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Armed Forces

Garde Republicaine






Little is known about the early history of the Ivory Coast. France made its initial contact with Côte d'Ivoire in 1637, when missionaries landed at Assinie near the Gold Coast (now Ghana) border. Early contacts were limited to a few missionaries because of the inhospitable coastline and settlers’ fear of the inhabitants.

In the 18th century, the country was invaded from present-day Ghana by two related Akan groups, the Agni, who occupied the southeast, and the Baoule, who settled in the central section. In 1843-44, Admiral Bouet-Williaumez signed treaties with the kings of the Grand Bassam and Assinie regions, placing their territories under a French protectorate. However, complete pacification was not accomplished until 1915.


French Period

Cote d'Ivoire officially became a French colony in 1893. Captain Binger, who had explored the Gold Coast frontier, was named the first governor. He negotiated boundary treaties with Liberia and the United Kingdom (for the Gold Coast) and later started the campaign against Almany Samory, a Malinke chief, who fought against the French until 1898.

From 1904 to 1958, Cote d'Ivoire was a constituent unit of the Federation of French West Africa. It was a colony and an overseas territory under the French Third Republic. Until the period following World War II, governmental affairs in French West Africa were administered from Paris.

During World War II, France's Vichy regime remained in control until 1943, when members of Gen. Charles de Gaulle's provisional government assumed control of all French West Africa. The Brazzaville Conference in 1944, the first Constituent Assembly of the French Fourth Republic in 1946, and France's gratitude for African loyalty during World War II led to far-reaching governmental reforms in 1946. French citizenship was granted to all African “subjects”, the right to organize politically was recognized, and various forms of forced labor were abolished.

A turning point in relations with France was reached with the 1956 Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre), which transferred a number of powers from Paris to elected territorial governments in French West Africa and also removed remaining voting inequalities.


The colony gained autonomy in 1957 and in December 1958, Cote d'Ivoire became an autonomous republic within the French community as a result of a referendum that brought community status to all members of the old Federation of French West Africa except Guinea, which had voted against association. Cote d'Ivoire became independent on August 7, 1960, and permitted its community membership to lapse. Its first president became Felix Houphouët Boigny. Its capital is Yamoussoukro and its administrative center Abidjan.





In pre-colonial times the royal arms and the symbol of the commander in chief was a sword with a golden hilt, the blade perforated. Such a sword is preserved in the Museum of the Municipality of Angoulème (Fr.). This sword, from the Baoulé-culture of Ivory Coast, has a blade of forged iron, perforated at the lower end. Its hilt is of gilded wood and shows a human hand upholding a conus.[1]


For the Republic a flag was adopted by law of 3 December 1959. It is of three vertical stripes of orange, white and green, the colors symbolizing the nation and the savanna, heaven and purity, hope and forest.


A coat of arms was adopted on 8 February 1960. It consists of an elephants’ head, trunk erect, on a blue field. Above the shield is a rising sun and on both sides are national flags and palmtrees. [2]

The elephant was chosen to symbolize the force of the republic but also as a reference to its name. The color is defined as white-gold and for that reason it is sometimes depicted as white, and sometimes as gold. In fact this color symbolizes ivory, called the “White gold” of West Africa.


On 26 June 1964 the arms were changed to match better the colors of the flag. At the same time the national flags were omitted. The color of the field was changed into green and the trunk of the elephant was depicted pending. The palms were maintained.


The colors of the field are treated quite freely. From about 1997 a version is known with the field parted per pale orange and green, the palms proper, the ribbon in the colors of the flag.[3] In still a later version (about 2000) the field is fading from orange to green (from dexter to sinister).[4]  A modern version shows the achievement all gold.


However, there seems to be no law or decree which sanctionizes all these versions and the common version is the one depicted in the head of this article.

In 1997 the national coat of arms was restyled. The field of the arms was changed from green into parted per pale of orange and green and the elephants-head changed its colour from gold into white. The supporting palms were given green leaves and a black trunk and the ribbon underneath with the name of the republic was painted in the national colours, the left part orange, the middel part white and the right part green.


In about December 2000, the colours of the field were changed again in that they were made fading from orange to green from the left to the right (or: from dexter to sinister)


Some cities of the Ivory Coast have coats of arms French style. Known are the arms of  Abidjan, Bouaké, Daloa and Gagnoa.


Arms: Azure, an elephants-head, trunk upwards Or.

Crest: A rising sun Or

Supporters: Two trees Or and nine national flags in saltire

Motto: REPUBLIQUE DE COTE D’IVOIRE in black lettering on a ribbon Or.

                        Adopted 8th of February 1960


Seal: An elephant passant affrontée, within a garland of palm leaves. Motto: UNION DISCIPLINE TRAVAIL. (Unity, Discipline, Work)



Placed within a circular bordure with the inscription ó R.C.I. - DST ó  and the name of the service.


Arms: Vert, an elephants-head trunk downwards Or, armed Argent.

Crest: A rising sun Or.

Supporters: Two palm-trees Or

Motto: RÉPUBLIQUE DE CÔTE D’IVOIRE  in silver lettering on a ribbon Or.



Achievement of Côte d’Ivoire, version of about 1997: The field parted per pale Orange and Vert, the listel in the colors of the flag.


Achievement of Côte d’Ivoire, version from about 2000: The field faded per pale from Orange to Vert.


Armed forces


Garde Republicaine


Arms: Argent a elephants-head Sable

Crest: A rising sun radiant

Supporters: Two palm-trees Vert

Compartment: The National Flag of Côte d’Ivoire.

Motto: EBUR ET ROBUR (Ivory and Force) in black lettering on a scroll Or


Backshield: Azure




Colonial Police






Republican Police



© Hubert de Vries, 2008-11-28

Updated 2011-08-12; 2011-09-17.

[1]  Gift of Hervé Deluen, 1999, inv. no. 999.1.29. Photo H.d.V., August 2011.

[2]  Herzog, Hans-Ulrich & Fritz Wolf: Flaggen und Wappen. VEB Bibliographisches Institut Leipzig, 1966. (Redaktionsschluß 15.8.1965).

[3]  Documented by Ralf Hartemink, 1997: Ivory Coast.

[4]  Documented by Flags of the World: Côte d’Ivoire.

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