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What Is The Difference Between East And West Africa? (Find Out)

What Is The Difference Between East And West Africa? (Find Out)

In seven continents after Asia, Africa is the 2nd largest continent with more area and population. A continent that covers about 20% of the Earth’s surface; Africa has 54 countries to the current record of the United Nations in 2022.

Africa is a vast continent with a diverse range of climates, landscapes, and cultures. It is home to over a billion people, many of whom rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agriculture is an essential component of African economies, providing food and employment for millions of people.

However, the agricultural sector in Africa faces many challenges, including climate change, land degradation, and limited access to markets and finance. Many African countries also struggle with political instability and conflict, which can hurt agriculture and food security.

East Africa is recognized for its wildlife and outdoor activities. Culturally, West Africa is known for its numerous music and dance traditions, including the well-known West African drumming and dancing forms.

The two separate geographic areas of West Africa and East Africa on the African continent each have their distinct histories, civilizations, and physical characteristics.

Natural Resources in Africa

Africa has a wealth of natural resources and the potential for agricultural development. The continent is rich in arable land, water resources, and biodiversity, making it an ideal location for sustainable agriculture.

There is also a growing recognition of the importance of agriculture in driving economic growth and reducing poverty in Africa.

A world map
Africa is the second-largest continent.

To fully realize the potential of African agriculture, there is a need for greater investment in infrastructure, research, development, education, and training.

By addressing these challenges and building on Africa’s strengths, the continent has the potential to become a major player in the global agricultural sector, while also improving food security and reducing poverty for its people.

A Quick Review of Africa

Africa is a neighboring country by the Red Sea to the east, the Indian Ocean to the south, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. It is also nearby the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

Africa’s largest country is Algeria. The continent also consists of various archipelagoes, of which Madagascar is well known.

Africa is derived from the Latin word “aprica” and “aphrike” from the Greek language, which means lukewarm (without cold). At first, Romans used to call it Africa and Greeks called it Libya.

Geographically, Africa is present on the Equator; and is divided equally. The two sides are surrounded by the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn by the direction of North and South, respectively.

Key Features of Africa

AreaMaximum 20-30% of Earth’s land surface
LanguageDifferent 2000-3000 native languages
ReligionChristianity, Islam, and others
Population1.5 billion or 18-20% of the human population
Total countries54 and other disputed territories
CurrencyDifferent currencies, especially the South African Rand, CFA Franc, Nigerian Naira, Zambian Kwacha, etc.
Time ZoneUTC 1 to UTC 4
 Land area 30.37 million sq meter
Some Features of Africa

East Africa

East Africa is situated in the sub-region of the continent of Africa. East Africa consists of 10-11-(16*) territories. East Africa is part of the continent that includes special features.

Let’s discover these features briefly.

Physical Geography of East Africa

  • The region is dominated by famous countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Tanzania is in the south direction with the great grassland and Lake Malawi.
  • Lake Victoria which is the second largest lake in the world also touches the border of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. This lake is come across between the Eastern and Western Rift; The Nile River starts from Lake Victoria in the form of White Nile which converts into Blue Nile at the city of Khartoum in Sudan.
  • Then, after going through Lake Tana, it becomes the Nile River which comprises Ethiopia. African transition zone and Rift Valley overlap each other in the region of Djibouti, which is located between North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. 
  • East Africa is prominent because of the highest mountain Mt. Kilimanjaro which is situated in Tanzania at the boundary of Kenya. Also, near the equator, the second highest mountain in Africa Mt. Kenya is situated in Nairobi Kenya, as the name Kenya.
  • Because of the giant mountain area, East Africa is rich in snowy peaks, glaciers, and inactive volcanoes. This large area of the mountain has a primary effect on the climate of this eastern region and generates rain shadow ramifications.
  • Eastern Africa is well off in deserts, green grasslands, and mountains. The great Savanna desert executes East Africa more prominently.
East Africa
East Africa

Foremost Features of East Africa

Some of the foremost features of East Africa are as follows:

1. Game Reserves Feature of East Africa

East Africa is also well known for game reserves which are the national parks near the Serengeti in Tanzania and Kenya.

The region of Africa is prosperous in natural landscapes and forests where thousands of animals and their species are abundant. East Africa is one of the sub-regions with numerous game reserves and national parks.

2. Oldest History in the World

The state of the continent has the oldest history in the world. It is supposed to be the state of human dawning.

According to archeologists, humans first appeared about 2 million years ago. The sub-continent has a wide range of evidence and fossils that proves the theory.

3. Climate Change

East Africa has a vast range of mountains, hills, and forests. This beauty of the landscape gives shelter and a home to various animals and birds. These features are favorable for tropical and dry cool climates.

East Africa has high elevations at the equatorial belt. The lush green valleys are responsible for heavy rainfall in the region.

4. Political Position

East Africa is counted as a poor region. The countries, which include Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, and Ethiopia, are different from each other; but if talk about the political positions of these countries, they are somehow similar in some aspects.

Economically, the region collapsed in 1977, but in 1999 the Eastern Community Federation enlarges the continent by adding Rwanda and Burundi. East African countries have terrorism, corruption, and other political issues.

West Africa

Western Africa is a sub-region of the African mainland that constitutes 16 countries, containing Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. The region is characterized by diverse cultures, languages, and histories.

The earliest known civilization in West Africa is the Nok culture, which emerged in what is now Nigeria around 1000 BCE. The region was later home to several powerful empires, including the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire, and the Songhai Empire, which controlled large parts of West Africa between the 7th and 16th centuries.

During the colonial period, European powers, particularly France and Britain, colonized most of the region, except Ethiopia. These colonial powers introduced Christianity and Islam, which remain the dominant religions in the region.

Since gaining independence in the mid-20th century, Western African countries have faced various challenges, including political instability, economic underdevelopment, poverty, and insecurity. However, the region is also home to rich cultural traditions, vibrant music and dance, and diverse cuisines.

A man wearing cultural dress
Cultural difference is prominent.

Physical Geography of Western Africa

West Africa is a subregion of Africa, consisting of 16 countries located along the Atlantic coast of the continent. The sub-region is known for its diverse landscapes, cultures, and history.

Geographically, West Africa is bordered by the Sahara desert to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Gulf of Guinea to the south, and the countries of Central Africa to the east. The region is characterized by a diverse array of landscapes, including savannas, forests, plateaus, mountains, and coastal plains.

Some of the major rivers in West Africa include the Niger, Senegal, and Gambia Rivers. These rivers have historically played an essential role in the region’s economy and culture, serving as transportation routes and sources of water for agriculture and other activities.

The climate in West Africa is generally tropical with hot temperatures and high humidity. However, there are significant variations in climate across the region, with some areas experiencing more rainfall than others.

Foremost Features of West Africa

West Africa is a diverse region with a rich cultural heritage and natural resources. Some of the features of West Africa include:

1. Diversity

West Africa has over 300 ethnic groups with unique languages, customs, and traditions. This diversity is reflected in the region’s music, art, and cuisine.

2. Natural Resources

West Africa is rich in natural resources such as oil, gas, gold, diamonds, cocoa, and timber. These resources play a significant role in the region’s economy.

3. Sahel Region

The Sahel region, which stretches across the northern part of West Africa, is characterized by semi-arid grasslands and savannas. It is also home to diverse wildlife, including elephants, lions, and giraffes.

4. Coastline

West Africa has a long coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, which includes popular tourist destinations such as Senegal, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast.

5. Trade

West Africa has a long trade history, with ancient trade routes connecting the region to North Africa and the Middle East. Nowadays, the region is a hub for trade between Africa, Europe, and America.

6. Music and Dance

West Africa is known for its vibrant music and dance traditions, including genres such as highlife, juju, and Afrobeat. These traditions have influenced popular music around the world.

7. Colonial History

West Africa has a complex colonial history, with many countries gaining independence in the 20th century. This history has influenced the region’s politics, culture, and economy.

8. Climate

Western Africa has a tropical climate with distinct dry and rainy seasons. The region is located near the equator, so temperatures remain high throughout the year, typically ranging from 25-35°C (77-95°F).

9. Political position

Western Africa is a diverse region with many different countries, it is important to note that the political situation in Western Africa can vary greatly depending on the country. Some countries in the region have stable democracies, while others have experienced political instability, violence, and conflict.

Elephants wandering
The northern part of West Africa

History of Western Africa

The history of Western Africa is a rich and diverse one, with the region being home to a variety of cultures and civilizations throughout thousands of years.

  • The first civilizations in West Africa emerged along the Niger River Valley around 500 BC, with the Kingdom of Ghana being one of the most prominent. Ghana was followed by the Kingdom of Mali in the 13th century, which became a center of trade and Islamic scholarship, and the Songhai Empire in the 15th century, which was one of the largest empires in African history.
  • In the 16th century, the region was colonized by European powers, with the Portuguese, Dutch, and British establishing trading posts along the coast. The transatlantic slave trade also played a major role in the region’s history, with millions of Africans being forcibly taken from their homes and transported to the Americas.
  • In the late 19th century, European powers divided up the region into colonies, with France, Britain, and Portugal controlling most of the territory. Independence movements emerged in the mid-20th century, and by the 1960s most countries in the region had gained their independence.
  • Since independence, the region has faced several challenges, including political instability, economic underdevelopment, and conflict. However, it has also seen significant progress in areas such as education, healthcare, and economic growth, and remains a vibrant and culturally rich part of the African continent.

Difference Between East and West Africa

CharacteristicsEast AfricaWest Africa
LocationEast Africa is located on the eastern coast.  West Africa is located on the western coast of the continent.  
Geographical FeatureWest Africa is largely characterized by savannah and forested areas.East Africa is known for its vast plains, highlands, and mountain ranges.  
Historical FeatureEast Africa has a history of maritime trade and was influenced by Arab and Persian traders.  West Africa has a long history of trade and commerce, with many powerful empires such as the Ghana, Mali, and Songhai empires.  
Colonial FeatureAdditionally, East Africa was colonized by European powers like Britain, Germany, and Portugal.West Africa was colonized by France, Britain, and Portugal.  
Cultural Feature
While, there are many cultural differences between East Africa, including differences in language, religion, music and festivals.  
There are many cultural differences between West Africa, including differences in language, religion, and music.  
EthnicityEast Africa is home to ethnic groups that speak languages such as Swahili, Amharic, and Oromo.  West Africa is home to many ethnic groups that speak languages such as Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo.  
Religious FeatureEast Africa has a mix of Christianity, Islam, and traditional African religions.In terms of religion, West Africa is predominantly Muslim and Christian.  
Musical FeatureEast Africa is known for its Swahili-influenced bongo and taarab music.  Music is also an important cultural marker, with West Africa known for its drumming and percussion music.  
CuisineEast African cuisine is known for its spicy curries, stews, and grilled meats. In addition, East Africa is home to a variety of unique foods, such as injera (a sourdough flatbread) and ugali (a type of maize porridge).  These fundamental starches or carbs, which are abundant and simple to farm, are the basis of West African cuisine. Yams, sweet potatoes, corn, rice, millet, and, best of all, cassava are among the other favorites.
East Africa vs. West Africa
Let’s distinguish the differences between East and West Africa in this video.

What Countries Are Considered East Africa?

East Africa typically includes the following countries: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

What Countries Belong to West Africa?

West Africa includes the following countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

What are the Most Spoken Languages in East Africa?

The most spoken languages in East Africa include Swahili, English, Amharic, Oromo, Somali, and Tigrinya.

What are the Most Spoken Languages in West Africa?

The most spoken languages in West Africa include French, English, Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, and Fulfulde.

What are Some Popular Foods in East Africa?

Some popular foods in East Africa include ugali (a maize meal porridge), nyama choma (grilled meat), chapati (a type of flatbread), samosas, and pilau (spiced rice).

What are the Popular Foods in West Africa?

Some popular foods in West Africa include jollof rice (a spicy rice dish), fufu (a starchy side dish), plantains, yams, and grilled meat.


  • It’s important to note that Africa is a vast and diverse continent, and there is a wide range of cultural, linguistic, and ethnic diversity within West and East Africa. However, here are some general differences between the two regions.
  • These are generalizations and there is a wide range of diversity within both West and East Africa.
  • The sub-regions are geographically in the same continent but they are different from each other in the area, the number of countries, and in other basic terms.
  • Both the sub-regions are rich in green grasslands and national parks, the home of animals and birds.

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