Africa Travel

Fun With African Geography...

Thursday June 5, 2008
where is this niamey niger capital fun africa geography I'm still trying to figure out why Guinea is such a popular name for a country. In West Africa there are no less than 3 countries called Guinea. There's the Republic of Guinea (sometimes also known as Guinea-Conakry); there's Guinea-Bissau (they are neighbors); and there's Equatorial Guinea, which has a lot of oil and does not lie on the equator. People from Guinea-Bissau mostly speak Creole Portuguese whereas people from the Republic of Guinea generally converse in French as their lingua franca. Guinea-Bissau has a major drug trafficking problem (thanks to the Columbians using it as a port to get cocaine into Europe); Guinea is busy trying to explore new oil fields, and Equatorial Guinea is constantly threatened by coups because it is already oil-rich.

Since I'm amusing myself with African geography, does everyone know the difference between Mali and Malawi? Malawi happens to be the country where I spent my childhood. It's a beautiful landlocked country with a vast lake, nestled between Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique. It's now more commonly known as the country Madonna adopted her son from a few years ago. Mali is a huge desert country with a rich cultural heritage in West Africa. Mali produces some of the finest music on the planet, is home to the fascinating Dogon region as well as the fabled town of Timbuktu.

Spot the difference between the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC (formerly known as Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Congo-LĂ©opoldville, Congo-Kinshasa, and Zaire) is a huge slab of a country in Central Africa known for its awful civil war, diamonds and 250 Mountain Gorillas. The Republic of Congo is much smaller than the DRC and has a lot of oil. The capitals of both countries are situated on the Congo River directly across from one another.'s Geography Guide Matt Rosenberg has more on this...

And then there's Zambia and the Gambia. Zambia lies in Southern Africa and is home to the most impressive natural phenomena in the world -- the great Victoria Falls. The Gambia is where French people flock to in the winter for some sunbathing and swimming.

Mauritania and Mauritius couldn't be more different from one another. Mauritania is a vast desert country in West Africa and Mauritius is a honeymooners paradise in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa.

Niger and Nigeria are linked by the waters of the huge Niger River, hence the (almost) shared name. Despite this, Niger is in fact a drought prone, desert country, twice the size of Texas and predominantly Islamic. Nigeria is Africa's most populated country, the economic giant of the region, with incredible cultural diversity (over 250 ethnic groups). One of Nigeria's larger cities, Benin City (which lies in the Kingdom of Benin) is often confused with the independent country of Benin (formerly known as Dahomey).

Did you know that Manhattan and Morocco share the same 212 telephone code? I could go on like this forever...