Africa has the largest number of countries and territories of the world continents. It is the second largest continent in size and population after Asia. Asia has 48 countries although it is significantly bigger and more populated than Africa. The existence of vast countries such as Russia, India, and China has limited the number of countries to 48. Africa covers an area of about 11,730,000 square miles and has a population of approximately 1.225 billion. The continent consists of 54 sovereign states, three dependencies, and the contested region of Western Sahara.
The Sub-Regions of Africa
Africa is divided into five regions which are Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western and Central Africa. According to the United Nations classification of the regions of Africa, Eastern Africa has the most countries in the continent followed closely by Western Africa. Southern Africa has the least number of countries.
Eastern Africa is the region that occupies the Eastern end of the African continent. The region has the largest number of countries on the continent. There are 20 territories in the region including the French territories of Reunion and Mayotte. Eastern Africa has a population of 433.6 million which is about 5.68% of the global population. The region is politically relatively stable region except for South Sudan, Burundi, and Somalia.
Western Africa is made up of 16 Sovereign countries and the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha. The region has a population of 382 million representing 5% of the global population. West Africa has experienced its share of civil wars due to political instabilities. Countries such as Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia, Burkina Faso and Gambia still experiencing political instability.
Northern Africa consists of the sovereign countries of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia. The region also consists of the Spanish territories of Canary Islands, Ceuta, and Melilla, the Portuguese territory of Madeira, and the contested region of Western Sahara. Northern Africa has a population of about 238 million representing 3.12 percent of the global population. The Sahara Desert covers a large part of the region.
Central Africa as the name suggests is the region at the center of the continent. It consists of Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, the Congos, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe. Central Africa has a population of 168.5 million representing 2.12% of the global population.
Southern Africa is the region that occupies the southern end of the continent. It consists of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland. It is the region with the least number of countries and the least populated on the continent. Southern Africa has a population of 66.2 million representing less than 1% of the global population.