Country facts:

Area: 322,463 sq km
Population: 20,617,068
Languages: French (official), 60 native dialects with Dioula the most widely spoken
Currency: West African CFA franc (XOF)
Climate: tropical along coast, semiarid in far north; three seasons - warm and dry (November to March), hot and dry (March to May), hot and wet (June to October))

Cote d'lvoire

Cote d'lvoire soccer information

As in the majority of African nations, football is by far the most popular sport in Cote d'Ivoire. The championships in the suburbs, villages, schools and universities serve as the breeding grounds where young players develop talents that will take them on to top-flight teams and in many cases to clubs abroad.

After Egypt, Cote d'Ivoire is the second most frequent qualifier for the final competition of the African Cup of Nations with 15 appearances (including ten in succession), but they have only won the title once - in Senegal in 1992. By qualifying for the FIFA World Cup in Germany, the national team has emulated their youth teams' successful appearances in the U-17 and U-20 World Championships in 1977, 1 983, 1993, 1997 and 2003. Several continental club titles (most notably for Africa Sports and ASEC-MIMOSAS) underline the fine work that the clubs have done. A whole host of players have pursued successful football careers abroad (primarily in France) and as dual citizens have been capped by the French national team (e.g. Basile Boli, Kapo and Djibril Cisse). Laurent Pokou is the top scorer in the history of the African Cup of Nations. In 1968 and 1970, he scored a total of 14 goals, five of them in a 6-1 win over Ethiopia at the 1970 competition in Sudan.