Côte d’Ivoire is a multi-ethnic country with over 60 ethnic groups. Like the population, the landscape of Côte d’Ivoire is very diverse, from luscious forest in the south to savana in the north.
The Ivorian on every level is very attached to family and traditional values. An Ivorian family is to be understood in the large sense of the word. Thus it includes cousins, uncles, aunts, grand parents and their families and siblings. Collective life is still very present in the Ivorian society.
It is therefore recommended for a better experience and to make friendship during your stay in Côte d’Ivoire to show your interest in people and their entourage and get to know the country. Hence, listen to the natives, ask them about their families and relatives and learn about the country instead of showing right away your own achievements. In showing your interest you will induce respect, interest and make friends. Commonly when you meet an Ivorian for the first time they shake your hand. But when you meet a person with someone they are befriended with, you will be met with the same warmth as their acquaintance, usually a hug. So do not be irritated by an embrace, it is locally a welcoming and acceptance sign as shown on the picture above.
A Mix of Traditions
Generally the ancestral culture asks for moderation in regards to demonstration of your love life in public. But it is acceptable to express you indignation and expose your emotions in public as long as you respect the elders and express yourself in an appropriate maner and tone without phisical violence. It is best to avoid intense eye contact as known in the western culture for it could be interpreted as a sign of disrespect or defiance. You can well look at someone in the eye but don’t be fixe them too intensely or for too long.
Another thing to pay attention to is talking politics. You should rather avoid political conversations to not get stuck in polemics which will make your stay unpleasant. The socio-political crisis since end of the 1990s caused indisputable fractures in the society, therefore political converstaions can be very passionate and even turn violent.
On the other hand you can speak about the climate, sport or traditional and cultural events. In the same way Ivorians like you to know about them they are also very curious towards foreigners and their cultures. You will therfore have to answer many questions about your relatives, your region and the socio-cultural situation of your country.
Due to the mix of people coming from the surrounding territories who populated the country since the 16th century and the French colonisation, you have a mix of West-African and French culture. In the rural areas the populations still have a more African way of living.