All 54 African Countries, Including Disputed Territories

By: Mack Hayden  | 
There are 54 countries on the continent of Africa that are recognized by the United Nations. FotografiaBasica / Getty Images

The African continent is home to a remarkable array of cultures, landscapes and histories. This vast land comprises 54 recognized African countries, each with its own distinct identity. Here, we'll explore the countries of Africa, divided into the key regions: North Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa.

This list includes countries with special sovereignty statuses and disputed areas. Additionally, dependent territories and other territories with unique construction and administrative statuses are considered in this comprehensive list.


Let's delve into the beauty and diversity of African countries and learn a little bit about each one.

5 Countries in North Africa

1. Algeria

Algeria, the largest country on the African continent, boasts vast desert landscapes and a significant Mediterranean coastline. Its capital, Algiers, is famous for its Ottoman landmarks and vibrant culture.

2. Egypt

Egypt, home to the iconic pyramids and the Nile River, is steeped in history and mystery. It's also the richest country by GDP on the continent. Cairo, the capital, hosts the famous Egyptian Museum, which houses countless artifacts from ancient times.


3. Libya

Despite its tumultuous recent history, Libya is known for its archaeological treasures and vast desert landscapes. The ancient ruins of Leptis Magna are among the best-preserved Roman sites in the world.

4. Morocco

Morocco, known for its rich cultural heritage and stunning architecture, is a gateway between Europe and Africa. The country's bustling markets and historical sites like the ancient city of Fez attract millions of visitors annually.

5. Tunisia

Tunisia is famous for its well-preserved Roman ruins and Mediterranean beaches. The ancient city of Carthage and the bustling medina of Tunis highlight the country's historical significance.


6 Countries in West Africa

1. Gambia

Gambia, the smallest country on the African mainland, is known for its diverse ecosystems along the Gambia River. The country's beautiful beaches and wildlife attract many tourists.

2. Ghana

Ghana is known for its rich history, with landmarks like the Cape Coast Castle. The country is also celebrated for its vibrant festivals and welcoming people.


3. Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast is renowned for its cocoa production and beautiful beaches. Abidjan, the economic capital, is a hub of French-speaking West African culture and business.

4. Mali

Mali, home to the legendary city of Timbuktu, has a rich history as a center of learning and trade in ancient Africa. It's also the hottest country in the world.

5. Nigeria

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is a cultural powerhouse with a booming entertainment industry, often referred to as Nollywood. Lagos, its largest city, is a major financial center on the continent.

6. Senegal

Senegal is famous for its music, dance and the historic island of Gorée, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Dakar, the capital, is known for its lively arts scene and vibrant nightlife.


6 Countries in Central Africa

1. Angola

Angola, with its oil-rich economy, is also known for its vibrant culture and history. The capital city, Luanda, is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

2. Cameroon

Cameroon is known as "Africa in Miniature" because of its vast variety of landscapes, cultures and languages. From beaches to mountains, it offers a snapshot of the entire continent's geography.


3. Central African Republic

Despite political instability, the Central African Republic boasts incredible natural beauty, including the Dzanga-Sangha National Park, known for its wildlife and rainforests.

4. Chad

Chad is home to the stunning Lake Chad and the Sahara Desert. The country's diverse ethnic groups and rich history make it a fascinating place to explore.

5. Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, often referred to as the DRC, is a country rich in natural resources and biodiversity. Its vast rainforests and river systems make it a crucial part of the African ecological landscape.

6. Gabon

Gabon is renowned for its extensive network of national parks, which protect its diverse wildlife and rainforests. The country is also a major oil producer in Central Africa.


6 Countries in East Africa

1. Ethiopia

Ethiopia, with its ancient history and diverse cultures, is home to the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and the source of the Blue Nile.

2. Kenya

Kenya is famous for its savannas teeming with wildlife, including the Big Five. Nairobi, the capital, is a regional hub for business and culture.


3. Rwanda

Rwanda, the "Land of a Thousand Hills," is noted for its remarkable recovery from the 1994 genocide and its conservation efforts, particularly for mountain gorillas.

4. Somalia

Somalia, located on the Horn of Africa, has a rich cultural heritage despite its recent history of conflict. The country's coastline is one of the longest in Africa.

5. Tanzania

Tanzania is home to Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, and the Serengeti National Park, renowned for its annual wildebeest migration.

6. Uganda

Uganda, known as the "Pearl of Africa," offers stunning landscapes and wildlife, including mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.


9 Countries in Southern Africa

1. Angola

Angola, rich in oil and diamonds, is also known for its diverse cultures and landscapes. The capital, Luanda, is one of Africa's major port cities.

2. Botswana

Botswana is renowned for its high-end safari tourism, particularly in the Okavango Delta, one of the world's largest inland deltas.


3. Malawi

Malawi, known as the "Warm Heart of Africa," is famous for its friendly people and beautiful Lake Malawi, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

4. Mauritius

Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, is renowned for its stunning beaches, luxury resorts and diverse cultural influences.

5. Mozambique

Mozambique boasts a long Indian Ocean coastline with beautiful beaches and vibrant coral reefs, making it a popular destination for diving and snorkeling.

6. Namibia

Namibia is known for its stunning desert landscapes, including the Namib Desert and Etosha National Park, a haven for wildlife.

7. South Africa

South Africa, known for its diverse cultures and landscapes, is a top tourist destination. Cape Town, Johannesburg and the Kruger National Park are major attractions.

8. Zambia

Zambia is home to Victoria Falls and offers incredible wildlife experiences in parks like South Luangwa National Park. Zambia and Zimbabwe are also the only two countries that start with "z" — not just in Africa, but on the entire planet.

9. Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is famous for Victoria Falls, one of the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in the world, and its rich archaeological heritage, including the Great Zimbabwe ruins.


22 Additional African Countries

1. Benin

Benin is famous for its historical significance as the birthplace of the Vodun (Voodoo) religion and the Kingdom of Dahomey. The country also boasts beautiful landscapes and wildlife.

2. Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso, with its rich tradition of music and art, is known for its vibrant cultural festivals. The capital, Ouagadougou, is a hub of West African cinema and culture.


3. Burundi

Burundi, despite being one of the smallest countries in Africa, is known for its vibrant culture and scenic landscapes, including Lake Tanganyika.

4. Cape Verde

Cape Verde, an island nation in the Atlantic Ocean, is known for its Creole Portuguese-African culture, beautiful beaches, and vibrant music scene.

5. Comoros

Comoros, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, is known for its diverse marine life and beautiful beaches. The archipelago's unique culture reflects African, Arabic, and French influences.

6. Djibouti

Djibouti, strategically located near the Red Sea, is known for its volcanic formations and salt lakes. The country plays a significant role in international maritime trade.

7. Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea, one of the richest countries in Africa due to its oil reserves, is known for its unique cultural blend and biodiversity, including the Monte Alen National Park.

8. Eritrea

Eritrea, located on the Red Sea, boasts a rich history and a blend of cultural influences. Its capital, Asmara, is known for its Italian colonial architecture.

9. Eswatini

The kingdom of Eswatini, one of Africa's last absolute monarchies, is famous for its traditional Swazi culture and beautiful landscapes, including the Hlane Royal National Park. Formally known as Swaziland, it's one of several countries that have changed their names.

10. Guinea

Guinea, with its lush landscapes and vibrant cultures, is home to the Fouta Djallon highlands and the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

11. Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau, known for its national parks and wildlife, is a small West African country with a rich cultural heritage and Portuguese influence.

12. Lesotho

Lesotho, a high-altitude, landlocked kingdom surrounded by South Africa, is known for its mountainous terrain and rich Basotho culture.

13. Liberia

Liberia, founded by freed Americans who had previously been enslaved, has a unique history and culture. The country is known for its beautiful coastline and rainforests.

14. Mauritania

Mauritania, largely covered by the Sahara Desert, is known for its ancient cities and rich history. The Banc d'Arguin National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its birdlife.

15. Niger

Niger, largely covered by the Sahara Desert, is known for its ancient trade routes and the Agadez Mosque. The Niger River is a lifeline for the country.

16. Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe, an island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, is known for its lush rainforests and cocoa production. The islands offer a peaceful retreat with rich biodiversity.

17. Seychelles

Seychelles, a tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean, is famous for its pristine beaches, coral reefs, and nature reserves. The islands are a popular destination for honeymooners.

18. Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is known for its diamond mines and role in the transatlantic slave trade. The capital, Freetown, holds a deep historical significance.

19. South Sudan

South Sudan, the world's newest country, gained independence from Sudan in 2011. Despite ongoing conflicts, it is home to vast wetlands and diverse wildlife.

20. Sudan

Sudan, with its ancient pyramids of Meroë and vast deserts, has a rich history that is often overlooked. The Nile River also plays a crucial role in its agriculture and daily life.

21. Togo

Togo, a small West African country, is known for its palm-lined beaches and hilltop villages. The capital, Lomé, is a vibrant city with a lively market and cultural scene.

22. Western Sahara (Disputed Territory)

Western Sahara, a disputed territory in North Africa, is known for its desert landscapes and rich phosphate deposits. The region's status remains unresolved, with ongoing conflicts over its sovereignty.

We created this article in conjunction with AI technology, then made sure it was fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.