History of Côte d'Ivoire

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The date of the first human presence in Côte d'Ivoire has been difficult to determine because human remains have not been well-preserved in the country's humid climate. However, the presence of old weapon and tool fragments (specifically, polished axes cut through shale and remnants of cooking and fishing) in the country has been interpreted as a possible indication of a large human presence during the Upper Paleolithic period (15,000 to 10,000 BC),[1] or at the minimum, the Neolithic period.[2] The earliest known inhabitants of Côte d'Ivoire, however, have left traces scattered throughout the territory. Historians believe that they were all either displaced or absorbed by the ancestors of the present inhabitants. Peoples who arrived before the 16th century include the Ehotilé (Aboisso), Kotrowou (Fresco), Zéhiri (Grand Lahou), Ega and Diès (Divo).[3]

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Pre-Islamic and Islamic Periods

Little is known about the original inhabitants of Côte d'Ivoire. Historians believe that they were all either displaced or absorbed by the ancestors of the present inhabitants. The first recorded history is found in the chronicles of North African traders, who, from early Roman times, conducted a caravan trade across the Sahara in salt, slaves, gold, and other items. The southern terminals of the trans-Saharan trade routes were located on the edge of the desert, and from there supplemental trade extended as far south as the edge of the rain forest. The more important terminals—Djenné, Gao, and Timbuctu—grew into major commercial centers around which the great Sudanic empires developed. By controlling the trade routes with their powerful military forces, these empires were able to dominate neighboring states. The Sudanic empires also became centers of Islamic learning. Islam had been introduced into the western Sudan by Arab traders from North Africa and spread rapidly after the conversion of many important rulers. From the eleventh century, by which time the rulers of the Sudanic empires had embraced Islam, it spread south into the northern areas of contemporary Côte d'Ivoire.[4]

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