Africa leads the world in terms of the total number of state entities. The countries of Africa differ in terms of area, natural resource potential and population, but most of them have a similar history and the same problems in development.

Africa: general characteristics of the region

The "black" continent is the hottest and highest continent on the planet. The second in area, it occupies 20% of the entire surface of the terrestrial land.

African countries: history and development problems

Africa is considered the cradle of all mankind, because it was here that the most ancient remains of the so-called hominids were found - the transitional family between the rational and primitive man. To date, the continent is home to about a billion people in more than 50 state formations.

All African countries are different, but at the same time similar to each other. The study of historical, cultural and economic features, as well as the development of this most interesting region of the Earth, is carried out by a special science - African studies.

The origin of the name "Africa" ​​is interesting. Many scientists believe that it comes from the Phoenician word "afar", which translates as "dust." Thus, Africa is nothing but a "dusty land" in the understanding of the ancient Romans.

Today, the Afrikanists on a territorial basis divide all African countries into five geographical regions:

  • North Africa;
  • West Africa;
  • Central Africa;
  • East Africa;
  • South Africa.

Countries in Africa: List of the largest countries

If you look at the political map of the continent, you can see one distinctive feature. It is not very noticeable contrast between the territories of different African countries, which is very evident when looking at the map of Asia or the same America. In other words, in Africa there are not too large or too small states, and most of the countries have approximately comparable area. This is one of the consequences of the colonial past of Africa: many of the official borders between states are not objective, which provokes a huge number of interethnic conflicts.

To date, there are 62 territorial entities on the mainland (including sovereign states, unrecognized and dependent territories). 54 of them are independent.

We offer you to see the table "The largest countries in Africa". The list of the 10 largest countries is presented below.

The largest states of Africa

History of Africa

The historical path of most of the African states went through three stages:

  • European colonization.
  • National liberation movements.
  • Decolonization and the formation of new independent states.

The colonization of African lands by Europeans took place differently in the northern and southern parts of the continent. So, if North Africa without special difficulties was completely divided between the colonizers during the XIX century, then the conquest of the southern and central part of the continent passed more slowly and more difficultly. The reason for this was the complete lack of infrastructure in these territories, as well as various dangerous tropical diseases.

One way or another, but by the beginning of the twentieth century there were only two independent states in Africa: Ethiopia and Liberia. All other countries were controlled by European metropolises: France, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Britain.

Different countries in Africa in different ways experienced a period of decolonization, which began in the 1920s and ended already at the end of the twentieth century. And if in North Africa the national liberation movements were more successful, then in the South - they had the character of isolated situational uprisings.

Libya's independence gained its first place in 1951. And the culmination for the decolonization of the continent was 1961, which historians dubbed "the year of Africa." This year, as many as 17 countries of the continent became independent!

The main problems of the region's development

The development of African countries, as a rule, slows down the same problems. Here are the most important of them:

  • a colossal social "chasm" between the powers that be and the common people;
  • constant military conflicts, riots and coups;
  • the widespread development of the so-called destructive sectors of the economy (drug production, arms sales, human trafficking, etc.);
  • the discrepancy between state and ethnic boundaries;
  • low level of development of manufacturing industry;
  • lack of quality medicine, high infant mortality.


Today, there are 54 independent states on the continent. Almost all African countries, despite their cultural, religious or ethnic differences, have a similar path of historical development, as well as common problems. Among the most acute problems of these countries are poverty, poor-quality medicine and poor ecology.