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Côte d'Ivoire

République de Côte d'Ivoire, Republic of Côte d'Ivoire

Last modified: 2014-09-13 by bruce berry
Keywords: cote d'ivoire | ivory coast | tricolour: orange white green | elephant head |
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[Côte d'Ivoire] Image by António Martins

Proportions: 2:3
Usage Code:
ISO Code: CI CIV 384
FIPS 10-4 Code: IV
MARC Code: iv

Location: West Africa

Neighbouring Countries:

See also:


Côte d'Ivoire is a republic located in West Africa. It became a French protectorate in 1844 and a French colony in 1893, achieving independence on 07 August 1960.

The country was also known as the "Ivory Coast", reflecting the major trade that occurred along that particular stretch of the west African coast during the 15th and 16th centuries. The English version was increasingly used following independence, particularly outside the Francophone sphere. In April 1986 the Government declared "Côte d'Ivoire" (or more fully, République de Côte d'Ivoire) to be its formal name for the purposes of diplomatic protocol and refuses to recognise or accept any non-French translation in its international dealings. However, despite this request, the English translation "Ivory Coast" is still sometimes used by various media.
Željko Heimer, 01 June 2001

Description of the flag

The flag of Côte d'Ivoire is an orange, white and green vertical tricolour. The construction details provided in Album des Pavillons (2000) [pay00] show that the stripes are of equal width.  The Pantone approximation is given as orange Pantone 151c, green Pantone 347c.
Željko Heimer, 01 June 2001

The flag was initially prescribed by Law No. 240 of 03 December 1959.

The flag is prescribed in Article 29 of the Constitution of Côte d'Ivoire, adopted on 23 July 2000, as:
"The national emblem shall be the tricolour flag - orange, white and green in vertical stripes of equal dimensions."
Ivan Sache, 09 Aug 2014

Meaning of the flag

According to the web site of the Presidency of the Republic (no longer available), the symbolism of the colours of the flag is as follows: orange is the colour of the land, rich and generous, the meaning of our fight, the blood of a young people fighting for emancipation. White is for peace, but peace with justice. Green is for hope and the certainty of a better future.
M.V. Blanes, 21 June 2000

Other sources have reported that orange represents the savannahs in the north of the land, and green the woods in the south. White is a symbol of unity. This symbolism is the same as for the orange-white-green flag of Niger, and the vertical positions are influenced by the French tricolor. Officially adopted on 03 December 1959. Proportions 2:3.

In addition to being similar to the flag of Niger, the flag is also similar to the flag of Ireland (whose colours are in reverse order) and has the similar colours to the flag of India.
Željko Heimer, 01 June 2001

Use of the flag

From the National Presidency web site:

The national flag should be placed

  • on all official buildings
  • on the desk of all State employees (public and semi-public administrations), as a table flag, horizontal or vertical ["fanion ou oriflamme"]
  • in the courtyard of all schools, colleges and universities, barracks, military and paramilitary institutions
  • in the right corner in front of the vehicles used by the President of the Republic and his representatives (prefets, sous-prefets, ambassadors).

Salute to the colours should occur regularly in schools and colleges and during official ceremonies.
Ivan Sache, 30 Nov 2000

History of the adoption of the flag

At midnight on 07 August 1960, Félix Houphouët-Boigny (1905-1993), then Prime Minister and subsequently President of the Republic (1960-1993), officially proclaimed the independence of Côte d'Ivoire.  Gaston Ouasséna Koné, a young lieutenant of the French army (now a retired General presiding the parliamentary group of PDCI-RDA) lowered the French flag and hoisted the new flag of Côte d'Ivoire.

The adoption of the new flag stirred a stormy debate in the Constituent Assembly recalls a surviving member of the Assembly from that time, Lambert Amon Tanoh (b. 1928 and who was Minister of National Education from 1963 to 1970, and also a co-founder of the workers' union UGTCI).  The Commissioner of the French government pushed for a design recalling both the French and American flag, but being red with stars. This was rejected, since a reminder of the French flag was not considered suitable for an independent country.

A proposal for an "orange-white-green" flag was tabled in the Constituent Assembly by Germain Coffi Gadeau (1913-2000) (who was Minister of Justice from 1961 to 1963), Arsène Usher Assouan (1930-2007) (Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1966 to 1977), Bilamé, and Amon Tanoh [I have not found any other reference to "Bilamé"; although the original wording suggests that he may have been Amon Tanoh's brother].

image by Ivan Sache, 09 Aug 2014

Augustin Loubao proposed to replace orange with red, as a symbol of the commitment to shed blood for the defence of the Republic, and therefore supported a "red-white-green" flag.  Philippe Yacé Grégoire (1920-1998) (and also known as the Wise Man of the Nation), President of the Constituent Assembly, and subsequently of the National Assembly (1959-1980), refused to submit Loubao's proposal for a vote of the design in the Assembly, arguing that the amendment had not been tabled "in the correct form".  Coffi Gadeau "calmed things down" by calling for "an unanimous vote without more discussion".  Philippe Yacé quickly proclaimed: "The discussion is closed. The government and the Commission maintain their proposal - that is 'the national emblem of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire is the orange-white-green flag, with vertical stripes' " and the representatives adopted the design.

Mamadou Coulibaly, reporter for the Commission, explained the colours as follows:
"The orange stripe expresses the splendor of the national blooming and also reminds of the northern savannah as well. The white stripe magnifies peace in the purity and union of the hearts and will guarantee us success. The green stripe expresses our hope in future and recalls the luxury primary forest of Côte d'Ivoire, which is the first source of national prosperity."

The vertical arrangement of the stripes is a symbol of the dynamic youth of a state that moves ahead under the triple sign of Union, Discipline, and Work, which forms the motto of Côte d'Ivoire.
Ivan Sache, 09 Aug 2014

Coat of Arms


 [Côte d'Ivoire previous coat of arms] Anonymous contribution

The elephant is the largest and strongest animal in the local fauna and gave its name to the country; it is considered as the national  animal. The arms featuring the elephant, two palm trees and a rising sun, should be placed on all official documents. 

[The elephant was also the emblem of "Rassemblement Démocratique Africain", party of the late president Houphouet-Boigny at the time of independence, according to DK Pocket Book (1997) [rya97]. Whitney Smith (1975) [smi75b] says the party name was "Parti Démocratique de Cote d'Ivoire". These are probably two successive names for the same party.]

The arms are represented in Smith with a green shield and all the rest in yellow (scroll, palm trees, rising sun). Smith and DK Pocket Book both say the shield was initially blue, but altered to green in 1964 to match the national flag colours.
Ivan Sache, 30 Nov 2000

It appears that the coat of arms of Côte d'Ivoire in current use is also the original version which was adopted in 1960.   The version of the coat of arms used during the 2000s (see below) was probably designed to match the nationalist concept of "ivoirité" defended by President Laurent Gbagbo (in office between 2002 and 2010) since monochrome elements were re-coloured in the national colours. Whether the change was prescribed by any legal text is not known; it is highly probable
that the original coat of arms was restored after 2010.

The coat of arms is prescribed by Decree No. 237 of 26 June 1964, amending Decree No. 78 of 8 February 1960.
The arms are defined in Article 2 as:

  • a shield Vert charged with an elephant's head;

  • the shield surmounted by a sun issuant eclipsed or with nine rays of the same;

  • the shield supported dexter and sinister by two trees Or, beneath the shield a scroll Or inscribed with "RÉPUBLIQUE DE CÔTE D'IVOIRE" in letters Argent.

The shield was azure in the arms originally adopted in 1960. The elephant and the palm tree are the symbol of the two rival parties of the colonial period, the PDCI (Parti démocratique de Côte d'Ivoire) and the PPCI (Parti progressiste de Côte d'Ivoire) respectively.

The Decree does not appear to prescribe the colour of the elephant which is represented Or with tusks Argent.  (Source: Website of the President)
Ivan Sache, 09 Aug 2014   

Coat of Arms (2000 - 2010)

[Côte d'Ivoire coat of arms] Image sent by Ivan Sache, 30 Nov 2000

The Cote d'Ivoire Embassy in Tokyo has confirmed that the coat of arms has been modified.  The colour in the shield  has changed from green to orange fading to green and in scroll from green to orange, white and green. The embassy has informed me this change happened sometime between November 2000 and January 2001.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 17 Jan 2002 and 20 Feb 2002

The website shows the scroll in the national colours - République on an orange background, de Côte on a white one, and d'Ivoire on a green one, a golden sun with black and white rays, green palm trees with black and white stripes [palm trees are botanically not trees but herbs, so they have stripes instead of trunks] and a shield of indistinct colour (orange-greenish).
Ivan Sache, 30 Nov 2000

Aircraft Markings

According to Album des Pavillons (2000) [pay00] the roundel is green-white-orange concentric disks with diameters approximately 50:35:14 respectively. Note to the figure explains that the national flag is painted on the fin.
Željko Heimer, 01 June 2001

Force Aerienne de la Cote d'Ivoire was formed in December 1961 and has used the same markings continuously.
Dov Gutterman, 14 June 2004