UPDATE : 2019.7.23 TUE 15:45
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A long tradition of tolerance and dialogue has forged a strong national identitySociety: Diverse but united Peoples

Four main human groups stemming from successive waves of migration live in Cote d’Ivoire.

The Mande (west and northwest), Voltaic (northwest), Krou (southern forest) and Akan (south, centre, east and southeast) peoples include approximately 60 ethnic groups. All these peoples, who are rich in diverse cultures and have developed different systems of political, economic and social organization, have peacefully co-existed, with the exception of a brief period in recent history. They are receptive to the outside world and contributed to the economic take-off of the 1960s by enlisting the participation of men and women from every background working towards the edification of a strong national identity. That is why, since overcoming the post-electoral crisis, the government has stressed the need for deep national reconciliation, the cornerstone of civil peace and economic development.

▲Felix Houphouet-Boigny (centre) during the proclamation of independence, 7 August 1960.

Nearly 75% of the population is fluent in French, Cote d’Ivoire’s only official language. There are also approximately 60 local languages, 17 of which are spoken by over 100,000 people, including Baule, Agni, Attie, Guere, Bete, Senufo, Yacouba and Dioula, which gradually became the language of commerce and is spoken in all the country’s regions. The harmonious cohabitation of different faiths is a strength of Ivorian society. The most widespread religions are Islam (38%), Catholicism (22%) and Protestantism (5.5%). Disciples of traditional belief systems and animism still account for approximately 17% of the population, but Evangelical churches are swiftly gaining ground 700 years ago, and every city has at least one mosque. Bondoukou has 32, making it a centre of the Muslim faith. The Grand Mosque in the heart of Abidjan balances out Our Lady of Peace basilica, which President Felix Houphouet-Boigny built in Yamoussoukro.

Cote d’Ivoire was long a land of immigration and not emigration, as Senegal or Mali has been. The crisis sent many young, well-trained, often economically well-integrated packing for France.

There were 126,000 of them in 2011, compared with approximately 20,000 in the 1980s. Today, Cote d’Ivoire needs their expertise to rebuild. Procedures have been setup in Paris and Abidjan to facilitate their homecoming. Hiring is based solely on qualifications and skills.

No stone has been left unturned to encourage the return of engineers, researchers, bankers and other skilled professionals living abroad, especially in France.

- Life expectancy: 56 years
- Population density: 48 inhabitants per ㎢
- Population growth: 3.3% a year
- Population over the age of 14 (39.8%)
- Average age: 20 (in 2013)
- Urban/rural distribution
52%/48% (2012 estimate)

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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