2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: African Geography

District d'Abidjan
District logo
(District logo)
District map
Région Lagunes
District Governor Pierre Djédji Amondji
( FPI) (since 2002)
Area 2,119 km²
Subdivisions 10 communes of Abidjan Ville
3 subprefectures outside of Abidjan Ville
unofficial estimate
2003 official estimate
1998 census

between 4 and 5 million
Density 1,728/km² (2003)
Web site www.abidjan-da.ci

Abidjan is the largest city and former capital of Côte d'Ivoire. It is the commercial and banking centre of Côte d'Ivoire as well as the de facto capital. (Yamoussoukro is the official capital.) It stands in Ébrié Lagoon on several converging peninsulas and islands, connected by bridges. There are an estimated 4 to 5 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area. The city is a study in contrasts. On one hand the city is hot and humid, congested and full of street hawkers. On the other hand, Abidjan is referred to as the "Paris of West Africa" because of its parks, broad boulevards, universities, exotic fashions and museums. Neighborhoods include Cocody, an upscale residential area located east of the modern business district, and Treichville, located southward on Petit-Bassam Island, with its busy traditional market. Banco National Park lies north of the city. Abidjan harbors numerous government departments. It is also the hub of the national road system and the terminus of the Abidjan-Niger Railway, which extends northward into Burkina Faso.

Since the start of the Ivorian Civil War in 2002, insecurity in Abidjan has risen, with frequent riots targeting foreigners as well as a sharp increase in criminality. Once one of the wealthiest and most peaceful cities in Africa, Abidjan is now considered one of the most dangerous cities on the continent.


Before 2002

Before 2002, there existed a City of Abidjan (Ville d'Abidjan). The city of Abidjan was subdivided into ten communes, with each their municipal council and their mayor. Above the 10 communes was the central city hall, with a city-wide mayor (maire d'Abidjan), often colloquially called "super-maire".

The city of Abidjan was inside the département of Abidjan. This département was made up of the city of Abidjan, plus three subprefectures outside of the city of Abidjan. The département of Abidjan was itself inside the Lagunes région.

Since 2002

In August 2001, the government of Ivory Coast disbanded the City of Abidjan. Instead, the ten communes of Abidjan were merged with the three subprefectures beyond the City of Abidjan to create the District of Abidjan (District d'Abidjan), whose limits match those of the département of Abidjan. The new District of Abidjan (2,119 km²/818 sq. miles) is thus much larger than the former City of Abidjan (422 km²/163 sq. miles). The reform was implemented in 2002, with local elections taking place that year.

The district of Abidjan is made up of the following subdivisions:

  • Abidjan Ville (422 km²/163 sq. miles): the territory of the former City of Abidjan, made up of ten autonomous communes, with each their mayor and their municipal council. These ten communes are: Abobo, Adjamé, Attécoubé, Cocody (the wealthiest commune of Abidjan), Koumassi, Marcory, Plateau (the business district and central government area), Port-Bouët, Treichville, and Yopougon (the largest and most populous commune).
  • outside of Abidjan Ville: three subprefectures (1,697 km²/655 sq. miles): Anyama, Bingerville, and Songon. Within the three subprefectures are found the communes of Anyama, Bingerville, and Songon, with their own municipal administrations, as well as rural areas.

It should be noted that the distinction between Abidjan Ville and areas outside of Abidjan Ville is purely statistical, much like the distinction between Inner London and Outer London. The administration of the district is unified, covering both Abdijan Ville and areas outside of Abidjan Ville.

Executive power is in the hands of the District Governor (Governor du District), appointed by the president of Ivory Coast. The governor serves a 5-year term. The governor of the district of Abidjan is the de facto mayor of Abidjan, and is often presented as such in international context.

Legislative power is in the hands of the District Council (Conseil du District). The District Council is made up of 78 members, who serve a 5-year term. One-third of the members are chosen by the municipal councils of the communes making up the district of Abidjan. Two-third of the members are directly elected every five years by the Ivorian citizens living in the District of Abidjan.

The District of Abidjan is inside the Lagunes région, which is made up of the District of Abidjan plus five départements.

Geography and neighbourhoods

Abidjan lies on the Ébrié Lagoon. The business district, Le Plateau, is the centre of the city. It lies with Cocody, Deux Plateaux (the richest neighbourhood with mansions, typically inhabited by diplomats and the wealthy) and the slum area of Adjamé on the north shore of the lagoon, while Treichville and Marcory (also poor areas) lie to the south, Abobo-Doume and Yopougon to the west and Boulay Island in the middle of the lagoon. Further south lies Port Bouët, home to the airport and main seaport. Abidjan is located at 5°25' North, 4°2' West (5.41667, -4.03333).


The city grew after the construction of a new wharf in 1931 and its designation as the capital of the then French colony in 1933. The completion of the Vridi Canal in 1951 enabled it to become an important sea port. In 1983, Yamoussoukro was designated as the nation's capital, but most government offices and foreign embassies remained in Abidjan.

Places of interest

The University of Abidjan, technical colleges, and the national library and museum are in the city.

Sights in Abidjan include St Paul's Cathedral, designed by Aldo Spiritom, the Cocody Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art and the Parc du Banco rainforest reserve. Le Plateau is known for its skyscrapers, unusual in West Africa. It is the business centre of Abidjan. With its chic boutiques and outdoor cafes, le Plateau is a favourite place of business travellers. There are many different banks located in the le Plateau district.


Major industries include food processing, lumber, automobile manufacturing, and the manufacture of textiles, chemicals, and soap. There is also a large oil refinery.


Trains on the line to Ouagadougou run from several stations in the city, the most important being in Treichville. Ferries link Treichville, Abobo-Doumé and Le Plateau. The airport is located approximately 10 mi/16 km from downtown Abidjan. Taxis and buses are available at the airport. Buses are considered unsafe, but the taxis are reasonably safe given the proper local knowledge. The taxis are metered and the fares are relatively low. Rental cars are also available, however the fees can be quite expensive. Vehicle accidents occur frequently, especially at night when roads are poorly lit. Roadblocks manned by government security forces are becoming magnets for corruption. Police officers routinely extort bribes from motorists. Travelers planning to travel outside of Abidjan should do so only in convoy, maintaining constant radio or satellite contact.

Port of Abidjan

Abidjan's modern port opened in 1950, when the Vridi Canal was cut through a sandbar, linking the Ébrié Lagoon with the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. Formerly West Africa's pre-eminent port, Abidjan is attempting to bring back traffic which veered to other ports during Côte d'Ivoire's political unrest. Since a military putsch in December 1999, as well as widespread civil unrest in the ensuing years, traffic has switched to other main regional ports such as Accra, Lome, Cotonou and Dakar. Xenophobia and harassment of foreigners, as well as numerous illegal roadblocks along the country's roads, have further discouraged shippers from using Abidjan's port. The Abidjan Port Authority (Port Autonome d'Abidjan) has invited delegations of shippers from the landlocked countries of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger -- which have seen increased difficulty in imports due to Abidjan's problems -- to working sessions to discuss improvements in the situation.

Port Bouet Airport (DIAP/ABJ)

The airport has a 3,000-meter runway, Instrument Landing System 3B equipment, 25 check-in counters, and nine boarding access points. AERIA, Abidjan Airport Management Company, operates and manages the whole airport area and relevant indirect services. There is a military apron at the airport. Private aircraft usually park in the commercial area, away from the terminal. Fencing and lighting are adequate at this facility.

A special airport police unit provides security at Abidjan's airport. X-ray machines and metal detectors are used to screen passengers and their baggage, but security measures at this facility are lacking both in terms of quality and coverage. Theft is a concern in the passenger terminal. Airport officials are known to be corrupt due to their low salaries. Incidents of theft and drug smuggling occur frequently. Do not allow ground service personnel to handle possessions without supervision.

Political unrest

During times of political unrest, the Ivorian government closes the airport and imposes an overnight curfew for days at a time. There is also a French military base near the airport where protests may occur during times of political unrest.

Occasional violence also occurs at the airport. Most recently, on 6 November 2004, Ivorian troops raided Abidjan's airport in an attempt to destroy French aircraft. One aircraft was slightly damaged during the incident, but there are no details as to the extent or specificity of the damage. As a result of the attack, the airport perimeter was sealed and closed to air traffic.

In the September 2002 mutiny, the Ivorian government closed Abidjan's international airport, as it usually does during times of unrest. Flights were diverted to neighboring Ghana and elsewhere. Unidentified gunmen briefly blocked the major highway leading in and out of Abidjan. Several carriers have cancelled service to Côte d'Ivoire.

A French Army convoy was ambushed in Abidjan by The Young Patriots rebel militia which left 3 French Army soldiers dead and wounding 5 including a VAB APC destroyed during the Côte d'Ivoire civil war.


The musical group Magic System was founded in the city in the 1990s.


  • The law requires that travelers in Abidjan carry one of the following: national identity card, employee card, consular card, residency permit or passport.
  • Although the overall situation in Abidjan has stabilized since the resurge in violence in November 2004, there are continual reports of violence. The U.N. has stated "its concern over the security situation" throughout Côte d'Ivoire, particularly in Abidjan. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ranks Abidjan as the second most dangerous city in the world. With a proper tour guide, however, the city of Abidjan is quite safe and even pleasant.
  • The current political situation is highly unstable and security risks are acute due to ongoing conflict. Foreigners should avoid all travel outside Abidjan, the former capital, as well as rural and outlying areas. Other threats include crime, carjacking and demonstrations.

Ongoing Conflict

As the economic capital and largest city in Côte d’Ivoire, violence due to ongoing conflict remains a concern in Abidjan. Although the security situation has stabilized significantly since November 2004 and citizens have resumed regular daily activities, sporadic violence still occurs. Pro-government militia groups have previously been concentrated in the Adjamé district. There have been isolated incidents of violence between these militia and local residents.


Abidjan has been the site of sporadic protests, some of which have turned violent. Demonstrations have normally been over political issues revolving around political opposition groups and disgruntled military personnel. The Young Patriots , a pro-government youth group, conducted a series of protests throughout the country in March 2005 to demand the withdrawal of French peacekeeping troops.

On September 6, 2006 hundreds of people protested in the streets after the death of two children who had inhaled fumes from toxic waste (See: 2006 Ivory Coast toxic waste spill) .


Even before the September 2002 mutiny, the crime rate has continually increased as a result of poor economic conditions, an influx of weapons and refugees from neighboring Liberia, and urban migration. Burglaries commonly occur at residences, restaurants, and small businesses. Petty theft is prevalent throughout Abidjan and armed gangs are a growing problem. Tourists are frequently robbed on the Houphouet-Boigny and Charles de Gaulle bridges; travelers should not cross these bridges on foot. Persons who are victims of armed robbery should not attempt to resist thieves.

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