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The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, commonly known in English as Ivory Coast, is a country in West Africa. It has an area of 322,462 km2, and borders the countries of Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana; its southern boundary is along the Gulf of Guinea. The country's population was 15,366,672 in 1998 and was estimated to be 20,617,068 in 2009.
Prior to its colonization by Europeans, Côte d'Ivoire was home to several states, including Gyaaman, the Kong Empire, and Baoulé. There were two Anyi kingdoms, Indénié and Sanwi, which attempted to retain their separate identity through the French colonial period and after Côte d'Ivoire's independence. An 1843–1844 treaty made Côte d'Ivoire a "protectorate" of France and in 1893, it became a French colony as part of the European scramble for Africa.
Côte d'Ivoire became independent on 7 August 1960. From 1960 to 1993, the country was led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Côte d'Ivoire is a republic with a strong executive power invested in the President. The country is divided into 19 regions and 81 departments.
The official language is French, although many of the local languages are widely used, including Baoulé, Dioula, Dan, Anyin and Cebaara Senufo. The main religions are Islam, Christianity (primarily Roman Catholic) and various indigenous religions.
Through production of coffee and cocoa, the country was an economic powerhouse during the 1960s and 1970s in West Africa. However, Côte d'Ivoire went through an economic crisis in the 1980s, leading to the country's period of political and social turmoil.