How Many Countries Are in Africa?

residentevil_stars2001/CC-BY 2.0

Africa is home to 54 fully recognized countries, though there are two additional states that may or may not be counted due to political disputes. They are Western Sahara and Somaliland.

Africa’s Countries

The 54 recognized countries that make up Africa are: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Algeria is the largest country in Africa, while Nigeria is home to the most people. Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa and The Democratic Republic of the Congo round out the top five most populated countries on the continent. Their coastal locations and access to trade, shipping and jobs are some of the main reasons why more people choose to live in these nations. Cairo, Khartoum, Accra, Johannesburg, Casablanca, Nairobi, Algiers and Lagos are some of the continent’s largest cities.

Africa at a Glance

At 11.7 million square miles, Africa is the second-largest continent on the planet next to Asia. With approximately 1.2 billion residents as of 2016, it is also the second-most populated continent. Up to 3,000 languages are spoken throughout Africa’s 54 countries.

The continent sits to the east of the Atlantic Ocean, to the west of the Indian Ocean and south of the Mediterranean Sea, which separates Africa from Europe. The Isthmus of Suez between the Mediterranean and Red Seas connects Africa with Asia. The northernmost point of the continent is approximately 5,000 miles from the southernmost point, while the easternmost point is 4,600 miles from the westernmost point.

While the continent sits along the Equator, it is home to many climate types, including Mediterranean, humid subtropical, tropical rain forest, tropical savannah, steppe, desert, highland and marine. Temperatures tend to be higher in the Sahara Desert area, while they are lower in the more mountainous regions.

Africa’s Environment

Africa is known for its unique and diverse wildlife population. Elephants, giraffes, crocodiles, cheetahs, lions, buffalo, snakes, camels and other species call the continent home. There are nearly 3,200 protected areas, both on land and in the water, in Africa that are in place to save the animals, their habitats and various plant species from issues like poaching, civil unrest, destruction of the forests and soil degradation.

Africa’s History

Various anthropological findings suggest that Africa was inhibited as far back as seven million years ago. Approximately 150,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers began setting up communities within the land. Both Christianity and Islam entered Africa through Egypt and remain the two most-practiced religions on the continent. The Greeks and the Romans were the first Europeans to explore the continent, and by the 19th century, Liberia and Ethiopia were the only countries not colonized by Europeans. However, after World War II, these colonies began to seek their independence.