COTE D'IVOIRE

Country Description: Cote d'Ivoire (also known as Ivory Coast) is a developing country on the west coast of Africa. Tourism facilities in the capital city of Abidjan are good; however, accommodations outside the capital are limited in quality and availability. The ocean currents along the coast are extremely strong and treacherous and have resulted in numerous drownings each year.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport and visa are required. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, 2424 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 797-0300. There are honorary consulates for Cote d'Ivoire in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Phoenix. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Cote d'Ivoire embassy or consulate.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Because of the civil war in neighboring Liberia, the Liberia/Cote d'Ivoire border region is unsettled and potentially dangerous. Travelers may encounter road blocks, armed military personnel, and vehicle searches.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities in Cote d'Ivoire are adequate in Abidjan, but limited elsewhere. Many medicines are unavailable. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. Travelers have found that supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas and medical evacuation coverage has proven to be useful. For additional health information, travelers may contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559. Internet: http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Crime in Abidjan has increased over the past several years and is now at a critical level. Street crime of the "grab and run" variety, as well as pickpocketing in crowded areas, is endemic. Carjacking and house break-ins are frequent, and are often targeted at expatriate residents who are seen to be wealthy. Armed criminals have used force when faced with resistance. Travelers displaying jewelry and carrying cameras are especially at risk. Travelers have found it useful to carry limited amounts of cash and only photocopies of key documents. It is particularly dangerous to visit the Treichville, Adjame, Abobo, and Plateau business districts after dark. The DeGaulle and Houphouet-Boigny bridges, which cross the lagoon in Abidjan, are dangerous areas for pedestrians, even in the daytime. Many hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and supermarkets provide security guards to protect clients and their vehicles.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The pamphlets "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa" provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Laws regarding possession or transportation of drugs are strictly enforced.

Driving Hazards: Automobile accidents are one of the greatest threats to the well-being of Americans in Cote d'Ivoire. Night driving is particularly hazardous due to poorly lit roads and vehicles. Direct or indirect requests for bribes from the police and other security officials are commonplace, especially at highway checkpoints and near Abidjan's Port Bouet Airport.

In-Country Travel: Airline travel in west Africa is routinely overbooked; schedules are limited, and airline assistance is of varying quality. Prudent passengers get the required seat reconfirmation stamped on the ticket; ensure that they have emergency funds for food and lodging in the event of unexpected delays; and arrive at the airport at least two hours before the scheduled departure time.

Embassy Location/Registration: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan at 5 Rue Jesse Owens, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Cote d'Ivoire. The mailing address is 01 B.P. 1712, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. The telephone number is (225) 21-09-79, and the fax number is (225) 22-32-59.

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