Côte d’Ivoire borders the Gulf of Guinea with 515 km of coastline fringed by a network of large lagoons. The northern and southern halves of Côte d’Ivoire present two distinct landscapes: a seasonally wet-and-dry savanna landscape typical of the Sudanian zone in the north, and in the south, humid tropical Guinean and Guineo-Congolian landscapes with a variety of evergreen vegetation types. The southern part of the country was once entirely covered by dense tropical forest, but is now dominated by a mosaic of plantations, degraded forest, and cropland, along with patches of remaining dense forest. Until recent decades, there were greater stands of useful timber in Côte d’Ivoire than in any other West African country. The area covered by rain forest was halved between 1900 and 1960, and that trend has continued — most of the forest has now disappeared. The Tai National Park, in southwestern Côte d’Ivoire, constitutes the largest intact relic of old tropical forest in West Africa and was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1982.
Côte d’Ivoire has a climate system that is common to all the Gulf of Guinea countries, with two clear rainfall seasons on the coast, transitioning to one rainy season in the north. Soils are particularly fertile and agriculturally productive, even in the northern semiarid savanna. Côte d’Ivoire is one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa and coffee. The richness of this country is not only based on the land but also on the people — Côte d’Ivoire is home to 68 ethnic groups, contributing to a wide diversity of customs and art.