The Cote d’Ivoire sounds like somewhere in France, but in reality it is a country in West Africa. Thus it is one of several countries that uses the West African CFA franc. It is also often referred to as the Ivory Coast, since Cote d’Ivoire is actually French. Here we can find out more about the country and its currency as well.
As you might expect, the franc is split into 100 centimes. With that said however, you won’t actually come across any coins denominated in centimes anymore. Inflation in this part of the world has put paid to the centime and this has left people here with only the franc to use.
As such there are nine coins used in Cote d’Ivoire. The smallest is just one franc, while the next ones are the 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 franc coins. You can also use the 200, 250 and 500 franc coins. As you might expect this means the banknotes are worth even more francs each. The smallest one you can use is worth 1,000 francs, and then they go up through the 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 franc notes.
The West African CFA franc came into being in 1945. Cote d’Ivoire started to use the new currency (a replacement for the French West African franc, as it was then) as soon as it appeared as legal tender. Since that time the country has become independent but it chose to continue using the new currency.
Once you realise you won’t be able to get your hands on this currency until you arrive in one of the West African countries, you can rest easy. While the names of the Central African CFA franc and the West African CFA franc may seem virtually identical you won’t be able to use the Central African version in Cote d’Ivoire. You should be able to get cash by going to a bank and using a cash machine there.
Another good way to get cash – and an ideal way to get you started – is to rely on traveller’s cheques. While they are not accepted everywhere you go, you should find enough outlets will cash them to make it worthwhile taking some with you – especially since you won’t be able to take any cash. Since the currency is tied to the euro, it might make sense to get your traveller’s cheques given to you in euros to make the exchange process easier.
You can happily use credit cards in the country too if you wish. You will get the most success with MasterCard since Visa is not as widely used here. Unusually Amex cards are easier to use than Visa cards, so bear this in mind.
The West African CFA franc is used in several countries so it is usually quite easy to find on the currency converters. You can find it more easily by looking for the code XOF, since this should be recognised by most of the converters online today. By typing that in you should be instantly taken to the currency you want. It might be an idea to check you do have the West African CFA franc though and not the Central African CFA franc, which has a very similar ISO code.
As is usually the case, most people would like to get information about their destination country prior to booking a trip to go there. You can do this quite easily with the Cote d’Ivoire since you only have to locate the appropriate page on the UK government website. This is at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/cote-d-ivoire and it provides you with lots of information on the current situation there and what you should bear in mind.
It is definitely worth noting that this country has a history of upheaval. Indeed at the time of writing the security situation there was uncertain, to say the least. Some areas are perhaps more heavily-affected than others – the UK government pointed to Abidjan as a particular area worthy of concern. We have already mentioned the importance of checking the situation in any country or part of the world you wish to visit before you actually get there. This holds true with this country as well.
In this particular city the rate of crime can be high. It has been a lot worse in the past but threats do still exist there. Make sure you are fully aware of what you might expect before you go there. Wherever you stay it is a good idea to book into a hotel that offers a room safe. Make sure you keep your valuables in there if you don’t need them and ensure you don’t carry around any more cash than is really necessary. Be particularly careful at night as well; it is never a good idea to venture into areas you are unfamiliar with or to travel alone.
We know the Cote d’Ivoire is in West Africa, but whereabouts will you find it? The answer is in the southern end of this region. Its southern border faces the Atlantic Ocean, although the Gulf of Guinea isn’t too far out to the east of this. To the east of the country lies Ghana, and its northern border is split between Burkina Faso and Mali. Its western border faces Guinea and then Liberia.
The capital of Cote d’Ivoire is a city called Yamoussoukro. Previously we mentioned Abidjan – this is known as the economic capital of the country. Yamoussoukro is fairly central to the country as a whole, just south of the true centre of the country. You can see the city’s basilica here, a huge structure called the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, which is thought to be the biggest of its kind in the entire world.
The country is also home to more than one national park. Take the Tai National Park for example, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is home to a variety of animals and indeed it is the depth of flora and fauna here that attracted the attention of UNESCO in the first place. Sadly the Ebola virus is known to be a natural problem here, so visiting the park may not be one of your most eager concerns.
Elsewhere in the country you might decide to visit Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve instead. This too is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is another area that is known for being home to lots of different species.
If you do decide to visit Abidjan you could make a trip to see Treichville. It is known for being quite an active place and there are lots of sights to see here as you soak up the atmosphere. Perhaps it does not have the level of sights and attractions known to some other parts of Cote d’Ivoire but it might be worth a look if you are in the area.
If you would like to see some big game – which is quite a frequent opportunity in this part of the world – you can head for the Abokoamekro Faunal Reserve. This isn’t very far outside the capital and you can look forward to seeing many animals here including hippos, rhinos and giraffes. As you can see, wildlife is a key feature of this country in some major areas.
Whether you call it the Cote d’Ivoire or the Ivory Coast, it is plain to see this country does have some impressive tourist attractions to share with those who wish to see it. While it may not be the most popular place to visit in this part of Africa, it does offer some stunning natural sights that are very appealing to many of those who do come here. You cannot go to Africa, surely, without seeing one of the many national parks or reserves that exist here. As such this country has plenty to offer to those who like to see the natural parts of the world.
Of course it has cities and smaller towns you could visit as well. As you will see from the information given above, it is crucial to make sure you can plan any visit to the Ivory Coast with care. You may already have an idea of where you wish to go and which sights you want to see. However it is prudent to check the latest travel information before you make any plans. This will help you get the most out of any trip you make there and to ensure you stay safe throughout the experience as well.