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Grand-Bassam is a town in south-eastern Ivory Coast, lying east of Abidjan. It was the French colonial capital city from 1893 to 1896, when the administration was transferred to Bingerville after a bout of yellow fever.[4] The town remained a key seaport until the growth of Abidjan from the 1930s.

Colonial house in Grand-Bassam
Colonial house in Grand-Bassam
Grand-Bassam is located in Ivory Coast
Location in Ivory Coast
Coordinates: 5°12′N 3°44′W / 5.200°N 3.733°W / 5.200; -3.733Coordinates: 5°12′N 3°44′W / 5.200°N 3.733°W / 5.200; -3.733[1]
Country Ivory Coast
 • Total84,028
Time zoneUTC+0 (GMT)
Official nameGrand Bassam
Designated18 October 2005
Reference no.1583[3]
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Official nameHistoric Town of Grand-Bassam
CriteriaCultural: (iii), (iv)
Inscription2012 (36th Session)
Area109.89 ha (0.4243 sq mi)
Buffer zone552.39 ha (2.1328 sq mi)

Grand-Bassam is a sub-prefecture of and the seat of Grand-Bassam Department; it is also a commune. The town has the aura of a ghost town, since large sections have been abandoned for decades. In 1896, the French capital was moved to Bingerville, and commercial shipping gradually declined until it virtually ceased in the 1930s. In 1960, with independence, all remaining administrative offices were transferred to Abidjan, and for many years Grand-Bassam was inhabited only by squatters. Beginning in the late 1970s, the town began to revive as a tourist destination and craft centre.

The town is divided by the Ébrié Lagoon into two halves: Ancien Bassam is the former French settlement, facing the Gulf of Guinea. It is home to the grander colonial buildings, some of which have been restored. The district is also home to a cathedral and the Ivory Coast National Museum of Costume. Nouveau Bassam, linked to Ancien Bassam by a bridge, lies on the inland, northern side of the lagoon. It grew from the African servants' quarter and is now the main commercial centre of the town.

The town is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand-Bassam. The diocese's cathedral is the Cathédrale Sacré Cœur in Grand-Bassam.

In 2012, it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In March 2016, the town was targeted in a terrorist attack which killed at least 19 people.[5][6]



The first European to explore the region of Grand-Bassam was the Portuguese explorer Soeiro da Costa in 1469. He named Comoé after the name of Rio de Mayo and gave his name to the Assinie river that he named Rio Soeiro da Costa. The first Europeans to sign the treaty with Bassam of King Peter who was then a village were Charles Philippe Kerhallet and Alphonse Fleuriot de Langle on February 19th, 1842. Fort Nemours, the first sustainable fort of the Coast with that of Assinie, was built in 1843, after the landing of Lieutenant Fleuriot de Langle, which was to lead to a treaty between France and King of Grand-Bassam, King Bley Peter (February 19, 1842), King Peter was with his notables Kouassi and Waka (Walker). At that time, skirmishes with the English were frequent, and the means did not allow to exploit the interior of the country. It was inside these forts that the first trading posts would be installed in the years that followed.

Founded in the mid-fifteenth century by the Nzima, the city was the main French administrative center during the 1890s. In 1899, the center was transferred to Bingerville, following an epidemic of yellow fever, of the 60 Europeans present in the city, 45 died. New epidemics had also occurred between 1900 and 1903.

The city remained a seaport until the 1930s, before passing the relay in Abidjan, then booming. In 1893, the city of Grand-Bassam hosted the submarine telegraphy center connecting the "territory of Côte d'Ivoire" to Conakry "territory of Guinea" on the one hand, and Cotonou "territory of Dahomey" which was the only link open on the outside, on the other. The submarine cable station, also known as the "thousand foot house", was located after the exit of the bridge that crossed the lagoon, left along the lagoon and second street on the right, and faced a school sisters. It was in the cable station, originally built by the Germans, that the first Mass would have taken place. This "cable house", with an area of ​​400 miles, had a raised ground floor where there were the operating services and a floor where the head of the center and his family lived. The post office was installed there in 1945.

On July 1st 2012, Grand-Bassam was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

2016 terrorist attackEdit

On March 13th 2016, the city of Grand-Bassam suffered the first attack perpetrated on Ivorian territory. It was during the day that a bloody shooting hit a tourist district of the city killing at least 18 people, including three special forces and at least 15 civilians, including four French and one German. In the assault of special forces, three attackers were neutralized. That same night, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack through its news agency.


  1. ^ "Ivory Coast Cities Longitude & Latitude". Retrieved 19 November 2010.
  2. ^ "Côte d'Ivoire". Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  3. ^ "Grand Bassam". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  4. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Historic Town of Grand-Bassam". Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  5. ^ Tran, Mark; Duval Smith, Alex (13 March 2016). "'At Least 16 Dead' After Gunmen Open Fire in Ivory Coast Resort". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  6. ^

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