Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all African countries and territories that are fully or partially south of the Sahara.[3] While the United Nations geoscheme for Africa excludes Sudan from its definition of sub-Saharan Africa, the African Union's definition includes Sudan but instead excludes Mauritania.

Sub-Saharan Africa
Dark and lighter green: Definition of "sub-Saharan Africa" as used in the statistics of the United Nations institutions.
Lighter green: However, Sudan is classified as Northern Africa by the United Nations Statistics Division,[1] though the organisation states "the assignment of countries or areas to specific groupings is for statistical convenience and does not imply any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories".
PopulationThe population in Sub-Saharan Africa is growing and according to Global Trends in 2019 the population was 1.1 billion. 1,038,627,178 (2018)
LanguagesOver 1,000 languages
Major cities
Geographical map of sub-Saharan Africa.
Red: Arab states in Africa (Arab League and UNESCO).
Simplified climatic map of Africa: sub-Saharan Africa consists of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa in the north (yellow), the tropical savannas (light green) and the tropical rainforests (dark green) of Equatorial Africa, and the arid Kalahari Basin (yellow) and the "Mediterranean" south coast (olive) of Southern Africa. The numbers shown correspond to the dates of all Iron Age artifacts associated with the Bantu expansion.

It contrasts with North Africa, which is frequently grouped within the MENA ("Middle East and North Africa") region, and most of whose states are members of the Arab League (largely overlapping with the term "Arab world"). The states of Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros, and the Arab-majority Mauritania (and sometimes Sudan) are, however, geographically considered part of sub-Saharan Africa, although they are members of the Arab League as well.[4] The United Nations Development Program lists 46 of Africa's 54 countries as "sub-Saharan", excluding Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia.[5]

Since probably 3500 BCE,[6][7] the Saharan and sub-Saharan regions of Africa have been separated by the extremely harsh climate of the sparsely populated Sahara, forming an effective barrier interrupted by only the Nile in Sudan, though navigation on the Nile was blocked by the river's cataracts. The Sahara pump theory explains how flora and fauna (including Homo sapiens) left Africa to penetrate the Middle East and beyond. African pluvial periods are associated with a Wet Sahara phase, during which larger lakes and more rivers existed.[8]