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Guyana
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Guyana is located at the northern tip of South America and is a little-known eco-tourism destination, now growing in popularity and welcoming tourism. Guyana recently featured in Conde Nast Traveller’s “20 Best Places to Go in 2020” and National Geographic Traveller’s “Cool List 2019” for the spectacular Kaiteur Falls, the largest single-drop waterfall in the world. Guyana was also named the “Best in Sustainable Tourism” by the LATA Foundation in the United Kingdom at the 9th annual LATA Achievement Awards. Guyana being the only English-speaking country on the continent, is associated culturally with the Caribbean and much like the Caribbean, retains much of its colonial architecture and influence. The real beauty of this land, however, is it’s home to the most diverse landscapes in the world, including hundreds of waterfalls, lakes, sprawling savannah lands, mountains and the world’s last untouched rainforest! This is also one of the top birding and wildlife destinations in South America, and boasts many giant species of wildlife including giant river otters, giant anteaters and many more exciting species to be encountered!
Karen Alexander
Jordan Kensington
Mokingo
The Gambia
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The Gambia, country in western Africa situated on the Atlantic coast and surrounded by the neighbouring country of Senegal. It occupies a long narrow strip of land that surrounds the Gambia River. The land is flat and is dominated by the river, which is navigable throughout the length of the country. BRITANNICA QUIZ A Study of History: Fact or Fiction? The first transcontinental auto crossing took place in 1903. The peculiar shape and size of the country are the result of territorial compromises made during the 19th century by Great Britain, which controlled the lower Gambia River, and France, which ruled the neighbouring colony of Senegal. Periodic talks in the 20th century to unite The Gambia and Senegal led to the short-lived Senegambia confederation (1982–89). The GambiaEncyclopædia Britannica, Inc. The Gambia is Africa’s smallest nonisland country. It is also one of Africa’s most densely populated countries. A few towns are located upriver, but most Gambians live in rural villages. The major ethnic groups are similar to those in Senegal and consist of the majority Malinke and also include Wolof, Fulani (Fulbe), Diola (Jola), and Soninke peoples. The Gambian economy is heavily dependent on peanut (groundnut) production and export. The country is known for the beaches along its small Atlantic coastline and for being home to Jufureh (Juffure), the reputed ancestral village of Kunta Kinte, the main character in Alex Haley’s well-known novel Roots. The capital, Banjul (called Bathurst until 1973), is situated where the Gambia River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription.Subscribe today Land The Gambia is a strip of land 15 to 30 miles (25 to 50 km) wide on either side of the Gambia River and extends almost 300 miles (480 km) into the interior; except for a short coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, it is entirely surrounded by Senegal. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. The GambiaBeach on the Atlantic coast of The Gambia.© Alan Kraft/Shutterstock.com Relief and drainage The Gambia River is the country’s dominant feature. It flows across a plateau of Miocene-Pliocene sandstone consisting of compacted sediment composed predominantly of quartz grains formed from about 23.7 to 1.6 million years ago. In the east, narrow valleys are separated by broad interfluves or flattish hills. In the west, lower and smaller sand hills alternate with depressions filled in with sand to form a flat plain. Gambia RiverFishermen on the Gambia River near Banjul, Gambia.© Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock.com Soils and climate The Gambia has a wet-and-dry tropical climate characterized by an intense rainy season occurring generally between June and October and by a longer dry season. Near the coast the rainy season lasts longer, and the rainfall is heavier, diminishing eastward. At Yundum the average annual rainfall is about 50 inches (1,300 mm), and the mean monthly temperature tends to be in the upper 70s F (mid-20s C), while at Basse Santa Su, about 270 miles (435 km) inland, the comparable figures are about 40 inches (1,000 mm) and the low 80s F (upper 20s C). The relative humidity is high but drops from December to April, when the dry northeastern wind known as the harmattan is dominant. Plant and animal life The vegetation cover of The Gambia is savanna on the uplands, various kinds of inland swamp in the low-lying areas, and mangrove swamp along the brackish lower Gambia River. Few wild animals are native to the region, and those that survive are under pressure from the human and domestic animal populations. In the middle and upper river areas there are warthogs, monkeys, baboons, antelope, pygmy hippopotamuses, and crocodiles. In addition, more than 500 species of birds live throughout the country. Birds and wildlife can be found in Bijilo Forest Park, along the Atlantic coast, the Abuko Nature Reserve, just upriver from Banjul, Kiang West National Park, farther inland, and River Gambia National Park (also known as Baboon Island National Park), near Kuntaur. People Ethnic groups The river basin was a focal point for migrating groups of people escaping the turmoil of western Sudanic wars dating from the 12th century. The Diola (Jola) are the people longest resident in the country; they are now located mostly in western Gambia. The largest group is the Malinke, comprising about one-third of the population. The Wolof, who are the dominant group in Senegal, also predominate in Banjul. The Fulani settled the extreme upriver areas, and their kingdom, Fuladu, became a major power in the late 19th century. The Soninke, an admixture of Malinke and Fulani, are also concentrated in the upriver areas. The Gambia: Ethnic compositionEncyclopædia Britannica, Inc. The GambiaA woman and child in The Gambia.© Andrej Grzegorczyk/Shutterstock.com Languages English is the official language, but the most frequently spoken languages are generally of the Atlantic branch of the Niger-Congo family. Mandinka and Wolof constitute the lingua francas of the country, and other languages spoken include Pulaar (Fulbe), Serer, Diola, and Soninke. Some Muslim clerics are literate in Arabic. Religion The population is overwhelmingly Muslim. There are a small number of Christians—predominantly Roman Catholic—and some adherents of traditional beliefs. The Gambia: Religious affiliationEncyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Settlement patterns Human settlement in The Gambia extends across both banks of the river and is found in three regions: the swamps adjacent to the river, the riverine flats, known as banto faros (from a Mande word meaning “beyond the swamp”), and the sandstone uplands. Most rural settlement is concentrated on the uplands, which have the best-drained soils. A number of settlements are located in the banto faros on the middle course of the river, where there is less danger of flooding than in the swamps. Many villages are built on the boundary between the uplands and the riverine flats. The Gambia: Urban-ruralEncyclopædia Britannica, Inc. About three-fifths of the population lives in urban areas. The major urban concentration is around Banjul, the capital, and several large urban centres have developed in the vicinity. Urban dwellers retain close ties to their rural relatives, and there is considerable interaction between rural and urban populations. Migration to urban areas has remained steady since the 1970s. The GambiaMerchants selling produce at a traditional market in Farafenni, Gambia.© Vladimir Zhoga/Shutterstock.com The Gambia flag of the GambiaNational anthem of The Gambia   OFFICIAL NAME Republic of The Gambia FORM OF GOVERNMENT multiparty republic with one legislative house (National Assembly [531]) HEAD OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT President: Adama Barrow CAPITAL Banjul OFFICIAL LANGUAGE English OFFICIAL RELIGION none MONETARY UNIT dalasi (D) POPULATION (2019 est.) 2,253,000 POPULATION RANK (2018) 145 POPULATION PROJECTION 2030 3,029,000 TOTAL AREA (SQ MI) 4,491 TOTAL AREA (SQ KM) 11,632 DENSITY: PERSONS PER SQ MI (2018) 523.7 DENSITY: PERSONS PER SQ KM (2018) 204.5 URBAN-RURAL POPULATION Urban: (2018) 61.3% Rural: (2018) 38.7% LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH Male: (2017) 62.8 years Female: (2017) 67.5 years LITERACY: PERCENTAGE OF POPULATION AGE 15 AND OVER LITERATE Male: (2015) 64.1% Female: (2015) 47.8% GNI (U.S.$ ’000,000) (2017) 947 GNI PER CAPITA (U.S.$) (2016) 450 1Includes 5 appointed seats. Demographic trends The population growth rate and infant mortality rate in The Gambia are among the highest in western Africa. The population is young, with about two-thirds under age 30. Life expectancy is comparable to the regional average but lower than that of the world. Over the years, conflict in other western African countries led to an influx of refugees into The Gambia, most notably those fleeing from fighting in Senegal’s Casamance region as well as those who fled from civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Momodou Njie
Amanda Bojang
Enow Songeh
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South Sudan
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South Sudan officially known as the Republic of South Sudan,[19] is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa. It is bordered to the east by Ethiopia, to the north by Sudan, to the west by the Central African Republic, to the south-west by Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south by Uganda and to the south east by Kenya. It gained independence from the Republic of the Sudan in 2011, making it the most recent sovereign state or country with widespread recognition. Its capital and largest city is Juba. It includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd, formed by the White Nile and known locally as the Bahr al Jabal (Arabic: بحر الجبل‎), meaning "Mountain Sea". South Sudan has a population of 12 million, mostly of the Nilotic peoples, and it is demographically among the youngest nations in the world, with roughly half under 18 years old. The majority of inhabitants adhere to Christianity or various traditional faiths.   Capital: Juba Population: 10.98 million (2018) World Bank Currency: South Sudanese pound Recognised national languages: Dinka; Shilluk; Jur (Luo); Murle; Nuer; Zande; and around 60 other languages President: Salva Kiir Mayardit
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Shevonne Gayle
Vedna
South Africa
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South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 58 million people, it is the world's 24th-most populous nation and covers an area of 1,221,037 square kilometres (471,445 sq mi). South Africa has three designated capital cities: executive Pretoria, judicial Bloemfontein and legislative Cape Town. The largest city is Johannesburg. About 80% of South Africans are of Black African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European, Asian, Indian, and multiracial ancestry.   It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (former Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere, and the most populous country located entirely south of the equator.   South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution's recognition of 11 official languages, the fourth-highest number in the world.     President: Cyril Ramaphosa Trending Capitals: Cape Town, Pretoria, Bloemfontein Dialing code: +27 Population: 57.78 million (2018) World Bank Points of interest: Kruger National Park, Maclear's Beacon
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Shevonne Gayle
Vedna
Ethiopia
Ethiopia is Africa's oldest independent country and its second-largest in terms of population. Apart from a five-year occupation by Mussolini's Italy, it has never been colonised. It has a unique cultural heritage, being the home of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church - one of the oldest Christian denominations - and a monarchy that ended only in the coup of 1974. It served as a symbol of African independence throughout the continent's colonial period and was a founder member of the United Nations and the African base for many international organisations. Drought and civil conflict left Ethiopia in a state of turmoil under a Marxist dictatorship from the fall of the monarchy until 1991 when the long authoritarian rule of Meles Zenawi brought a degree of stability. Since 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has launched a campaign of political liberalisation at home and sought to end disputes with Ethiopia's neighbours, in particular Eritrea.
Willber Willberforce
Somalia
Somalia officially the Federal Republic of Somaliais a sovereign country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Guardafui Channel and Somali Sea to the east, and Kenya to the southwest. Somalia has the longest coastline on Africa's mainland. Its terrain consists mainly of plateaus, plains, and highlands. Hot conditions prevail year-round, with periodic monsoon winds and irregular rainfall.   Somalia has an estimated population of around 15 million and has been described as Africa's most culturally homogeneous country. Around 85% of its residents are ethnic Somalis, who have historically inhabited the country's north. Ethnic minorities are largely concentrated in the south. The official languages of Somalia are Somali and Arabic. Most people in the country are Muslims, the majority of them Sunni.   Somalia has maintained an informal economy mainly based on livestock, remittances from Somalis working abroad, and telecommunications.     Capital: Mogadishu Area: 637,655 km² Population: 15.01 million (2018) World Bank Official language: Somali Currencies: United States Dollar, Somali shilling
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Sierra Leone
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Sierra Leone officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, informally Salone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa. It is bordered by Liberia to the southeast and Guinea to the northeast. Sierra Leone has a tropical climate with a diverse environment ranging from savanna to rainforests, a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi) and a population of 7,092,113 as of the 2015 census. The capital and largest city is Freetown. The country is divided into five administrative regions which are subdivided into sixteen districts.   Sixteen ethnic groups inhabit Sierra Leone, each with its own language and customs. The two largest and most influential are the Temne and Mende people. The Temne are predominantly found in the northwest and the Mende in the southeast. About two percent of the country's population are the Krio people, who are descendants of freed African American and West Indian slaves. English is the official language used in schools and government administration, however, the Krio is the most widely spoken language across Sierra Leone, and is spoken by 98% of the country's population. The Krio language unites all the ethnic groups in the country, especially in their trade and social interaction.   Sierra Leone is 77 percent Muslim, with an influential Christian minority of 22 percent. The country is regarded as one of the most religiously tolerant countries in the world. Muslims and Christians collaborate and interact with each other very peacefully, and religious violence is very rare. The major Christian and Muslim holidays are official public holidays, including Christmas, Easter, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha.   Sierra Leone has relied on mining for its economic base, especially of diamonds. It is also among the largest producers of titanium and bauxite and a major producer of gold, and it has one of the world's largest deposits of rutile. The nation is home to the third-largest natural harbour in the world.   Capital: Freetown Currency: Sierra Leonean leone President: Julius Maada Bio Population: 7.65 million (2018) World Bank Official language: English
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DanaWO
Shevonne Gayle
Seychelles
Seychelles officially the Republic of Seychelles is an archipelagic island country in the Indian Ocean at the eastern edge of the Somali Sea. It consists of 115 islands. Its capital and largest city, Victoria, lies 1,500 kilometres (932 mi) east of mainland Africa. Other nearby island countries and territories include Comoros, Mayotte (territory of France), Madagascar, Réunion (territory of France), and Mauritius to the south; as well as the Maldives and Chagos Archipelago to the east. With a population of roughly 94,367, it has the smallest population of any sovereign African country.   Seychelles has developed from a largely agricultural society to a market-based diversified economy, characterized by rapidly rising service, public sector, and tourism activities.   Seychellois culture and society is an eclectic mix of French, British, and African influences, with more recent infusions of Chinese and Indian elements. The country is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, and the Commonwealth of Nations.   Capital: Victoria Area: 459 km² Population: 96,762 (2018) World Bank Currency: Seychellois rupee
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Senegal
Senegal officially the Republic of Senegal (French: République du Sénégal; Wolof: Réewum Senegaal), is a country in West Africa. Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest. Senegal also surrounds The Gambia, a country occupying a narrow sliver of land along the banks of the Gambia River, which separates Senegal's southern region of Casamance from the rest of the country. Senegal also shares a maritime border with Cape Verde. Senegal's economic and political capital is Dakar.   The country includes a wide mix of ethnic and linguistic communities, with the largest being the Wolof people and the Wolof language acting as a lingua franca.     Capital: Dakar Currency: West African CFA franc Population: 15.85 million (2018) World Bank Official language: French Points of interest: Lake Retba, Gorée…
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Sao Tome and Principe
São Tomé and Príncipe officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is an island country in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. It consists of two archipelagos around the two main islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, about 140 km (87 mi) apart and about 250 and 225 km (155 and 140 mi) off the northwestern coast of Gabon, respectively.   The rich volcanic soil and close proximity to the Equator made São Tomé and Príncipe ideal for sugar cultivation, followed later by cash crops such as coffee and cocoa.   With a population of 201,800 (2018 official estimate), São Tomé and Príncipe is the second-smallest African sovereign state after Seychelles, as well as the smallest Portuguese-speaking country. Its people are predominantly of African and mestiço descent, with most practicing Roman Catholicism. The legacy of Portuguese rule is also visible in the country's culture, customs, and music, which fuse European and African influences. São Tomé and Príncipe is a founding member state of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.     Capital: Sao Tome Currency: São Tomé and Príncipe dobra Population: 211,028 (2018) World Bank Points of interest: Rolas Island, Pico de Sao Tome… Official language: Portuguese
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Rwanda
Rwanda officially the Republic of Rwanda  is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley where the African Great Lakes region and East Africa converge. One of the smallest countries on the African mainland, its capital city is Kigali. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is highly elevated with its geography dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year. Rwanda has a population of over 12.6 million living on 26,338 km2 (10,169 mi2) of land, and is the most densely populated mainland African country. The population is young and predominantly rural, with a density among the highest in Africa. Rwandans are drawn from just one cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda, although within this group there are three subgroups: the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. The Twa are a forest-dwelling pygmy people and are often considered descendants of Rwanda's earliest inhabitants. Scholars disagree on the origins of and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi; some believe differences are derived from former social castes within a single people, while others believe the Hutu and Tutsi arrived in the country separately, and from different locations. Christianity is the largest religion in the country; the principal language is Kinyarwanda, spoken by most Rwandans, with English and French serving as additional official languages. The economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export. Tourism is a fast-growing sector and is now the country's leading foreign exchange earner. Rwanda is one of only two countries in which mountain gorillas can be visited safely, and visitors pay high prices for gorilla tracking permits. Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan culture, particularly drums and the highly choreographed intore dance. Traditional arts and crafts are produced throughout the country, including imigongo, a unique cow dung art.   Dialing code: +250 Currency: Rwandan franc Population: 12.3 million (2018) World Bank Official languages: Kinyarwanda, French, Swahili, English
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Niger
Niger or the Niger officially the Republic of the Niger is a landlocked country in West Africa named after the Niger River. Niger is bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria to the south, Benin to the southwest, Mali to the north-west, Burkina Faso to the south-west, and Algeria to the northwest. Niger covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2 (490,000 sq mi), making it the largest country in West Africa. Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara Desert. The country's predominantly Muslim population of about 22 millions live mostly in clusters in the far south and west of the country. The capital and largest city is Niamey, located in Niger's southwest corner. Many of the non-desert portions of the country are threatened by periodic drought and desertification. The economy is concentrated around subsistence, with some export agriculture in the more fertile south, and export of raw materials, especially uranium ore. Nigerien society reflects a diversity drawn from the long independent histories of its several ethnic groups and regions and their relatively short period living in a single state.   Capital: Niamey Population: 22.44 million (2018) World Bank President: Mahamadou Issoufou Currency: West African CFA franc Official language: French
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Namibia
Namibia officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean; it shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. Although it does not border Zimbabwe, less than 200 metres (660 feet) of the Zambezi River separates the two countries. Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek. Namibia is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the Commonwealth of Nations. Namibia, a country in southwest Africa, is distinguished by the Namib Desert along its Atlantic Ocean coast. The country is home to diverse wildlife, including a significant cheetah population. The capital, Windhoek, and coastal town Swakopmund contain German colonial-era buildings such as Windhoek's Christuskirche, built in 1907. In the north, Etosha National Park’s salt pan draws game including rhinos and giraffes. Namibia has a population of 2.6 million people and a stable multi-party parliamentary democracy. Agriculture, herding, tourism and the mining industry – including mining for gem diamonds, uranium, gold, silver and base metals – form the basis of its economy. The large, arid Namib Desert has resulted in Namibia being overall one of the least densely populated countries in the world.     Capital: Windhoek Dialing code: +264 Population: 2.448 million (2018) World Bank Currencies: South African rand, Namibian dollar Official language: English
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Mozambique
Mozambique officially the Republic of Mozambique is a country located in Southern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Eswatini (Swaziland) and South Africa to the southwest. The sovereign state is separated from the Comoros, Mayotte and Madagascar by the Mozambique Channel to the east. The capital and largest city of Mozambique is Maputo (formerly known as "Lourenço Marques" from 1876 to 1976). Mozambique is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources. The country's economy is based largely on agriculture, but industry is growing, mainly food and beverages, chemical manufacturing and aluminium and petroleum production. The tourism sector is also expanding. South Africa is Mozambique's main trading partner and source of foreign direct investment, while Belgium, Brazil, Portugal and Spain are also among the country's most important economic partners. Since 2001, Mozambique's annual average GDP growth has been among the world's highest.   The only official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, which is spoken mostly as a second language by about half the population. Common native languages include Makhuwa, Sena, and Swahili. The country's population of around 29 million is composed of overwhelmingly Bantu people.   The largest religion in Mozambique is Christianity, with significant minorities following Islam and African traditional religions. Mozambique is a southern African nation whose long Indian Ocean coastline is dotted with popular beaches like Tofo, as well as offshore marine parks. In the Quirimbas Archipelago, a 250km stretch of coral islands, mangrove-covered Ibo Island has colonial-era ruins surviving from a period of Portuguese rule. The Bazaruto Archipelago farther south has reefs which protect rare marine life including dugongs.   Capital: Maputo Currency: Mozambican metical Population: 29.5 million (2018) World Bank Official language: Portuguese Points of interest: Bazaruto Archipelago, Island of Mozambique
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Morocco
Morocco officially the Kingdom of Morocco is a country located in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, with land borders with Algeria to the east and Western Sahara to the south (status disputed). Morocco also claims the exclaves of Ceuta, Melilla and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, all of them under Spanish jurisdiction, as well as several small Spanish-controlled islands off its coast. The capital is Rabat and the largest city is Casablanca. Morocco spans an area of 710,850 km2 (274,460 sq mi) and has a population of over 36 million. Morocco's predominant religion is Islam, and its official languages are Arabic and Berber, the latter achieving official recognition in 2011, having been the native language of Morocco before the Muslim conquest in the seventh century C.E. The Moroccan dialect of Arabic, referred to as Darija, and French are also widely spoken. Moroccan culture is a blend of Berber, Arab, Sephardi Jews, West African and European influences. Morocco is a member of the Arab League, the Union for the Mediterranean and the African Union.   Capital: Rabat Currency: Moroccan dirham Population: 36.03 million (2018) World Bank Points of interest: Jemaa el-Fna, Jardin Majorelle, Bahia Palace, MORE Official language: Arabic
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Mauritius
Mauritius officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the south-east coast of the African continent. The country includes the islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agaléga and St. Brandon. The islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues form part of the Mascarene Islands, along with nearby Réunion, a French overseas department. The capital and largest city, Port Louis, is located on the main island of Mauritius. The country is 2,040 square kilometres (790 sq mi) in area, while its Exclusive Economic Zone covers 2.3 million square kilometres. The people of Mauritius are multiethnic, multi-religious, multicultural and multilingual. The island's government is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system, and Mauritius is highly ranked for democracy and for economic and political freedom. Mauritius is categorised as "high" in the Human Development Index. According to the World Bank, the country has an upper-middle-income economy. Mauritius is ranked as the most competitive and one of the most developed economies in the African region. The country is a welfare state; the government provides free universal health care, free education up to tertiary level and free public transport for students, senior citizens, and the disabled. Mauritius was ranked among the safest or most peaceful countries by the Global Peace Index 2019. Along with the other Mascarene Islands, Mauritius is known for its varied flora and fauna, with many species endemic to the island. The island was the only known home of the dodo, which, along with several other avian species, was made extinct by human activities relatively shortly after the island's settlement. Mauritius is the only country in Africa where Hinduism is the largest religion. The administration uses English as its main language.   Capital: Port Louis Area: 2,040 km² Population: 1.265 million (2018) World Bank Government: Parliamentary republic Prime minister: Pravind Jugnauth
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Mauritania
Mauritania officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania is a country in Northwest Africa. It is the eleventh largest sovereign state in Africa and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Western Sahara to the north and northwest, Algeria to the northeast, Mali to the east and southeast, and Senegal to the southwest. The country derives its name from the ancient Berber kingdom of Mauretania, which existed from the 3rd century BCE into the 7th century CE in the modern-day Morocco and West Algeria. Prior to the Islamization of the country by Arab conquests in the 8th century, Mauritania was inhabited by nomadic Berbers since the 3rd century. Mauritania became a French colony during the European Scramble for Africa. Approximately 90% of Mauritania's land is within the Sahara; consequently, the population is concentrated in the south, where precipitation is slightly higher. The capital and largest city is Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast, which is home to around one-third of the country's 4 million people. The country's official religion is Islam, with almost the entire population being Sunni Muslims. Arabic is the official language, with French also widely used due to its colonial history. The country's economy has an abundance of natural resources based on agriculture and livestock, and major industries include mining (particularly iron ore), petroleum, and fishing.   Capital: Nouakchott Area: 1.03 million km² Population: 4.403 million (2018) World Bank Recognised national languages: Hassaniya Arabic Berber; Pulaar; Soninke; Wolof a Currencies: Mauritanian ouguiya, Ouguiya
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Mali
Mali officially the Republic of Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa. Mali is the eighth-largest country in Africa, with an area of just over 1,240,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi). The population of Mali is 19.1 million. 67% of its population was estimated to be under the age of 25 in 2017. Its capital is Bamako. The sovereign state of Mali consists of eight regions and its borders on the north reach deep into the middle of the Sahara Desert, while the country's southern part, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Senegal rivers. The country's economy centers on agriculture and mining. Some of Mali's prominent natural resources include gold, being the third largest producer of gold in the African continent, and salt. During its golden age, there was a flourishing of mathematics, astronomy, literature, and art.   Capital: Bamako Continent: Africa Population: 19.08 million (2018) World Bank Points of interest: Great Mosque of Djenne, MORE Official language: French  
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Malawi
Malawi officially the Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country in Southeastern Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the west, Tanzania to the north and northeast, and Mozambique surrounding on the east, south and southwest. Malawi spans over 118,484 km2 (45,747 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 18,143,217 (as of July 2018). Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa, takes up about a third of Malawi's area. Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi's largest city; the second largest is Blantyre, the third largest is Mzuzu and the fourth largest is its old capital Zomba. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is nicknamed "The Warm Heart of Africa" because of the friendliness of the people.   The part of Africa now known as Malawi was settled by migrating Bantu groups around the 10th century. Centuries later in 1891 the area was colonised by the British. In 1953 Malawi, then known as Nyasaland, a protectorate of the United Kingdom, became a protectorate within the semi-independent Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The Federation was dissolved in 1963. In 1964 the protectorate over Nyasaland was ended and Nyasaland became an independent country under Queen Elizabeth II with the new name Malawi. Two years later it became a republic.   The economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population that is growing at a rapid rate.   Capital: Lilongwe Currency: Malawian kwacha Population: 18.14 million (2018) World Bank Recognised regional languages: List: Yao; Tumbuka; Tonga; Sena; Lomwe; Ngonde; Lambya Official language: English
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Madagascar
Madagascar officially the Republic of Madagascar and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres (250 miles) off the coast of East Africa. At 592,800 square kilometres (228,900 sq mi) Madagascar is the world's second-largest island country. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world) and numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian subcontinent around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island's diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats. The archaeological evidence of the earliest human foraging on Madagascar may date up to 10,000 years ago. Human settlement of Madagascar occurred between 350 BC and 550 AD by Indianized Austronesian peoples, arriving on outrigger canoes from Indonesia. The social and religious situation of Indonesia during those times were that of Hinduism and Buddhism, along with native Indonesian culture. These were joined around the 9th century AD by Bantu migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel from East Africa. Other groups continued to settle on Madagascar over time, each one making lasting contributions to Malagasy cultural life. The Malagasy ethnic group is often divided into 18 or more subgroups, of which the largest are the Merina of the central highlands. Malagasy and French are both official languages of the state. The majority of the population adheres to traditional beliefs, Christianity, or an amalgamation of both. Ecotourism and agriculture, paired with greater investments in education, health, and private enterprise, are key elements of Madagascar's development strategy.   Capital: Antananarivo Dialing code: +261 Currency: Malagasy ariary Population: 26.26 million (2018) World Bank President: Andry Rajoelina
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