nigeria, and the United States are the chief trading partners.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.