The continent of Africa is categorized by region, of which there are five in total. The regions of Africa include Southern Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Equatorial Africa, and the African Transition Zone.
Since Africa is such a large landmass, it helps to refer to countries as belonging to a region of Africa rather than using the blanket statement of Africa in general. In this article, we plan to talk about countries that are part of West Africa.
Rather than diving into all eighteen countries, let’s focus on five West African countries that you might not know a lot about. Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, and Gambia are all located in West Africa, but how much do you know about each country in particular? Let’s test your knowledge and expand your understanding of these countries in West Africa.
Located to the eastern portion of West Africa, the Republic of Niger is named after the ever-so-famous, freely flowing Niger River. Niger is landlocked and very far from any coastal region of Africa. With Libya to the northeast and Algeria to the northwest, Niger shares borders with Nigeria, Chad, Mali, Benin, and Burkina Faso as well. Niger is ruled by a presidential government, with the current ruling president being Mahamadou Issoufou. In the early 1990s, prior to switching over from a prime minister to a president, Mahamadou Issoufou resided as the prime minister of the country, too.
Niger encompasses parts of both the Sub-Saharan region and the Saharan region of Africa as well. Due to the geographic positioning of Niger, the country experiences humidity paired with a primarily subtropical climate. The land is very flat and there is not much change in tune with the cycling of seasons either. To put the physical size of Niger into perspective for you, the country is about as large as the state of Texas in North America.
The West African country of Mali is situated amongst many other African countries. With land surrounding Mali on all possible sides, the country shares its borders with six other countries. Starting in the north and moving clockwise around Mali, these six African countries include Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, the Côte D'Ivoire, Guinea, and Mauritania. The Niger River as well as the Senegal River both flow through the southeastern and southwestern regions of Mali as well, respectively.
Mali is part of Africa's Sahara Desert and Sahelia Region. Similar to most areas in West Africa, Mali tends to lean toward the humid side of things in terms of weather conditions. Despite the typically arid and desert-like conditions in Mali, the country's southern land regions are prime locations for well-to-do livestock and agriculture. This reality is due entirely to the fact that the Senegal River and the Niger River provide a lot of nutrients and water accessibility to the lower end of the country.
The West African country of Mauritania is mostly located in the Sahara Desert. In fact, only 10% of land in Mauritania lies outside of the Sahara, which creates an overall vibe of an arid and warm country, as you can probably imagine from the sounds of a desert lifestyle.
The country of Mauritania is not totally landlocked, for its westernmost border is situated along the coast of the Atlantic. However, all other borders of Mauritania are shared with other African countries. Algeria, Mali, Senegal, and the Western Sahara all encompass Mauritania. A notable feature of Mauritania is that it ranks as the eleventh largest country in all of Africa.
Senegal is partially situated along the western coastline of Africa, though its position in relation to Gambia keeps Senegal’s westernmost border from being completely water-based. Senegal has a population size of approximately 16,641 people as of the year 2019. In comparison to the global population, Senegal is home to a mere 0.22% of people on Earth.
As wild as it may sound to people who do not live in Africa, the average lifespan of people in Senegal is as short as 18.4 years on average. Conditions in the country account for such a small median age. The relationship between the number of people living in Senegal and the country’s total area is relatively high. For every square mile of land, there are a rough estimate of 255 people. This calculation tells us that Senegal has a total area of 74,336 square miles.
As a small African country on the westernmost coastline of the continent, Gambia is often referred to more officially as The Gambia. The only other border that surrounds The Gambia besides the aquatic coast of the Atlantic Ocean is Senegal, which is the African country we just touched on that nearly completely encompasses Gambia. The Gambia River is a noteworthy internal water source for the country of Gambia, especially because it flows throughout Gambia and makes its way to the Atlantic Ocean.
More than half of the population of Gambia is made up of people who are twenty-five years old or younger. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, this finding is due to the fact that there is a seemingly apparent emphasis on birthing children and creating families for women in Gambia. The average number of children per family is four kids. With a population size of over two million people, four children per family starts to accumulate to the point where younger folks are the majority.