During the sixteenth century, European ivory traders visited the coast of West Africa. They named part of that region the Ivory Coast.
For a time, other regions in West Africa were called the Gold Coast, the Grain Coast, and the Slave Coast. When the Ivory Coast gained its independence from France in 1960, it was the only one of these territories to keep its old name.
The Ivory Coast is about the size of New Mexico. It has a 320-mile shoreline on the Gulf of Guinea. About 40 percent of the country is covered by rain forests. The rest of the country is woodlands, grassy plains, and mountains.
Today, the Ivory Coast is the richest country in West Africa. The nation’s 8 million people earn an average of about $900 a year. This income is small compared to America’s average but large compared to the average of most African countries.
The Ivory Coast’s wealth comes from minerals, oil, and many agricultural products, especially coffee. Ivory Coast now accounts for more than 8 percent of the world’s coffee! The only nations that produce more coffee are Brazil and Colombia, countries many times the size of the Ivory Coast.