Individual African Countries

Figure 1.-- Rhodesia was a prosperous colonies with bright prospects as an independent country. Today Zimbanwe is one of the poorest countries in Africa, berift of the rule of law and with a large part of the population verging on starvation. The countries political establishment rejected the British economic and political traditions abd the people have paid a serious price for it. Image courtesy of the William Ferguson collection.

The countries of Africa are extremely diverse culturaly, ethnically, a well as in size and levels of development. North Africa is Aran while sub-Saharan Africa is black. Most of the national borders of modern Africa reflect colonial borders rather than African tribal and cultural patterns. Our information on African countries is very limited. Few African readers have contributed information to HBC. This essentially reflects the nature of the intenet. There are realtively few computer users in African countries, essentially because most African countries are not developed economically and only a small proprtion of the population has computers and access to the internet. We do note some economic progress in Africa as local leaders and businessmen turn away from dead-end Socialit policies. We have begun to compile some basic information on African countries. We encourage African readers to tell us about their countries so we can expand the various country sections.


Algeria has had a dual existence. From 1830 to 196?, Algeria was a French colony. The French community in Algeria as well as some Francophone Algerians adopted French culture and fashions, including the boys. Almost all of the French and many of the Franciphone Algerians had to return to France after independence. Modern Algerian fashions are similar to those in the non-fundamentalist Arab world.


Angola is on of the major countries of southern Africa. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive and for 5 century it was a Portuguese colony and heavily affected by the slave trade. A low-level independence movement developed, but Portugal made nor real effort to prepare Angola for independence. Angola actually achieved independent in 1975 after a revolution in Portugal. After independence there was a civil war between the Mouvement pour la libération de l'Angola/Angola Liberation Movement (MPLA) and the Union nationale pour l'indépendence totale de l'Angola/National Union for Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). The conflict involved a power struggle, Cold War politics, tribal rivalries and other issues. The two movements struggle for control of the country and that struugle got involved in the Cold War and devloped into a debilitating civil war (1975-2002). The country was devestted by the war. Angola is riclhy endowed in valuable natural resources (including diamonds and oil) . Even so, most of the Angolan people are very poor.


Benin is a West African country located between Togo and Nigeria and Burkina Faso to the north. The area of modern Benin was the location of an important West African kingdom that rose in prominance at about the same time the Europeans arrived (15th century). The coastal areas became known as the Slave Coast in the sence that other areas became known as the Ivory Coast and the Gold Coast. The area was an important source of slaves in the Atlantic slave trade. The French seized control, calling the colony Dahomey and putting an end to the slave trade (1872). France granted independendence (1960). At imdependence the country became Benin. A sereies of military governments replaced the civilian government. Mathieu Kerekou established a Marxist regime (1972). Marxism proved an abject failure as economic conditions declined. A move to democracy began (1989). Former Prime Minister Nicephore Soglo won a free election (1991). We have a Benin history page. Agriculture is a mainstay of the economy. Cotton is an important crop. The primary ethnic groups are: Fon (40 percent), Adja (15 percent), Yoruba (12 percent), Bariba (10 percent), and several smaller groups. The primary religion is Christian (40 percent) Muslim (25 percent), and Vodoun (20 percent). Voodoo was banned by the French. The annual Voodoo Day is now a popular holiday celebration. .French is the official lsnguage. Fon and Yoruba are commonly spoken in the south. Several tribal languages are spoken in the north. Thousands of Togolese sought refuge from the civil war there and have yet to return home


Botswana is the largest inland country of southern Africa, roughl;y the size of the American state of Texas. The terrain is mostly desert and savanna. Mich of the Kalahsri Desert is found in the south west of the country and even to the north, a great deal of the country is arid. The climate is largely subtropical. Even though the country is large, it is only lightly populated--slightly over 2 million people. The major ethnic groups are the Tswana (80 percent) and Kalanga (10 percent). There are small numbers of Kgalagadi, Herero, Bayeyi, Hambukush, Basarwa ("San"), Khoi, and Europeans. Most of the population is Christian (70 percent). Britain granted independence (1966). The country has been a rare African success story, both stable and growing economically. It is a parlimentary democracy that has maintained democratic ruile since independence, respecting human rights and promoting health and education. The country has important natural resources: diamonds, copper, nickel, coal, soda ash, salt, gold, and potash. Agriculture inlike many African countries is a vry small part of the economy, lsrgely because so much of the country is arid. Crops include: livestock, sorghum, white maize, millet, cowpeas, and beans. Mining is the most important economic ctibity, about 40 prercent of GDP. Other sectors include: tourism (marvelous parks and wildlife), textiles, construction, beef processing, chemical products production, food, and beverage production.

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is the west African country south of Mali and north of Ghana. It was formerly known as Upper Volta. The population is about 15 million. The capital is Ouagadougou (1.4 million). Other cities inxkude: Bobo-Dioulasso (0.5 million), and Koudougou (0.1 million). The trrain is savanna with brushy plains and scattered hills. The climate is Sahelian. It is one of the West African countries most adverselyvaffected by desertification. There are pronounced wet and dry seasons. The people arec referred to as Burkinabe. It is ethnically highly diverse. There are 63 different African ethnic groups or tribes. The Mossi are the most important representung about half the population. Other importantvtribes include: Bobo, Mande, Lobi, Fulani, Gourounsi, and Senufo. The dominant religion is Islam (55 percent). Therre are also traditionalnanimists (20 percent) and Christians (25 percent). Because ofthe ethnic diversity, French is the official language. Infigenous lanaguages are widely spoken, including Moore, Dioula, and others. The country is very poor with a weak educational system. Only about 25 percent bof the country is literate. A factor here besides the poverty is that books for the most part are printed in French and becoming literate largely bmeand learning a foreign language. Public health statistics are also low. The infant mortality rate is 86/1,000 (2008). Life expectancy is 52 years (2008). Agriculture accounts for about 90 percent of the economy and has been adversely affected by desertification. The French introduced cotton as a major crop and it is today the most important commercial crop.


Biruundi is a small land-locked country of east/cdentral Africa. The colonial powers were Germany and Belgium. Our information is still very limited at this time. The country like Rawanda has been split by the ethniuc divide between Tutsis and Hutus. Our information at this time is limited, but we have a page on Burundi history. And a page on Burundi schools.


Cameroon is an Equarorial African country which can be included in both Wet abnd Central Africa. It is located along the Altantic-coast Bight of Biafra between Nigeria and Gabon. It extends north to Lake Chad and east to the Central African Republic. Cameroon was in part a German colony seized by the British and French during World War I. The modern country is a fusion of the Briish and French colonies and thus has both Anglophone and Francophone traditions fused with the many ethnic communities. We do not yet have a Cameroon page, but do have a Cameroon history page. The country is still largely agriculturral, although fishing is of some importance. The modern country is notable for the ethnic diversity of its population. Various accounts identify 150-250 ethnic groups. The difference in the estimates probably stems from the fact that many of these groups are related. Christianity and Islam are the country's two dominant religions. Christian churches and Muslim mosques can be found throughout the country and there is a gradition of religious tolerance. About 70 percent of the population is to some degree Christian and 20 percent Muslim. Traditional religions are still practived. There is a north/south religious divide between Christians and Muslims, the general pattern between in West Africa. Protetants dominate the east toward Nigeria and Catholics the west toward Gabon. Although Europeans reached the area very early (late-15th century), missionary work did not begin until much later (mid-19th century). Christian missionaries played an important role in ending the slave trade and in founding the country's education system. Most of the early rulers at independence wre taught in mission schools. We also have a Scouting page.

Cape Verde

Cape Verde is an archipelago along the coast of West Africa about 500 kilometers west of Senegal. The islands were Uninhabited when the Portuguese discovered them as part of the voyages of discovery south along the African coast (1456). They provided a secure location for an outpost. The Islands were added to the expanding Portuguese empire (1495). The population is mostly of mixed Portuguese and African ancestry. As the Islands were located on the great trade routes between Africa, Europe, and the New World, they became a prosperous center for the slave trade. The island location made them more secure than outposts on the mainland. The Islands experienced an economic decline after Portugal abolished the slave trade (1876). Cape Verde became a Portuguese shipping port. Portugal changed the Islands from a colony to an overseas province (1951). The African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau (also a former Portuguese colony) and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was founded (1956). The Island inhabitants became full Portuguese citizens (1961). The independence movement began to gain a popular following in the 1960s. A coup in Portugal resulted in a new government which granted independence to its former colonies. Cape Verde became independent ( 1975).

Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bounded by Chad in the north, Sudan in the northeast, now South Sudan in the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of the Congo in the south, and Cameroon in the west. The CAR is arelativekly small country with a small population of some 4.4 million people (2008). The capital nd largest city is Bangui. The terraine is primarily Sudano-Guinean savannas but the north is Sahelian and the south is equatorial forest. Most of the country iswithin the Ubangi River basin and flows south into the Congo River. The morthern zone is in the Chari River basin which flows north into Lake Chad. The importance of these two rivers while France referred tothe colony as Oubangui-Chari. France made it a semi-autonomous territory of the French Community (1958) and granted independence (1960). The new countrywas one of the most eratically ruled new African countries. After the French-supervised free election, elections mecamge meaningless. The most eratic ruler was Jean-Bédel Bokassa. He was a military officer who aftr seizing power decided he wanted to be an emperor. Local discontent with their rulers and international pressure after the end of the Cold War eventually brought real multi-party democratic elections (1993). Ange-Félix Patassé was elected, but was unable to maintain popular support. He was ousted by French-backed General François Bozizé (2003). He went on to win a democratic election (May 2005). Incompetent and at times predatory leadership has led to economic failure. The CAR has a potentully potentially bright future. There are significant mineral and natural resources (uranium in Bakouma, crude oil, gold, diamonds, lumber, and hydropower) as well as adequate arable land for a small population. The CAR is, however, one of the poorest countries in the world and even in Africa ranks among the poorest.


Chad is a Saharan country located in north-central Africa. It was part of French Equatorial Africa and achieved independence (1960). The capital and largest city is N'Djamena is the capital. The country is very arid. It is perhaps best known for endless, fearureless Saharan/Sahelien expanses. Much of the north is part of the vast Sahara Desert. In the south, still dusty landscape are fed by small streams which produce some green scenes along the road. The most notable tourist attraction is the teeming wildlife of Zakouma National Park located South of N’Djaména. Archeolohists have found evidence ofhuman habitation from a very early period. Much of the known history of Chad before the arival of the Europeans come from the Moslem peopkle of the central region. Here kingdoms and small empires formed. Chad was volonized by France at the turn of the 20th century. The far north proved especially difficult to pcify. France granted independence (1960). We have some basic information on Chad's history. The economy is based largely on agriculture and livestock, but productivity is limited because so much of the country is arid. It is thus one of the poorest country's in Africa and desertification is a major problem. As a result the population is sparse, totaling about 10 million people. Many in Chad are Muslim, although the largest ethnic group are the Sara--a largely non-Muslim people. Lake Chad is a shallow lake of north-central Africa bordered by Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria. It was first explored by Europeans (1823). The Lake is now only a fraction of its former area. The security situation is deteriorating and the government appears to be losing its grip on the nation, especially the north.

(The) Comoros

The Commoro Islands are volcanic in origin set north of the Mozambique Channel in the wesern Indin Ocean to the east of Mozambique and northwest of Madagascar. There are four major islands. Mayotte is the oldest and thus has eroded montains and meandering streams. Grand Comore is much younger and two thirds of the island is covered y an active volcano. Anjouan and Moheli have wooded mountains. Human habitation may date to about 2000 BC, but such early haitation is based primarily on leged. The position of the Islands near the northern entrance to the Mozambique gives them a strategic importance. Thus the islands had an important role in Indian Ocean maritime commerce. This is reflected in the mult-ethnic and culture of the Islands (Africa, Arab, Asian, European, and Persian). The primary ethnic input are African, Arab, and Malay, illustrating the importance of commerce in shaping the islands. The Indian Ocean trade included animals, gems, ivory, lumber, slaves, and spices. Domoni on Anjouan is mentioned in medieval records (12th century). The Sultanate of Ndzuwani (Anjouan) was founded about the time the Europeans entered the Indian Ocean (about 1500). The Ndzuwani sultanate became the most powerful of all the Comorian sultanates. Sultan Alawi bin Husein requested French assistance against the Sultanate of Zanzibar which was threatening his domain (1816). This was just after the Napoleonic Wars. The islands became a French colony following the Berlin conference (1887). The Comoros chose to remain part of the French Republic (1958). They remained a part of France until three of the islands: Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Moheli), and Nzwani (Anjouan), declared independence from France (1975). Since then the history of the islands has been stormy. There have been more than 20 coups or attempted coups and declations of independence by individual islands. Eventually most of the islanders chose independence and chanhed their names to the local language. The fourth, Mayptte, chose to remain a part of France. They have formed the Union of Comoros, but each of the three islands have substantial autonomy. The fourth major island, Maore (Mayotte)voted to fully integrate with France (2009). The Comoros Union government which claims the island and labels the referendum null and void. Thus Mayote is administered as part of France. The economy was based on trade, agriculture and lumbering. Much of the exotic wood forests have now been cut down, but tourism bsed on picture-perfect beaches has become very important. Mayote is particularly popular with tourists because of the stability France provides.

(Republic of the) Congo

The Republic of the Congo is also known as Congo-Brazzaville. It is located in central Africa, bordering on Congo/Zaire, but north of the Congo River. Congo was populated by Bantu tribes who developed trade links up the Congo into the huge Congo Basin. It was colonized by France and called the Middle Congo. Congo achieved independence (1960). Congo was a Marxist-Leninist single-party state (1970-91). This extended experimentation with Marxism did huge damage to the economy. Only important oil finnds prevented economic disaster. The failed pursuit of Marxism was finally abandoned (1990). A Multiparty election were held and a democratically elected government took power (1992). The democratically elected government was overthrown in a civil war (1997). The former Marxist President Denis Sassou-Nguesso seized opwer. Ethnic and political unrest ensued. A southern-based rebel groups agreed to a peace accord (2003). A serious refugee crisis ensued. Poor management and administrative chaos has resulted in a decline in the importan oil industry. The principal ethnic groups include: Kongo (50 percent), Sangha (20 percent), and M'Bochi (10 percent). About half the population is Christian or animist. There is a small Muslim minority. The official language is French. Lingala and Monokutuba are wideky spoken commercial languages. There are also a large number of local languages and dialects. Kikongo is especially important.

(Democratic Republic of the) Congo/Zaire

Zaire or the Congo is essentially much of cental Africa. The countruy is centered on the Congo Riven basin. The Congo is on of the great rivers of Africa and draikns much of central Africa. The Congo has a small Atlantic coast where the Congo flowss into the Atlantic, it extens east to the Freat Rift Valley where several of Africa's important lakes are located (Tanganyika, Kivu, amd Katanga, Edward, and Albert). The terraine varies from dense tropical rainforests in the north and to savana and woodlands in the south. Important crops include coffee, cotton, palm oil, and rubber. Mineral resources include cobalt, copper, diamonds, gold, tin, and uranium. Ethnically the Congolese are primarily Bantu who are divided into many tribes. There are also a small number of Pygmies. Little is known about the early inhabitants of the Congo. They may have been primative Pygmies. Gradually the Bantus from the northwest settled most of what is now the Congo. The Bantu population steadily increased and states began to form, several of which grew in size. Some of these states controlled fairly large areas and had sophisticated administrative systems. The Congolese are some of the last Africans to come into contact with the Europeans. Clothing was very basic because of the warm tropical climate. There were a range of trasditiional styles which varied from tribe to tribe. Children generally went naked until puberty. Modern Congolese generally wear European clothingto the extent threy can azfford it/ Large quantities of used clothing from America and Europe are sold in local markets.


Djibouti is a small country near the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. It is situated around a strategic inlet in the Gulf of Aden just south of the southern Red Sea narrows. This made the area of strategic importance in ancient times controlling trade routes between Egypt and India. Locals claim to be the first African country to adopt Islam. Close commercial contacts with the Arabian peninsula since ancient times brought the Somali and Afar tribes in contact with Islam at a very early period. The construction of the Suez Canal increased the strategic imoportahnce ad drawing European interest. France signed various treaties with the then ruling Somali Sultans (1883-87). The French and other European colonists were interested in the Horn of Africa as a result of sea lanes to and from Suez. France also wanted a east-west collection of colonies connecting the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. At the same time the British were building a north-south connectio between Capetown and Cairo. French Somaliland (French Territory of the Afars and Issas) was formally created as a French colony (1897). The British and Italians also established Somali colonies. The railway to Capetown was never completed, but Djibouti with the indeoendence of Erirea is the terminus of araiklway from Addis Ababa and the principal port of land-locked Ethiopia. The Republic of Djibouti became independent (1977), but retains tieswith France. We have a school page.

Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea is a small, oil-rich, country on the western coast of central Africa at the apex of the Gulf of Guinea. The mainland known as Rio Muni is located south of Cameroon where the African coast turns south. The box shaped country is also bordered by Gabon in the east and south. Unlike many African countries, rivers play no part in the borders. The capital and main port, Malabo, is located at some dustance from the mainland on Bioko (formerly Fernando Po) island which is off the coast of Cameroon. A secondary port, Luba, is also on Bioko. The principal city on the mainland is Bata. The official languages are Spanish (which is widely spoken) and French (which is not widely understood, but sometimes used in business dealings). Native languages are not the official language because there are so many of them. The country was a former Spanish colony known as Spanish Guinea. Dernando Po was initially a Portuguese possession ceded to Spain (1778). The mainland boundaries were established by the Treaty of Berlin (1885). Spain granted internal self-government (1964) and full indeopendence (1968). Francisco Macias Nguema at independence launched a reign of terror. A third of the population flee. Macias Nguema initiated a genocide against the Bubi ethnic minority. He also ordered the death of thousands of suspected opponents, closed down churches, and presided over the an economic collapse. He was overthrow after a decade of bloody rule and economic failure (1979). Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo seized power in a coup. He has not roven as murderous, but has shown little tolerance for criticism and opposition. And thanks to oil discoveries, he but not the people has become very rich. The country is theoretically a multi-party constitutional republic. All branches of government are, however, controlled by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who first elected (1979). He was declared the winner of the latest presidential election with over 95 percent of the vote (November 2009). The repressive national government has attempted to prevent photography. Exports besides oil include cocoa, timber, coffe, and fruit.


Egypt and the Nile are of course an important foundation of Western civilization. We have done some work on Ancient Egypt, but have virtually no information about modern Egypt. Egypt was conquered by the Arabs in the 7th century. Egypt is the most populace country in the Arab world. Traditional clothes appear to be still widely worn in Egypt, especially in rural areas. We hope that Egyptian readers will help provide some information on Egyptian clothing styles. As far as we know, traditional clothing are generalized Arab and not specificlly Egyptian styles.


Eritrea is a small East African country part of the Horn of Africa. Like most of the Red Sea coast, what is now Eritrea was Islamacized and there were areas of local independence and other eras of control by Christian Ethiopia. Italy colonized Eritrea, but failed to move further inland and colonize Ethiopia (late-19th century). Italy later attackd Ethiopia again, using Eritrea as a base, and finally suceeded in defeating and occupying Ethiopia (1935). After World War II, Ethiopia arranged a union with Eritrea. The Ethiopians Eritrea so it could have a seaport. This led to a brutal 30-year civil war. Eritrea finally achieved independence from Ethiopia (1993). Isaias Afewerki was elected president nd through his People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDF) has tightly contolled the country eer since. The country is bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti. It occupies a strategic area in the Horn of Africa. Despite the end of the civil war, tensions with Ethiopia remain elvated. The two countries face each other high across a closed and heavily fortified border. Some observers describe Eritrea as Africa's North Korea. The Government has used the perceived threat of Ethiopian invasion to tightly contol Eritrean society. The county is very poor and much of the nationl income is devoted to military spending. It is also one of the most secretive states in the world. The 1997 Constitution establishes a multi-party democracy, but the country is insted governed by aingle party which does not permit other parties to organize. Life in Ertrea is dominated by military conscription which is desribed by Amesty International as both mandatory and indefinite. The country's commitment to military spending and periodic border clashes with Ethiopia hae combined with drought and desertification have left the country one of the poorest in Africa. A full scale war was fought wuth Ethiopia (1998-2000). The economy is largely agicultural. The United Nations has accused the Ertrean Governent of extensive human rights abuses, including crimes against humanity. Hundreds of thousands of Eritreans have fled theeir country. Most hve attempted dangerous journey across the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. We note Ethiopian boys wearing both Western and Arab style clothing. We have some information on Eritrean schools.


Ethiopia is a large country in Eastern Africa with an ancient history. Ethiopia is a very traditional country and even after the tumultous late-20th century continues to be so. Traditional clothing were almost exclusively worn through the 19th century. The various tribes had their owm destinctive clothing. We do not see Ethiopian boys wearing Western clothing to any substantial extent until after the Ethiopian invasion (1935) and even then it was mostly in the cities. After World War II we gradually see Western clothing becoming more important. Ethiopian boys commonly wear short trousers. There’re many school uniforms in Ethiopia. They appeared only in recent years. They are mainly red, blue and green in colour. The Ethiopian Orthodox church is very strong in Ethiopia. It is one of the oldest Christian countries. There are many different folk costumes in Ethiopia, replecting the many different people that live there.


Gabon is a former French colony in west equitorial Africa. The country since independence (1960) has been dominated by two autocratic leaders. The current president is El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba. He as a result of autocrartic policies is one of the longest-serving heads of state in the world. He has dominated Gabon since the 1970s. Gabon has a nominally democratic multiparty system and a constitution intriduced in the 1990s. The ekections, however, are really competive. Gabon has done better economically than many other African countries. Factors here are a relatively small population, abundant natural resources, and foreign assistance. As a result Gabon in African terms is relatively prosperous and stable. As in much of the rest of Africa, children no longer wear traditional or destinctive clothes. Rather the coutries imports large quantities of used clothing from America and Europe. This has ruined local textile and clothing manufacturing countries. And it means that children now commonly wear Western-styled clothing. We do not have a Gabon page yet, we do have one image from Gabon on the flip-flop page.

Figure 2.--Here an English boy probably in the 1950s wears a pith helmet is wadeing, presumably in th Gmbia River, while Gambian boys are spear fishing.


Gambia is a small West African country centred on the lower reaches of the Gambia River, esentially a narrow 200 mile enclave in Senegal. Despite its smll size, Gambia is renounded for its stuningly diverse ecosystems. Thgere are wonderful parrks, including the Kiang West National Park and Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve where primtes, leopards, hippos, hyenas and rare birds can be seen. We do not yet have much informartion on Gambia. The country follows both sides of the Gambia River and is surrounded by Senegal. It is a former British colony. It is a graphic example of how important rivers were in the history of Africa. The Portuguese reached the Gambia River (mid-15th cntury as they ovedsouth along the Atantic coast of Africa and established settlements. The Britsh seized the area (early-17th century). The current boundaries were set as part of the European Scramble for Afric (1888). Britain granted internal self-government (1963) and independence (1965). There have been boundary disputes with Senegal. There was a short-lived effort at union with Senegal (1980s). The country is largely agricultural, exporting peanuts. It is largely inhabitd by black African tribes. The country is thnicially diverse. The vmajor tribal groups are: Mandinka/Jahanka (35 percent), Fulani/Tukulur/Lorobo (20 percent), Wollof (0 perrcebt) and Jola/Karoninka (10 percent). The population is largely Muslim (about 95 percent). We have a page on education.


Ghana is a West African country bordered by Togo and the Ivory coast on the west and east and Burkina Faso in the north. The Ghana Empire was located north of modern Ghana but traded with what is now modern Ghana (4th-11th centures AD). It is at this time thast the slave trade began. Arab traders expanded the slave trade. Ghana was one of the early Sub-Saharan locations that Portuguese navigators sailing south reached in an effort to sail south to round the African continent. They and other Europeans were interested in what is now Ghana because the natives offered gold in trade. Gradually slaves became more important. f and the first place in sub-Saharan Africa where Europeans arrived to trade--first in gold, later in slaves. West Africa including what is now Ghana became a major source of slaves in the Atlantic slave trade. The British created the Gold Coast colony. Britain franted independence to Ghana (1957). It was also the first black African colony to achieve independence among considerable optimism and fanfare. There were grounds for optimisdm. Ghana has considerable mineral wealth. Britain left the country with a good basic education system and a competent civil service. The high hopes of independence, however, were dashed by corruption, mismanagement, and socialist economic policies. The primary ethnic groups are Akan (45 percent), Mole Dagbon (15 percent) Ewe (10 percent), abnd a variety of smaller grouos. The country is primarily Christian (nearly 70 percent) with a Muslim minority (15 percent). There are also traditional animist beliefs. The officialm language is English because there are so many native languages that a common language was needed. These include Akan which in its many dialects is spoken by about half the population.


Guinea is one of the Atlanic coast countries countries at the far west of West Africa. Is it off the coast of Guinea that the Atlntic begins to turn in the Gulf Guinea. The origins of the term Guinea is unclear as so many colonies and countries had Gunina in their name as well as naming the Bite of Africa the Gulf of Guinea. It might also be related to the Guyanas in South America. What ever the origins of the term, what became known as the Guinea Coast became the major source of slaves during the Altlantic slave trade (16th-19th centuries). The country is a border oddity in the Gulf of Guinea where the countries tend to be rectangularly shaped wih the costal areas extending straight into the interior. Guinea tends to occupy what might have been the interior areas of Sierra Leone and Liberia. The norther border is shared with Senegal and Mali. Much of the western border is with Côte d’Ivoire’s and here the economy has been adversely affected by the civil war. Much of the country is well watered. The headwaters of the Niger are in Guinea, unusual because most African rivers begin in the interior and flow to the coast. The Niger is one of Africa's great rivers. It begins relatively close to the coast and flows into the interior before changing course at the Niger Bend in Mali and then flowing to the coast. Guinea’s has some spectacular landscapes. Guinea has some of the world’s few remaining tropical dry forests. The rainforests in the south are lush with abundant wildlife. Substantial areas have not yet been surveyed by scietists. The Fouta Djalon Plateau in the west had impressive waterfalls and breathtaking scenery. Guinea was a French colony. It is one of the African countries that have not benefited from independence, in part because of the left-wing Socialist policies pursued by the government beginning with independence. The country despite bountiful agriculture is among the poorest in the world. There are about 25 tribal groups in Guinea. The three most important are the Fulani, Malinké, and Soussou. The Fulani (Peul) are the largest tribe, about 40 percent of the population and are concentrated in the Futa Jallon. The Malinké (Mandingo) are the second most important. The most important activity for children is of course school. Sports are very popular for the boys, especially soccer, but we also notice other sports like rugby.

Guinea Bissau

Guinea-Bissau was a Portuguese colony known as Portuguese Guinea. It is bordered by Senegal in the north and Guinea in the west. It is a West African country on the southwestern fringe of the Sahara. The country includes the Bissagos Islands. These are delta islands with magnificent powdery, white-sand beaches, washed by deep blue waters. The islands are destinct cultuyrally from the mainland. The climate is tropical as the country is located just north of 10°N. It is located just where the coast of Africa just bgins to reced west into the Gulf of Guinea. There are coastal mangrove swamps, a beach at Varela and rainforests in the south where elephants and chimpanzees live. Portuguese navigators moving south looking for a sea route to the East forst reached Guinnea (1446). Portugal founded the Atlantic slave trde and Bissau was a major slave trading center. Boundaries were fixed with the surrounding French colonies. Nationalist actibities appeared (1960s). Many nationalists wanted union with the Cape Verde Islands. The country's already limited infrastructure wa damaged by civil war (late-1990s). Transport and communications are poor by even African standards. The country is moving toward national reconciliation . succesfully holding peaceful elections (2005). We have a history page. The economy is poor and largely agricutural The country exports palm and peanut products, rice, coconuts, and timber.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast is commonly referred to by the French name Côte d'Ivoire which is the country's official name. It is a West African country located between the Gulf og Guina and the Sahara Desert. The topography changes from coastal swamps to inland savana. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach the Gulf of Guina as they attempted to find a trade route east. They set up trading posts for gold, ivory, and slaves. Gradually the French presence became dominant. A treaty made Côte d'Ivoire a French protectorate (1843–44). It became a colony (1893) as part of the European colonia scramble for Africa. Ivory Coast achieved its independemce (1960) under Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Côte d'Ivoire unlike many newly indeprndent countries, maintained close relations with the former colonial power. The country was at independence one of the strongest West African countries economically. The econmy was primarily agricultural with coffee and cacao the primary export commodity. The economy suffered in the 1980s. This in part contributed to the destabalization of the political system. Houphouët-Boigny strong-arm rule prevented the development of democratic institutions. After Houphouët-Boigny's rule, two coups d’état (1999 and 2001) and a civil war caused wide spread domestic disprder. Elections and a political agreement between the new government and rebels offers the prospect for domestic peace. The French ended the slave trade and promoted Christianity. Boys' clothing was primarily traditional outside of the cities until after World War II.


Kenya is an east-African country at the equator. It is bordered by Somalia on the east, Ethiopia to the north, Tanzania to the south, Uganda on the west, and Sudan to the northwest. The climate is quite varied. In the north along the Somali-Ethiopian border the land id quite arid. Kenya's southwest touches the fertile, well watered Lake Victoria Basin and part of the Great Rift Valley. This separates the western highlands from the lowland coastal strip. It is in the Great Rift Valley that valuable finds of ancient huminoids have been made. The fertile highlands are part of the extensive greasslands of East Africa. This includes the Serengeti with its renowned population odf wildlife. We are working on a history of Kenya. One of the best know tribes is the Massai. Kenya is promarily Christian with a Muslim population in the northeast along the Somali border. Kenya has become the refuge for 0.3 million people fleeung conflict or persecution in perhaps a dozen different countries in the region. Most come from war-torn Somalia. The American ship attacked by pirates (2009) was bringing relief supplies these refugees. A reader has orovided some information about a Kenyan boy and his pet. We also have some information on Kenayn schools.


Lesotho is a land-locked kingdom completely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It was formerly Basutoland. The country became a British protecorate (1868). The country became independent as a constitutional monarcy (1966). The country's name means the "land of the people who speak Sotho". The economy is based on farming and livestock. The population is mostly Sotho-speaking Basuto. Bauto is the principal tribal group. Sotho is used in Lesotho primary schools, but English is used in the secondary schools. There was what was called the Great Basuto Migration each year when the men moved to South Africa to work in the mines. The country has one of the world's highest rates of AIDs infections.


Liberia is a West Africa country which faces the Atlantic Ocean north of the Equator and borders Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. The American abolitionist movement began settling former slaves in Liberia (1822). The Afro-Americans declared a republic (1847). A social divided developed between the Afro-Americans abnd the native resodents in the interior. Samuel Doe carried out a military coup which led to authoritarian rule (1980). Charles Taylor led a rebellion (1989). He won an election (1997). His brutal rule and involvemebnt in the neigboring Sierra Leone civil war resulted in his removal (2003). Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ws elected (2005) and is attempting to rebuild a war-torn country. The county is 95 percent African. There are many different tribes: Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Grebo, Mano, Krahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma, Kissi, Vai, Dei, Bella, Mandingo, and Mende. Afro-American are about 2.5 percent of the population. Congo people constitute most of the remaining 2.5 percent. They are the descendants of immigrants from the Caribbean. Religious beliefs include: Christian 40 percent, native beliefs (40 percent), and Muslim (20 percent). Aboout 20 percent of the population speaks English. There are about 20 tribal languages, most of which are not written languages.


Libya is a North African country located between Egypt and Tunisia. The population is almost entirely Muslim. We do have much informtion on Libya. As far as we can tell, clothing styles are similar to Egypt and Tunisia, although Libya is less urbanized than Egypt. We think Arab-style clothing is somewhat more common than im Egypt, at least urban styles which are more Westernized. Oil was discoverted in Libya after World War II which for the first time since the Roman Empire had brought wealth into Libya. The Libyan Government has used the oil income for a variety of projrcts, including the military and terrorism, there seems to have been no real effort to develop a modern economy and the economy is almost entirely dependant on oil and gas exports. We have a Libyan history page.


Madagascar is the large Indian Ocean island country off the coast of southern Africa. The Arabs dominated the Indian Ocean during the 9th and 14th centuries and established colonies on the island. The ruins of Arab fortifications date from the 9th century. Arab dominance of the Indian Ocean was first challenged by the Portuguese (16th century). Dutch, English, and French seamen soon followed the Portuguese. The first French settlement appeared (1643). French settlement occurred at Tolagnaro (formerly Faradofay) on the southeast coast. The French were active there for over 30 years. The settlers made an effort to coexist with the Antanosy, the principal local ethnic group. Eventually relatins deteriorated. The Antanosy massacred the French (1674). A few survivors managed to reach Reunion. The French did not return for more than a century. The French finally made Madagascar a protectorate (1883) and a colony (1896). The country achieved independence (1960) and for many years was called the Malagasy Republic. The people referred to are a varied ethnic mix black, Malay, and perhaps Polynesian origins with Arab and European influences. Madagascar's tropical rainforest contain a highly diverse population, but are unrelentless assault. The forests includes lemurs, periwinkles and baobabs, aloes, geckoes, sifakas and octopus trees. The country has serious environmental problems, all exacerbated by over population. We have limited information on Madagascar, but there is a First Communion page.


Malawi is a small landlocked country in southeast Africa. It was the British colony of Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. It also borders Lake Makawi. Much of the coutry is the western and southern coast of Lake Malawi and thus is largely the southern terminus of the Great Rift Valley. The terraine is higlands and mountaneous. Malawi separates Zambia from Mozambique. The Portuguese were thge first to reach southern Afruca (late-15 century), but remainmed along the coast. Prortuguese exolorers reached Malawi (17th century). It was redicovered by thecBritish (19th cebtury). David Livingston visited the area (1859). It was first part of the British Central Africa proctecorate (1891). The name was changed to Nyassaland (1907). After World war II when Britain began mocing toward independence, it became part of the Federation f Rhodesua and Nyassaland. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, a leader for constitutional reform becane primeminister (1963). Britain granted independence (1964). Independent Malawi was dominated by the authoritarian President Banda who was extremnely unpredictable, even quitoxic. He finally relinquished power after losing the country's first democratic election (1994). Democratic reforms have since begun to take hold. Presidebnt Bakili Muluzi establisged a more open governmrnt. A tange of serious problems, includging corruption, poverty and AISs continue to impair development effortys. Malawi is a basically agricultural country. Most Malawians are involved in subsistence farming. Importabnt crops include peanuts, tobacco, tea, coffee, and cotton. The economy is largely underdeveloped beyond basic agriculture. Under President Banda many state corporations were established. As eksewhere in Africa where socialist policies like state corporations were followed, the resulty was both coruption and economic stagmntion. The state corporations regularly geneated sizeable losses. World financial bodies aiding Malawi have recommended hat the state corporations be pivatized. There are rail links to Mozambique in exports. The country has some wonderful wildlife parks. Like much of southern Africa, there is a growing HIV-Aids problem. Important tribes include the Yao, Nyanja, Chikunda, Nguru, Ngoni, Chewa, Tonga, Nkonde, Tumbuka, and Wemba.


Mali is a land-locked West African republic. It is set on a mostly arid plateau becoming desert in the north. Two major African rivers flow through Mali. The Senegal River flows northwest to Senegal and Mauritania. THe Niger flows northeast and than southeast to Niger. Most of the population is Moslem. The official language is French with many different African dialects spoken. Mali was emcompased by several African kingdoms (Ghana, Mali, and Songhai). France colonized Mali and adjacent areas of West Africa in the late 19th century. Mali was called French Sudan, although the French made many boundary alterations. The French did not exert effective control of Mali until World War I. Mali became an autonomous republic within the French Community as the Sudanese Republic (1958). A brief confederation with Senegal know as the Mali Federation followed (1959-60). The Sudanese Rpublic after the collapse of the federation changed its name to Mali and withdrew from the French Community (1960).


Mauritania is an Arab North African country at the juncture with Black Africa. And it is, as a result, a country split between an Arab north and an African south. It is an Atlantic coast country. The only country of the Magreb without a Mediterranean coast. While Mauritnia is largely desert, ecology of coastal waters is highly productive. The Banc d'Arguin interacts with the adjoining systems of the open Atlantic with its upwelling engine. The Banc d'Arguin functions as a tropical pocket in a temperate surrounding. Mauritania is also part of West Africa's Sahel region. The country is located south of Morocco and Algeria, west of Mali, and north of Senegal. The climate is very arid and the territiry includes large streaches of the Sahara. Thus despite the large area, there is a very small population. Only the Senegal River Valley in the south is well watered. The population includeds primarily moors--the Maur of Arab-Berber origins. Blacks dominate the south. The Portuguese reached the coast at an early stage of the voyages attempting to find a sea route to the East (15th century). The French established a protectorate (1903). It becamea colony (1920). After World War II it joined the Frebch Community (1958). France granted independence (1960). We do have a page on Mauritanian history. Mauritania annexed the southern third of the former Spanish Sahara (Western Sahara) (1976). It quickly decided to relinquished it after 3 years of damaging raids by the Polisario guerrillas seeking independence. After years of dictatorial rule, opposition parties were legalized and a new constitution approved (1991). Two multiparty presidential elections since then are widely viewed as flawed. Mauritania continues to be a one-party state. And their continues to be ethnic tensions between its dominant Maur populace and Black minority. Mauritania is one of Africa's poorest countries. Most of the population depends on farming and livestock. The economy is heavily dependent on mineral resources. Iron ore accounts for about 50 percet of the country's exports. There is also copper mining. Other exports include various animal products, gum arabic, fish, and dates.


Mauritius is a small island in the Indian Ocean located east of Madagascar and Reunion. Unlike Oceania, several Indian Ocean islands were not reached by humans before the modern era. We have some information on Mauritius history. The island was unpopulated when the Portuguese discovered it. The Dutch seized the islands and brought in Africa slaves, but failed to establish a profitable colony. The French acquired it and established a flourishing sugar industry based on slave labor. Reunion thus became part of the Indian Ocean slave trade. Most of the slaves were obtained from Madagascar. The British seized the island during the Napoleonic Wars, but allowed it to remain culturally French. After the abolition of slavery, the planters contracted indentured labor in India. We notice photofraphy on Mauritius as early as the 1860s. Britain granted independence (1968).


Morocco is located at the northwestern corner of Africa on the rim of the Saharan Desert. Our information on Morocco is still very limited. It has both Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. We have also prepared a Moroccan history page. Arabs conquered the country (8th century). The country was one of those involved in the African slave trade and attacks on Christian shipping for several centuries. It maintained its independence until the French finally seized control (early 20th century). Morocco was seized by the Allies during the World War II Torch Landings (1942). The country today is almost entirely Muslim. The country became independent after World War II. It is one of several Arab monarchies. Like other North African countries, Morocco has serious economic probems. Large numbers of Moroccans seek jobs in Europe, especially Spain. We have some information on schools. We have some information about the French living in Morocco during the protectorate period of the early- and mid-20th century. We note French boys wearing rompers. We have found a portrait from the late 19th century showing an unidentified boy in Tangier. He wears a rough shirt like garment had a shaved head with a single plited strand. We do not know how common this was. the rough shirt or tunic was probably common with the pooer. We are less sure about the hair.


Mozambique is located in Southeast Africa between the Mozambique Channel of the Indian Ocean and Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe to the west. Tanzania and South Africa are located to the north and south. Much of the country like Madagascar lies nort of the Tropic of Capricorn giving Mozambique a tropical climate. The country comprises much of the coast of southwest Africa, The capital city is Maputo, known as Lourenço Marques in Portuguese colonial times. Bantu-speaking peoples migrated from the north and west into what is now Mozambique (1st and 5th centuries AD). Arab traders set up coastal trading posts (bginning in the 8th century). Swahili, a Bantu lannguage, included by contact with Arabs developed as a kind of lengua franca in East Africa. Europeans arrived (late-15th century) and also set up trading posts along the coast. The Portuguese were the first to round the Cape of Good Hope. Vasco da Gama explored the area of modern Mizambique (1498). The Portuuese set up trading posts along the coat (1505), but for three centuries did not move inland in any major way and colonize the area. Formal colonization occurred (19th century). Portugal granted independence (1975). The People's Republic of Mozambique's Frelimo movement adopted Marxist policies. This and mismanagement impeded any kind of modern economic develoopment. Mozambican support for nationalist groups struggling with hite-minority rule governments in Rhodesia and South Africa led to both countries sponsoring the opposition Renamo movement leading to civil war (1977-92). As a result the economy declined after indeondence. Some people even faced famine. A peace deal ended 16 years of civil war (1992). The country has negun reporting some progress in economic development and a degree of political stability has been achieved. Mozambique has a potentially prosperous economic future and is endowed with substantial natural resources. The country's economy is, however, still based primarily on agriculture.


Some countries are noted for lush vegetation with lakes and rivers and serene beauty. Namibia could not be more different. Namibia is known for its stark beauty. It has to be one of the countries with the most harsh, if not the harshest landscape on earth. The country is mostly desert ith virtually endless deserts. The sharan Desert is mich larger, but divided among several countries. The Namib Desert is mostly located in Naminia. The country is bordered by Angola, Botwwana, and South Arica and touches on Zambia and Zimbanwe. Along with the desert dunes there are rugged mountains, and rugged coastline. The cold northrly flowing Benguela Current is responsible for the minimal precipitation. Namimbia is one the least densely populated countries in the world, with only 2.1 million people in aelatively large country. Much of the population because of the harsh enviroment was nomadic herders. The environment is so harsh that the country has become a tourist attraction. The Namibian Tourist Board advises tourists, "Explore the oldest, driest desert in the world and take time to listen to the silence and to your soul." Along with the country's stark beauty are important wildlife populations. Namibia was the former German colony of Southwest Africa. German colonia rule was especially harsh in the native people. We have not yet managed to acquire much information on Namibia. We do not yet yet have a Namibian history page. We do have a page on the Himba people, the survivors of the Herero Wars.


Niger is a huge land-locked country set squarely in the middle of the Sahara Desert. The country borders the North frican countries of Algeria and Libya in the north and the Gulf of Guina countries of Benin and Nigeria in the south. To the west are the Sahelian countries of Mali and Burkina Faso and the Saharan country of Chad lies to the east. The north of the country is the vast Sahara Desert with some of the most daunting dunes found anywhere in the Sahara. The stark splendour of the Sahara in Niger are one of the region's most spectacular sights, The south savana and steppe which is increasingly affected by desertification. The trans-Saharan caravan trade with slaves an important commodity were a major part of the economy for centuries. The caravan trade towns of Agadez and Zinder are magnificent example of traditional mudbrick architecture. The modern economy is cetered in the southwest where some livestock rearing and agriculture is possible. This is becaue the country's namesake, the Niger River cuts across a narrow band of the country there. And it is here where most of the population lives. The economy is primarily based on livestock rearing and agriculture (peanuts abd cotton). Cotton is the principal export commodity. There are iron ore deposits which have not been fully developed. The population consists of several tribes including nomads (Taureg, Toubou, and Fulani) in the north and agrarians (Hausa, Djerma, and Songhai) in the south. The people are primarily Muslim. The official language is French. Frnce began moving into the area (late-19th cenury). The Saharn north proved difficult to pacify. Niger officially became a French colony (1921). The first territirial assembly was elcted (1946). Niger became an autonomous republic within the French Community (1958). France granted full independence and the country joined the United Nations and withdrew from the French Community, but continued to retain ties with France (1960). Slavery has continued as a problem in modern Niger. We do not yet have a Niger page, but we do have a school page.


Nigeria is the most populace country in Africa, nearly 150 million people (2008). It is one of the West African countries on the Gulf of Guinea. The geography is extremely diverse. The south is well watered Mangrove swaps along bthe coast merge into trpoical forest and oil palm bush as one moves inland and open woodland and savana grasslands in the central area. The north is arid steppe semi-desertm extending into the arid sub-Saharan region (Niger and Chad). The western border is with Benin and the eastern border with Cameroon. The principal rivers are the Niger and Benue. The highest elevations are the Jos Plateau (1,200-2,400 meters above sea level) and mountains along the Cameroon border. The principal ethnic groups are: Hausa-Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba, and Kanuri, but there are many smaller tribes. The major religions are Muslim in the north and Christian in the south. There are also indigenous animist religions. The official language is English which is necessary as a common language because each of the tribal groups have their own languages: Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani, Kanuri, and others. The country was colonized by Britain (19th centyry). It achieved independence as part of the Commonwealth (1960). Oil plays a major role in the economy, but like many other resource-rich countries, Nigeria has found it difficult to convert its oil and other resource income into developing a modern economy. We do have a Nigerian history page We do not yet have extensive information on Nigeria. There is also an economy page. Like most of sub-Saharan Africa, one of the principal interests of boys, especially in the south, is football (soccer). The north is more traditiional and Islam tends to dominate family life,


Réunion is the largest island in the Indian Ocean Mascarene group, situated about 200 km southwest of Mauritius and 650 km east of Madagascar. Arab merchant seamen were the first to report Reunion. They called it Dina Morgabin ('Western Island'). The Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit the Island and found it still uninhabited (1513). They named it Santa Apollonia. France seized the island and at first used it as a penal colony. Réunion became a post of the French East India Company as France became increasingly involved in trade with the East (1665). The French Indian Ocean islands became important (18th and 19th century). The French as part of their colonial effort in India set up colonies on the islands of Reunion and Mauritius (18th century). The primary crops were cloves, coffee, and sugar. These highly profitable plantations required imported labor. This was provided by slaves, mostly from Portuguese Mozambique and Zanzibar. Britain seized the Island during the Napoleonic Wars (1810-14), but allowed it to remain culturally French. Coffee could no longer could be produced competitively (after 1815). Planters turned to sugarcane as the main crop. With the end of slavery (1848), plantation owners bought Chinese, Malays, and Malabar Indians to the island as indentured workers. As a result, Reunion now has a complex ethnic mix. The opening of the Suez Canal (1869) did great damage to the island economy. Reunion lost its importance as a stopover on the East Indies trade route. Réunion during World war II joined the Free French (November 1942). France after the War changed the status of Réunion was changed from a colony to an overseas department. The population on Réunion sought increased political autonomy and higher wages (1880s-90s). We do not yet have a page on Réunion, but we do have a school page.


Rwanda is a small East African country east of Zaire and Kake Kivu. The country in contrast to much of East Africa is well watered with lush vegetation. Thec teraine is undulating smll hills, known as the 'the land of a Thousand Hills". Much of it has been turned into small farms and tea plantations. It is perhaps best known as the home of some of the few surviving Mountain Gorillas, a third of Africa's birds spicies, and several other primates. There are volcanoes and game reserves. The climate is mild and temperate with two rainy seasons. Agriculture dominates the economy. Major crops include -coffee, tea, pyrethrum (insecticide made from chrysanthemums), bananas, beans, sorghum, potatoes, and livestock. Industry includes cement, agricultural products, beer production, soft drinks, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles, cigarettes, and pharmaceuticals. The population is primarily Hutus, but the minotity Tutsis have dominated society. Rwanda was a Belgian colony, but administrered separately from the Belgian Congo (Zaire). The population is largely Roman Catholic. the Hutus as the colony was moving toward independecne, rose up to overthrow the Tutsis (1959). Many Tutsis were killed and some 150,000 fled nto exile in neighboring countries. Belgium granted Rawnda independence shiortlky after leaving the Congo (1962) Simmering tribal tensions let to the terrible Rawanda genocide (1994). Some such events like the NAZI genocide of Jews were very difficult to stop, The Rawandan genocide, however, coukd have been stopped with a relatively small force. The world, however, failed to react. And in only a few months, the Hutu majority murdered an estimated 1 million Tutsis.

São Tomé and Príncipe

São Tomé and Príncipe are Portuguese speaking islands of Gabon at the apex of the Gulf of Guinea bite. The islands were uninhabited when the Portuguese discovered them and because the captured Africans brought to the islands as slavesb spoke many different language, there is now no other language spoken other than Portuguese. There are two small archipelagos around each of the two main islands. The islands are some 140 kilometres (87 miles) apart. Both islands are volcanic in origin. The Portuguese sighted the islands (1471-72). João de Santarém and Pedro Escobar. Portuguese navigators explored the islands and concluded that they could be used as secure bases for Portuguese ships and trade with the mainland. They were of some importance in the early stage of Portuguese exploration because as islands they provided a degree of security. São Tomé is located just north of the equator. It was named in honour of Saint Thomas by Portuguese explorers who first sighted the island on his feast day. Príncipe was named after the Prince of Portugal. The population of 163,000 (2010) make São Tomé and Príncipe the second-smallest African country. (Only Seychelles in the Indian Ocean is smaller.) The Portuguese tried to grow sugar on the islands. The first slaves were provided by the powerful Kongo Kingdom on the mainland. Sugar plantations proved less successful than the the plantations that would be established in Brazil and the Caribbean, in part because the techhnology was not as developed at the time and the slave population proved more difficult to control. The islands became more important as a staging ports in the Atlantic slave trade. After the end of slavery, planters used Angolan contract workers. Portugal granted independence (1975). The country became one of the first African countries to embrace democratic reforms (1990). The islands continue to be mostly agricultural. Exports are primariy cacao, but include coffee, copra, palm oil, and cinchona (quina). The country offers palm-fringed beaches, crystal-clear water, and healthy tropical inland jungles. Officials would like to develop tourism, but have had only limited success to date. Fisheries are of some imprtance and their is an agreemnt with the European Union. Discovery of oil in the Gulf of Guinea offers major changes in the islands' economy.


Senegal is a country in the extreme west of West Africa just north of the Gulf of Guinea. It is on the border between arid Arab North Africa and more well watered African Equatorial Africa. The country is mainly a low-lying country. There is a semi-desert area in the north and northeast and lush tropical forests in the southwest. The largest rivers include the Senegal in the more arid north and the Casamance in the southern tropical climate region. In 1973 Senegal and six other nations created the West African Economic Community. When rising oil prices and fluctuations in the price of peanuts, a major export crop, ruined the economy in the 1970s, Senghor reversed course. He emphasized new industries such as tourism and fishing. Politically, the so-called passive revolution allowed limited opposition. It was France's most important sub-Saharan African colony. The Portuguese reached the Cape Verde Islnds off Senegal early in the effort of moving south along the coast of Africa, but made no effort to settle the mainland (15th century). The French established a fort (17th century). Senegal became an important center of the French slave trade. Île de Gorée was particularly important. Britain seized Senegal as part of the Seven Years War (1763). Britain returned Senegal to France after the Napoleonic Wars (1817), but kept control of the Gambia River. France granted autonomy within the French Community (1958). The first president was Leopold S. Senghor. Senegal joined with Sudan to form the Mali Federation (1959), but shortly withdrew (1960). France granted full independence (1960). Senghor replaced multi-party democracy which France helped to establish with an authoritarian regime. He was a noted poet, but ith no knowledge of economics. He is described as attemting to become a “black-skinned Frenchman,” a quest he ultimately found to be unobtainable. He championed 'African socialism,' Like most African leaders assuming power at the time od decononizatuon, little credit was given go the value of free-market capitaism. He expanded government involvement in the economy through a series of four-year plans. They proved to be economic disasters ahd extremely wasteful. We have a Senegalese history page. The official language is French because there are so many different African languages. The economy is based on agriculture, fishing, and livestock raising. Peanuts are an important export. Tourism is also of some importance.


The Seychelles are a group of 115 volcanic islands in the western Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar and about 800 miles east of Zanzibar. The archipelago covers a considerable area, but the actual land area and population make the Seuchelles the smallest country of Africa. The capital is Victoria on Mahé, the largest island. The Islands were colonized by France during the Seven Years War (1768). France and Britain were at the time contesting control of India. Britain seized control during the Napoleonic Wars and control was formally transferred under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1814). The population is of Afro-European ethnicity. They speak French patois despite becoming a British crown colony. Britain granted independence (1976). As in much of Africa, the new nation experienced a mercenary invasion, an abortive army mutiny, and several coup attempts, the Seychelles only began to achieve political stabilty, in part because of international economic pressure (1990s). The Islanders now have a stable multi-party political system and are experiencing economic prosperity. Gradually the Seychelles achieved political stability and economic prosperity. Exports include copra, cinnamon, vanilla, and guano. Since World War II, with the development of inexpensive jet air travel, tourim has devloped as the major sector of the economy, but subject to international economic swings. Most tourist come from Europe. The beautuful white sand beaches, tropical climate, and crystal clear waters are the big attraction. The Seychelles provides an insular habitat for an interesting variety of wildlife, including giant tortoises and sea turtles and important nature reserves have been estblished. These have proven of interest to tourists. Fisheries which has developed from artisanal to commercial operations is also of some importance.

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a small West African nation. The coastal terraine is swampy which gives way to grassland plateaus and wooded hills in the interior. The population consists of some 20 African ethnic groups. The Temne dominate the north and the Mende are the major southern tribe. Only about 2 percent of the population is Krio, descendants of freed slaves from all mover Africa who settled in Sierra Leone. There are also small numbers of Lebanese, Indians, and Europeans. Christianity and Islam are the major religions, but there are also animists. The official language is English s aesult of British colonization, but krio is widely spoken. The Portuguese were the first Europeabs tgo reach the area and named the area after the mountains and lions they observed (1460). The area became an important source of captives feeding the Atlantic slave trade (17th-18th centuries). The British establoshed Freetown as a refuge for freed slaves (1787). The area was made a crown colony (1808). It became an important base or the cRoyal Navy in the campaign against the slave trade. The slaves on many intercepted slavers were relesed in Sierra Leone. The colony became a protectorate (1896). Elections were first held (1957). Britain granted independence within the Commonwealth (1961). The country has since suffered from military coups and civil war. Major economic activities include agriculture (rice, coffee, and palm oil) and mining (iron ore and diamonds).


This East African country is centered on the Horn of Africa. It was Islamicized soon after tghe SArab outburst. It was colonized by the Europeans in the late-19th century. A British colony was established in the north (1884). The British defeated the Italians in World War II (1941). After the War it became a U.N. Trusteeship. Somalia was formed during the de-colonization proces following World War II. The former British and Italian Somaliland were united (1960). French Somaliland to the east remained separate as Dijibouti. Thre country consists of coastal lowlands and a largely arid interioir lateau. The border is disputed with ethiopia. THis is a source of friction as well as the presence of ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia and Kenya. The population until recently was largekly nomadic. After a war with Ethiopia and the overthrow of a long-time dictator, Somalia has descended into anarchy.

South Africa

We have not yet been able to address the topic of South African boys' clothes in detail, but have begun to collect information. Boys clothes in South Africa have primarily been set by English fashions. Dutch styles were less important because until after World War II the country was controlled by the English and English fashions became the accepted standard. The mild climate was another important factor. We have a basic history of South Africa. South Africa is an ethnically diverse country. The racial composition in 2000 was about: black (75 percent), white (14 percent), colored (9 percent), and Indian (3 percent), although there are other varies estimates. There are many strata levels in South African society which in itself is interesting. Due to the temporate climate, some boys (especially in the rural areas) run about in short pants (albiet grubby) and a "T"-shirt and of course barefooted. In the cities boys have generally become more sophisticated and dress well in varying degrees. South Africans speak a great diversity of languages. The two principal European languages are English and Afrikaans. The latter language is easy to understand by Dutch people. HBC at this time does not have detailed information about trends in South African boyswear over time. We have very few historical images in the HBC archives. The limited information we have suggests that since the British seized control of the Cape Colony that South African clothing styles have closely followed British styles. We are less sure about the Bohrs who moved inland and attempted to ditance themselves from the British. After the Bohr War (1899-1902) the images that we have noted suggest that the Bohrs also adopted British clothing styles. We have little informatio on how school uniforms and children's clothing in general has changed over time. We would be interested in any insights and information HBC readers might have to offer.

South Sudan

The Republic of South Sudan in East Africa is the world's newest country (2011). It is the southern area of the Sudan with its capital at Juba. Independence followed several decades of civil war. The new country is bordered by Ethiopia (east), Kenya (southeast), Uganda (south), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (southwest), the Central African Republic (west), and of course Sudan (north). South Sudan includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd formed by the White Nile, locally called the Bahr al Jabal. The South Sudan was part of the British and Egyptian condominium of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan which became ibdependent as the Republic of the Sudan (1956). From the beginning, there were conflicts betwwen the Afruican south and the Arab north. These conflicts were deeply routed in history. Northern Arabs for centuries pursued the slave trade in the Aftican south. This led to the First Sudanese Civil War and the formation of the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region (1972-83). The Arabs contuinued the slave trade and use it to pursue pacification efforts. A second Sudanese civil war developed and only ended with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (2005). Part of that agreement was the restoration of southern autonomy. It also provuded for aeferendum to allow the people of southern Sudan to determine their political future. The southern Sudanses voted decisively for indeoendence (2011). There are many difference between north and south, inckluding religions, languages, ethnicity, food and traditions. The north is culturally Arab, but many are dark skinned. The south is African, divided into many different tribal groups, some of which are related. The principal tribal grouops are the Dinka (15 percent), the Nuer (10 percent), the Bari, and the Azande. The Shilluk have historically dominated an area along the White Nile. Linguistic similarities suggest a close rekation to the Dinka and Nuer. The northern Arabs are Muslim. The southern Africans are strongly Christian or traditional animists. There are also some Muslims.


Sudan is the largest African country in area. It is located in northeast Africa between Egypt and Eritrea/Ethipia in the east and with Libya, Chad, and the Central African Republic to the west. On the southern border lie Zaire, Uganda, and Kenya. There is a small Red Sea coast. Port Sudan there is the major port and transit point for Muslims participating in the Haj. A large part of the country is part of the Sahara Desert or arid land on the perifery of the Sahara. This is a major fact shaping Sudanese culture and the economy. The Sahara and much of eastern Sudan is cut by the Nile. The great Nile tributaries are rise or transit theSudan. As a result, in antiquity, the Sudan was a major commerce corridor between Sub-Saharan Africa and the Mediterranean world. The country is divided aming an Muslim Arab north and a Christian African south. We have a page on Sudanese history. We note the terrible genocide being conducted by the Arab Sudanese on their fellow Muslims in the Darfur region. A reader has provided us some information about the Dinka people who live in the southern Sudan along both sides of the White Nile. The West was amazed at the Sudanese reaction to teddy bear incident in 2007.


Swaziland is a small independent southern African kingdom set between South Africa and Mozamibque. The terraine is mostly mountenous and plateau. Britain guaranteed autonomy for the Swazis in the late 19th century. The Kingdom was a made a South African protectorate (1894), just before the Boer War, but never included as part of South Africa. Britain assumed the protectorateship (1903). Britain granted independence (1968). The Kingdom was essentilly an absolute monarcghy. Student and workers began to stage orotests, demanding political reforms (1990s). King Mswati III decided with little enthusism to allow some political reforms and greater democracy. He has not, however, followed through with mny of his commitments. The Kingdom's first constitution finally came into effect (2006). The political priocess is not, however, well defibed. The King has not allowed the African United Democratic Party to register as an official political party. Talks between the government and progressive groups over constitutional politicalprocesses failed (2007). The economy is agricultural. The country exports livestock, timber, and agricultural products (sugar, cotton, and fruit). There are rail links to Mozanbique. The Kingdom faces a range of serious problems. AIDS is an enormous problem with huge economic and social consequences. Swaziland has surpassed Botswana as the country with the world's highest known HIV/AIDS prevalence rate.


Tanzania is located at the heart of East Africa. It likes between Lake Tanganyika (the border with the Congo) and the Inbian Ocean. In the north the country borders on Burundi, Rawanda, Uganda, Lake Victoria, and Kenya. In the south the coiuntry borders on Zambia, Malawi, Lake Malawi, and Mozambique. The Great Rift Valley cuts across western Tanzanis which has resulted in the discovery of fosilized remains of ancient huminoids. The first European to reach Tanzania was the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama (late-15th century). The Portuguese seized control of both Zanzibar and the coastal area. Omani Arabs seized back control of Zanzibar (1699). The Germans, anxious to have an empire, seized control of what is now Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi--German East Africa (late 19th century). The British and Germans reached a deal as a part of the European Scramble for Africa. Tanzania was a quiet part of the German Empire except for the Maji revolt (1905). The British during World War I seized control of German East Africa. The British colony became Tanganika, as a League of Nations mandates. Britain granted Tanganika independence within the Commonwealth (1961). As Britain began granting independence to its colonies, the situation on Zanzibar became unstable. After riots on Zanzibar following independence (1963), the island was united with Tanganika to form Tanzania (1964). We have begun to work on a Tanzanian history page. The population was affected by the 19th century Arab slave trade centered at Zanzibar. The country became independent when Tanganyika was united with Zanzibar (1964). We also have a page on missionaries. Tanzania has more than 120 different tribes. A Tanzanian reader suggests that this diversity has been an important factor in the country avoidig tribal civil wars that have aflicted other African countriues.


Togo like the other Gulf of Guinea West African countries is a strip of land projecting into the interior from the coast. Togo is the narrowest strips of these countries. The coast is close to the equator. Rainforests gradually lead to a highland plain as you move north. The economy is largely agricultural wirh exports of coffee, cacao, palm oil, cotton, and copra. Thre is also livestock ranching. Phosphates are mined arounf Lake Togo. Togo formed part of the Slave Coast. Captives brought from the interior by native and Aan slavers were bought and transported to the Americas (17th amd 18th century). The British Royal Navy began assive effort to end the slave trade (19th century). The Germans created the protectorate of Togoland (1884). Britain and France at the onset of World War I. invaded and after a protracted fight surrendered (1916). The British and French divided and administered Togo under League of Nations mandates. We note a French missionary postcard, probably from the 1920s. After World War II, the British-ruled western part was incorporated into what is now indpendent Ghana. France granted self government (1956) nd independence (1960). The country's independent experience has not been a prosperous one. Politically the country has suffered under authoritarian rule and the suppression of basic civil rights. International observers criicized thecountry for its political governance and supressiion of civil rights. As is often the case under authoritarian rule, the economy declined. Togo is one of th poorest countries in Africa. Isolation as a result of authoiarian rule has worsened the poor economic conditions.


Tunisia, is the smallest country in North African Maghreb. It is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast and the Mediterranean Sea to the east and north. Tunisia and its Mediterranean Sea coast are startegically located at the center of Mediterranean Africa,in a tight triangle with malta and Sicily. This strategic location gave rise to one of the great ancient powers--Carthage. Carhage was both a commercial and stratehic hub. Rome and Cartahage waged the Punic wars for contol of the Mediterannean. Rome would destroy Carthage, but a reborn Roman city became one of the most propsperous in the Mediterranean. Romans, Byzanyines, Vandals, Arabs, Spanish, Ottoman Turks, Italians, French, would fight to control what is now Tunisia. Framce colonized Tunisia (1881). Finally the Germans, British, and Americans would vie for control of this strategic location during World War II. France granted independence I (1956). Tunisia was led for three decades by Habib Bourguiba. We do not yet have a Tunisian country page, but we do have a Tunisian history page. Bourguiba who advanced secular, often socialist ideas, and autocratic rule. His ideas included emancipation for women. Women's rights in Tunisia are among the most advanced in the Arab. He also abolition of polygamy and compulsory free education. His Socialist economics meant that the country did not advance economically. And hos autocratic rule prevented any public discourse. The Arab Spring began in Tunisia (2011).


Uganda is a small East African country with a capital and rail hub at Kampala. It is a largely agricultural country, based on a fertile plain where cotton, coffee, and several other crops are grown. There is also some mining. The population is primarily Bantu. Arabs traders dominated the area in the 19th century. The region was unknown to Europeans until the late 19th century when explorers arrived: John Speke (1862) and Heney Stanley (1875). Britain established a protectorate (1894) and later annexed adjacent territory. Uganda became independent with Sir Edward Mutessa II who was king of the Buganda Tribe (1962) Prime-minister Obote removed Mutessa and declared Uganda a "unitary" state (1966). Iddi Amin staged a military coupand waged a virtual reign of terror. One of Amin's actions was to expell the Indians (South Asians) which dominated the financial and merchant sector. This was a popular measure, but had a devestating impact on the Ugandan economy. Modern Uganda is engaged in a guerilla war with the nilhisic Lords Resistance Movement.


Zambia is a land-locked country in East Africa, someyimes regarded as central Africa. The area is a vast plateu with mounaneous terraine in the east and northeast. Zambia is crossed by several rivers. The largest is the Zambezi in the south, originating in Lake Kariba leading to the Indian Ocean. The immense Copper Belt in the northcentral region is one of the richest deposits of this mineral any where in the world and as a result, copper is Zambia principal export. The Kariba Dam on the Zambezi provides vast amounts of electricuity to the country, including the mining oprtations. Important agricultural crops include tobacco, corn, and peanuts. A major rail system has been built, primarily to service the mining industry. Eastern Zambia touches on the southern teminus of the Great Rift Valley. As a result, evidence has been found of early Homonoids, including Homo rhodesiensis. The area was terrorized by Arab slave traders operating from Zanzibar durung the 18th and 19th centuries. The capitves were transported to both the Middle East through Zanzibar and European colonies (especiually Portuguese cilonies) through Mozambique and to a lesser extent Angola. Europeans did not enter the interior until the mid-19th century. Dr. David Livingston passed through Barotseland (werstern Zambia). He eventually discovered Vicoria Falls (1855) as part of his explorations of East Africa. Britain made Barotseland a protectorate (1891) and goverened it from Rhodesia. It was controlled by the British South Africn Company (1911). Direct British rule was established (1924). The colony after World war II became part of the Federation Rhodesia and Nyasaland (1953). Britain granted indepoendence (1964). The country participated in U.N. sactions agaunst Rhodesia which damaged the economy. More details are availble on our history page. We note an image of what purports to be an ordinary Zambian family after indeopendence in the 1960s. We believe this is highly idealized. Zambia despite having immense mineral wealth has not been an economic success since independence. A combination of inadequate ledership and a commitment to socialist economic policies has ment that the country has actually declined economically since independence. We do not yet have a Zambian page. We do have a school page.


Cecil Rhodes obrained mimeral rights from African chiefs (1880s). The British occupied the country (1890). The British separated the colony into northern and southern colonies (1923). Northern Rohodesia eventually became Zambia. Southern Rhodesia became a self-governing colony dominated by the white minority. There was a federation with Nyasaland. Rhodesia was a prosperous colonies with bright prospects as an independent country. Ian Smith's right wing party won elections (1962). Britian refused to grant independence without a degree of blak majority participation. Smith's party won a sweeping party won a sweeping victory (1965). He declared Rgodesia independent. Britin refused to recognize this and asked the United Ntions to apply sanctions. The result was the Bush War and international sanctions. The Lancaster House Agreement ended the War and provided a transitin to majority rule (1980). Britain granted the clony independence with a new name--Zimbabwe. The Government dominated by guerrilla leader Rober Mugabe gradually turned the country unto a dictatorship. Under his rule, the once productive economy steadily deteriorated and by the 2000s Zimbabwe was one of the poorest countries in Africa. Today mamy Zimbweans are surviving at subsistence levels and children wearing rags.


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Created: 10:15 PM 4/9/2009
Last updated: 3:53 AM 11/3/2016