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Did you know?

1. No African country names begin with the letters F, H, I, J, O, P, Q, V, W, X, or Y.

2. Africa is surrounded by water but by definition Africa is not an island because Africa is a continent.

3. African tech startups raise billions of dollars annually, seven African start-ups were included in the World Economic Forum 2021 cohort of 100 Technology Pioneers.

Why is North Africa listed as separate from the African continent

Why is North Africa listed as separate from the African continent.


MENA and Sub Saharan Africa
MENA and Sub Saharan Africa

MENA and Sub Saharan Africa


MENA region

In politics and economics as well as racial lines, North African countries are commonly grouped with the Middle East under the umbrella of MENA. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a region encompassing approximately 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Many of the 12 OPEC nations are within the MENA region. While there is no standardized list of which countries are included in the MENA region, the term typically includes the area from Morocco in northwest Africa to Iraq in southwest Asia and down to Sudan in Africa.

The following countries are typically included in MENA: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Countries in the region benefit from an advantaged geographic location situated at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Historically Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, the five African countries in the North of Africa, mostly do not; describe themselves as Africans even though they unquestionably habituate African geography since the Arab conquest and occupation of Africa.

In 1962, North Africa and South Africa were both struggling against colonialism and apartheid when Nelson Mandela went to receive military training with the Algerian FLN in Morocco. Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt share not only a colonial past with the rest of Africa but also a physical continent. The self-described MENA region has majorly contributed to the historical, scientific, trade and cultural progress of humanity.


Why is there a Sub Saharan Africa?

The dividing line itself also has some troubling origins in what Larkin calls “racist” colonial theories that thought northern Africa more culturally developed.

“It divides Africa according to white ideas of race, making North Africans white enough to be considered for their glories, but not really white enough,” Tatenda Chinondidyachii Mashanda, a politics and international affairs scholar at Wake Forest University, wrote earlier this year for The African Exponent. ” [It] is a way of saying ‘Black Africa’ and talking about black Africans without sounding overtly racist.”

What exactly does Sub-Saharan Africa mean? According to the UN, Sub Saharan Africa consists of all African countries that are fully or partially located south of the Sahara desert. Nigerian-born Chika Onyeani, who is chairman of Celebrate Africa Foundation said in 2011“I believe that sub-Saharan Africa was created due to the AIDS pandemic beginning in the last 1970s.”. Onyeani said he and his group feel “sub-Saharan Africa” is a racist term that should be rejected by all Africans.”

Djibouti is in the Horn of Africa south of the Sahara but is considered part of the MENA region. Mauritania and Sudan are mostly desert but are also considered part of MENA. Sub Saharan African countries are Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Dem. Rep., Congo, Rep., Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome And Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, And Zimbabwe.

“Sub-Saharan Africa’ is such an enormous catchphrase that it’s almost useless,” says Rosalind Morris, an African studies professor at Columbia University. “Nigeria as a state doesn’t look anything like Kenya as a state doesn’t look anything like Botswana.”


Dividing Africa

The UN Development Program lists 46 of Africa’s 54 countries as sub-Saharan, excluding Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, and Tunisia. This does not make geographical sense four countries included are on the Sahara, while Eritrea is deemed sub-Saharan but its southern neighbor Djibouti is not.

The World Bank muddies the waters further, adding Sudan and Somalia to a total of 48 countries under the label. By contrast, the African Union refers to regional organizations like the East African Community and the Economic Community of West African States building blocks.

Therefore, maybe it is time for some nuance around a subject where the debate is so reductive that Yale anthropology professor Louisa Lombard says “academics are used to people speaking about Africa as one country.” What is wrong with more accurate geographic markers, like East, West, Central and Southern Africa? Or even just calling Nigeria, the world’s seventh biggest country, by its own name?



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African countries list
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Africa is surrounded by water but is not an island, here are a few African Island facts.

Madagascar is the 4th large island in the world and is located in the Indian Ocean supporting a unique biology, about 90% of its plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth.

Composed of 155 islands, Seychelles is Africa's smallest country. By far the largest island is Mahe, home to about 90% of the population and the site of its capital city of Victoria.

Cabo Verde has a strategic location 310 miles or 500 km from the west coast of Africa near major north-south sea routes; important communications station; important sea and air refueling site.

Africa is surrounded by water but by definition Africa is not an island because Africa is a continent. Continents can not be considered islands because of their size and also by historic definition since many people who study geography define islands and continents as two different things.

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Being African in America I have grown up learning about different ethnic cultures. My father and mother are historians of African culture and history and their influence expanded my activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded products, and a popular African culture and food blog.

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