How many countries in Africa
How many countries in Africa are there?

The correct answer is there are 54 countries in Africa. 

But you might come across a different number taking in some disputed African territories, most notably Western Sahara.

Also, a few years ago, the number was different as South Sudan was born, and this could change in the future.

Let’s look at some facts first.

How many countries in Africa are recognised by the UN?

There are 54 official countries in Africa, according to the UN. 

When you think about it, a quarter of all countries in the world are located in Africa.

Did you know there are 193 countries worldwide, according to the United Nations? We wrote a detailed blog about how many countries in the world.

At the beginning of 2022, we visited 53 countries of Africa after finally visiting Libya. Read more about our experience in Libya here.

Eritrea is our final country on the African continent, and we hope to visit in the next few months.

And did you know that the newest country in the world is also located in Africa? The Republic of South Sudan became the world’s newest nation and Africa’s 54th country on 9 July 2011.

The richest country in Africa is Egypt. The largest country is Algeria. If you’re interested in visiting Algeria in the future, check out our detailed blogs on our Algeria Page.

What are the 54 countries in Africa in 2023?

 Algeria,  Angola,  Benin,  Botswana,  Burkina Faso,  Burundi,  Cameroon,  Cape Verde, The Central African Republic,  Chad,  Comoros, The Democratic Republic of Congo,  Djibouti,  Egypt,  Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea,  Eswatini (Swaziland),  Ethiopia,  Gabon, The Gambia,  Ghana,  Guinea,   Guinea-Bissau,  Ivory Coast,  Kenya,  Lesotho,  Liberia,  Libya,  Madagascar,  Malawi,  Mali,  Mauritania,  Mauritius,  Morocco,  Mozambique,  Namibia,  Niger,  Nigeria,  Republic of Congo,  Rwanda,  Sao Tome & Principe,  Senegal,  Seychelles,  Sierra Leone,  Somalia,  South Africa,  South Sudan,  Sudan,  Tanzania,  Togo,  Tunisia,  Uganda,  Zambia,  Zimbabwe

how many countries in africa map in hand
How many African countries are there?

How many African countries are part of the African Union?

If you check out the website of the African Union (AU) you will come across this: “The African Union or AU is made up of 55 Member States which represent all the countries on the African continent.”

Confused? Don’t be. According to African Union, there are 55 member states. The one country, Western Sahara (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) is not recognised by the United Nations.

This brings us to the next point: how many countries in Africa are disputed territories?

Which countries in Africa are not recognised by other countries?

Defining a country can be difficult. While the UN recognises 54 countries in Africa, there are a few disputed territories as well as overseas territories that certainly feel like another country. 

Let’s talk about the disputed territories.

Is Western Sahara a country?

Western Sahara or Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR)  is a disputed territory that has been claimed by both the Kingdom of Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation, known as the Polisario Front, which is an independent group based in neighbouring Algeria.

Some (African Union) consider it an independent state but not others (United Nations).

The UN considers it a disputed territory because only 39 of the UN countries recognise Western Sahara as an independent country.

By the way, this is the issue with UN-recognised countries. If only a few countries choose not to recognise a country, the country will never really be a country, according to the UN.

Perfect examples would be Taiwan and Kosovo – but recognised by the majority of the world, but not all, they are still on the list of disputed territories according to the UN. 

But back to Western Sahara. Once upon a time, this was a Spanish colony while neighbouring Morocco was claimed by France. It is believed that Western Sahara has as yet untapped offshore oil deposits and phosphate reserves.

Maybe this is the reason why this largely desert land is disputed.

It depends on who you ask how many countries in Africa are there, as the answer might be 55.

Is Somaliland a country?

Ever heard of Somaliland? No? Well, it is a self-declared state and an autonomous region of Somalia, which declared independence in 1991.

It has its own passports, money, and flag, so you would think this is a country, right? Well, if someone in Somaliland asks how many African countries are there, the number might just be 56.

However, Somaliland is not recognised by any country or international organisation as an independent country of Africa. We visited Somaliland and it was a really unique experience.

Read more about that here – Travel in Hargeisa Somaliland – Everything you need to know.

local transport from harar to hargeisa from Ethiopia to Somaliland
Crossing the border from Ethiopia to Somaliland

Which island countries are in Africa?

There are 5 small countries in Africa and they are all island nations:

The smallest country in Africa is Seychelles. The other small island nations are São Tomé, Príncipe, Mauritius, Comoros, and Cape Verde. The largest island in Africa is Madagascar.

But there are also islands and overseas territories that belong to other countries in Europe. Territories of France (Reunion and Mayotte), Spain (Canary Islands, Ceuta, Melilla) Portugal (Azores, Madeira) and Itlay (Pelagie Islands).

And UK dependant territory Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

So how many countries in Africa are there? 54, 55 or 56? It’s up to you to decide. There might even be a new country in Africa as Ambazonia, a region in Cameroon that has previously pushed for independence.

Why not learn more about how many countries are there in North America and how many countries are there in Europe?

If you need a little inspiration on what to see in Africa, check out our blog – The Ultimate Africa Bucket List – Wow all 54 countries! 

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Travel Tips for Africa

We’ve got some comprehensive posts about travelling in Africa – what a massive continent this is!

Our most popular African posts are Madagascar in Two Weeks – The Perfect Itinerary, and the Perfect 14 Days Itinerary for Tunisia

It’s worth reading these 17 ESSENTIAL Things to know before travelling to West Africa and be sure to take a read about these 8 Popular West African Dishes you Need to Try.

Want to learn more about the cuisine across the entire continent of Africa? Check out our delicious Food Map of Africa!

Africa Food Map of 54 African foods
Food Map of AFRICA – All 54 countries!

Check out our AFRICA Page for detailed blogs about individual countries.

If you’re simply looking for a place to find our best advice, tips, and suggestions on travel gear we love, then head to our Travel Resources Page.