Landlocked Countries in Africa

By John Misachi on July 5 2018 in World Facts

The mountain roads of landlocked Lesotho.

There are 19 landlocked countries in the world. A landlocked country is a sovereign country that is enclosed entirely by land. A landlocked country may be surrounded by one or more countries having access to a high sea or by one or more landlocked countries. For several landlocked developing countries, the lack of sea access can pose a challenge economically, as access to trade routes is more limited. A country surrounded by one or more landlocked country is called “doubly landlocked.”

Of the 49 countries, only two lie outside the Afro-Eurasia while 16 are in Africa. The following African countries are landlocked:

  • Botswana
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Ethiopia
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Niger
  • Rwanda
  • South Sudan
  • Swaziland
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

More information on each country can be found below.

16. Botswana

Botswana is a landlocked country located in southern Africa. The country occupies a total area of 224,607 square miles, making it the 48th largest country in the world. With a population of just over 2 million people, Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. It is surrounded by four countries of which two are landlocked. The four countries are Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Botswana has no access to a large water body like a sea or ocean. However, the Limpopo River Basin, which is a major landform in Southern Africa, lies partly in the country. The Chobe River forms the boundary between Botswana and Namibia.

15. Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa. Its access to the sea is restricted by the six countries surrounding it. Mali borders Burkina Faso to the north, Niger, and Benin to the east and southeast respectively, Ghana and Togo to the south, and Cote d’Ivoire to the southwest. The country covers an area of 105,900 square miles. Burkina Faso’s major water bodies are the Black Volta, Red Volta, and the White Volta. Access to high sea from the country is mainly through any of the countries bordering it except Niger which is also a landlocked country.

14. Burundi

Burundi is a landlocked country in East Africa’s Great Lakes. It is surrounded by three countries, namely Rwanda in the north, Tanzania in the East, and finally the Democratic Republic of Congo. Parts of its southwestern border are close to Lake Tanganyika. Burundi is considered part of Central Africa. The country covers an area of approximately 10,747 square miles and has a population of 10.5 million people. Burundi is one of the poorest countries in Africa, owing partly to its landlocked geography, lack of economic freedom, and civil unrest. The economy is dependent on agriculture with the sector accounting for approximately 30% of the country's GDP.

13. Central Africa Republic

The Central African Republic is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is surrounded by Chad on the north, Sudan, and South Sudan on the east and southeast respectively, Cameroon on the west, DRC to the south, and the Republic of Congo to the southwest. CAR has a land area of approximately 240,000 square miles and a population of 4.6 million people. The country has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world and faces several economic challenges due to lack of access to a high sea. It mainly imports and exports products through the neighboring countries which increases the overall cost of things.

12. Chad

Chad is also a landlocked country in Central Africa. With an area of 496,000 square miles, it is the 22nd largest country in the world. Chad is bounded by Sudan to the east, Libya to the north, CAR to the south, Niger to the west, and Cameroon and Nigeria to the south. According to the UN’s Human Development Index, Chad is the seventh poorest country in the world. Approximately 80% of the population lives below poverty line. Chad has been plagued by instability and civil unrest leading to little development. Its lack of access to a sea or ocean has further hindered its economic progress.

11. Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a landlocked country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bound to the north and northeast by Eritrea, to the east by Somali and Djibouti, to the west by Sudan and South Sudan, and to the south by Kenya. It is the most populated landlocked country in the world, boasting of a population of over 100 million people. Although Ethiopia is a landlocked country, it is one of the fastest growing economies in the world according to the IMF. Despite not having access to the high sea, Ethiopia is served by a network of 14 rivers including the Nile. It also has the largest water reserve in Africa.

10. Lesotho

Lesotho is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is considered an enclave country since it is completely surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho has an area of approximately 11,580 square miles and a population of about 2 million people. Economically, Lesotho is integrated with South Africa. It depends on South Africa for most import and export through the ocean. Lesotho extracts its water through the Lesotho Highlands Water Project which was established in 1986. The water is mainly captured and transferred from the Orange River in South Africa.

9. Malawi

Malawi is also a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It was formally known as Nyasaland. It bordered to the northwest by Zambia, to the northeast by Tanzania, and Mozambique to the east. Malawi covers an area of approximately 45,560 square miles and has a population of about 18 million people. It is one of the least developed countries in the world, with over 80% of the population living in rural areas. The largest water body in Malawi is Lake Malawi, measuring approximately 365 miles long and 42 miles wide. The lake is sometimes referred to as Calendar Lake.

8. Mali

Mali is a landlocked country in a region often referred to as West African Craton. In Africa, Mali is the 8th largest country with an area of over 480,000 square miles. It is bordered to the northeast by Algeria, to the south-west of Guinea, Mauritania, and Senegal and to the south, and Niger, another landlocked country, to the east. Mali is connected to the bordering countries by a network of railway lines. It exports and imports most of its products through neighboring countries. Mali faces a lack of potable water since it lacks access to major water bodies.

7. Niger

Niger is a landlocked country in Western Africa. I was named after the Niger River, the third longest river in Africa after the Nile and the Congo River. Niger is bordered by Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Algeria. With an area of 489,000 square miles, Niger is the largest country in West Africa. About 80% of the country lies in the Sahara Desert. As the country is landlocked, it mainly relies on agriculture. Niger also has the largest uranium deposits in the world. The economy is based largely on internal market and export of raw commodities to the neighboring countries.

6. Rwanda

Rwanda is the 4th smallest country in African mainland. It is located in East Africa and bordered by DRC, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi. It covers an area of about 10,169 square miles and has a population of about 11.3 million people. Rwanda is drained mainly by the Nile and Congo. The longest river in the country is Nyabarongo. Although Rwanda’s economy suffered during the 1994 genocide, the country has since strengthened with per-capita GDP of approximately $2,000 in 2017. Rwanda trades through the neighboring countries that border the ocean and import products mostly by air.

5. South Sudan

South Sudan is a large landlocked country found in east-central Africa. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, making it one of the newest countries in the world. South Sudan's lack of sea access provides a definite challenge for the country, which relies on exports of oil to describe. To make matters worse, South Sudan is also one of the world's least developed countries, and does not have a wide network of paved roads. Transporting goods in and out of the country is limited to one road, which often floods.

4. Swaziland

Swaziland is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is located between Mozambique and South Africa and lies across a fault which runs from Lesotho to Zimbabwe and forms Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. Swaziland covers a total area of 6,704 square miles and has a population of approximately 1.3 million people. The country has a diverse economy with agriculture and mining accounting for the largest share of the GDP. Being a landlocked country, Swaziland depends on South Africa to access the port with most of its import and exports passing through South Africa.

3. Uganda

Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa. It is bordered by Kenya to the east, Tanzania to the south, South Sudan to the north, and DRC and Rwanda to the west and southwest respectively. Uganda shares Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical land and the second largest freshwater lake, with Kenya and Tanzania. Although Uganda has no access to the high sea, the trade partnership with the neighboring countries such as Kenya and Tanzania has significantly boosted its economy. It imports and exports its products through Kenya’s port of Mombasa.

2. Zambia

Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is bordered by the DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. Zambia covers an area of 290,586 square miles and has a population of approximately 13 million people. The country is drained by Zambezi and Congo basins. Although Zambia is a landlocked country, its economy is better than some of its neighboring countries such as Tanzania and Mozambique which have access to the high sea. However, the level of poverty is still high in Zambia.

1. Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is also a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is located between Zambezi and Limpopo rivers and bordered by Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia. The northwest corner is approximately 150 meters from Namibia. Zimbabwe has an area of 150,872 square miles and a population of approximately 16 million people. Zimbabwe’s economy depends on agriculture, mining, and tourism. Zimbabwe has a great potential in terms of economic growth but mismanagement and corruption remain the major hindrances to its growth.

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