What Is The Main Ethnic Group In Ivory Coast: Expert Tell You

The article explores the rich cultural diversity of Ivory Coast and highlights the significance of the ethnic groups. It focuses on the largest ethnic group, their traditions, customs, and influence in Ivory Coast. [ivory coast]

The Rich Cultural Diversity of Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast is home to over 60 ethnic groups speaking a variety of languages and practicing different cultural traditions. The country hostsAbidjan, the economic capital and most populous city of ivory coast, together with many important cultural groups. The Akan make up the largest group at 42% of the total population, the Voltaïques amount to 17.6%, the Northern Mandes amount to 16.5%, and the Kuranko and Senufo people comprise about 8% and 9% respectively.
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The Significance of Ethnic Groups in Ivory Coast

Ethnicity plays an important role in shaping people’s daily lives and public policies in ivory coast. Ethnic identities influence the distribution of power and resources in several ways:

  1. Access to political power: After independence, power has tended to be concentrated in the hands of the Akan ethnic group, specifically the Baoulé and Bété subgroups. This has given the Akan disproportionate representation in government institutions.

  2. Economic advantages: The Akan, particularly the Baoulé, have also historically enjoyed better access to jobs, education and economic opportunities. This stems partly from their dominance of the political sphere.

  3. Social stratification: Ivorian society has been characterized by a hierarchical system based largely on ethnic affiliation. The Akan have tended to occupy higher positions in this social structure.

  4. Inter-ethnic tensions: The unequal distribution of power and resources among ethnic groups has fueled tensions and even violence. Conflicts have erupted between the Akan and northern Muslim groups, for example.

The importance of ethnicity is also reflected in Ivorian political discourse. Politicians frequently invoke ethnic identities and interests to mobilize support. Ethnicity still plays a key role in deciding electoral support and negotiating access to state resources. However, the rigid ethnic divides are slowly breaking down, particularly among the youth.

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Exploring the Largest Ethnic Group in Ivory Coast

The largest ethnic group in ivory coast is the Akan people, who make up around 42% of the total population. The Akan consist of several subgroups, including:

• The Baoulé people, Ivory Coast’s largest Akan subgroup, representing around 17% of the population. They are historically farmers and live mainly in the central-south region.

•The Anyi or Agyenians who live in southeast Ivory Coast. They represent about 8% of the population.

• The Bété subgroup concentrated in the west-central region. They account for around 5% of Ivorians.

• Smaller subgroups like the Abron and Attié.

The Akan share similar cultural features like:

• A matrilineal descent system: People identify with their mother’s clan and heritage is traced through the female line.

• Use of Akan languages belonging to the Niger-Congo family: These include Baoulé, Anyi, Bété and Attié.

• Similar religious beliefs: Most Akan practice traditional religious beliefs involving veneration of ancestors and nature spirits. However, some have converted to Christianity and Islam.

• Similar artistic and cultural expressions: The Akan are known for sculptures, masquerade performances, modern art, and highlife music.

The ethnic dominance of the Akan, particularly the economically powerful Baoulé subgroup, has shaped Ivorian society and politics in significant ways, as subsequent sections of the article will explore.

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Traditions and Customs of the Dominant Ethnic Group

The dominant Akan ethnic group in ivory coast, especially the Baoulé subgroup, has distinctive cultural traditions that set them apart from other groups.

The main cultural domains that exemplify Akan customs and practices are:

Religion: Akan traditional religion centered around the worship of Ancestors spirits and nature spirits.However, many Akan have also converted to Islam and Christianity.

Festivals: Major Akan festivals include Asafotufiam (New Year), Homowo (harvest) and Adofo (war celebration). They involve dancing, music, rituals and feasting.

Arts: The Akan are renowned for wood carvings and adinkra cloth prints with symbolic motifs.

Food: Traditional Akan cuisine includes fufu (cassava dough), red-red (plantain stew) and kenkey (fermented corn dough).

The customs of the Akan reflect their long history, agricultural background and central role in Ivorian society. They form an integral part of Ivory Coast’s cultural heritage alongside other ethnic groups.

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The Influence of the Main Ethnic Group in Ivory Coast

The dominant status of the Akan ethnic group, particularly the Baoulé subgroup, has significantly shaped politics, economics and social relations in ivory coast.

Politically, the Akan have been overrepresented in government since independence. This is due to:

• Their dominance in the leadership of the PDCI party, which ruled the country for several decades.

• Their concentration in urban areas, giving them more exposure to education and competitive for leadership positions.

• Their association with the “founding father” Houphouet-Boigny, Ivory Coast’s first president who was Baoulé.

Economically, the Baoulé subgroup in particular formed the merchant elite during the colonial era and maintained their privileged position post-independence.

Socially, the Akan identity came to be associated with being “truly Ivorian” which sidelined minority groups. There has been resentment among northerners and west Africans who feel excluded.

However, the rise of new political leaders from non-Akan backgrounds in recent decades indicates that Akan dominance may be slowly eroding. Nonetheless, the Akan legacy continues to shape key institutions and mindsets in contemporary Ivory Coast.

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More Helpful Guide

Frequently Asked Question

What are the major exports of Ivory Coast?

Major exports are cocoa, coffee, palm oil, petroleum, timber, cotton, bananas, pineapples, tuna, and rubber.

What religions are practiced in Ivory Coast?

The main religions are Islam, Christianity, and indigenous beliefs. Islam is practiced by almost all northern inhabitants. Christians live mainly in the south.

What type of government does Ivory Coast have?

Ivory Coast has a presidential republic government. The president is elected to 5-year terms.

What natural resources does Ivory Coast have?

Natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, manganese, iron ore, cobalt, bauxite, copper, gold, and hydropower.

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