Abidjan, the city known as "the Paris of Africa" is the thriving capital of West Africa's most prosperous country - the Ivory Coast.
Abidjan, the city known as "the Paris of Africa" is the thriving capital of West Africa's most prosperous country - the Ivory Coast. The modern apartments and office buildings rising over the tree-lined boulevards reflect the progress in the former French colony which celebrates ten years of independence on August 7.
The four-and-a-half million people of Ivory Coast, under the leadership of President Houphouet Boigny, will also be celebrating one of Africa's success stories.
The prosperity of the country is due to a remarkable rise in exports - a four-fold increase in the last ten years, and the favourable climate for foreign investment.
At Abidjan port, the largest in French-speaking Africa, the docks are being extended to cope with increasing trade. As an exporting country, Ivory Coast ranks third in the world as a coffee producer, and fourth in cocoa sales. Half of the nation's work force earns its income from these crops. In recent years exports of tropical woods, particularly mahogany have risen rapidly.
Coffee, cocoa and wood account for about 70% of all exports with bananas, palm oil, pineapples, rubber, cola nuts and cotton making up most of the rest of products sold overseas.
In the home market light industry has been extensively developed. One factor of this growth is the Ivory Coast's favourable tax concessions to foreign investors bringing industry to the country.
As well as producing for export, the light industry makes consumer products available for the home market, this largely negating imports of these items.
Among mechanical and electrical industries, motor vehicle assembly plants are the major employers. The Japanese firm, Toyota and French Renault, are two of the car manufacturers with plants in Abidjan. The American firm, Union Carbide, make batteries - an important item in a country increasingly demanding modern appliances.
Although not an oil producer itself, Ivory Coast has built a refinery with French assistance. The refinery satisfies much of the local need for oil products.
The pineapple canning industry is another indication of the important role foreign investment plays in the Ivory Coast. The plant near Grand Bassam is financed by West Germany and uses Hawaiin canning machinery made in Britain. Ivory Coast is the world's fifth largest pineapple exporter.
Tourism is also hoped to be a future major source of overseas funds. Hotels are being built, and local resources being expanded to lure visitors to the African sunshine and golden beaches of the Ivory Coast.