The Port of Abidjan is the main port and largest city of the Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in Africa. Lying on the Ebrie Lagoon, it is linked to the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean by the Vridi Plage sandbar. In addition to its seaport, the Port of Abidjan contains an autonomous international airport, making it a communications center for all of the Cote d’Ivoire. The most populous city in Western Africa, it is a commercial and banking center as well as the Cote d’Ivoire’s de facto capital. In 2005, over 3.5 million people called the Port of Abidjan home.
The Port of Abidjan was a small village in 1898 that became a town in 1903. From 1934 until 1960, it was capital of the French colony, with scant port facilities until 1950. In 1950, the city was opened to the sea with the construction of the Vridi Canal. It soon became French-speaking West Africa’s major shipping and financial center.
Although Yamoussoukro was named the country’s capital after independence in 1960, the Port of Abidjan continues to be the country’s commercial and financial center. The modern city contains many gardened squares and wide shady streets. It houses a university established in 1958, several research institutes, a museum of traditional art, a library, and many tourist attractions, including the tropical rainforest, Banco National Park, to the city’s north.
After independence in 1960, the Port of Abidjan was blessed by a long economic boom, becoming the “Paris of Africa” with casinos and world-class hotels. It took on a skyline of skyscrapers and many fashionable shopping areas. Economic decline in the 1990s brought an unfortunately decline in the city’s infrastructure and an increase in pollution. The civil war in the north has brought further economic hardship and chaos to the Port of Abidjan since 1999.
Today, the Port of Abidjan is a gateway to West Africa. It exports cocoa, timber, coffee, pineapples, bananas, and manganese. The Port of Abidjan handled 12 million tons of cargo in 1995. The city’s major industries include coffee, cocoa, food processing, and the manufacture of automobiles, chemicals, textiles, and soap. The Cote d’Ivoire is attempting to bring back ocean-going traffic that began avoiding the port since the 1999 military coup and subsequent political conflicts.