France obtained rights on the coast in 1842 but did not occupy the territory until 1882. In the early 1870s a French offer to exchange Côte d’Ivoire with the British for the Gambia, which bisected the French colony of Senegal, was refused. Rumours of gold later rekindled French interest and in 1889 Côte d’Ivoire was declared a French protectorate. Governors appointed from France administered the colony using a system of centralized rule that allowed little room for local participation. In 1946 Côte d’lvoire’s first political party, the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, was created under the leadership of Félix Houphouët-Boigny who eventually adopted a policy of co-operation with the French authorities. By the mid-1950s the country had become the wealthiest in French West Africa and in 1958 Côte d’Ivoire became an autonomous republic within the French Community. Côte d’Ivoire achieved full independence on 7 Aug. 1960, with Félix Houphouët-Boigny as its first president.
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