The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 16 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo, as well as the United Kingdom Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.
Western Africa is a term used in the Encyclopædia Britannica to designate a geographic region within the continent of Africa. The term West Africa is also often used to refer to this part of the continent.
Jun 22, 2019 · West Africa has cachet and soul. Home to stunning landscapes and inhabited by an astonishing diversity of peoples, this is the perfect destination to explore the expanse of rich culture and deep tradition found on this beautiful continent.
Our species, Homo sapiens, rose in Africa some 300,000 years ago. The objects that early humans made and used, known as the Middle Stone Age material culture, are found throughout much of Africa and include a vast range of innovations.
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West Africa is west of an imagined north-south axis lying close to 10° east longitude, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Sahara Desert. Colonial boundaries are reflected in the modern boundaries between contemporary West African states, cutting across ethnic and cultural lines, often dividing single ethnic groups between two or more states.
- Burkina Faso
- Ivory Coast
- Cape Verde
- Sierra Leone
Benin is a French-speaking West African country that is officially called The Republic of Benin. Its borders include Burkina Faso and Niger on the north, Togo on the west and Nigeria on the east. Cotonou is the country’s largest city and is also where the seat of government is located but the capital is located at Porto-Novo. Benin covers a land mass that is equivalent to 110,000 square kilometres (42,000 sq mi) holding a population of approximately 9.05 million people. The country gained the...
Burkina Faso was formerly known as Upper Volta; a country in Western Africa that gained independence from France in 1960. Following independence, Burkina Faso has faced domestic and external concern over the state of its economy and human rights abuses with repeated military coups that have ravaged the country especially in the 1970’s and 1980’s up until recently. There is still significant lack of transparency in the country. For instance, the Current President of Burkina Faso: President Bla...
The Republic of Ivory Coast one country in West Africa that once had pride as the model of stability since after her independence in 1960 however, this was short-lived as the country was thrown into political chaos in the early 21st century when armed rebellion split the country in two in 2002. On a positive note, the country is known as one of the major producers of cocoa and the development of cocoa production for export, and foreign investment, especially in this industrial sector all, mad...
Cape Verde is officially known as The Republic of Cape Verde, is the only island country of its type in West Africa. Cape Verde is a combination of 10 islands located 570 kilometres off the coast of West Africa in the central Atlantic Ocean, Cape Verde’s islands are historical of volcanic origin and most of them are rocky with vegetation. Cape Verde has an estimated population of about 500,000, with a quarter of its citizens living in the state capital Praia while almost 38% live in the rural...
The Gambia is one of the smallest countries in Africa. The President Yahya Jammeh took over power in 1994 following a coup that was successfully carried out without any bloodshed. He held on to power till he was ousted in an election he had earlier accepted the result only to come back later and void it. The country is largely dependent on peanuts export since the soil does not support much of other products.
The Republic of Ghana has Ivory Coast on its west, Burkina Faso on its north, Togo on the east and the Gulf of Guinea on the south of its borders. It was the first black African nation in West Africa to achieve independence from a colonial power. Ghana has one of the best growing economies in West Africa and has in recent times enjoyed the benefits of a better and more transparent system of government which has translated to the state of its economy.
Guinea is a West African country with a population of 10,057,975 and occupying an area of 246,000 square kilometres As part of its borders, Guinea has Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Mali on the northern part, and its southern border is shared with Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d’Ivoire. Like most African countries, Guinea was not free from political oppression and instability. Following independence in 1958, Guinea’s first president, Ahmed Sekou Toure, pursued a revolutionary socialist agenda...
Guinea-Bissau is a West African country bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Senegal. Only 14% of the population in Guinea-Bissau speaks Portuguese as the official language, the majority (up to 44%) speak Kriol which is a Portuguese-based creole language while the remainder speaks native African languages. Guinea-Bissau has had quite significant political and military insurgency since independence from Portugal in 1974.
Liberia is officially known as The Republic of Liberia. It is bordered by Guinea to its north, Sierra Leone to its west and Côte d’Ivoire to its east. The country has about 3.7 million people living within the confines of its boundary. The country has seen a lot of violence, human right abuse and for long, has been a United Nations peacekeeping zone.
The Republic of Mali as it is officially recognized is a French-speaking West African Country landlocked by Senegal and Mauritania to the west, Niger to the east, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire to the south, Guinea to the south-west, and Algeria to the north. Mali has an estimated population of 14.5 million with its capital located at Bamako and the majority of inhabitants living in the southern part of the country. It is a country whose major source of foreign exchange centers on agriculture...
Mauritania is one of the countries in West Africa and also one of the newest oil-producing countries. Geographically, Mauritania bridges the Arab Maghreb and western sub-Saharan Africa. Most parts of the country is desert and perhaps one of the reasons for a national shuffling that has mostly the Arab-Berber population in the north and black Africans in the south.
Republic of Niger, is another landlocked country in Western Africa. Among its borders are Benin, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Algeria, Libya and Chad in different directions. The Republic of Niger has a reputation for being the largest nation in West Africa, however, 80% of this land mass is covered by the Sahara desert. Niger has a population of 16,068,994 as at 2011 and this number is very much concentrated in the south and western parts of the country.
Nigeria is officially recognized as the Federal Republic of Nigeria which is a federal constitutional republic with 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Among its borders are the Republic of Benin in the west, Niger and Chad in the north and Cameroon in the east. Its coast in the south lies on the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. Nigeria has some notable facts for which it can be remembered: It is the most populous country in Africa, the seventh most populous country in th...
Senegal is one of the French-speaking countries in West Africa with Dakar as the capital city which is located at the westernmost tip of the country on the Cap-Vert peninsula. Senegal remains one of the most stable democracies in Africa and has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping and regional mediation. The country has been held up as one of Africa’s model democracies. It has an established multi-party system and a tradition of civilian rule.
Sierra Leone is an English-speaking west African country which greatly relies on mining, especially diamonds, for its economic base and mineral exports remain the main foreign currency earner and also among the largest producers of titanium and bauxite, and a major producer of gold. The country boasts of the third largest natural harbor in the world where shipping from all over the globe berth at Freetown’s famous Queen Elizabeth II Quay. Sierra Leone is one of the largest producers of diamon...
Togo is a small West African country with a population of 6.7 million people and suffers from very lean economic growth and approximately one half of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day. Agriculture is the major source of income which also provides jobs for the major part of the population. Natural raw materials like Cocoa, coffee, and cottonseed contribute up to 40% of all earnings from exportation. Among all these, cotton is the largest contributing ca...
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- Geography and Climate of Western Africa
- Culture of Western African Countries
- Religion of Western African Countries
- Languages Spoken in The Region
- Economics of Western Africa
Including the broad definition of the Maghreb region, West Africa has a total area of approximately 2,370,667 miles squared (about a fifth of Africa). Most of the lands in the region are made up of low-lying planes that do not go beyond 984 feet above the level of the sea. However, there are a few high points that are scattered all over the region. In the northern region of West Africa, excluding the western side of the Maghreb, there is a semi-arid land known as the Sahel. The Sahel provides a bridge between the savannah region of Western Sudan and the extensive Sahara Desert. A belt of forests with widths ranging between 99 miles and 149 miles has been created by forests between the southern coast and the savannahs. On a broad scale, the Atlantic Ocean is deemed to be the border of the region to the west and the south while the Sahara Desert is the border to the north. The northernmost area of West Africa is the Ranishanu Bend. A debate arises when it comes to the determination of...
There are a variety of cultures in the region ranging from Nigeria all the way to Senegal in the far west. However, these cultures are mostly similar with similarities visible in things like music, dress, and a few other things. These similarities are estimated to go all the way back to the times of the Ghana and the Mali Empire, or even earlier than that. The region’s cuisine is particularly popular among the numerous visitors to the region. The food is popular all over the world in other places such as the Caribbean, the US, Australia, and other places. While these recipes have been altered a little, the heart of the meals is in West Africa. Some of the foods that are popular in the region include the likes of fish, fruits, and vegetables. Naturally, the food prepared in the different countries is different in the recipes they use but are similar in more ways than they are different. Other West African foods and delicacies include cassava, plantains, rice, sweet potatoes, and othe...
Islam is the most dominant religion in the area with about 70% of the population being Muslims. Merchants introduced the religion to the region back in the 9thcentury. Today, the religion is practically ingrained into everything and is responsible for determining the way of life, dressing, values, and other things. However, there are countries that used to practice the religion even before the merchants showed up. These countries include the likes of Senegal, Niger, Mali, Gambia, and Guinea. Other nations such as Nigeria, Togo, and others only had some sections practicing Islam before the merchants. Christianity is a relatively new religion after its introduction in the later stages of the 19thcentury, which was around the same time the British and the French showed up. Most of the Christians are composed of Roman Catholics and Anglicans, much like Christianity in the west. The religion has become the main one in some parts of Nigeria and the coastal stretch between southern Ghana a...
Regarding languages, the majority of the population speaks Niger-Congo languages, which are mostly from non-Bantu tribes. Some of the major tribes speaking these Niger-Congo languages include the likes of Yoruba, Fulani, Akan, Igbo, and the Wolof tribes. Other significant languages include the Tuareg language and Chadic-languages. The Colonials also played a significant role in the determination of national languages of most countries. For most countries, the national languages are European languages such as English, Portuguese, and French. Arabic is more common further inland in the north.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which was established in 1975, oversees the region’s economic needs. Another smaller body, the West African Monetary Union, is responsible for the economy of a smaller group of eight countries that use the CFA franc. Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger also have their own body known as the Liptako-Gourma Authority. Women have also been vocal in recent times in the peace efforts in the region.
- Ferdinand Bada
West Africa is the most densely populated area of Africa. It is in many ways both the continent's most difficult place for travel and potentially its most rewarding.
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