What is the political geography of Africa?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Africa’s political geography in the present is affected strongly by the history of the continent.  Specifically, it is very much affected by the fact that almost all of the continent was colonized, much of it until the second half of the 20th century.  Africa’s countries are mostly rather young and many of them are not made up of peoples who are “naturally” compatible with one another.  These factors, and other factors related to colonialism have made African politics very unstable and problematic.

The European countries that colonized Africa did not generally intend to let go of their colonies.  Therefore, they did not allow the natives to do much in the way of self-government and they did not train many Africans to function as leaders at the higher levels of government.  When decolonization was forced on the Europeans after WWII, they left countries that were not really ready to be independent in the modern world.  They left countries whose people were uneducated and who had never participated in democracy.  Because of this, many African countries fell into a pattern of being ruled by military dictators who would rule for life or until being displaced in coups. 

In short, Africa’s political geography is not well-developed.  There are few truly open democracies.  Many countries’ politics are based on ethnic rivalries.  Many government officials are more concerned with lining their pockets and those of their supporters than with helping their countries.  Africa, generally speaking, is still at a point where its governments need to be reformed.