In West Africa is generally understood as the western part of the African continent, north to about the central Sahara, bounded on the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean. Geographically part of the "West of Africa " and the north of the Sahara (and thus in " North Africa " ) lying countries of the Maghreb.
In West Africa, located by the UN Statistics Division at Statistics District West Africa following States:
- Benin Benin ( capital Porto Novo / seat of government Cotonou )
- Burkina Faso Burkina Faso ( Ouagadougou )
- Ivory Coast Ivory Coast ( capital Yamoussoukro / seat of government Abidjan )
- Gambia Gambia ( Banjul capital )
- Ghana Ghana ( capital Accra )
- Guinea Guinea ( Conakry )
- Guinea- Bissau Guinea- Bissau ( capital Bissau )
- Cape Verde Cape Verde ( Praia capital )
- Liberia Liberia ( Monrovia )
- Mali Mali ( Bamako )
- Mauritania Mauritania ( Nouakchott capital )
- Niger Niger ( Niamey capital )
- Nigeria Nigeria ( Abuja Capital )
- Senegal Senegal ( Dakar capital )
- Sierra Leone Sierra Leone (the capital Freetown )
- Togo Togo ( capital Lomé )
In addition, the location in the South Atlantic British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha comes.
The demarcation "West Africa " of North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Africa is not unique. Occasionally, the eastern states of Cameroon and Chad to West Africa, the northern (Mauritania, Mali and Niger ) are expected to North Africa.
The Greater Region extends over a large part of the African continent, which includes parts of the Sahara in the north and extends from the coastal regions of the Atlantic up to the highlands of Adamawa and the Mount Cameroon in the south. General West Africa covers the western part of the major regions of the Sahel and Sudan, as well as the rainforests of the Upper Guinea threshold. The climate of the Greater Region is highly variable due to their expansion, while the northern part of the region is year-round in the area of influence of the dry trade - wind, also called Harmattan, the south of the region is under the influence of the West African monsoon system and is referred to as tropical changing humid climates, with regionally varying degrees of dry and rainy seasons.
The vegetation types are also different, while the vegetation of the Sahara are predominantly in the north, stretching in the region of Sahel, the dry savannas of South Sahara grass and shrub savanna and the Sahel acacia savannah from. In Sudan, the wet savannas of Western Sudan savanna dominate before and on the windward side of the Upper Guinea threshold exists a vast rain forest.
In the transition region of the Sahara and Mauritania fair-skinned Berbers live ( Tuareg ) and Arabs, south of mainly black African peoples. Many South Africans are adherents of indigenous religions; Islam has gained influence in the Middle Ages. Minorities of Christians live as a result of European missionary, especially on the southern coast. There is a diaspora of Lebanese and Syrians, especially in the big cities.
Before the arrival of Europeans in West Africa were important empires such as Ghana, Mali and Songhai. From the 15th century founded the Portuguese, French, British and Brandenburg forts and trading posts along the coast, especially to the lucrative slave trade in North America to operate.
West Africa has long had a reputation as " the white man's grave ". In the 18th century, 25 to 75 % of the newly arrived Europeans died within the first year after arrival from tropical diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, or sleeping sickness. Later, it was estimated that 10% still good. The spread of these diseases was highly favored by the high prevalence of malaria mosquitoes and tsetse flies. Added to this were the poor hygienic conditions during the rainy season, which could also lead to amoebic dysentery.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, the colonial division was cemented. In West Africa were in 1900 the vast colonies of British, German and French West Africa.
Around 1960 there was a wave of independence in the course of which many West African states were sovereign.
West Africa is marked by the antagonisms of Francophone and Anglophone countries, partly as a result of differing views of colonization by the French and the British. The bonds of the former colonies to their mother countries are partly narrower than the neighboring countries. The West African States ECOWAS community is the integration of West Africa and endeavors in the many crisis regions around the Peace ( Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast).
The road network is poorly developed, railways exist only as a transportation option some landlocked countries to the coast as a result of colonial economic policy. Major ports are Dakar, Conakry, Abidjan, Accra, Lome, Lagos and Freetown.
The Sahel countries are among the poorest in the world, Nigeria is underdeveloped despite oil wealth. On the coast there is a monoculture oriented on export agriculture. A large number of West Africans engaged in subsistence farming.
In West Africa, are spoken more than half of African languages . It is dominated by the nigerkordofanische and the Afro-Asiatic language group. Significant for the traditional culture of the savanna and rainforest peoples are the oral tradition of knowledge through griots and the use of masks and dances for ceremonial occasions.