Sub-Saharan Africa

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A geographical map of Africa, showing the ecological break that defines the sub-Saharan area
A geographical map of Africa, showing the ecological break that defines the sub-Saharan area
A political map showing national divisions in relation to the ecological break (Sub-Saharan Africa in green)
A political map showing national divisions in relation to the ecological break (Sub-Saharan Africa in green)

Sub-Saharan Africa is the term used to describe those countries of the African continent that are not considered part of political North Africa.[citation needed] Geographically, the demarcation line is the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. Many countries such as Chad, Mali, Sudan, Niger, and Mauritania thus belong to both regions, and for this reason some object to the term in its entirety.[1]

Since the end of the last Ice Age, the north 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 River. The modern term sub-Saharan corresponds with the standard representation of North as above and South as below. Tropical Africa and Equatorial Africa are alternative modern labels, used for the distinctive ecology of the region. However, if strictly applied, this term would exclude South Africa, most of which lies outside the Tropics.


[edit] History, theories and Critique of the category

In 19th Century Europe and the Western world, the area was sometimes referred to as "Black Africa." Africa as a whole was commonly known as "the Dark continent", a term that was usually intended to refer to the Sub-Saharan region. This was partly due to the skin color of its inhabitants and partly because much of it had not been fully mapped or explored by Westerners. These terms are now obsolete and often considered to be pejorative. Further, they are misleading, as dark-skinned Africans are indigenous to much of North Africa, as well. Nevertheless, there is a clear, if historically unstable, ecological break between tropical and desert regions which has affected genetic and cultural contacts.[citation needed]

The G8's Greater Middle East includes Sub-Saharan African countries
The G8's Greater Middle East includes Sub-Saharan African countries

Cultural writer and filmmaker Owen 'Alik Shahadah states "The notion of some invisible border, which divides the North of African from the South, is rooted in racism, which in part assumes that sand is an obstacle for African people. This barrier of sand hence confined Africans to the bottom of this make-believe location, which exists neither linguistically, ethnically, politically or physically...Somalia and Djibouti are part of the same political Islamic alignment just like many so-called Arab countries." See Arab League. Shahadah argues that the term sub-Saharan Africa is a product of European imperialism, "Sub-Saharan Africa is a racist byword for "primitive": a place, which has escaped advancement. Hence, we see statements like “no written languages exist in Sub-Saharan Africa.” “Ancient Egypt was not a Sub-Saharan African civilization.” Sub-Sahara serves as an exclusion, which moves, jumps and slides around to suit negative generalization of Africa.'[1]

[edit] Economies

Generally, sub-Saharan Africa is the poorest region in the world, still suffering from the legacies of colonial conquest native corruption, neocolonialism, inter-ethnic conflict, overall ignorance of the indigenous populations, violence and political strife. The region contains many of the least developed countries in the world. (See Economy of Africa.) Sub-Saharan Africa, especially East Africa, is regarded by geneticists as being the birthplace of the human race (The genius "Homo". Mitochondrial Eve, from whom all humans alive are descended, is thought to have lived in present day Ethiopia or Tanzania. Sub-Saharan Africa has been the site of many empires and kingdoms, including the Axum, Wagadu (Ghana), Mali, Nok, Songhai, Kanem-Bornu, Benin and Great Zimbabwe.

Up to and including October 2006 many governments face difficulties in implementing policies aimed at mitigating the effects of the AIDS-pandemic due to lack of technical support despite a number of mitigating measures. [1]

The population of sub-Saharan Africa was 622 million in 1997. [2]

[edit] Health care

In 1988, Bamako was the location of a WHO conference known as the Bamako Initiative that helped reshape health policy of Sub-Saharan Africa.[2] The new strategy dramatically increased accessibility through community-based healthcare reform, resulting in more efficient and equitable provision of services. A comprehensive approach strategy was extended to all areas of health care, with subsequent improvement in the health care indicators and improvement in health care efficiency and cost.[3][4]

[edit] Nations of sub-Saharan Africa

There are 42 countries located on the sub-Saharan African mainland.The 6 island nations include Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe. Mauritius is generally not considered to be a sub-Saharan African island because the ethnic make up of the country is predominantly East Indian, Chinese and French.[citation needed] According to this classification scheme, the countries of sub-Saharan Africa are:

[edit] Central Africa

[edit] East Africa

[edit] Southern Africa

[edit] West Africa

[edit] African island nations

[edit] Territories, possessions, départements

[edit] Notes

[edit] External links

[edit] Political maps of Sub-Saharan Africa