Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. It contrasts with North Africa, whose territories are part of the League of Arab States within the Arab world.

The states of Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros, and the Arabic speaking Mauritania are however geographically in sub-Saharan Africa, although they are members of the Arab League as well.


Sub-Sahara in green

Note: The use of the term has been criticized because it refers to the south only by cartography conventions and projects a connotation of inferiority; a vestige of colonialism, which some say, divided Africa into European terms of homogeneity.

Sahel Region

The Sahel is the transitional zone in between the Sahara and the tropical savanna of the Sudan region and farther south the forest-savanna mosaic of tropical Africa.

Sub Sahara Sahel Africa_PD

Since probably 3500 BC, the Saharan and sub-Saharan regions of Africa have been separated by the extremely harsh climate of the sparsely populated Sahara, forming an effective barrier interrupted by only the Nile in Sudan, though the Nile was blocked by the river’s cataracts.

Nile river_PD

River Nile

The Sahara pump theory explains how flora and fauna (including Homo sapiens) left Africa to penetrate the Middle East and beyond.

African pluvial periods are associated with a Wet Sahara phase, during which larger lakes and more rivers existed.


Hippos of Namibia

Countries of the Sahel

The UN Development Program lists 46 of Africa’s 54 countries as “sub-Saharan,” excluding Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, and Tunisia.

January 6, 2020 9:53 am Published by

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