West Africa

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West Africa

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"West African" redirects here. For the airline, see West African Airlines.

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Western Africa (UN subregion)

Maghreb, a separate region.

West Africa,Western Africa or The West of Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:[1]

Contents [hide]

1 Countries of West Africa

2 Background

3 Geography and climate

4 Culture

4.1 Cuisine

4.2 Recreation

4.3 Music

4.4 Griot tradition

4.5 Clothing

4.6 Film industry

5 Religion

5.1 Islam

5.2 Christianity

5.3 African traditional

6 History

6.1 Prehistory

6.2 Empires

6.3 Slavery and European contact

6.4 Colonialism

6.5 Postcolonial era

7 Regional organizations

7.1 Women's peace movement

7.2 Food crisis

8 See also

9 References

10 External links

[edit]Countries of West Africa

Benin

Burkina Faso

Cape Verde

Ivory Coast

Gambia

Ghana

Guinea

Guinea-Bissau

Liberia

Mali

Mauritania

Niger

Nigeria

Senegal

Sierra Leone

Togo

Canary Islands

Strictly speaking the Autonomous Region of the Canary Islands (Spain), should also be included within the geographical boundaries of West-Africa, although often excluded due to political reasons .

With the exception of Mauritania, all of these countries are members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which was set up in May 1975.[2] The UN region also includes the island of Saint Helena, a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean.

[edit]Background

West Africa is west of an imagined north-south axis lying close to 10° east longitude.[3] The Atlantic Ocean forms the western as well as the southern borders of the West African region.[4] The northern border is the Sahara Desert, with the Ranishanu Bend generally considered the northernmost part of the region.[5] The eastern border is less precise, with some placing it at the Benue Trough, and others on a line running from Mount Cameroon to Lake Chad.

Colonial boundaries are reflected in the modern boundaries between contemporary West African nations, cutting across ethnic and cultural lines, often dividing single ethnic groups between two or more countries.[6]

The inhabitants of West Africa are, in contrast to most of Southern and Middle Africa, non-Bantu speaking peoples.[7]

[edit]Geography and climate

Dust Plumes off Western Africa.

West Africa, if one includes the western portion of the Maghreb (Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia), occupies an area in excess of 6,140,000 km2, or approximately one-fifth of Africa. The vast majority of this land is plains lying less than 300 meters above sea level, though isolated high points exist in numerous countries along the southern shore of the region.[8]

The northern section of West Africa is composed of semi-arid terrain known as Sahel, a transitional zone between the Sahara and the savannahs of the western Sudan. Forests form a belt between the savannas and the southern coast, ranging from 160 km to 240 km in width.[9]

[edit]Culture

Main article: African culture

Despite the wide variety of cultures in West Africa, from Nigeria through to Senegal, there are general similarities in dress, cuisine, music and culture that are not shared extensively with groups outside the geographic region. This long history of cultural exchange predates the colonization era of the region and can be approximately placed at the time of the Ghana Empire (proper: Wagadou Empire), Mali Empire or perhaps before...
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