List of regions of Africa
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One common approach categorises Africa directionally, e.g., by cardinal direction (compass direction):
- North Africa lies north of the Sahara and runs along the Mediterranean coast.
- West Africa is the portion roughly west of 10° east longitude, excluding Northern Africa and the Maghreb. West Africa contains large portions of the Sahara Desert and the Adamawa Mountains.
- East Africa stretches from the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa to Mozambique, including Madagascar
- Central Africa is the large mass at the center of Africa which either does not fall squarely into any other region or only partially does so.
- Southern Africa consists of the portion generally south of -10° latitude and the great rainforests of Congo.
Another common approach divides Africa by using features such as landforms, climatic regions, or vegetation types:
- The Sahara Desert is the massive but largely empty region in North Africa that contains the world's second largest desert (after Antarctica).
- The Maghreb is a region of northwest Africa encompassing the coastlands and Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
- The Sahel region covers a belt of grasslands south of the Sahara stretching from Senegal to Sudan.
- The Sudan region lies just below the Sahel but is slightly more humid and arable.
- The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts for hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea, and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It encompasses Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti.
- Sub-Saharan Africa is the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara.
- The Guinea region is distinguished from the neighboring Sudan region by its rainforests and runs along the Atlantic coast from Guinea to Nigeria.
- The Congo is the rainforest region
- East African Rift. The region contains Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda.
By official language
- Anglophone Africa includes five countries in West Africa (The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and the most populous African country Nigeria, as well as a part of Cameroon) that are separated by Francophone countries, South Sudan, and a large contiguous area in Southern Africa and East Africa.
- Arabophone Africa includes the four most populous Arabic-speaking countries (Egypt, Sudan, Morocco, Algeria) as well as Tunisia and Mauritania, and includes a majority of both the population and the area of the Arabic-speaking countries. French has also kept a strong role in the Maghreb countries, though this has receded somewhat with official Arabization.
- Francophone Africa is a contiguous area in West Africa and Central Africa, plus Madagascar and Djibouti.
- Lusophone Africa consists of the widely separated countries of Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Angola, and Mozambique.
- Equatorial Guinea is the only African country where the Spanish language is official, though French and more recently Portuguese have also been added as official languages.
- Swahili is widely used as an inter language in East Africa; its use for official and educational functions is greatest in Tanzania.
- Ethiopia and Somalia use the Afro-Asiatic Amharic and Somali languages, respectively, as their official languages, although Arabic also serves as a secondary language in Somalia. Eritrea and parts of Ethiopia use the Tigrinya language and Arabic language as working languages.
By indigenous language family
- Niger–Congo languages and Nilo-Saharan languages are spoken in most of Sub-Saharan Africa. Nilo-Saharan occupies a smaller area but is highly diverse, and may be related as a parent or sibling of Niger–Congo.
- Afro-Asiatic languages are spoken in all of North and Northeast Africa as well as parts of the Sahel.
- Khoisan languages are spoken in desert areas of Southern Africa, but were formerly spoken over a larger area, and are thought to include two small languages in East Africa.
- Austronesian languages originating from Southeast Asia are spoken in Madagascar.