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About the City of Bassam
IUGB’s home city, Grand-Bassam, has both an interesting history and, by all indications, a bright future too, underscored by the unveiling by President Ouattara in August, 2012, of the proposed major new 4-lane motorway linking Abidjan and Grand-Bassam, a $120-million dollar project. Although parts of it may have the look and feel of a ghost town, in contrast, all around are also signs of vitality and revitalization, construction and growth. Now boasting an estimated but rapidly growing population of just under 74, 000 (according to the GeoNames database), the city had its heyday between 1893 and 1896 when it was the nation’s capital during the French colonial period, with part of it fondly designated the sobriquet “Petit Paris”. It was abandoned in 1896 when a major outbreak of yellow fever drove the French to Bingerville. Nevertheless, Grand-Bassam remained a key seaport until it was quickly overtaken by Abidjan from the 1930s. With its beaches, adorning palm trees and well-stocked craft markets, it has a truly tropical holiday resort feel about it. For the enthusiasts, there is a great deal of undocumented history here which can be gleaned from casual conversations with the locals and finding out about the many historical monuments dotted around the city. The very bold but unassuming monument in the middle of one of the city’s traffic roundabouts is a tribute to the role of women in the fight against French colonialism.
Adding to the prospects for its future for historic tourism, as well as tourism engendered by its physical environment, Grand-Bassam was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a small city with the energy of a medium sized metropolis.
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