7 August 1960
The more recent pre-colonial history of CÁ´te d’Ivoire can be traced to the 17th century, with the establishment of the kingdom of Gyaaman. The capital, Bondoukou, became a centre for trade and Islamic scholarship. By the 18th century, a centralized political and administrative system had developed, but due to the European scramble for Africa, this system was replaced by French colonial rule in 1893.
From 1904-1958, CÁ´te d’Ivoire was incorporated into the Federation of French West Africa. French colonial policy promoted assimilation and association, so French language and customs took preference. Since the colonization of CÁ´te d’Ivoire, Ivorians were classified as French subjects but their political rights were withheld.
However, by the end of World War Two, Ivorians were recognised as French citizens and were granted the right to organize themselves politically. In 1958, CÁ´te d’Ivoire became an autonomous country within the French community, and on 7 August 1960, full independence from France had been achieved under the leadership of Félix Houphouët-Boigny.
The son of a Baoulé chief, Houphouët-Boigny formed the first trade union in 1944. He was elected to the French Parliament in Paris, and became the first African minister in a European government. By 1959, he had become the Prime Minister of CÁ´te d’Ivoire, and in 1960 was elected its first president. He governed CÁ´te d’Ivoire until his death in 1993.
Newly independent states such as CÁ´te d’Ivoire inspired the liberation movements within South Africa during apartheid, and helped to pressurize the South African government into abandoning its policies of separate development during the latter half of the 20th century.