The exact number of countries in Africa has always remained disputed. While some countries have the recognition of international groups like the United Nations, others have been known to claim alliance with the African Union. One such example is Morocco, which is an African country, but is not recognised by the African Union but is accepted by the UN. It was sometimes in the 1950’s, when countries in Africa gradually began to gain their independence from the European powers which had been controlling them. This possibly started to happen because of the weaknesses of these states as a consequence of the second World War.
Initially it was Libya which got it’s freedom from Italy in 1951,followed by both Morocco and Tunisia which broke away in 1956 from France. Ghana too, followed suit in 1957. Though Africa on the whole is rich in mineral and gold deposits, most of the countries are economically backward. Apart from South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia and a few other countries which are the most visited, the standard of living is pretty low.
The African continent is surrounded by water from all sides. The Mediterranean sea separates it from Europe in the north, while the Suez Canal and the Red Sea separate it from Asia in the northeast region and further down south. The rest of Africa has the Indian Ocean on the eastern side and the Atlantic Ocean on the western side. The total number of independent countries presently stand at 54, with Algeria being the largest and the tiny island nation of Seychelles the smallest.
The 54 fully recognised countries which make up Africa in alphabetical order are, Algeria,Angola, Benin,Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad,Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea -Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Ridiculous as it may sound the fact is that till today ,most Africans have no idea about the exact number of countries in Africa. This is primarily because many countries which say they are independent, do not meet the criteria of a full-fledged African state. These countries are known as de facto states.The Sahara desert separates North Africa from the rest of the country. Countries which do not lie in the northern part are referred to as sub-saharan countries. In terms of landmass, Africa is the second biggest continent in the world, covering around 20% of the surface of the earth.
In conclusion, if we go by the African Union criteria, the number of member states are 54. If the de facto countries are considered then the figure arrived at is 56.