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Cote d'Ivoire/Ivory Coast

West Africa's Ivory Coast has over 22 million people with a mix of languages and religious beliefs. Once run by the French, it's been an independent nation since the 1960s. There's been internal unrest in the last 15 years, including a civil war. There's a lively musical scene involving instruments like talking drums and genres like zoblazo and zouglou. The country is increasingly competitive in soccer, and took part in the World Cup twice over the past decade. Track and basketball are also popular. Ivorian rainforest can be viewed at the very walkable Parc du Banco, and the largest outdoor laundrette on the continent lies outside the entrance. Abidjan offers impressive cathedrals and historical museums. Take advantage of the coastline and head to the beach in San P├®dro. The cuisine uses a lot of grains and other starches. Aitiu, a corn paste, is used to prepare corn balls. Atti├®k├® is like a vegetable couscous, and is made of cassava. Maf├® is meat in peanut sauce, and aloko is banana fried in palm oil and covered with toppings like fish or onions and chili. Fruits include delicious mandarins, mangoes, passion fruit, soursop, and coconuts.