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How Was Africa Divided before Colonization?

Updated May 23, 2024
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Colonization of Africa remains the most significant factor in how the fate of this large continent has turned out. But was Africa divided before colonization and if so, how? What did the pre-colonial map of Africa look like?

One of the largest continents and the second most populated continent in the world, Africa indeed had divisions and states before Europeans partitioned Africa. Before colonial rule, Africa was made of up to 10,000 different states and groups.

The present map of the African continent is a direct result of European colonization of Africa which began about 1870. The map of pre-colonial Africa looked different. The pre-colonial native African states were mostly determined by tribal identities. Some of the major African states at the time were: Marutse-Manbunda Land, Great Namaqua, Zulu Land, Somauli Land, Darfoor, Abyssinia, Nubia, Egypt, Tripoli, Tunis, Algeria, Morocco, Barbary, Sene-Gambia, Karta, Bambara, Ashantee, Gando, Yoruba, Benin, Bornoo. The colonization of Africa by France, Portugal, Britain, Belgium, Spain and Italy changed the borders of native African states and has resulted in the present divisions and boundaries in Africa.

As of 2015, there are more than 50 countries in Africa and more than 800 different languages. After Asia, it is the most populous continent in the world with a population of 1.1 billion.

More about Africa:

  • By 2050, it is expected the population of Africa will be 2.3 billion.
  • Liberia was the first African country to gain independence, in 1847. Eritrea was the last African country to gain independence, in 1993.
  • Africa is the poorest continent in the world, despite having the world's largest reserves of precious metals.
CulturalWorld.org is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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