Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa
Geographical map of sub-Saharan Africa
  The Sahara
  The Sahel
  Sub-Saharan Africa
Major citiesAbidjan, Abuja, Accra, Addis Ababa, Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, Durban, Harare, Johannesburg, Juba, Kampala, Kinshasa, Lagos, Luanda, Lusaka, Mogadishu, Nairobi, Pretoria, Windhoek
Religions (2020)
 • Christianity62.0%
 • Islam31.4%
 • Traditional faiths3.2%
 • No religion3.0%
 • Other0.4%
LanguagesOver 1,000 languages
  1. ^ Per UNHCR Global Trends in 2019, the sub-Saharan population was 1.1 billion.
Combined green: Definition of "sub-Saharan Africa" as used in the statistics of United Nations institutions
Lighter green: The Sudan, classified as a part of North Africa by the United Nations Statistics Division[2] instead of Eastern Africa, though the organization states that "the assignment of countries or areas to specific groupings is for statistical convenience and does not imply any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories."
Red: Arab states in Africa (Arab League and UNESCO)
Simplified climatic map of Africa: sub-Saharan Africa consists of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa in the north (yellow), the tropical savannas (light green) and the tropical rainforests (dark green) of Equatorial Africa, and the arid Kalahari Basin (yellow) and the "Mediterranean" south coast (olive) of Southern Africa. The numbers shown correspond to the dates of all Iron Age artifacts associated with the Bantu expansion.

Sub-Saharan Africa, Subsahara, or Non-Mediterranean Africa[3] is the area and regions of the continent of Africa that lie south of the Sahara. These include Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, and West Africa. Geopolitically, in addition to the African countries and territories that are situated fully in that specified region, the term may also include polities that only have part of their territory located in that region, per the definition of the United Nations (UN).[4] This is considered a non-standardized geographical region with the number of countries included varying from 46 to 48 depending on the organization describing the region (e.g. UN, WHO, World Bank, etc.). The African Union (AU) uses a different regional breakdown, recognizing all 55 member states on the continent—grouping them into five distinct and standard regions.

The term serves as a grouping counterpart to North Africa, which is instead grouped with the definition of MENA (i.e. Middle East and North Africa) as it is part of the Arab world, and most North African states are likewise members of the Arab League. However, while they are also member states of the Arab League, the Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritania, and Somalia (and sometimes the Sudan) are all geographically considered to be part of sub-Saharan Africa.[5] Overall, the UN Development Programme applies the "sub-Saharan" classification to 46 of Africa's 55 countries, excluding Djibouti, SADR, Somalia, and Sudan.[6]

Since around 3900 BCE,[7][8] the Saharan and sub-Saharan regions of Africa have been separated by the extremely harsh climate of the sparsely populated Sahara, forming an effective barrier that is interrupted only by the Nile in Sudan, though navigation on the Nile was blocked by the Sudd and the river's cataracts. There is also an evident genetic divide between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa that dates back to the Neolithic. The Sahara pump theory explains how flora and fauna (including Homo sapiens) left Africa to penetrate Eurasia and beyond. African pluvial periods are associated with a "Wet Sahara" phase, during which larger lakes and more rivers existed.[9]

  1. ^ "Sub-Saharan Africa Demographics". Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project. Archived from the original on 11 September 2022. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  2. ^ "Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic other groupings". United Nations Statistics Division. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2013. "The designation sub-Saharan Africa is commonly used to indicate all of Africa except northern Africa, with the Sudan included in sub-Saharan Africa."
  3. ^ ecosostenibile (2 February 2023). "Afrotropical ecozone: boundaries, characteristics, biomes ..." An Eco-sustainable World. Retrieved 9 August 2023.
  4. ^ "Political definition of 'Major regions', according to the UN". Archived from the original on 20 April 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  5. ^ Cite error: The named reference definition was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ "About Africa". UNDP in Africa. Archived from the original on 11 April 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Sahara's Abrupt Desertification Started by Changes in Earth's Orbit, Accelerated by Atmospheric and Vegetation Feedbacks". ScienceDaily. 12 July 1999. Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  8. ^
  9. ^ van Zinderen-Bakker, E.M. (14 April 1962). "A Late-Glacial and Post-Glacial Climatic Correlation between East Africa and Europe". Nature. 194 (4824): 201–03. Bibcode:1962Natur.194..201V. doi:10.1038/194201a0. S2CID 186244151.