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BURKINA FASO

MALI

TOGO

BENIN

IVORY COAST

GHANA

DOCUMENTS FOR THE JOURNEY:

TIME ZONE: GMT, 1 hours onwards than Greenwich meridian.
The offices and the banks are open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 16:00 with lunch-break from 12:30 to13:00.

TELEPHONE: It 's easy to phone from the cities as Bamako and Mopti. The mobiles of the main European Companies are covered in most of the cities.

ELECTRICITY: In Mali and in Burkina Faso the electricity is 220V. It is useful to bring an universal adapter.

USEFUL THINGS: Multifunctional knife, hat and sunglasses.

OVERNIGHT STAYING: We want to specify that in West Africa, which is not a tourist area, there is not any middle category for hotels. Therefore we prefer to select certain hotels with some comforts even if they are quite expensive.
Some of the hotels chosen in Mopti and Bamako have a category corresponding to European 4 stars; the other hotels are best ones and their category is local 2 stars.
In some villages like Dogon and Djennè there are only "campement", that are very simple lodgings with the minimum services.
During the trekking in Dogon villages and during the navigation through the Niger river it is advisable to sleep in a terrace under the stars or in a camping tent so to enjoy the surrounding nature.
In some periods of the year and especially from October to March and from August to September (the most tourist periods of the year) the request is higher that the hotel offer and therefore there can be overbooking situation and some of the hotels booked can be changed without notice.

CURRENCY: Euro is the most common currency. The local currency is CFA franc, granted by French Government but it is not exchangeable. The fixed exchange rate Euro / CFA franc is € 1 = CFA franc 655,957.
In Ghana the currency is cedi.
From January 1994 CFA franc depreciated and at that time 1 French franc corresponded to 100 CFA franc. In 1948 1 French franc corresponded to 50 CFA franc.

MEALS: There are several choices. In West Africa the food is surprising for its taste and the way it's cooked. The meat is very good and the fish of Niger (capitan) and Guinea Gulf is very tasty.
We suggest the tourist to consider about € 40 for the 3 daily meals.

CLOTHES: It is advisable to travel with very fresh, light and bright clothes and if possible in cotton. Normally you can use sandals but for long walking it is preferable to wear more resistant shoes even if not necessary trekking shoes.
Women can be dressed in any way, nobody would disturb them even if they are alone.
After the sunset it's advisable to be covered to prevent bug bites.
It is very important to protect the head form the sun and to wear always hat handkerchief or other thing to prevent insolation. Sunglasses are absolutely necessary.

WHEN TRAVELLING? Mali and Burkina Faso have a tropical weather particularly dry. The temperatures oscillate:
+ 36°C max. / 22°C min. during the rain season (July - September).
+ 30°C max. / 12°C min. in wintertime.
+ 40°C max. / 25°C in tropical summertime (April - June).

SECURITY CONDITIONS: The thefts are just few and only in the big cities. Anyway they are lower than in Europe and in America.

TRANSPORT MEANS: Our agency offers all the necessary logistic elements for the journey.
We have a modern group of 4X4 cars and minibus, all with air conditioning and radio system connected with our office, and well experienced drivers. The transfer along the Niger river are arranged on a traditional motor boat (pinaza) with comfortable places and with kitchen and fridge.

LOCAL FLIGHTS: The most travelled line is Bamako - Tombuctù through Mopti. Delays or cancellation without notice are quite frequent and they can cause troubles for the journey.

LUGGAGE: Small luggage is advisable. A medium luggage and a hand bag are surely enough. Usually people buy many thing and weight controls in the airport are very strict: € 15 have to be paid for each additional kilo. It is advisable not to use rigid luggage for a better collocation in the car / bus / etc.


MONEY: It is advisable to bring just Euro. The currency in all the West African Countries is CFA franc. This currency is common in all the countries to be visited. VISA and MASTER CARD can be used only in few cities and it is possible to withdraw only CFA 30.000 (€ 450) per day. You can use credit cards just in some hotels and restaurants with European influence.

TRAVEL GUIDES: Italian guides for Mali and Burkina Faso, EDT, Italian translation of Lonely Planet.

TRAVEL NOTES: As already explained before, this kind of journey includes long walks through dusty roads and sometimes there are also custom controls. It is possible to recover from all these disadvantages using comfortable cars and selecting hotels to relax.
Mali and Burkina Faso are not journey destination indicated for those people who mean journey as relax at comfortable hotels. These are very particular countries and the journey can be a chance of cultural enrichment, of meeting culture and society of another time with traditions very different from those of the tourists; therefor it is necessary to remember that people should adapt to the life of these countries and not vice versa.

FORCE MAJOR REASONS: All the itineraries can be changed due to force major for political, weather, flight cancellation and strike reasons. The agency will try its best to follow the schedule, as for instance arranging the itinerary in the opposite direction, cancelling options without modifying the basic program.

 

 HAVE A GOOD JOURNEY!

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BURKINA-FASO

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest nations in the world. Its name is usually linked with dry spells in Sahel, famine, starving children, but it is also one of the African nations where we can find a true, typical folklore and where music has a great importance. So we introdce you to Burkinabè hospitality and their gentle, peaceful mood.
Burkina’s people can give you only their hospitality. After visiting the bordering countries, tourists have only one desire: come back to Burkina Faso. Actually here they can find a great difference in hospitality and are treated very well.

GEOGRAPHY:
Enclave country in the middle of Sahelian Africa, Burkina borders on Mali to the North and West, on Niger to the East, on Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast to South. Burkina has an area of 274.200 square kilometers and 11 millions of inhabitants, its capital is Ouagadougou.
Burkina Faso means “honest men’s motherland” and so has been called after August, 4th. 1983 revolutions, replacing the ancient colonial name of Upper Volta.

CLIMATE:
Burkina belongs to a zone known as Sudanese tropical zone, the North (Sahelian zone) excepted.
There are two different seasons: the dry one, lasting about eight months, and the rain one (winter), usually lasting from June to mid October. The hottest months are April and May.
During the dry and cool season, from November to February, a refreshing wind blows from East: harmatan. However this same wind sometimes becomes violent, carrying Sahara sand and raising dusty clouds which hide the sun for days. The average temperature is 27/30 centigrade degrees in Gaoua and 22/33 in Dori.

ECONOMY:
Notwithstanding the difficult climate, Burkina Faso from 1980 to 1993 reached interesting results in economy.
The yearly growing rate has overcome the population one and in the same period the per capita income has grown at a rate of 2.5% per year.
Sankara revolution ended on September, 15th. 1987, the institutional opening to democracy ended in 1995. Starting from this moments Ouagadougou, the capital, gives hospitality to the greatest Pan-Afrcan film festival, known and important also beond African boundaries.
The most important trades are those linked to the food sector: sugar (mostly sugar cane growing) and beer. We can find also some firms in textile and chemical industries.
Ore deposits, without capitals and technical knowledge, are still unused.

POPULATION AND ETHNIC GROUPS:
With its 11 millions inhabitants, Burkina is one of the most heavily populated among African countries (about 36,7 inhabitants per square kilometer).
There are far more than 60 ethnic groups. Some of them not very larg, some of them living in lands with no clear boundaries.
The most important ethnic groups are:
• Mossi: they live in the central lowlands close to Ouaga and Ouahigouya and are about a third of the population. Their language is called morè and is the most spoken in Burkina;
• Peul, Tuaregs and Bella: in the Northern part;
• Gourmantchè: in the Eastern part, they live in a wide land even if they are only the 5% of he whole population;
• Bissa: in the outh (4,7%), live in a small area close to Ghana boundaries;
• Gerunsi and Cassena (5,3% of population): in the South-East from Mossi lowland to Ghana boundaries;
• Samo, Pana and Dogon: in the Western part, in a small area close to Mali;
• Bobo Groups: in the South of these lands, in the West of Gurunsi land, Bobo groups live: Buaba, around Dedougou, Hunde-Kos, in Silby area, Bobo-fings, close to Bobo Diulasso. These are about the 7% of population;
• Sinofo (5%): live close to Mali and Ivory Coast boundaries, with a lot of little ethnic group (Gouin, Ble, Karaboro);
• Lobi and Dagari (7% of populations): live in South, in that area bounded by Ivory Coast and Ghana. Lobi have preserved thei habits and for that are the most interesting ethnic group.

RELIGION:
The most widespread religions are animism, Islam enad Christianity. About the 56% of the population is animist, the 33% Muslim and the 11% Christian (10% Catholic,1% Protestant).
We can say that the most part of Adfrican people, even if converted to other religions, keeeps on practicing animist rites.
Animism groups ll the traditional faiths believed by farmers including fetishism.
Animism is the most important religion for Mossi, Gourmantchè, Gourounsi, Lobi and Biasa. The only part where animism is not so widespread is the Northern one, the Islamic one.

HISTORY:
Before French colonization, Burkina was composed by independent lands, the most important one was the Mossi empire, ruled for many centuries by Moro-Naba, an emperor considered as omnipotent. In the XIII and XIV centuries, this empire fought against the great empires in the Niger valley (Mali and Shongay).
The French troops won against Mossi eigns and broke into fragments the country.
In 1904 the Upper Volta was annexed to the Upper Senegal-Niger colony.
The Upper Volta became independent on August, 5th. 1960.
After the beginning of democracy there has been some military “coups d’état”, however in Burkina there is a traditional parliamentary system with different political parties.
After the rising to power of Thomas Sankara on August, 4th. 1983, the Upper Volta became the most revolutionary nation in Africa. Sankara fought against corruption, for emancipation of women and for a concrete economic growth.
On August, 4th. 1984 the Upper Volta became Burkina Faso (“honest men’s motherland”).
On October, 15th. 1987 Blaise Compaorè ex-member of Sankara’s team, organized a “coup d’état” and killed Sankara. Democracy age begins.

CINEMA:
Burkina Faso organizes the Pan-African Film Festival (FESPACO), an important event for African cinema. The first edition was in 1996 and now it includes also international moves and TV shows.
 

BURKINA FASO CITIES

OUGADOUGOU:
The city was founded in the XI century by the Nyonyousè who called it "Kombemtinga" that means the country of the warriors. The Nyonyousè who wanted to react to the attacks of the close villages, decided to ask for the protection of Mossi Zoungrana emperor. Lately the city changed its name and in 1441 became the capital of Mossi empire. In 1919 it became the capital of High Volta.

BUBO DIOLASSO:
Anciently the city was called Sya: it was a kind of project for a society where everybody had to do his best to live as an explorer of a world of peace and justice.
After the trading influence of the Doula, mandingo people coming from the current Mali, Bobo moved to this city and they decided to live there: that is why the city name is Bobo - Diolasso which means "house of Bobo and Diola".
The city is very quiet, typically African, with wide avenues full of trees and mangos. It the city of the music for the whole West Africa where there is the celebration for the National Week of the Culture: this is an important chance for many artists coming from several African countries and an occasion to listen to good percussion played with the typical local instruments.
Nowadays this is the second city of the Country.

LOBI VILLAGES:
Lobi villages are part of Bobo - Banfore line up to the limit with Ghana.
There is one of the ethnic group that has been able to well preserved their own traditions and has fought against the invaders. They were warriors and hunters and also today, in places quite far from the savannah, they use arrows and arcs.
Some women have a kind of plate put into their mouth.
Their houses, which are called "Sudala", seem almost a small fortress with one only open part that is a door V shaped projected to protect people against the enemy.
They continue to practise initiation rites that represent the life change from childhood into adulthood. That is the moment to learn all the prohibitions, to bear very hard physical test (to resist to hunger and thirst), to understand the secret of the nature and to get to know how to control the fear.
In contrast with the African people, the Lobi family is patriarchal and the women have the power.

BANFORA:
It is absolutely the heavenly area of Burkina, where the earth is very fruitful and the weather if fresh.
In this area sugar and rice are widely cultivated.
The landscape is amazing with its waterfalls, its lakes with the hippos and its rocks eroded by the wind. This is the place where Senufo people live with many other different ethnic groups.

 

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MALI

A country which is worth a visit, to see the proud attitude of men and the gracefulness of women. Those are the descendants of the most glorious empire of Africa.
Wars (or deeds), of which their history is so rich, do not prevent them from having a strong sense of humor and from being very natural and nice. And all this helps enduring poverty.
You can find gorgeous sceneries, in Mali, and a peculiar architecture: Mali people.

GEOGRAPHY:
Mali borders Mauritania, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Darfur , Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal.
It is a huge land, with two important rivers, Senegal in the western part of the Country and Niger.
Niger, in its course flows into Bani, and there, they form a huge delta, “Macina’s marshlands” over 450 kms wide, following the river’s course and somewhere reaching 200 kms wide. The central part of the Country is a barren land, Sahel, a drought-stricken area. In Timbuktou, the river Niger crosses the desert, heading East, first, South-West in Baurem then, to reach the Ocean. The northern part of the Country ia a whole desert, except for a few oasis, along the ancient trans-saharian caravan routes.

CLIMATE:
Mali’s climae is characterized by three unequal seasons of the year:
The rainy season gets longer the more ou go South. It goes from June till September/October, and gets its climax towards the middle of August, with an average of 25° degrees. The dry season goes from March till June, and it reaches a max of 35° degrees in Bamako and 35° in Timbuktou. The cold and dry season goes from October/November till February with an average of 25° degrees and reaching its climax in the month of December.
“Harmatan”, a wind from the desert, coming from north-west, starts blowing soon after the rainy season and highly adds up to get the climate even drier, above all in spring, at dusk.

ECONOMY:
Mali is one o the poorest Countries in the world. Its economy is almost exclusively agricultural, even if less than 2% of the land is proper to agricultural activities.
Millet, maize, Indian millet, rice are the basis of the poor harvest, together with some cattle raising. Exports account for a big part in the Country’s economy, especially as faras the sales of cotton and those of fruits and vegetables towards Europe are concerned. Unfortunately, due to lack of water, Mali only has a small range of agricultural products.
Industry, though of low level, is growing recently, mainly in th field of production of agricultural products, such as cider, drinks an tobacco. On a local basis, also building materials are produced.
Mali also some small deposits of gold, jasper, salt and phosphates, so it has a small mining industry. Some bauxite, manganese and uranium deposit (in commercially interesting quantity) werw recently located, too.

POPULATION AND ETHNIC GROUPS:
Over 10 millions inhabitants live in Mali. Ethnic groups are many.
TUAREG people live near the oasis and the caravan routes. The southern part of the Country is inhabited by PEULH, nomadic, stockbreeder people.
Most people live in th southern area of the savannah: the main groups are SONGHAI, MALINKE, SENOUFOU, DOGON. And BAMBARA, the largest one.

LANGUAGE
French is the official language, but there are also several local idioms.

RELIGION:
ISLAMIC 80%, ANIMIST 18%, CHRISTIAN 1,2%

HISTORY:
In ancient times, Mali (which is situated, mostly in the northern part, out of the reach of ancient African Staets) was one of the biggest cultural centres of Islam and acquired most of its importance in the course of the XV century. Mali’s commercial importance then began to fade, due to the fact that the transport of goods and people was mostly done on the saharian caravan route.
Even Niger, which was very acive and essential in the area, then became more and more secondary, when seaside European Countries began to trade direct by sea with the main producing Countries and saharian caravan routes were slowly abandoned.
Mali’s importance then grew again during the IX and XVI century, when the great Western African reigns began to flourish again. These enriched thanks to the commercial routes crossing Sahara. These were the three great African Empires.

GHANA’S EMPIRE:
It is the first and maybe the most famous of all African reigns. In fact, this empire inluded most of what is today called Mali. After 500 years, towards the end of the XVI century, the empire was conquered by Sumanguru Kaute, king of Sosso.

MALI’S EMPIRE:
The empire called Maude, Melle or Mali ws in fact the reign of those black people called MANDINGO or MALINKE. They took and widened Ghana’s heritage during the
XIII century.
SUNDIATA KEITA (1230-1255) of the Mandingo’s dynasty of Keita, living in the wide area of Sosso’s reign, struggled for Mandingo’s freedom. In 1235 Mandingo’s people could break free from Sosso’s hold.
SUAMORO KANNTE laid the basis of an empire going from te Atlantic Ocean till Niger.
Mali’s empire reached its climax during the XIV century. The great king KANKU MUSA (1312-1337) cleared the way for the trade with Arab and Berber merchants.
Arab writers praised his attitudes, and also his pilgrimage to the Mecca made theMandingo’s empire well known and positively considered, internationally.
KANKU MUSA introduced the Arab culture into the Country: architects, poets and artisans used to live in the capital city NIANI. They transformed it into an arabic city. KANKU MUSA gave the Mali’s empire a splendour which no other black Country had never seen before. His influence spread over many areas, Timbuktou, Djenné,Méma, Omalata, Gao, Gambia etc.
His brother SULAYMAN was his successor (1341-1360), after the short reign of his nephew Maghan (1337-1341), son of Kanku Musa. The weakening of central power and the crisis of traditional authorities and new Islamic rules opened the way to the rise of Tuareg people, who took easily the power in northern areas, such as Gao, Timbuktou and Méma, between 1433 and 1434.

SONGHAY’S EMPIRE:
Gao’s reign, one of the most ancient in Eastern Africe, was very important, from a commercial point of view, during the XI century, in the area near the river Niger. Its importance was mainly due to the fortune the islamized Songhay’s dynasty brought in the Country. The Songhay lived in the capital of Gao. According to Al Bakn, th king only was a Muslim, while people used to follow fetishistic religion.
Gao’s reign was in a position to keep the indipendence from Ghana, but the reign could not resist the military power of Mandingo’s empire of Mali.
Starting from 1400, Songhay’s princes of Gao began to break free from Mali, until they reached their complete freedom and indipendence thanks to SONNI ALI BER (1464-1492), the real establisher of Songhay’s empire. The king, a convinced animist, founded, in 27 years, a powerful empire, which started from KEBBI, in Nigeria and reached the area of the current Segou.
Between 1464 and 1468, this king enabled his reign to control the whole commercial activity in the area Timbuktou-Djenneé, included the trade on the Saharian caravan route.
SONNI ALI persecuted the Muslim, especially their intellectual circles of Timbuktou, connected with Tuareg people.
SONNI ALI conquered, between 1514 and 1517 Bambuk mines, controlled the old markets in Kano and Katsima, and could finally compell the Tuareg to go back into the desert.
MOHAMMED I wal dethroned by his sons. A period of destabilization began, so, characterized by the struggles among the pinces of the king’s family, until in 1591 the sultan Mulay Ahmad of Marruecos used a mercenary army against them all and took th power after the battle of TONDIBI. In the south o the Country, so, a strong resistance to the invaders from Maroccobegan. This was the beginning of the rice of this great Empire.

CONTEMPORARY HISTORY:
In the XIX century, Mali became part of the Western French Africa.
In 1960, together with what was then called Senegal, it finally obtained the independence, as the Confederacy of Mali.
The first President was MOBITO KEITA, who drifted away from France and started business contacts with USSR.
In 1968 a military coup overthrew KEITA. The Military Comittee for National Freedom (CNML), represented by the lieutenant (then general) MOUSSA TRAORE’ took power. In 1976 TRAORE’ formed the Legal Political Party.
And finally comes March 1991: another army representative, Lieutenant- Colonel Amadou Toumani set the country free from militay goverment.
In 1992 the strongest political parties among those formed at that time were the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA) and Democratic National Cuncil (CNID).


MALI’S CITIES

BAMAKO:
Bamako, the capital, is a modern city and it is the educational and cultural center of Mali. The most interesting places are the markets, the botanic garden, the zoo and Djemme handicraft center, known as Niger Jewel. Founded in 1250, the center includes a beautiful mosque and it is one of the most ancient commercial center still existing since the genesis of commercial trans-Saharan caravan routes. The old Djemme, founded around 250 A.D., it is situated about 5 km. far from the modern Djemme.

MOPTI:
As know as “Mali’s Venice”, Mopti is located where Bani and Niger flow into each other and it is composed by three islands joined by cliffs. It is an important commercial center built during the centuries by an ethnical melting like Bozo fishermen and Bambara and Dogon shepherds.

PAIS DOGON:
Dogon people took refuge n this isolated and hostile land for many centuries. Originally they came from the Mandingo’s land but had to escape from Islamization. Dogon people believe in an ancient faith that they have preserved from Islam influence. Settled from the beginning close to the cliff, it expelled people living in troglodytic houses.


TOMBUCTU:
Tombuctù, a legendary name, considered as a prototype of inaccessibility and outlaw. But these are only legends, what it is true is the arrival impressive camels’ caravans (some of them composed by far more than 3000 animals) coming here every year from Taoudenni salt mines to sell their product in Sahel lands.
During the XV century, Tombuctù wasan important center for trading gold and salt and a famous Islamic teaching center.
The most of these ancient cultures are now decaying , but we can still find some interesting mosques (e.g. Djingereher, Sankon, Suali, Yaheyafor) and tombs, some of them dated back to the XIV century.

GAO:
This is another ancient city, having the height of fame during the XV century. In Gao we can see Kankan Musa mosque, Askia dinasty’s tombs and two extraordinary markets.
In recent time Gao has been experiencing a urban expansion.

SAN:
Interesting people live in San, nice town and communication hub.

SEGOU:
Capital of the ancient Banisbera reign, Ségou is proud of its past. A peaceful, windy and relaxing place. During the colonial age, Ségou lodged a military garrison.

THE NATIONAL PARK:
The Boucle De Baoule National Park gives hospitality to different South-Sahel animals like giraffes, leopards, lions, elephants and hippopotamus.

 

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TOGO

This a coast country where you can find both beautiful beaches with coconut palms and the luxuriant forest of Kpalimé and the special city of Atakpame which is built on the hills of Atakora: you can enjoy there amazing panoramas.

Geography:
Republic of the West Africa, it confines to North to Burkina Faso, to East to Benin, to South to Guinea Gulf and to West to Ghana.
The cost is straight, low and sandy with inside lagoons. There is also an area with hills that reach 100 - 200mt; Going more inside they can reach also 400mt: then you will find Togo Mountains (1.020mt). The most important river is Mono, which is the borderline with Benin.

Climate:
It is tropical: it is warm and damp in the South, and it's quite dry in the North. There are 2 rain seasons and 2 dry seasons in the inside, while there is 1 rain season and 1 dry season on the coast.

Populations and ethnic groups:
Togo has a population of 4.570.530 people. The country is composed of several different ethnic groups. 99% is composed of African (37 ethnic groups: the main ones are Ewe, Mina and Kabre), while the remaining 1% is European and Syrian - Lebanese.

Language:
The official language is French and it is used for trading activities. In the South the language spoken is Ewe and Mina, in the North the language spoken is Dagomba and Ka.

Religion:
70% of the people are Animist, 20% are Christian and 10% Moslem.

Economy:
Generally speaking this is a poor country which is based mainly on agriculture. The agricultural activity can cover almost only the local request and can be sufficient just for few exportations. Among all the products for the local consumption the most important are cereals like corn, millet and rice, and also manioc which is cultivated on the whole territory. Other important products especially for the exportations are cacao, coffee and cotton.
The main industrial activity is the mining exploitation tough the world collapse of the phosphates and all the foreign competitors.
The helps of the World Bank of IMF are subordinated to the resolution of all the various internal problem (privatisation of the companies, decrease of the military costs, etc).

History:
This country was a German colony called "Togoland", while currently it is Togo Republic.
In 1884 the German Nachtigal leaded a campaign along the South - West African coast reaching a region between the English colony of Coast of Gold (Ghana) and Dahomey, declaring this region under the Germany protectorate.
In 1914 the war in Europe started and the allies invaded it. In 1919 the country was divided into 2 parties, an English and a French one. In 1956 the government of the English part decided to be annexed to Ghana, while the French part became independent in 1960.
The civil government lasted only 7 years before the coup d'état in January 1967 of the Colonel Etienne Gnassingbe Eyadéma who took the power of the country.
Eyadéma tried to do his best to unify the country creating one only politic party: RPT (Union of the Togo Population). The strict methods of Eyadéma government caused many troubles and also many enemies and there were several trials of coup d'état.
In 1993 surprisingly Eyadéma won the presidential election using unfair tactics and clever political machinations that discredited the opposition party and forced the other party not to candidate. In June 1998 Eyadéma got another mission of 5 years with 52% of the votes.
In occasion of the election in June 2003 Eyadéma was re-elected and in 2004 he celebrated the 37th anniversary of the conquest of the power. Anyway the presidency of this government is under the pressure of the international community and in particular of France that is still controlling the economy of Togo.

 

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BENIN

Benin has a rich cultural history and is the only Country that, in the whole New Guinea Gulf, better preserves his traditions.

Llandscapes of Benin are different: from the coast areas to the hilly region called Atakora, where there is the “Pendjari” Natural Park. This Park holds a large variety of wild fauna (elephants, hippopotamus, buffalos, lions) in a natural and unusual environment.

Geography:
Benin is located in the Occidental Africa and covers an area of about 112.620 km2. About 2000 kilometers are covered by the water. Benin confines with Niger and Burkina Faso to the North with Togo to the West and with Nigeria to the est. To its South part it looks onto the Atlantic Ocean with about 121 km of coast.
The morphology of the territory is mainly flat, but with some hilly areas.
Recently the agriculture in the North area has been jeopardized due to the drought. Moreover there are a lot of problem as the deforest or desertification, that got worse due to the missing of rain and to the furtive fighter that it is a serious problem for wild animals that lives the Country.
About the 13% of territory fits for cultivation; about the 4% is used for the pasture, a 4% to the permanent cultivations and the 31% is covered by woods.
The main natural resources of Benin are limestone, marble, wood and some small petroleum deposit.

Climate:
There are two different kind of climates: in the South Area there is tropical hot-humid climate, in the North the climate is dry and dusty.
Moreover, in the north it blows an hot, dry and dusty wind, also during winter season.
Benin his a long strip of heart that comes to the North, with a sandy coast without any natural Port. From the South to the North the Country shows different natural regions: the coast area with a lot of palm plantation and coconut, the wild plain, the tropical hilly area that softly goes un to reach the source of some important Rivers like Ouemè, Mekrou, Albori and Pendjari. Health Services do not exist or are not enough to guarantee drinkable water to the whole population, and it is a serious contamination way mostly in rural areas.

Population and ethnic:
The Benin peoples come from about 60 different ethnical groups. The most are called Fon (about 47%), Adjas, Yorubas and Baribeis that built strong political structures before the French colonization.

Religion:
About the 70% of the population of Benin follow the traditional, African cults. 15% are Muslin and the remain 15%are Catholic.

Language:
French is the official language and it is used in particular in urban areas. Some tribal languages are also used and the most important are the Fon, Fulani, Mine, Yoruba and Massi.

Economy:
Starting from year ’90, Benin got a solid economy based on agriculture. The main production is cotton, coffee and palm oil.
The Services sector increased rapidly during years 90, also due to the political problems in Togo: a part of the commerce in Togo moved to the Benin.
Improvement of economy in Benin depended also from the success of a economical liberalization and the fiscal reform that allows a lot of investment from foreign.
Petrol, from its discovery, become the main export material.
Benin is a member of CFA and for that reason it can enjoy a solid economy and can enjoy the economical help form France.
Benin export is principally addressed to the France, and in lower quantity to the Netherlands, Korea, Japan and India: in the latest years Benin developed commercial relationships with Germany also.

History:
The History of Benin is not very known.
In the South area, according to the oral tradition, a group of peoples called Adja emigrated (1100-1200) and founded a city called Allada, situated between Tado and the River Mono.
Allada became the Capital city of the “Great Ardra” Region and reached his maximum splendour
At the end of century XVI and the beginning of XVII.
During this Century, due to the fight between brothers to catch Ardra Region Kingdom, two new Kingdoms born: Hagbonu (renamed NewPort by Portuguese dealers that were working in this area) and the most known Abomey inland.
In this region there was the biggest Occidental African Slave trade. Till Century XVII English, French and Portuguese traffickers used Ouidah Port, primary slave trade center, to receive ship with slaves.
During Century 1700, for over than a century, about 20.000 slaves per year have been shipped to America, Brazil and Caribbean and the most quantity to Haity. For this reason Benin gained the name of Slaves Coast.
AmobEy Fon Kings built a centralized State and increase they rule on the East and the West respect to the Benin Border on today.
A modern, disciplined and armed (with European arms) Army (with a lot of enlisted women till the Century XIX) allowed kings to brake the power of Alafin di Oyo (Niger) and to gain a lot of Yoruba cities. Benhanzin in the year 1889 inherit a flourishing State but there was the colonial threat. French troops landed in the year 1891; Fon tried to face them but can’t stop the occupation of the Capital city in 1892.
The King with his troops went to the forest were continued their face till 1894. Benhanzin who was the symbol of anti-colonial resistance died in 1906 during his exile in Martinique.
At the beginning of Century XIX, Dahomey Colony (French name) can’t support by itself and when the Country obtained the independence in 1960, it was exporting the same quantity of coconut oil as in 1850 but with a population higher three times.
This revolutionary program started to be the target of lot of organized conspiracies from outside. In January 1977, a group of exile, some European peoples and some French mercenary tried with the help of Gabon and Morocco a “coup d’ètat” that failed immediately.
In 1990 the President Kérékou, due to the failure of his economical plan, and announced to have abandoned the Marxist and Leninist ideology. He was defeated in 1991, but with surprise he was re-elected in 1996, besides all accusations he received for his failures and abused.
In December 1995, during the summit of French Countries in Cotonou, Benin was indicated as example for its “democratic opening”.

 

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IVORY COAST

Geography:

 It has a surface of 322.462 sqk and a coast line of 520 km. It borders Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana.

East and west there is an area of thick rain forests replaced north by a clearer vegetation, typical of savanna.

West regions are the onlyone with mountains, some of their tops getting over 1500 mt.

Main river  Cassandra, Bandama, Comoè running through from North to South, stopped by plenty of falls.  This is the reason why none of them  is navigable, besides lack of water during dry season.

There is a great variety of birds, especially near the coast.

 

Climate:

 Tropical with lots of pricipitations, especially southwords. The rain period depends on the distance from the ocean. South it takes place from March to July and from September to November; in central region from March to May and from July to November; North only from June to October.

 

Population:

 One of the features of Ivory Coast, which distinguish itself from other african states, is the grat ethnical and linguistics variety.

With 13.695.000 people it has more than 60 different ethnical groups (Akar, Kron, Nzima, Afilan, Malinkès, etc.). With few exceptions each inhabitants of Ivory Coast speak his mother langue  coupled with the traditional language of his ethnical group. French influence on life style is very modest, even  if it’s the official language used in school and public administrations.

 

Language:

 French is the official language. The main African dialects are Yacouba, Senoufo, Baoulè, Agni and Dioula, the last one used in commerce.

 

Religion:

 About 39 % Muslim, 26% Christian and the rest devoted to their traditional cults.

 

Economy:

 Ivory Coast  is the major cocoa producerand the second coffee abd cotton prducer. Fruit producion is another important part of agriculture, such as the exploitation of forestal estate, wich is of great importance for the economy of the country. The mainexported wood is mahogany.

Agricultural fields are very fertile and government chose to diversity agricultural production. For this reason we can also find rice production, india rubber, sugar, peanuts, etc.

Government has also developped a light industrial sector in textile, chemical manufactures and in sugar refining for export.

A car assembling sector has also been established.

At the end of the ’70 drilling and natural gas extraction together with electric energy supplied by different hydroeletric power  stations started to satisfy the country needs. The rest was exported.

There is also a small tourist industry.

France is the main commercial partner followed by Algeria, Germany, Italy and Netherlands.

 

History:

 According to traditions, French sailors coming from Dieppe established in 1364 the 1st. French settlement along the Guinea gulf coast. European traders began to work in this region during the XVth. Century and the country was in the centre of different commercial routes for long , ruled by the Dioula. French people settled there starting from the XIX th. Century, even if the actuale Ivory Coast  was not conquered until 1890.

The French drew up a set of contracts with local sovereigns and after obtaining some territoires in west Africa, Ivory Coast  became a  Protectorate in 1889 and a colony in 1893 up to its independence in 1960.

The current constitution goes back to October 1960 when Felix Houphouet-Boigny became President.

Houphouet-Boigny established  connections with the west, especlially with France , pursuing an anticommunist foreign politics and a programme of financial and political austerity.

At the end of the ’80 he decided to shift to capital to Yamoussoukrou (his birthplace) where a Basilica like San Pietro in Rome was built. The esteemed cost, 100 millions US$, was exorbitant.

The expensive works for the embellishment of the capital, togheter with a world recession and a great drought causing the slump of the global cocoa price, damaged the economy of the country.

Bédié finally becam the new President when Houphouet died , in december 1993.

There was a great dissatisfaction for two years, expecially in universities and industrial textile sectors.

The prospects for a political stability didn’t improve for the recent presidential elections in October 1995, boycotted by the main opposition parties accusing the government of manipulating the results of the election won by Henry de Konan Bediè.

Rouled by Houphouet, Ivory Coast  was of the few African States keeping connections with the regime of racial segregation in South Africa.

 

CITIES OF IVORY COAST

 Abidjan, previous capital and biggest city, with an important commercial trade in the centre of the city, Mesete. The heart of Abidjan, the old more traditional part where comman people live, is Treichville, where you can find lots of bars, restaurants, dancing halls and the biggest market of the city, typical and coloured.

There is also a very interesting museum: the Ifon Museum.

Among the new neighourhoods we find Cocody, the exclusive residential area with the majestic Hotel Ivoire.

Other interesting neighourhoods are Marcory and Adjamè.

About 100 km. east of the capital there is Assouinde beach; other tourist places are Tiagba, Gram Bassam, whose sandy  beaches are the favourite places where the inhabitants of Abidjan spens their weekends. Very interesting is also Bondoukou, one of the oldest city of the country.

The region of Man, west of the country, is a wide place with luxuriant hills. The city of a Man is a good base to explore the region and partcularty to reach La Cascade, a waterfall jumping into a  bamboo forest. You can also climb Mount Tonkoui and visit some villages 55 km. far: Biankoumaand, Gouessesso.

The new administrative and political capital is Yamoussoukro, about 230 km north of Abidjan. It has an important international golf-course and various buildings interesting from an architectural point of wiew, including the President Palace and the Mosque.

Interesting is also Notre Dame Cathredal. It is an imitation of St. Pietro Basilica in Rome ì, with lots of big windows with sealed with lead glasses.

Although Catholicism is a minor religion in ivory Coast (it’s said that all the Catholics of the country enter the Cathedral), Yamoussoukro is Felix  Houphouet-Boigny birthplace, who was till his death, for over 30 years, the President of Ivory Coast.  The total cost of the cathedral wal after all half of the deficit of the country balance.

 


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GHANA

The most interesting traditions of Ghana are connected to art, festivities and rituals.
The artisan towns are famous for the production of Kente coloured material, the typical clothes of the central areas Kings.

GEOGRAPHY:
The Ghana Republic is situated in the Western Africa. It confines at west withn Ivory Coast, at north with Burkina Faso, at east with Togo; at south it faces the Atlantic Ocean, and precisely the Guinea Gulf.
From the coast the territory raises itself to reach the maximum height of about 500 mts to the frontier with Togo. Among the numerous rivers, the most important is Volta, which has is origin from the confluence between the Black Volta and the White Volta. They enter in Ghana from Burkina Faso flowing into one of the greatest worldwide artifcial basins: the Volta lake.
The Ghana coast have nice, sandy beaches with palms.
Old Britannic colon, known as Gold Coast, it has been the first country of sub-saharian Africa to obtain the independence (1957).
Ghana urface is 238.537 kmq. And it counts about 20.245.000 inhabitants (2002).
The capital is Accra.

CLIMATE:
Rains are concentrated in the periods May-June and September-October.
In some area of the country (Ashanti areas, central area and Volta area) rains could be very persistent and create lot of discomforts to travellers.
From December till February/March, blows the “harmattan” an hot wind which arrives from the north/west desert bringing great quantity of sand. This is the most dry period, temperatures are very high during the day with a discrete termical excursion This happen till the arrival of rains. In the most of the country the higher temperatures are registrated in August, the lower in March.

ECONOMY:
The main economical resourse is the agriculture. Ghana is in fact the principal producer of cacao in the world. In the last ten years during which te market price of cacao has been very low, the economy has felt the effects a lot. Other very important resource is the fishing which has developed a lot in these last years due to the fact that with the traditional canoas there are now modern boats.
The main industry of the country is the extractive one. There are very rich diamonds, gold (famous the one extracted in the Ashanti field), iron, silver. Manganese and bauxite fields. There are also little quantity of oil and natural gas but not so important to take advantage commecially.
The energetics needs of the country are guaranteed from idroelectric equipments which produce electric energy in a quantity superior to the needs of Ghana and that this conuntry sells to the border countries.

POPULATION:
In all country we can meet numerous tribal crowds who still practise traditional rituals. Is not difficult find totems and sacred tombs which are really beautiful and call mind a mystic halo of African history.
Sculptures have generally animal, fruit and vegetable shapes and ae very important in the tribal society.

LANGUAGE:
The official language is English. In the rural areas the local slangs are widespread (Twi, Fane, Ga, Aan and so on).

RELIGION:
Christianity, Moslem and Animist.
Religion has a strong influence in Ghanean’s life.

HYSTORY:
Ghana, which was a Britannic share-cropping with the name o Golden Cost obtained the independance on 6th. March 1957. The country kept the actual name from one of the ancient empires presente from IV to X century. Three years after the independency, in 1960, Ghana became a Republic and Kwame Nkrumah, the prime Minister of the country and leader of CPP.
For Ghana started in any case a period of economical decline and, for financing his country, Nkrumah was obliged to get into the debts. In 1966 Ghana had a debt of 1 milliard of dollarsand in the same years Nkrumah and the diffuse corruption among his collaborators, brought to a coup d’état fron te army, supported from the people.
The most important politic figure today is Jerry Rowlings, who made another coup d’état in May 1979 and again in 1981.
At the beginning he impose an austerity plan which contributed to the inflation control and gained financial helps from west, included the international Monetary Fund of the World Bank.
In spite of the popularity, the Rowling’s system of government must supress numerous coup d’état attempts.
A referendum in the 1992 re-established the constitutional government and Rawling became president. The elections made triumph the NDC.
With the nomination of the Ghanian Kofi Annan to secretary of Unted Nations is born again for this country, rich in human and natural resources, the hope to come back to be a guide state for African continent.
Re-elected president in 1996, Rowlings was to the guide of the country till the elections of 2000, which were gained by John Agyekum Kufuor. Announcing for the country the beginning of a new age.
 

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