The Ivory Coast celebrated the tenth anniversary of its independence on Friday (August 7). President?
The Ivory Coast celebrated the tenth anniversary of its independence on Friday (August 7). President Felix Houphouet-Boigny took the salute at a parade held in Gagnoa, 185 miles (300 Kms) northwest of the capital Abidjan.
Each year, the anniversary of independence is celebrated in a different town. This year the honour of organising the celebrations was given to Gagnoa. The town had spent four months preparing for the festivities. The highlight of the celebrations was a military parade watched by the President. The Ivory Coast has over 4,000 troops and a small air force. President Houphouet-Boigny is the country's first and only President, he was re-elected in 1965. His party -- the Parti Democratique de Cote D'Ivoire -- is the only legal political party and holds all 85 seats in the Republic's National Assembly.
The ten years of independence for this former French-West African colony have also been ten years of continuing economic progress. The Ivory Coast is now West Africa's most prosperous nation. The prosperity of the country is due to a remarkable rise in exports -- a four-fold increase since independence. This has provided a favourable climate for foreign investment.
As an exporting country, Ivory Coast ranks third in the world as a coffee producer, and fourth in cocoa sales. Although coffee still makes up for the largest single crop in the agricultural economy, the country has managed to free itself from a monoculture economy. Coffee now makes up only 38% of agricultural products.
The second most valuable export is timber, and the country has become the most important trader in African timber. Abidjan port has become the largest in French-speaking Africa and it is still expanding to cope with the increased trade.
After taking the salute at Friday's parade, the President, other officials and foreign guests, watched a display of traditional dances.