County Profiles

Summer Destinations

South Sudan, also called Southern Sudan, is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa that gained its independence from the Republic of the Sudan in 2011. This is the culmination of a six-year process that ended a long, brutal civil war that caused the deaths of millions. South Sudan is bordered by Sudan to the north, Ethiopia to the east, Kenya to the southeast, Uganda to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the southwest, and the Central African Republic to the west. It includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd, formed by the White Nile and known locally as the Bahr al Jabal.  Its rich biodiversity includes lush savannas, swamplands, and rainforests that are home to many species of wildlife. Prior to 2011, South Sudan was part of Sudan, its neighbor to the north. South Sudan’s population, predominantly African cultures who tend to adhere to Christian or animist beliefs, was long at odds with Sudan’s largely Muslim and Arab northern government. South Sudan’s capital is Juba.  Sudan was once Africa’s largest country.

Egypt invaded in 1821, and made an attempt to construct forts in the region; disease and defection prompted a hasty abandonment of this project, however. Isma’il Pasha, of Egypt, established the province of Equatoria in present-day South Sudan, with plans to colonize the area, and hired British explorer Samuel Baker to govern. An attempt by Britain to unify North and South Sudan fell through in 1947, and military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics since Sudanese independence from the UK in 1956.

São Tomé and Príncipe, is an island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. It consists of two archipelagos around the two main islands: São Tomé and Príncipe and several rocky islets, including Rôlas, south of São Tomé island, and Caroço, Pedras, and Tinhosas. With a population of 199,910 (2016 Census), São Tomé and Príncipe is the second-smallest country on the continent after Seychelles, as well as the smallest Portuguese-speaking country in the world. The rich volcanic soil and close proximity to the Equator made São Tomé and Príncipe ideal for sugar cultivation. The sugar-based economy of the islands later gave way to coffee and cocoa production in the 19th century.

The islands were uninhabited until their discovery by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century. Gradually colonized and settled by the Portuguese throughout the 16th century, they collectively served as a vital commercial and trade center for the Atlantic slave trade. In the early 1900s, controversy arose over unsatisfactory working conditions and forced labor of the Angolan contract workers. An outbreak of riots in 1953 resulted in several hundred African laborers killed known as the Batepá Massacre. São Tomé and Príncipe, was a Portuguese colony and after a lengthy process, independence from Portugal was finally achieved on July 12th 1975 with Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe (MLSTP) Secretary General Manuel Pinto da Costa selected as President.

Gabon, located in central Africa, bordered by Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon to the north, the Republic of the Congo to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west; the islands of Sao Tome and Principe are situated off the coast. The country is one of the thirteen countries transected by the equator. The capital city of Gabon is Libreville. It is also the nation’s most populous urban settlement. Libreville is located on the banks of the Komo River near the river’s mouth at the Gulf of Guinea. It is a major port of Gabon.

Formerly under the control of Portuguese, hence the name; it became a French colony when the French took control as part of French Equatorial Africa. The country gained its independence on Aug. 17th. 1960. Since independence from France,  Gabon has had just three presidents. Late President Omar Bongo ruled for more than four decades until his death in 2009. His son Ali Bongo won a contested election in 2009. Ali Bongo was sworn in for a second seven-year term in September 2016.

Equatorial Guinea is a roughly rectangular territory located few degrees north of the equator bordered by Cameroon to the north and Gabon to the east and south. The country is divided into two main parts, the offshore insular and the mainland. Mainland is called Río Muni (also known as Continental Equatorial Guinea). The insular part consists of five islands (known collectively as: Bioko (formerly Fernando Po), Corisco, Great Elobey (Elobey Grande), Little Elobey (Elobey Chico), and Annobón (Pagalu).  Near the coast are the small islands of Corisco and Great and Little Elobey. Bioko, by far the largest of the islands, lies off the coast of Cameroon in the Bight of Biafra. Annobón, a volcanic island, lies south of the Equator and almost 400 miles (640 km) to the southwest of Bioko. The capital Malabo, is located in Bioko Island. Although, the country is building an entirely new capital call Oyala that will be completed in 2020.

The country was a Spanish colony until October 12th 1968 when it gained its independence. Moreover, it is the only Spanish speaking country on the continent. Large proportion of the population still lives in poverty even as a major oil producer. The country’s leader Mr. Obiang Nguema is currently the longest serving leader on the entire continent; since taking power in 1979 when he overthrew his uncle Francisco Macías Nguema. According to Human Rights Watch, the ”dictatorship under President Obiang has used an oil boom to entrench and enrich himself further at the expense of the country’s people.”

Republic of the Congo, officially called the Republic of the Congo, or Congo (Brazzaville) or simply Congo, with its capital added parenthetically, to distinguish it from its twin country Democratic Republic of the Congo. The RoC is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola (Cabinda); RoC also has a 170 km coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. Civil wars and militia conflicts have plagued the Republic of Congo.

Congo-Brazzaville was a former French colony of Equatorial Africa. The country gained independence in 1960,  and  became the Republic of the Congo. The People’s Republic of the Congo was a Marxist–Leninist one-party state from 1970 to 1991. Multi-party elections have been held since 1992, although a democratically elected government was ousted in the 1997 Republic of the Congo Civil War and President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who first came to power in 1979, has ruled for 38, making him currently the longest-serving leader in the continent with the recent resignation of former president of Zimbabwe, Mugabe as of November 2017. President Nguesso gained his latest seven-year term after elections in March 2016.

DR Congo is the first set of the twin countries the Congo. DR Congo is a vast country with immense economic resources that has yet to be tapped into. DRC is the fourth most populous and the second largest country on the continent. It is also the fastest growing country in the continent and the largest Francophone nation in the world, larger than France itself. The country is often referred to by its acronym, the DRC, or Congo (Kinshasa), the capital , to distinguish it from the Republic of the Congo often referred to as Congo (Brazzaville). The capital, Kinshasa, is located on the Congo River, the largest city in central Africa, and serves as the country’s official administrative, economic, and cultural center.

Congo was a Belgian colony few decades, but on June 30th 1960 it gained independence from Belgium. From 1971 to 1997 the country was officially the Republic of Zaire, a change made by then ruler Gen. Mobutu Sese Seko to give the country what he thought was a more authentic African name. “Zaire” meaning “great river” in local Congolese languages. The country’s name prior to 1971, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was reinstated after the overthrow of Mobutu in 1997. Subsequently after the overthrow of Gen Mobutu, DR Congo was plunged into a devastating civil war; the conflict officially ended in 2003. The war is considered to be one of the deadliest after WWII and has been called, “Africa’s world war,” with the loss of over twenty million civilian lives.

Chad is a landlocked state located in Central Africa. Chad is nicknamed “the dead heart of Africa” because of its distance from the sea and the fact that the country has some of the harshest portions of the Sahara desert, as well as a relatively harsh climate (in the north) due to its geography. Only the southernmost parts of Chad are green and suitable for agriculture. The rest is the Sahel/Sahara belt. Chad is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest and Niger to the west. It is the fifth largest country in Africa in terms of area. A largely semi-desert country, the   desert zone in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the center and a more fertile Sudanian Savanna zone in the south. The name Chad is derived from a local word which means Lake. Lake Chad, after which the country is named,  is the largest wetland in Chad and the second-largest in Africa. The capital N’Djamena (formerly Fort-Lamy) is the largest city.

Central African Republic bordered by Chad to the north, Sudan and South Sudan to the north and east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa) and the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) to the south, and Cameroon to the west. Although, the country is located in Central Africa as the name suggest, however it is not the center of the continent. The center of the continent is identified to lie in a town in the Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville called Dongou. The capital, Bangui, is the largest is located on the southern boundary, formed by the Ubangi River, a tributary of the Congo River.

Since gaining independence from France on August 13th 1960 the country has been unstable and a recent turmoil was a coup by the Seleka rebel coalition. The Seleka rebel coalition group mainly Muslims from the country’s northeast as well as from Chad and Sudan, seized power in the majority Christian country. A band of mostly Christian militias, called the anti-balaka, rose up to counter the Seleka. Seleka handed power to a transitional government in 2014 under international pressure but months of violence followed and the country was effectively partitioned, in spite of the presence of a UN peacekeeping force and a French mission according to the BBC. The country is still undergoing supervision and transition team. Catherine Samba-Panza was elected as interim president by the National Transitional Council, making her the first ever female Central African president. On July 23rd. 2014, following Congolese mediation efforts, Séléka and anti-balaka representatives signed a ceasefire agreement in Brazzaville. Faustin Archange Touadera, was elected President according to the national electoral authority made on February 19, 2016.

Cameroon lies at the junction of western and central Africa but mainly Central Africa. bordered by bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon’s coastline lies on the Bight of Biafra, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. Its name is derived from Rio dos Camarões (“River of Prawns”)—the name given to the Wouri River estuary by Portuguese explorers.

Cameroon was first occupied by Portuguese, and set up sugar plantations and began slave trade. The plantation was eventually taken over by the Dutch in the 1600s and in the late 1800 the Dutch built a warehouse on the estuary of the Wouri River. The German Empire claimed the territory as the colony of Kamerun after the treaty of Annexation with Gustav Nachtigal a German explorer. However, due to the defeat of Germany in WWI, Kamerun became a League of Nations mandate territory and was split into French Cameroon and British Cameroon in 1919. On January 1st. 1960 French Cameroun gained independence from France under President Ahmadou Ahidjo. Soon after, on October 1st. 1961, the formerly British Southern Cameroons united with French Cameroun to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. According to BC Africa, in 1982, “Prime Minister Paul Biya succeeds Ahidjo, who resigns, only to flee the country the following year after Biya accuses him of masterminding a coup. Biya is elected as president in 1984, and changes the country’s name to the Republic of Cameroon.”

The capital is Yaoundé, located in the south-central part of the country. Biya is among few of the longest serving leaders in the continent.

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometers (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba Island. The name Zanzibar is derived from the Persian zang-bâr signifying “black coast.” In 1964 Zanzibar, together with Pemba Island and some other smaller islands, joined with Tanganyika on the mainland to form the United Republic of Tanzania. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic center is Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site.

The first immigrants in Zanzibar were the Africans; the next were the Persians, who landed in Zanzibar in the 10th century. The Africans and the Persians assimilated. This African-Persian population converted to Islam and adopted many Persian traditions. (Even today, most of Zanzibar’s African population calls itself “Shirazi. Arabs had the deepest influence on Zanzibar, because the island’s position made it a perfect entrepôt for Arabs mounting slave expeditions. Arabs from Oman became especially important, for they began establishing colonies of merchants and landowners in Zanzibar. Eventually they became the aristocracy of the island. In 1861 Zanzibar was separated from Oman and became an independent sultanate, which controlled the vast African domains acquired by Saʿīd ibn Sulṭān. Under the sultan Barghash (reigned 1870–88), however, Great Britain and Germany divided most of Zanzibar’s territory. In 1890 the British proclaimed a protectorate over Zanzibar. most sultans were aligned with the British. the sultan’s authority was reduced by the British, however, a notable exception was Khālid ibn Barghash, who seized the throne upon the death of his uncle, Ḥamad ibn Thuwayn, on August 25, 1896. The British, interested in installing their own candidate as sultan, issued an ultimatum to Khālid: either stand down by 9:00 am on August 27 or be at war with Great Britain. Khālid refused to step down, which lead to the Anglo-Zanzibar War. The brief battle between Khālid’s supporters and the British Royal Navy took less than an hour and is considered the shortest war in recorded history. After Khālid’s defeat, the British-supported Ḥamud ibn Moḥammed was installed as sultan. In 1963 the sultanate regained its independence, becoming a member of the British Commonwealth. In January 1964 a revolt by leftists overthrew the sultanate and established a republic. The revolution marked the overthrow of the island’s long-established Arab ruling class by the Africans, who were the majority of the population. In April the presidents of Zanzibar and Tanganyika signed an act of union of their two countries, creating what later in the year was named Tanzania. Ali Mohamed Shein from the governing CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) party is the current president.

Uganda is a landlocked country in Eastern part of the continent, bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the south-west by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, (Africa’s largest freshwater lake), shared with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda is in the African Great Lakes region. Uganda also lies within the Nile basin, and has a varied but generally a modified equatorial climate. Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country. The capital is Kampala. “Uganda is a fairy-tale. You climb up a railway instead of a beanstalk, and at the end there is a wonderful new world,” wrote Sir Winston Churchill, who visited the country during its years under British rule and who called it “the pearl of Africa.” Indeed, Uganda embraces many ecosystems, from the tall volcanic mountains of the eastern and western frontiers to the densely forested swamps of the Albert Nile River and the rainforests of the country’s central plateau. The land is richly fertile, and Ugandan coffee has become both a mainstay of the agricultural economy and a favorite of connoisseurs around the world.

Bantu-speaking populations resided into the southern portion of the country some 2,300 years ago bringing with them ideas of social and political organization and developing unique iron working skills. Arab traders were first to occupy Uganda in 1830s. The British explorers followed in search of the source of the Nile. The region was placed under the charter of the British East Africa Company by the United Kingdom in 1888, and was transformed into a protectorate in 1894. In the late 19th century, laborers were brought from British India to East Africa to begin work on the Uganda Railway, and upon its completion nearly 7,000 of those workers decided to remain in East Africa, according to World Atlas.

Tanzania is located in eastern Africa within the African Great Lakes region. It borders Kenya and Uganda to the north; RwandaBurundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west; ZambiaMalawi, and Mozambique to the south; and the Indian Ocean to the east. Tanzania is considered one of the oldest known (continuously inhabited) areas on the planet and fossil remains of humans and pre-human hominids have been found there dating back over two million years. Tanzania is also home to Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest mountain on the continent and the second deepest lake in the world, Lake Tanganyika. Tanzania became a sovereign nation in 1964 when Tanganyika and Zanzibar became separate states. Dodoma, since 1974 the designated official capital of Tanzania and Dar es Salaam, (the former capital) however, serves as the primary location where governmental administration functions are conducted, as well as being the largest city and port in the country.

The first European to reach the coast of East African was Vasco da Gama, an explorer from Portugal in 1498. Arabs from Oman drove the Portuguese out in the early 18th century, and claimed the coastal strip. In the late 19th century, Germany conquered the regions that are now Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi, and incorporated them into Tanganyika, a part of German East Africa. After World War II, Tanganyika became a UN territory under British control, and subsequent years witnessed Tanganyika moving gradually toward self-government and independence – which they achieved relatively peacefully in 1961.

Rwanda is a landlocked country in east-central Africa, located a few degrees south of the Equator. Rwanda is bordered by UgandaTanzaniaBurundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; its geography is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. Rwanda is often referred to as le pays des mille collines (French: “land of a thousand hills”). Rwanda is among the smallest countries on the continent with the highest  population density. The capital is Kigali, located in the center of the country on the Ruganwa River.

Rwanda’s ethnic groups are structured into various clans: the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. The Tutsi Nyiginya clan grew to be the more dominant, and during the 19th century, under the reign of King Kigeli Rwabugiri, reached its greatest expansion. The territory of Rwanda was assigned to Germany as part of German East Africa in 1884. Under German ruling, the existing hierarchy remained intact, and power was delegated to the local chiefs. A more direct form of ruling came during World War I when Belgian forces introduced a more centralized power structure. During this time frame Belgium also improved educational, health, and agricultural endeavors. In 1959 the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed, and some 150,000 driven into exile in neighboring countries.

Somalia located in the Horn of the continent. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Kenya to the southwest. Somalia has the longest coastline on the continent in mainland and its terrain consists mainly of plateaus, plains and highlands. The capital, Mogadishu, is located just north of the Equator on the Indian Ocean. Somalia has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period.Ancient Somalia domesticated the camel during the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC, and developed a profitable trade system.

In antiquity, Somalia was an important commercial center. It is among the most probable locations of the fabled ancient Land of Punt. During the Middle Ages, several powerful Somali empires dominated the regional trade, including the Ajuran Empire, the Adal Sultanate, the Warsangali Sultanate, and the Geledi Sultanate. The Adal and Ajuuraan kingdoms flourished during the Middle Ages, and their successor states continued to thrive through the 19th century. In the late 19th century, through a succession of treaties with these kingdoms, the British and Italian empires gained control of parts of the coast and established the colonies of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland. In the interior, Mohammed Abdullah Hassan‘s Dervish State repelled the British Empire four times and forced it to retreat to the coastal region, and sparked one of the longest colonial resistance wars in history. Eentually due to British airpower, Mohammed Abdullah Hassan succumbed to defeat in 1920.

Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands located in the Indian Ocean, on the eastern part of the continent. Other nearby island countries and territories include ComorosMayotte (region of France), MadagascarRéunion (region of France) and Mauritius to the south. With a population of about 94,228, it has the smallest population on the continent; however, it does have a larger population than the British overseas territory Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. The capital is Victoria situated on the island of Mahé.

Pre-European colonization the islands were known by Arab navigators on trading voyages, but were never inhabited. Eventually Seychelles was settled by France in the 18th century, but it wasn’t long before the British fought for control. A lengthy struggle between France and Great Britain for the islands ended in 1814, when they were ceded to the latter. Although the new governor to the islands was British, he governed according to French rules, and allowed previous French customs to remain intact. Independence for the islands came in on June 29th 1976, after the Seychelles People’s United Party was formed and led by France-Albert Rene, campaigning for socialism and freedom from Britain. Socialism was brought to a close with a new constitution and free elections in 1993. President France-Albert Rene, who had served since 1977, was re-elected in 2001, but stepped down in 2004. Vice President James Michel took over the presidency and in July 2006 was elected to a new five-year term. The current president, Danny Faure was sworn in as president in October 2016 and is to complete the five-year term of outgoing President James Michel, who resigned. President Faure was previously a vice president. He is a former finance minister, a governor of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the African Development Bank, according to the BBC.

Mauritius is an island country archipelago in the Indian Ocean, located in the eastern coast of the continent. The country includes the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues. The islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues form part of the Mascarene Islands, along with nearby Réunion, a French overseas department. Mauritius, is a model of stability, racial harmony and economic prosperity, according to the BBC. The capital is Port Louis named after the naval port built by the French.

Mauritius was a Dutch colony, however, less than a hundred years after settlement the Dutch deserted the colonies.  Although not long after the Dutch abandoned Mauritius, the French arrived and constructed a naval base and shipbuilding center they called Port Louis. The French lost the island amidst the Napoleonic wars as Britain successfully overpowered the base in 1810. In 1936, following conflicts between the Indian community and Franco-Mauritians, the Mauritius Labor Party was founded. This coalition became a catalyst in the push for an independent nation, which was achieved in 1968. Recent elections having taken place in December 2014, in the l’Alliance Lepep and elected Sir Anerood Jugnauth of the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) as Prime Minister. Ameenah Gurib was sworn in 2015 as the first woman president. Her excellency is an internationally renowned scientist and biologist and hold expertise in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. The official language is English.

Madagascar is an island in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa, is the fourth-largest island in the world and previously known as the Malagasy Republic. The island is characterized by its early isolation from the continent and India due to the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian peninsula around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. There are over 200,000 species on the island and between 80 and 90 percent being endemic. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The capital city of Antananarivo (formerly Tananarive).

These early settlers began to move inland around 600 AD, clearing the central Highlands and planting taro and rice. These people became known as the Vazimba, while the remaining inhabitants on the southwestern coast became known as the Vezo. Trading posts were established along the northwestern coast, and the influence of the Arab culture spread. The island served as an important trading port during this time, and gave Africa a route to the Silk Road. both the Portuguese and French tried (unsuccessfully) to establish settlements on the island. Between 1680 and 1725, Madagascar transformed into a pirate haven with such notable pirates as William Kidd, Henry Every, John Bowen and Thomas Tew using Antongil Bay as a base for their operations. Merchant ships were plundered in the Indian OceanRed Sea and the Persian Gulf by said pirates. European ships were stripped of their silks, cloth, spices, and jewels, while Indian cargo ships were robbed of their coins, gold, and silver.

Kenya

Kenya has been described as “the cradle of humanity” due to fossil discovery in 1924 revolutionized the search for human ancestors. The name Kenya is derived from various dialects and means “Gods Resting Place.” Situated on the equator on the east coast, overlying the East African Rift Valley along the largest lake in the continent Lake Vitoria and the Indian Ocean to the east. The coast provided historically important ports by which goods from Arabian and Asian traders have entered the continent for many centuries. Kenya is known for its rich deserts, mountains, reefs, beaches, tribal culture and a great wildlife. Kenya is home to one of the largest desert lakes and freshwater and alkaline volcanic lakes due to its serenity in the world, Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf). This makes Kenya a volcanic zone, however, most volcanos are extinct. The last volcanic eruption occurred in 1910, the “Emuruangogolak.” As a result of the volcanic activity, was the formation of the second largest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kenya. Close to Mt. Kenya lies one of the longest rivers, Tana River  which empties into the Indian Ocean. Another mountain is Mt. Longonot. The capital of Kenya is Nairobi.

Ethiopia is a country on the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the north and northeast, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. Hailed as the “cradle of humanity,” Ethiopia boasts a human history that dates back millions of years. Known to have both ancient and prehistoric history as some of the oldest specimen of modern day humans were found. Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that is not colonized despite attempts by the Italians apart from a five-year occupation by Mussolini. Also attempts were made by Libya. The capital is Addis Ababa (“New Flower”), located almost at the center of the country. Ethiopia is the largest and most populated country in the Horn of Africa.

From 1916-1974 was marked by the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie. He came to power after Iyasu V was deposed.  Iyasu V was the designated but uncrowned Emperor of Ethiopia (1913–16). His mother, Woizero Shoaregga, was the eldest daughter of the emperor Menelek  II. Due to Iyasu’s youth, Menelek agreed to the suggestion that he appoint a Regent ((Enderase), a queen regent/ female monarch,  who is the guardian of a child monarch reigning temporarily in their stead) during the minority of his heir apparent; until Iyasu came of age. Iyasu was replaced by Menelek’s daughter, Zauditu. Since it was considered unseemly for a woman to serve in her own right, Ras Tafari, the son of Ras Makonnen and a cousin of Menelek, served as Zauditu’s regent and heir apparent.  In 1928, Zauditu named Tafari king. On April 1, 1930, Zauditu died, and Tafari declared himself emperor  on  November 2nd  1930. He was crowned Haile Selassie I (“Power of the Trinity”; his baptismal name). He undertook a nationwide modernization campaign from 1916, when he was made a Ras and Regent (Inderase) for the Empress RegnantZauditu, and became the de facto ruler of the Ethiopian Empire. Haile Selassie instituted projects for roads, schools, hospitals, communications, administration, and public services. The combined effect of these projects resulted to increase the country’s exposure to the world economy.

Eritrea

The country prides itself on its location as it occupies a strategic area in the Horn of Africa.  Bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti, on the east side with both countries sharing similar cultures. The country is considered to be one of the most secretive states in the world. According to the UN, the government wields absolute power an extensive surveillance network, torture, forced labor and detention without trial are common and indefinite military service. Eritrea’s capital and largest city is Asmara (Asmera).

The Italians colonized Eritrea for about 60 years before they were ousted by the British during the WWII. In 1947 Eritrea became part of a federation with Ethiopia, the Federation of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Subsequent annexation into Ethiopia led to the Eritrean War of Independence, ending with Eritrean independence following a referendum in April 1993. Hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia persisted, leading to the Eritrean–Ethiopian War of 1998–2000 and further skirmishes with both Djibouti and Ethiopia. In 1991 the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front defeated the Ethiopian government. Eritrea officially celebrated its 1st anniversary of independence on May 24, 1992. Tensions with Ethiopia remain high across a closed and heavily fortified border. The perceived threat of war is said to have been used by the government to clamp down on society. Eritrea is a one-party state, and its 1997 constitution which provided for the existence of multi-party politics, has never been fully implemented.

Djibouti is a strategically located country on the northeast coast of the Horn of Africa and lying on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait; Arabic Bāb al-Mandab which literally means “the gate of tears.” A strait between Arabia (northeast) and Africa (southwest) that connects the Red Sea (northwest) with the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean (southeast). It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. Although Djibouti is one of the smallest countries in Africa by population and area, it is also a geo-strategic country, serving as great strategic and economic important regions on the planet. Djibouti serves as a gateway to the Suez Canal, one of the busiest shipping routes in the world and is the principal maritime port for imports from and exports to neighboring Ethiopia. Due to its political stability and general welfare index comparing to its neighboring country like Somalia and Eritrea, the country is a prime location for foreign military bases including Camp Lemonnier and ensured a steady flow of foreign assistance. Its former colonial power France maintains a significant military presence and also hosts America’s largest military base in the continent. It also headquarters the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional body. Djibouti’s capital, Djibouti city, which means the city of seven masks inhabits over 70% of the population and the only country with its capital named after itself; and is built on coral reefs that jut into the southern entrance of the gulf.

Comoros is an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel off the eastern coast of the continent between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar. Other countries near the Comoros are Tanzania to the northwest and the Seychelles to the northeast. The islands emerged from the floor of the Indian Ocean as a result of volcanic activity.  The name Comore is Arabic word for Moon, hence the name Moon Island. Its capital is Moroni, which means the heart of fire due to its proximity to the volcano on Grande Comore. There are four main islands commonly known by their French names: northwestern-most Grande Comore (Ngazidja); Mohéli (Mwali); and Anjouan (Nzwani). The fourth island of the Comorian archipelago, Mayotte, is claimed by the country of Comoros but administered by France. Mayotte voted against independence from France in 1974, as a result has never been administered by an independent Comoros government. In addition, Mayotte became an overseas department and a region of France in 2011 following a referendum passed overwhelmingly. Grande Comore is the largest and loftiest island. It rises near its southern end in an active volcano, Mount Karthala, which, at 7,746 feet (2,361 metres), is the country’s highest point. Karthala has erupted more than a dozen times in the past two centuries.

Burundi is located in east-central Africa, south of the Equator. It is bounded by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, Lake Tanganyika to the southwest, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. The capital and largest urban center, Bujumbura lies at the northeastern end of Lake Tanganyika. It is the second largest lake of eastern Africa and the longest freshwater lake in the world (410 miles [660 km]) and the second deepest (4,710 feet [1,436 metres]) after Lake Baikal in Russia.

Burundi is considered to be one of the world’s poorest countries in the world due to a 12-year, ethnic-based civil war between the Tutsi and the Hutu. For more than 200 years, Burundi was an independent kingdom, until the beginning of the 20th century, when Germany colonized the region. After the First World War and Germany’s defeat, it ceded the territory to Belgium. Both Germans and Belgians ruled Burundi and Rwanda as a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi. Despite common misconceptions, Burundi and Rwanda had never been under common rule until the time of European colonization. Since gaining independence from Belgium in July 1st. 1962, the country legally changed its name from Ruanda-Urundi to Burundi.

Tunisia is the smallest country in North Africa by land, and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya in the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east.Tunisia’s accessible Mediterranean Sea coastline and strategic location have attracted conquerors and visitors throughout the ages, and its ready access to the Sahara, according the Encyclopedia Britannica. Tunisia’s people are renowned for their conviviality and easygoing approach to daily life, qualities that Albert Memmi captured in his 1955 autobiographical novel Pillar of Salt.

Geographically, both the Sahara desert and Atlas mountains played a large role in ancients times. According to Greek legendDido, a princess of Tyre, was the first outsider to settle among the native tribes of what is now Tunisia when she founded the city of Carthage in the 9th century. Also, Tunisia was a Roman province. Vandals occupied the region during the 5th century, with Byzantines taking over during the 6th century, and Arabs following in the 8th century. In 1534, under the command of Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, the first Ottoman conquest of Tunis took place. Permanent acquisition of Tunisia occurred in 1574, under Kapudan Pasha Uluc Ali Reis, and the Ottomans retained the region until French occupation in 1881.

Sudan is also known as North Sudan since South Sudan‘s independence and officially the Republic of the Sudan. The name Sudan derives from the Arabic expression bilād al-sūdān (“land of the blacks”), by which medieval Arab. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red SeaEritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. It is the third largest country in Africa. The River Nile divides the country into eastern and western halves. Before the Sudanese Civil War, South Sudan was part of Sudan, but it became independent in 2011 Sudan was embroiled in two prolonged civil wars during most of the remainder of the 20th century. These conflicts were rooted in economic, political and social domination between the Northern Sudanese and the non-Muslim (Christian), non-Arab southern Sudanese.  The government of Sudan gave its blessing for an independent South Sudan, where the mainly Christian and Animist people had for decades been struggling against rule by the Arab Muslim north.

The first civil war ended in 1972, but broke out again in 1983. The second war and famine-related effects resulted in more than 4 million people displaced and, according to rebel estimates, more than 2 million deaths over a period of two decades. Peace talks gained momentum in 2002-04 with the signing of several accords; a final Naivasha peace treaty of January 2005 granted the southern rebels autonomy for six years, after which a referendum for independence is scheduled to be held. In 2007, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement withdrew from the government due to the slow implementation of the 2005 peace agreement. In July 2008, ten criminal charges were leveled against President Omar al-Bashir, in which he was accused of sponsoring war crimes and crimes against humanity. Despite the charges against him, al-Bashir was a candidate in the 2010 Sudanese presidential election, and ultimately declared the winner. The current president was elected in.

Morocco is a mountainous country located in the Maghreb region of North Africa and lies directly across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain. Strait of Gibraltar, Latin Fretum Herculeum, channel connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, lying between southernmost Spain and northwestern most Africa. The strait is an important gap, averaging 1,200 feet (365 meters) in depth in the arc formed by the Atlas Mountains of North Africa and the high plateau of Spain, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Morocco borders Algeria to the east and southeast, Western Sahara to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. It is the only African country with coastal exposure to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Its area—excluding the territory of Western Sahara, which Morocco controls.

Controlled by Carthage from an early date, the region was later the westernmost province of the Roman Empire. Following the Arab conquest of the late 7th century. Subsequent Moroccan kingdoms enjoyed political influence that extended beyond the coastal regions, and in the 11th century the first native Amazigh dynasty of North Africa, the Almoravids, gained control of an empire stretching from Andalusian (southern) Spain to parts of sub-Saharan Africa.  In 1912, Morocco became a French protectorate. On August 20th 1953, the French who were occupying Morocco at the time forced Mohammed V and his family into exile on Corsica. His uncle, Mohammed Ben Aarafa, was placed on the throne. His full name was Sidi Mohammed ben Yusef, or Son of (Sultan) Yusef, upon whose death he succeeded to the throne. He was a member of the Alaouite Dynasty. Mohammed V and his family were then transferred to Madagascar in January 1954. Mohammed V returned from exile on 16 November 1955, and was again recognized as Sultan after active opposition to the French protectorate. In February 1956 he successfully negotiated with France and Spain for the independence of Morocco, and in 1957 took the title of King.

Libya lies in the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chadand Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisiato the west. Libya is mostly desert and much of its population is concentrated along the coast and its immediate hinterland, where Tripoli (Ṭarābulus), the de facto capital, and Banghāzī (Benghazi), another major city, are located. Libya is the fourth largest country on the continent, and is the 16th largest country in the world. Libya has the 10th-largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world.

Once part of the Roman province of New Africa, it was subsequently controlled by the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. In modern times it was occupied by the British and French. There are six distinct historical periods of Libya: Ancient Libya, the Roman era, the Islamic era, Ottoman rule, Italian rule, and the Modern era. The country is made of three historical regions, TripolitaniaFezzan and CyrenaicaThe Ottoman authorities recognized them as separate provinces. Under Italian rule, they were unified to form a single colony, which resulted to independence on December 24th 1951 under King Idris al-Sanusi.

Egypt is the largest Arab country and the third largest in the continent and a  transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. This makes Egypt the only Euro Afro Asian country in the world. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the east and south, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Egypt emerged as one of the world’s first nation states in the tenth millennium BC. Considered a cradle of civilisationAncient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of MemphisThebesKarnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of scientific and popular interest. Egypt’s long and rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and often assimilated, various foreign influences including GreekPersianRomanArabOttoman, and Nubian. Egypt was an early and important centre of Christianity, but was largely Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority.

The history of Egypt is typically divided up into the following periods: Prehistoric, Ancient, Greco-Roman, Medieval and Modern. Prehistoric Egypt spans the period of earliest human settlement – 3100 BC, or the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period. Dominated by hunter-gatherers, semi-permanent dwellings were used during this period, and the development of tools reached Egypt during 40,000 BC. The Khormusan were amongst the first cultures to use advanced tools developed from stone, animal bones and hematite (mineral form of iron).

Desertification forced early Egyptians to settle around the Nile, and adopt a more permanent and sedentary lifestyle around 6,000 BC. The foundation of Dynastic Egypt was laid between 3500 to 3200 BC, as city dwellers began mass-producing mud bricks to build their cities, instead of reeds. During the Naqada III period (3200-3000 BC) the introduction of hieroglyphs and irrigation transpired, as well as the beginning of the Protodynastic period, in which Upper and Lower Egypt was unified.

Algeria is the largest country on the continent as of 2011 since South Sudan became independent from Sudan  splitting into two countries which decrease the landmass. Algeria is also the 10th largest country in the world. Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia, to the east by Libya, to the west by Morocco, to the southwest by the Western Saharan territory, Mauritania, and Mali, to the southeast by Niger, and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea. Located in the Norther region call the Maghreb (Arabic: “West”), basically any countries on the North west of Egypt. The weather of the Maghreb is characterized by prevailing westerly winds, which drop most of their moisture on the northern slopes and coastal plain, leaving little for the southern slopes. Algeria extends southward deep into the heart of the Sahara, a forbidding desert where the Earth’s hottest surface temperatures have been recorded  constituting more than four-fifths of the country’s area. Hence, the Sahara and its extreme climate dominates the country.

Benin is located in West Africa bordered to the northwest by Burkina Faso, to the east by Nigeria, and to the west by Togo. Formerly known as Dahomey, (Dan-ho-me, “on the belly of Dan;” Dan was a rival king on whose grave Dahomey’s royal compound was built) until 1975 to 1990 it became Peoples Republic of Benin and currently the Republic of Benin. The Portuguese, French, and Dutch established their trading posts along the coast and traded in slaves and weapons. Benin’s shore includes what used to be known as the Slave Coast, the departure point for slaves to be shipped across the Atlantic. Around the time when slave traded ended in 1848, the French had gained dominance over most of the kingdom through the treaties signed with King of Abomey.

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in western Africa, bounded by Mali to the north and west, Niger to the northeast, Benin to the southeast, and Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo to the south. The name Burkina is a Moore (one of the ethnic groups in the country) word for “Honorary People, ” and Faso, is a Dioula word which means “Fatherland” and together means, “land of honest men.” The use of different ethnic languages to name places, landmarks, etc. indicates unification among ethnic groups in the country. The capital, Ouagadougou, is in the center of the country and lies about 500 miles (800 km) from the Atlantic Ocean. Ouagadougou, a Francophone spelling of the name; pronunciation: ​[waɡaduɡu], a name from the Ninsi tribe.

Cape Verde, also known as Cabo Verde, is a former Portuguese colony comprises 10 islands and five islets, all but three of which are mountainous. Located in the West Coast of the Continent about 400 Nautical miles (nautical miles are usually longer than regular miles) from Senegal. The archipelago lies around 500 km off the west coast of Africa. Of the nine islands, only one is uninhabited. Praia, on Santiago Island, is the capital.

With limited natural resources, Cabo Verde islands have won a reputation for achieving political and economic stability. Since gaining independence from the Portuguese on July 5th 1975 it has maintained a democratic state. Cape Verde is listed among the most democratic nations in the world, ranking 23rd position in the continent, according to the 2016 Democracy Index. The constitution was adopted in 1980 and revised in 1992, 1995 and 1999, defines the basic principles of its government. The president is the head of state and is elected by popular vote for a 5-year term. The current President Jorge Carlos Almeida Fonseca was elected president in August 2011 and re-elected in October 2016.

Considered the smallest country in main-land Africa, The Gambia is well known as the “smiling coast of Africa,” simply because of her friendly and hospitality towards people from all parts of the world and her beautiful beaches. The River Gambia is a major tourist attraction and a dominant feature running through the heart of the country. The Gambia coastline borders the Atlantic Ocean. The River Gambia has a beautiful presence home to hippos and subspecies of Nile crocodile, birds and dominantly rich with fish. The Gambia is almost engulfed by Senegal in all three sides. The country is known for the beaches along its small Atlantic coastline and for being home to Jufureh (Juffure), the reputed ancestral village of Kunta Kinte and the main character in Alex Haley’s well-known novel Roots. The capital, Banjul formerly, Bathurst until 1973), is situated where the Gambia River flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

Ghana is located in western Africa, situated on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, bordered to the northwest and north by Burkina Faso, to the east by Togo, to the south by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the west by Côte d’Ivoire. The word Ghana means “Warrior King” and it derives from the ancient Ghana Empire. Africa for beginners who are traveling to the continent for the first time.

This land was in fact inhabited in pre-colonial times by a number of ancient Akan Kingdoms. The region would eventually become a British Crown colony called Gold Coast, and more than 30 forts and castles were constructed. For centuries the Gold Coast was known as ‘The White Man’s Grave’ due to the amount of Europeans who perished from malaria and other tropical diseases. Modern-day Ghana, which gained its independence on March 6, 1957, consists primarily of the former Gold Coast. The colony’s drive for independence was led by nationalist and Pan-African leader Kwame Nkrumah, who viewed Ghana’s sovereignty as being important not only for the Ghanaian people but for all of Africa, saying “Our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent.” Indeed, more than 30 other African countries, spurred by Ghana’s example, followed suit and declared their own independence within the next decade.

Guinea, the Aluminum Coast is bordered by Guinea-Bissau to the northwest, Senegal to the north, Mali to the northeast, Côte d’Ivoire to the southeast, and Liberia and Sierra Leone to the south. The Atlantic Ocean lies to the west. The three major rivers, the Gambia, the Niger, and the Sénégal all rise in Guinea. Sometimes referred to as Guinea-Conakry in order to distinguish it from Guinea-Bissau, Papua New Guinea and Equatorial Guinea. Conakry is the capital of Guinea, and the city experiences one of the heaviest rainfall between May and September.

Guinea belonged to a series of empires until France colonized it in the 1890s, and subsequently made it part of French West Africa. Upon gaining independence from France on October 2nd 1958, Sékou Touré, became the country’s first president and voted against membership in the French Community. As a result Mr. Touré, contracted loans, economic and trade agreements with the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. However, the economic partnership with the Soviets failed. During Touré’s leadership, the Portuguese-backed invasion of Conakry by Guinean dissidents. The failed conspiracy lead to trials, imprisonment and execution of dissidents and power was restored back to Touré. After the death of Touré a series of despotic and military regimes lead to political unrest. The current president Alpha Conde became president in 2010 after a lifelong battle against despotic and military regimes which sent him into exile and prison. It was Guinea’s first democratic election since gaining independence in 1958.

The deadly Ebola outbreak did began in Guinea in December 2013 and quickly spread beyond the country’s borders to neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia. Although, The World Health Organization has concluded the concern status, terminated as of 2016 as most cases have been contained and trial vaccines are still undergoing.

Ivory Coast officially the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire is located in West Africa, Côte d’Ivoire is bounded to the north by Mali and Burkina Faso, to the east by Ghana, to the south by the Gulf of Guinea, to the southwest by Liberia, and to the northwest by Guinea. Ivory Coast got its name from a historically major exportation of Ivory centuries ago. Since early French and Portuguese explorers identified sections of the West African Coast by the natural resources: Ivory Coast is a French translation of the Portuguese name Costa do Marfim given by browsers traders en route to India appearing on the Portuguese portolans in the seventeenth century. The country’s political capital is Yamoussoukro and its economic capital is Abidjan making it a dual capital country.

The country gained its independence from the French on August 7th 1960 and for more than three decades was hailed as a model of stability on the continent. However, in 2002 an armed rebellion split the nation in two. Since then, peace deals have alternated with renewed violence as the country has slowly edged its way towards a political resolution of the conflict. In October 1985 the President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, who held power until he dies in 1993 declared that the country be officially call Côte d’Ivoire. The current president is Mr. Ouattara won a second five-year term in the 2015 election.

Liberia is located on the West coast of African. It is bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north and Ivory Coast to its east. The country is home to a lush rainforests containing a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Liberia is the only black state in Africa never subjected to colonial rule and is the oldest republic on the continent.

The region was known as Costa de Pimenta (Pepper Coast), due to the amount of melegueta pepper, and was inhabited by Mende-speaking peoples as far back as the 12th century. Liberia is one of the very few countries on the continent not colonized by a European country, and subsequently established a unique relationship with the Unites States. The country was in fact founded and colonized by freed American slaves with the help of a private organization called the American Colonization Society in 1821-1822, which founded a colony at Cape Mesurado in 1821. In 1824 the territory was named Liberia. That concept was based on the premise that former American slaves would have greater freedom and equality in Africa. In that regard, slaves freed from other slave ships also were sent there instead of being repatriated to their countries of origin.

Nigeria is often referred to as the “Giant of Africa,” due to its large population and economy. Located on the West coast of the continent, bordering Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast in the south lies on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. It comprises 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, where the capital, Abuja is located. Lagos, the former capital, retains its standing as the country’s leading commercial and industrial city. Nigeria is officially a democratic secular country. With approximately 186 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world. The country also has the third-largest youth population in the world, after India and China, with more than 90 million children under age 18.

Nigeria has been home to a number of kingdoms and tribal states over the millennia. The modern state originated from British colonial rule beginning in the 19th century, and took its present territorial shape with the merging of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914.

Niger is a landlocked country in Western Africa named after the Niger River.  The name Niger derives in turn from the phrase (gher n-gheren), meaning “river among rivers,” in the Tamashek language. Niger is bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, and Algeria to the northwest. Niger covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2, making it the largest country in West Africa. Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara Desert. Namey is the capital of Niger.

Niger’s history begins with the expansion of the Songhai Empire in the 15th century. Following their decline the Mali, Dendi, Gao, Kanem-Bornu, and Hausa empires claimed key areas of Niger until contact with Europeans began during the 19th century. Niger became a French colony in 1922.

Senegal is known as the “Gateway to Africa” due to its location on the westernmost point of the continent and served by multiple air and maritime travel routes. Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest. Senegal also borders The Gambia, along the banks of the Gambia River, separating Senegal’s southern region of Casamance from the rest of the country. Senegal also shares a maritime border with Cape Verde. Senegal’s economic and political capital is Dakar. It is the westernmost country in the mainland and owes its name to the Senegal River, which borders it to the east and north. The name “Senegal” comes from the Wolof “Sunuu Gaal”, which means “Our Boat or “our canoe.” The country also lies at an ecological boundary where semiarid grassland, oceanfront, and tropical rainforest converge; this diverse environment has endowed Senegal with a wide variety of plant and animal life.

Considered the smallest country in main-land Africa, The Togo is located in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, where its capital Lomé is located and is the largest city and port.

Prior to 1884, Togo was an intermediate zone between the states of Asante and Dahomey, and the various ethnic groups lived in general isolation from each other. In 1905, Toga became the German colony of Togoland, but after Germany was defeated during World War I, British and French factions soon administered the land. Togo became an autonomous republic within the French Union in 1959, then a year later, French Togoland achieved independence from France. In 1967, following a successful military coup, Gnassingbe Eyadema was named president, and he served for 38 years until his death in 2005; making Eyadema the longest-serving leader on the continent. Shortly thereafter his death, his son Faure Gnassingbe was elected president. Gnassingbe has won two more elections, in 2010 and 2015.

Sierra Leone, is located in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north-east, Liberia to the south-east and the Atlantic Ocean to the south-west. Sierra Leone has a tropical climate, with a diverse environment ranging from savannah to rainforests. The country owes its name to the 15th-century Portuguese explorer Pedro de Sintra, the first European to sight and map Freetown harbor. The original Portuguese name, Serra Lyoa (“Lion Mountains”), referred to the range of hills that surrounds the harbor. The capital, Freetown, harbors one of the world’s largest natural resources.

Pedro de Sintra began mapping out the hills surrounding Freetown Harbor, and Portuguese traders, as well as the Dutch and French, quickly followed. During the late 18th century a settlement was founded called the “Province of Freedom,” where recently freed slaves seek refuge.

Known as “The Jewel of West Africa’s Crown,” Mali is a landlocked country located in West Africa, bounded on the north by Algeria, on the east by Niger and Burkina Faso, on the south by Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea, and on the west by Senegal and Mauritania. Mali is the eighth-largest country on the continent. The area that is now Mali was once part of the three great precolonial Sudanic empires: Ghana Empire, Mali Empire, and Songhai Empire. Mali Empire dated from c. 1230 to 1670. The empire was founded by Sundiata Keita and became renowned for the wealth of its rulers. The empire began as a small Mandinka kingdom. During the 11th and 12th centuries it began to develop as an empire following the decline of the Ghana Empire to the north. During this period, trade routes shifted southward to the savanna, stimulating the growth of states. For centuries, caravans crossed the Sahara desert from North Africa while others came from the forest regions to the south, meeting at the crossroads of Timbuktu. Timbuktu was a major trading and learning center.

Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwestern Africa., bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Western Sahara in the north, Algeria in the northeast, Mali in the east and southeast, and Senegal in the southwest. It is the eleventh largest country on the continent. The capital and largest city is Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast, which is home to around one-third of the country’s 4.3 million population. Precolonial Mauritania was the cradle of the Almoravid movement that spread Islam in the region and also controlled the Islamic part of Spain for decades. The Almoravid dynasty (Berber: Imṛabḍen, Arabic: Al-Murābiṭūn) was an imperial Berber Muslim dynasty centered in Morocco. It established an empire in the 11th century that stretched over the western Maghreb and Al-Andalus. Founded by Abdallah ibn Yasin, a theologian.

Guinea-Bissau The name Guinea remains a source of debate; it is perhaps a corruption of an Amazigh (Berber) word meaning “land of the blacks.” The country is mainly flat and the inland consist of savannas and forests making the country the third largest forest country in African. The country uses the name of its capital, Bissau, to distinguish it from Guinea Conakry, its neighbogh.

Portuguese settlers controlled the area for centuries, until 1956 when Amilcar Cabral and Rafael Barbosa secretly organized the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) and staged an armed rebellion against the Portuguese in 1961. Independence wasn’t achieved until 1974, following the Carnation Revolution (a military coup in Lisbon, Portugal). Luis Cabral became the first president. He is the half brother of Amílcar Cabral. Amílcar Cabral was a Bissau-Guinean and Cape Verdean agricultural engineer, intellectual, poet, theoretician, revolutionary, political organizer, nationalist and diplomat was a fierce anti colonial leader.. Guinea Bissau gained its independence from the Portuguese on September 10th 1974. Luis Cabral is ousted in military coup led by Joao Bernardo Vieira; plans for unification with Cape Verde dropped. The overthrow is the first of many political coups that undermine the country’s stability over the next four decades. Upon independence, the name of its capital, Bissau, was added to the country’s name to prevent confusion with the Republic of Guinea. The current president a former finance minister, Jose Mario Vaz won the presidential election run-off of May 2014. Guinea-Bissau is now one of the poorest countries in the world even though it has tremendous potential for development.

Angola is located on the western coast of Southern Africa. It is the seventh-largest country in Africa, bordered by Namibia to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Zambia to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The exclave province of Cambinda borders the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to Angola’s oil reserve, one of the largest oil reserves in the world. Angola is a coastal country, however it doesn’t have many coastal islands besides two – the Kwanda Island and the Baia dos Tigres. The capital and largest city of Angola is Luanda and it also the most expensive city in the world since most goods are imported.

For many centuries before European incursions, Bantu tribes inhabited the geographical area now called Angola. The Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais founded Luanda in 1575, with a hundred families of settlers and four hundred soldiers. Subsequently the Portuguese established several settlements and trading posts along the coast. In the late 16th century the slave trade flourished here, and reportedly it was responsible for the exportation of over three million native Africans (against their will) to the Portuguese colony of Brazil.

Botswana is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west and north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast  near Kazungula. Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 percent of its territory being the Kalahari Desert. Botswana extends from the Chobe River (which drains through the Zambezi to the Indian Ocean) in the north to the Molopo River (part of the Orange River system, which flows into the Atlantic) in the south. To the east it is bordered by the Limpopo River and its tributaries, the Ngotwane (Notwani), Marico (Madikwe), and Shashe. On the north of the country lies one of the most beautiful natural phenomenons the Okavango Delta, ranked to be among the world largest inland deltas. The Okavango Delta is a unique pulsing wetland. More correctly an alluvial fan, the delta covers between 6 and 15 000 square kilometers of Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana and owes its existence to the Okavango (Kavango) River which flows from the Angolan highlands, across Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and into the harsh Kalahari Desert. Based on how the delta operates, the Okavango Delta is in flood between July and September  – this natural phenomenon draws a large range of wildlife to the waters, which in turn attracts predators towards the high concentration of plains game from the dry hinterland. Okavango Delta is inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2014, making it a major tourist hot spot.

Lesotho is an enclaved country in southern Africa, completely surrounded by South Africa. This mountain kingdom was the domain of Khoisan-speaking hunter-gatherers. The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sesotho. In the 19th century the Sotho, led by Moshoeshoe I, took control of the region. It remained independent until it became a British protectorate, one of three British High Commission Territories (the others being Bechuanaland [now Botswana] and Swaziland). Previously known as Basutoland, Lesotho declared independence from the United Kingdom on October 4th 1966.

Malawi, formerly known as Nyasaland is a landlocked country in southeastern Africa and is commonly known as “The Warm Heart of Africa,” due to the kindness of its people. Malawi, in Chichewa – the local language – means flames or fire. It is named after the incredible sunset and sunrises over the Lake Malawi. It is bordered by Tanzania to the north, Lake Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the east and south, and Zambia to the west. Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi’s largest city; the second largest is Blantyre, the third is Mzuzu and the fourth largest is its old capital Zomba. Malawi is a country country endowed with spectacular highlands and extensive lakes and a number of fish species that can’t be found anywhere else.

Mozambique is located in Southeast Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest. It is separated from Madagascar by the Mozambique Channel. The capital and largest city is Maputo (known as “Lourenço Marques” before independence).  Mozambique is rich in natural resources, is biologically and culturally diverse, and has a tropical climate. Its extensive coastline, fronting the Mozambique Channel, which separates mainland Africa from the island of Madagascar, offers some of Africa’s best natural harbors. These have allowed Mozambique an important role in the maritime economy of the Indian Ocean, while the country’s white sand beaches are an important attraction for the growing tourism industry. Fertile soils in the northern and central areas of Mozambique have yielded a varied and abundant agriculture, and the great Zambezi River has provided ample water for irrigation and the basis for a regionally important hydroelectric power industry. The country is drained by several significant rivers, with the Zambezi being the largest and most important. The Zambezi is in fact the fourth-longest river in Africa, and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa.

Namibia is located on the southwestern coast of the continent. It is bordered by Angola to the north, Zambia to the northeast, Botswana to the east, South Africa to the southeast and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It ranges from arid in the north to desert on the coast and in the east. The landscape is spectacular, but the desert, mountains, canyons, and savannas are perhaps better to see than to occupy. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek

Diogo Cao, from Portugal, became the first European to set foot on Namibian soil in 1485, with Bartholomeu Dias the second; however, due to the inhospitable Namib Desert neither went too far inland, according to World Atlas. In the 19th century, the German trader Adolf Luderitz bought a portion of the region for 10,000 marks and 260 guns. Relations between the natives and German settlers deteriorated as the new government encouraged the settlers to take land from the natives. In 1904 the rebellion escalated into the Herero and Namaqua Wars. Under the leadership of chief Samuel Maharero, the Hereros had the upper hand, and had little problem with defending themselves due to their knowledge of the terrain. In response, Germany sent 14,000 additional troops to subdue the situation, and at the Battle of Waterberg the Hereros were issued an ultimatum to leave the country or be killed.