Small country in West Africa neighboring Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana. The northern portion of the country is savannah, turning into tropical jungle as the southern coast approachs. Abidjan, one of the primary business centers of French West Africa and one-time capital of the country, lies on the south coast.

Once a French colony, it achieved independence on August 7, 1960. French is the official language, although Dioula and Baoulé are widely spoken. After gaining independance from France, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, a medical doctor and coffee plantation owner was elected president. Houphouët-Boigny maintained his grip on power for the next 33 years until his death in 1993. In 1983, he moved the capital from Abidjan to Yamoussoukro, his home town. It is here that the infamous Notre Dame de la Paix Basilica is located. The Basilica is the largest church in the world, and is estimated to have cost $300M to build, a rather hefty sum for a country that is mostly muslim.

The Ivory Coast had a reputation for being one of the most stable and business friendly countries in Africa, up until a military coup in 1999, led by General Robert Guéi. The economy is based on the export of agricultural products -- primarily coffee, cocoa beans, and palm oil; it is the worlds largest cocoa producer.