Yamoussoukro, city (1990 est. pop. 100,000), designated capital of Côte d'Ivoire, S central Côte d'Ivoire. A small town of less than 20,000 people until the late 1970s, Yamoussoukro was designated in 1983 to become the new national capital and an adminstrative and transportation center. Perfume and fishing industries are in the city. It was the home of Côte d'Ivoire's long-term president, Félix Houphouët-Boigny. He sponsored the city's rapid growth, which included hotels and a large highway connecting Yamoussoukro to the former capital of Abidjan, where most government offices and foreign embassies remain. The city also has the world's largest Christian church, Our Lady of Peace Yamoussoukro, which rises to a height of 489 ft (149 m). Yamoussoukro's development (especially the cathedral) drew popular criticism for its extravagance during a difficult economic period. The city suffered neglect after Houphouët-Boigny's death (1993), but in 2001 the government began making preparations to move to the city.
The District of Yamoussoukro is the official capital city of Côte d'Ivoire. A city of 200,659 inhabitants as of 2005, and located north of Abidjan on rolling hills and plains, the municipality covers 3,500 km² (1,351.3 sq mi) and is coterminous with the department of the same name. The department and municipality are further split into four sub-prefectures: Attiégouakro, Didiévi, Tié- diékro and the Commune of Yamoussoukro. The district, in total, contains contain 169 settlements.

The current governor of the district is N'Dri Koffi Apollinaire.


Colonial period history

Queen Yamousso, the niece of Kouassi N'Go, ran the village of N'Gokro in 1901 at the time of French colonization. The village then comprised 475 inhabitants, and was one of 129 Akoué villages.

Diplomatic and commercial relations were then established, but in 1909, on the orders of the Chief of Djamlabo, the Akoué revolted against the administration. Bonzi station, seven kilometers (4.4 mi) from Yamoussoukro on the Bouaflé road, was set on fire, and the French administrator, Simon Maurice, was spared only by the intervention of Kouassi N'Go. This respected former leader persuaded the Akoué not to wage a war which could only have turned into a disaster.

As the situation returned to normal, Simon Maurice, judging that Bonzi had become unsafe, decided to transfer the French military station to Yamoussoukro, where the French Administration built a pyramid to the memory of Kouassi N'Go, Chief of the Akoué, and in homage to queen Yamousso, N'Gokro was renamed Yamoussoukro.

In 1919, the civil station of Yamoussoukro was removed, and Félix Houphouët-Boigny became the leader of the village in 1939. A long period was passed where Yamoussoukro, still a small agricultural town, remained in the shadows. This continued until after the Second World War, when it saw the creation of the African Agricultural Trade Union, and first conferences of its chief. However, it was only with independence that Yamoussoukro finally started to rise.

History since independence

After 1964, the President Félix Houphouët-Boigny made ambitious plans and started to build. One day in 1965, later called the Great Lesson of Yamoussoukro, he visited the plantations with the leaders of the county, inviting them to transpose to their own villages the efforts and agricultural achievements of the region. On July 21, 1977, Houphouët offered his plantations to the State.

In March 1983, Yamoussoukro became the political and administrative capital of Côte d'Ivoire. This marked the fourth movement of the country's capital city in just one century. Côte d'Ivoire's previous capital cities were Grand-Bassam (1893), Bingerville (1900), and Abidjan (1933). The majority of economic activity still takes place in Abidjan.


Yamoussoukro is also the site of what is claimed to be largest Christian place of worship on Earth: The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, consecrated by Pope John Paul II on September 10, 1990.

Also noteworthy are the Kossou Dam, the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Foundation, the PDCI-RDA House, the various schools of the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny Polytechnic Institute, the international airport (with an average of six hundred passengers and 36 flights in 1995, it is one of two airports in Africa (with Gbadolite) that can accommodate the Concorde), the Town Hall, the Protestant Temple, the Mosque, and the Palace of Hosts.

On November 6, 2004, Yamoussoukro Airport was attacked by French infantry after military aircraft from the airport bombed a UN peacekeeper base as well as rebel targets and 9 French peacekeepers and one U.S. civilian were killed. Two Ivory Coast Sukhoi Su-25 aircraft and several Mil Mi-24 helicopters were destroyed, which was most of the country's air forces. Mobs and rebels tried to attack the French forces after the airport raid.


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