Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast
French possession

Ivory Coast - Republic

Ivory Coast





Quick reference

General issues: French protectorate 1892-1893, French colony 1893-1944, French overseas territory, self government 1958-1960, Republic 1960-Present

Country name on general issues: Côte d’Ivoire

Currency: 1 Franc = 100 Centimes 1892-1960, 1 (CFA) Franc = 100 Centimes 1960-Present

Population: 1 355 000 in 1900, 3 113 000 in 1958, 20 320 000 in 2013

Political history Ivory Coast

Establishing the French presence

Postal history Ivory Coast

Please click on the image to enlarge

Ivory Coast is located in western Africa. In the mid 19th century the future Ivory Coast is populated by a number of peoples that in part have formed kingdoms and that in part live without a form of centralized government above that of the village elders. These peoples are Niger-Congo peoples often living in both Ivory Coast and the neighboring countries.

The French establish a presence in the country in the middle of the 19th century. Through treaties with the local rulers, they first settle in Grand Bassam in 1842, next in Assinie in 1843 and in Dahou in 1853. The French settlements on the Ivory Coast are grouped together as the Établissements du Côte d’Ivoire and administered successively from Senegal, Gabon and French Guinea. When, as a result of the Franco-German war of 1870-1871, France is more focused on its European assets than on the colonies, the administration of the Établissements is temporarily transferred to private companies from 1871 until 1886.

Establishing colonial rule

At the 1885 Berlin conference, the colonial powers divide their respective spheres of influence in Africa and France is awarded a large part of western Africa. A prerequisite for the continued recognition of awarded claims is the establishment of effective colonial rule. Thus, the French government, in 1886, once again takes control over the Établissements and sets to work to extend French control in the hinterland. The French sign treaties of protection with several local rulers and, in 1891, these protectorates are joined to form the protectorate of the Ivory Coast. The protectorate becomes a French colony in 1893 and in 1895 is made part of French West Africa, the federation of French possessions in western Africa established  in 1895.

Traditional village

Traditional village

As the French move inland, their major opponent will be the kingdom of  Wassoulou that in the 1880’s and 1890’s has rapidly developed in what, at the time, was French Sudan  – parts of which would, in 1899, become part of Ivory Coast. The Wassoulou kingdom is conquered in 1898. With the victory over the Wassoulou kingdom, most of Ivory Coast is brought under French control – pockets of resistance will exist until 1915.

The borders of Ivory Coast – in the west with Liberia and in the east with Gold Coast, the current Ghana – are defined through treaties with Liberia and Great Britain in 1892 and 1893 respectively. The borders to the north, within French West Africa are, by and large, defined in 1899 when French Sudan is dissolved and a number of provinces is transferred to Ivory Coast.

Upper Ivory Coast

Baule art

Baule art – The Baule are one of the peoples in Ivory Coast

From 1933 until 1947, the territory of Ivory Coast is substantially extended when Upper Volta is dissolved and the larger part of it is transferred to Ivory Coast as Upper Ivory Coast. Upper Volta had been formed as a separate colony in 1919 to protect the identity of the Mossi people in the area. In 1932 – effective 1933 – it is, however, decided to join a large part of Upper Volta with Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast has a much more developed economy and it is expected that Upper Ivory Coast will benefit from that. In 1947, after a Mossi lobby, Upper Volta is reinstated to become the current Burkina Faso in 1984.

Self government and independence

Ivory Coast becomes a French overseas territory in 1946 and gains self government in 1958. Full independence is gained in 1960 as the republic of Ivory Coast. Abidjan is the largest city and the economic center, the administrative capital will, in 1983, be moved to Yamoussoukro. From 1985, the official name of the country is Côte d’Ivoire, the name not to be translated in official use.

Ivory Coast will, from 1960 until 1993, be ruled by president Félix Houphouët-Boigny – a president that through a moderate approach manages to balance the interests of the different population groups in the country and to maintain a good relationship with France. After his resignation in 1993, instability in the country increases and in 2002 the country is engulfed in civil war. In 2003, a cease fire is agreed upon but, although French and United Nations forces oversee the cease fire, the country has remained unstable until today.

Economically, Ivory Coast has long been successful. More so than other French colonies in the region – Ivory Coast was a settlement colony. Agriculture has been developed – coffee and cacao being the most important products. After independence, relations with France have remained good, thus allowing for further development of the economy. The political instability has, however, since 1993, limited further development.

Postal history Ivory Coast

Postal history Ivory Coast

1960 – Mask of the Bete people. One in a set showing masks of the different peoples in Ivory Coast

The first stamps used in Ivory Coast were the general issues for the French colonies that were used from 1862 until 1871 – only in Assinie – and again from 1889. Stamps are issued from 1892 – the first set being of the general design for the French colonies. The stamps issued from 1906 show the additional inscription ‘Afrique Occidentale Française’ or ‘AOF’ – Ivory Coast being part of French West Africa. Many of these issues are of the common design for the French possessions in French West Africa. The country specific issues for Ivory Coast are, from 1944, superseded by the issues of French West Africa. Stamps are again issued from 1959, after Ivory Coast has gained self government – these to be superseded in 1960 by the issues of the republic of Ivory Coast.




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