List of regions of Africa

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The five region according to the United Nations geoscheme for Africa.
The five regions of the African Union.
The five regions of the Confederation of African Football.

The continent of Africa is commonly divided into five regions or subregions, four of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.

List of subregions in Africa[edit]

The five UN subregions:[1]

Subregion Country / Territory
Northern Africa
 Canary Islands (Spain)
 Ceuta (Spain)
 Madeira (Portugal)
 Melilla (Spain)
 Western Sahara
Eastern Africa
 French Southern and Antarctic Lands (France)
 Mayotte (France)
 Reunion (France)
 South Sudan
Middle Africa
 Central African Republic
 Congo, Democratic Republic of the
 Congo, Republic of the
 Equatorial Guinea
 São Tomé and Príncipe
Southern Africa
 Eswatini (Swaziland)
 South Africa
Western Africa
 Burkina Faso
 Cape Verde
 Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
 Gambia, The
 Sierra Leone

Directional approach[edit]

One common approach categorizes Africa directionally, e.g., by cardinal direction (compass direction):

This approach is taken, for example, in the United Nations geoscheme for Africa and the regions of the African Union.

Physiographic approach[edit]

Satellite image of Africa, showing the ecological break that defines the sub-Saharan area

Another common approach divides Africa by using features such as landforms, climatic regions, or vegetation types:

Linguistic approach[edit]

Map showing the traditional language families represented in Africa:
  Afroasiatic (Semitic-Hamitic)
  Austronesian (Malay-Polynesian)
  Central and Eastern Sudanese
  Central Bantoid
  Eastern Bantoid
  Western Bantoid

By official language[edit]

Official languages in Africa
  other languages

By indigenous language family[edit]

Investment approach[edit]

A slightly less common, but equally important method of division of the continent is by investment factors. For the purposes of investing, Africa is not a single destination with a single set of standardized risk factors and homogeneous potential for reward.[2] Although some high-level similarities are evident, digging into the specifics of certain regions and countries shows that Africa comprises a range of distinct investment destinations, each with its own attractions, flaws, cultural differences and business practices.[3][4]

The investment approach was first developed by global, independent financial analytics provider and investment consultant, RisCura.

  • Maghreb region
    Otherwise known as the western portion of Northern Africa, these countries form the Arab Maghreb Union,[5] established in 1989. The region was established with the goal of functioning as a unified political and economic grouping. Political unrest in the region[6] has stunted progress since its inception but hope still remains that the Union will fulfill its purpose in years to come. Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia are included in this region.
  • Egypt and the Sudan
    Previously united under British rule, these countries still share strong ties,[7] as well as one significant commonality – the trade facilitation through transport on the Nile River. As Egypt does not fall within the Arab Maghreb Union, it is separated from the rest of North Africa. However, Egypt's strong economic and cultural ties with the Middle East bring natural trading partners, and it is often seen grouped with the Middle East for investment purposes.[8]
  • Francophone West Africa
    This is a commonly recognized region on the continent,[9] and typically includes Mauritania. However, Mauritania is sometimes allocated to the Maghreb region as it is found to have closer ties to the North African countries. These French-speaking countries share more than just a language. Due to their common history as French colonies, they also share similar legal and socio-political systems. The countries in this group are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal and Togo.
  • Nigeria
    On its own, Nigeria is the size of the entire Maghreb region on an aggregated-GDP basis. While Nigeria is traditionally grouped with the rest of West Africa, its reliance on the rest of the region is less pronounced, likely as a result of its massive standalone GDP, its access to international markets via its six large ports, and its population of over 170 million people.
  • East Africa
    This is a combination of the East African Community (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi), the LAPSSET corridor (Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia) as well as Djibouti, a crucial link to the Indian Ocean for Ethiopia and South Sudan. Kenya has traditionally headlined this region through consistently generating the largest GDP and acts as the primary route to international trade through the Mombasa port.
  • Central Africa
    This market is the same as that defined by the African Development Bank with the exception of Madagascar, which here is classified as Southern Africa (ex-SA). On a GDP basis (USD) and by population, the Central Africa region is on par with the Francophone West African region. Countries included here are Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
  • Southern Africa excluding South Africa (ex-SA)
    This incorporates countries south of central and eastern Africa, and north of the South African border. The region has support from the most developed economy on the continent from the south, and access to capital coming out of South Africa as large companies look to expand into the rest of the continent. The group comprises Angola (which offers substantial oil resources), Botswana, Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Reunion, Zambia (substantial supply of copper) and Zimbabwe.
  • South Africa
    Like Nigeria, South Africa is a large African economy on a standalone basis. Due to the developed nature of South Africa relative to the rest of the continent, it has not been included in the Southern African region. South Africa boasts the largest GDP per capita of all the regions (double that of Nigeria) and is the most advanced investment destination on the continent. The South African market includes Lesotho and Eswatini due to their reliance and proximity to SA. The Swazi lilangeni is pegged to the South African rand, which is also accepted as currency within the country.
  • Other West Africa
    This region includes Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and The Gambia.

See also[edit]


1.^ Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic: sovereignty disputed with Morocco


  1. ^ "Geographic Regions". United Nations Statistics Division. 2021. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  2. ^ "Compelling investment markets in Africa – Inside Riscura's Bright Africa 2015 Report: Debbie O'Hanlon, Senior Analyst, RisCura (Infographics) | African Business News | African Financial & Economic News". African Business Central. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  3. ^ "Segmenting Africa into meaningful markets | Bright Africa". Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  4. ^ "Meaningful African markets for investment". Capital Markets in Africa. 22 September 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-06.
  5. ^ "UMA". Archived from the original on 2010-04-20. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  6. ^ "What Is the Arab Spring?". News & Issues. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  7. ^ "Sudan - Egypt Relations". Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  8. ^ Kessler, Oren (23 August 2015). "Trading Peace in Egypt and Israel". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  9. ^ "What it takes to succeed in Francophone Africa" (PDF).