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People, Language & Religion
 
 
 

People

The ethnic composition of Côte d'Ivoire is complex. The Baoulé, concentrated in the central and southeastern regions, account for about 23% of the population. Next come the Bété, a Kru people in the southwest, accounting for 18%. The Sénoufo in the north constitute about 15%. The Mandingo, or Malinké, in the northwest, total 11%. Agni, related to the Baoulé, in the southeast, and Africans from other countries (mostly Burkinabe and Malians) number about 3 million.

Non-Africans consist about 4% of the population. Many are French, Lebanese, Vietnamese and Spanish citizens, as well as Protestant missionaries from the United States and Canada. In November 2004, around 10,000 French and other foreign nationals evacuated Côte d'Ivoire due to attacks from pro-government youth militias. Aside from French nationals, there are native-born descendants of French settlers who arrived during the country's colonial period.

Languages

The official language is French. Of the more than 60 African languages spoken by different ethnic groups, the most important are Agni and Baulé, spoken by the Akan group; the Kru languages; the Sénoufo languages; and the Mandé languages (especially Malinké-Bambura-Dioula).

Religions

Religion in Côte d'Ivoire remains very heterogeneous, with Islam (almost all Sunni Muslims) and Christianity (mostly Roman Catholic) being the major religions. Muslims dominate the north, while Christians dominate the south. In 2008, 38.6% of Côte d'Ivoire was Muslim, followed by 32.8% Christian, 11.9% practising indigenous religions and 16.7% with no religion. Côte d'Ivoire's capital, Yamoussoukro, is also home to the largest church building in the world, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro. Traditionalists are generally concentrated in rural areas in the north and across the centre of the country. The Akan ethnic group traditionally practices a religion called Bossonism.

The constitution implemented in 2000 provides for freedom of religion; however, Christianity has historically enjoyed a privileged status in national life with particularly advantage toward the Catholic Church. For instance, Christian schools have long been considered official schools and so have received subsidies through the Ministry of Education; however, Muslim schools were considered religious institutions and were not considered for similar subsidies until 1994.