Abidjan is the largest city and former capital of Côte d'Ivoire. It is the commercial and banking center of Côte d'Ivoire as well as the de facto capital. (Yamoussoukro is the official capital.) It stands in Ébrié Lagoon on several converging peninsulas and islands, connected by bridges. There are an estimated 4 to 5 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area. The city is a study in contrasts. On one hand the city is hot and humid, congested and full of street hawkers. On the other hand, Abidjan is referred to as the "Paris of West Africa" because of its parks, broad boulevards, universities, exotic fashions and museums. Neighborhoods include Cocody, an upscale residential area located east of the modern business district, and Treichville, located southward on Petit-Bassam Island, with its busy traditional market. Banco National Park lies north of the city. Abidjan harbors numerous government departments. It is also the hub of the national road system and the terminus of the Abidjan-Niger Railway, which extends northward into Burkina Faso.
Since the start of the Ivorian Civil War in 2002, insecurity in Abidjan has risen, with frequent riots targeting foreigners as well as a sharp increase in criminality. Once one of the wealthiest and most peaceful cities in Africa, Abidjan is now considered one of the most dangerous cities on the continent.
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