The area now covered by the Sahara desert is cooler and wetter than it is now, although at this date it is getting dryer. Farming peoples are slowly spreading along the north African coast, and down the fertile strip of land along the river Nile is already home to a dense population of farmers. In this area, some powerful chiefdoms are now emerging which will, over the next few centuries, come under one ruler to form the kingdom of Egypt.
Further south, in Nubia, in modern-day Sudan, wide grasslands give rise to cattle-herding cultures. Throughout the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, small groups of hunter-gatherers, mostly related to modern day San bushmen and Pygmy peoples, live in small, temporary encampments as they follow their prey and forage for nuts, berries and other nutritious plants. Beside rivers and lakes, settlements of fishermen are situated.
One of the great civilizations of world history, that of Ancient Egypt, is taking shape in the Nile Valley.click to view Egypt 3500BC
The first civilizations in world history, those of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, are emergingclick to view Middle East 3500BC
Stone Age farming villages dot the landscape of Europeclick to view Europe 3500BC
Northern Africa has continued to get dryer, and the Sahara desert has reached roughly its present size. Farming communities now fringe its northern flank, and in the valley of the Nile, the great civilization of Ancient Egypt has emerged. To its south farming has also spread to Nubia, reaching the southern limits for agriculture based on wheat and barley.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the cattle-herding populations are now ranged over a vast swathe of territory, stretching from modern-day Sudan into West Africa. On the rest of the continent live hunter-gatherer peoples and fishermen, mostly related to today’s Pygmies or San Bushmen.
By this date Ancient Egypt has developed one of the great civilizations of world history.click to view Egypt 2500BC
The civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia are now flourishing in the Middle Eastclick to view Middle East 2500BC
Europe is still inhabited by Stone Age farming peoples. Tribes speaking Indo-European languages are migrating into the continent from the eastclick to view Europe 2500BC
To the south, in a vast area stretching from the present-day Sudan into West Africa and down into East Africa, semi-nomadic populations of cattle herders occupy the land. Probably by this date, however, a crucial breakthrough has been made. Somewhere within this huge territory the domestication of sorghum and millet has occurred. These cereals, much more difficult to domesticate than the wheat and barley which originated in western Asia, are suitable for tropical farming and will become the staple crops in the region. For now, however, populations of hunter-gatherers live throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa.
The influence of Egypt is beginning to be feltclick to view North East Africa 1500BC
The civilization of Ancient Egypt is entering one of the most glorious periods of its historyclick to view Egypt 1500BC
The powerful Bronze Age empires of Egypt, the Mitanni, the Hittites and Babylonia dominate the Middle Eastclick to view Middle East 1500BC
Bronze Age farming cultures now cover most of Europe, and in the south-east, the first European civilizations now flourish in Crete and Greececlick to view Europe 1500BC
In the north east, the kingdom of Egypt is in decline, although its ancient civilization will retain its power for many centuries. The rising Greek civilization will come under its spell, and its art and architecture will be heavily influenced by Egyptian examples.
Nubia remains firmly within Egypt's cultural and political orbit. In the rest if sub-Saharan Africa, cattle-herding and farming are gradually spreading throughout western and central Africa, having probably reached the Great Lakes region by now. Also, around this date, some peoples in West Africa, living on the fringes of the rain forests, are making the difficult transition to tropical forest farming. This agriculture is based on a quite different set of crops to savannah agriculture, with cultivated fruits and roots such as plantains and yams as the staples.
Throughout the greater part of central and southern Africa, people remain hunter-gatherers and fishermen.
Text under preparationclick to view North East Africa 1000BC
After centuries of greatness, the civilization of Ancient Egypt has now entered a long period of decline.click to view Egypt 1000BC
Invasions have devastated the old centres of civilization, but important new developments, such as the use of iron, the appearance of the alphabet and the rise of Israel, with its monotheistic religion, have taken placeclick to view Middle East 1000BC
Major population movements in Europe have caused widespread upheaval, and the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations have vanishedclick to view Europe 1000BC
In North Africa, the Phoenician colony of Carthage has become the centre of a powerful maritime empire which dominates the western Mediterranean.
In the Nile valley, Egypt has come more and more under the domination of foreign powers. To its south, however, the civilization of Nubia continues to develop, becoming less “Egyptian” in its inspiration, and more “African”.
In sub-Saharan Africa, farming has taken root amongst the Bantu peoples of the West African rain forest region. This transition has given them the edge over their hunter-gatherer neighbours, and, starting from present-day Nigeria and Cameroon, they are expanding outwards. One branch is moving into the northern Congo region, while another is skirting the rain forests and heading towards the Great Lakes. These are stone-using peoples; but to the north, in present-day central Nigeria, an iron-using society, known to modern scholars as the Nok culture, has appeared. Already their art is highly developed, showing clear affinities with the later artistic traditions in the region.
Nubian civilization is beginning to free itself from Egyptian dominanceclick to view North East Africa 500BC
Its ancient glories now in the past, Egypt is now just another province within the Persian empireclick to view Egypt 500BC
The great trading city of Carthage is located in North Africaclick to view North Africa 500BC
A succession of great empires - the Assyrian, the Babylonian, and now the Persian - have dominated the Middle East for the past few centuriesclick to view Middle East 500BC
The Iron Age Celts and their relatives dominate much of Europe, whilst in the Mediterranean land a number of brilliant city-state civilizations, most notably the Greeks, now flourishclick to view Europe 500BC
Egypt is now ruled by Greek-speaking rulers, the Ptolemy dynasty, in the wake of Alexander the Great's conquests. To its south, the civilization of Nubia continues to develop in its own distinctive way.
In North Africa, the great city of Carthage has been defeated in two great wars with the Romans, but remains a thriving commercial centre. Indeed, its commercial position is being boosted by the new trade routes across the western Sahara desert being pioneered by local Berber tribes.
By this date Bantu tribes occupy a huge stretch of territory, from the west African and Congo rain forests and the grasslands to their north, right across to the Great Lakes region. The Bantu have mastered both savannah and forest agriculture, and keep sheep, goats and possibly cattle. This mix of food producing capabilities gives them a distinct advantage over the other peoples of sub-Saharan Africa, and the spreading use of iron gives them a further superiority. Their population is beginning to grow rapidly, and continues to push further south.
Nubian civilization is becoming more African and less Egyptian in spiritclick to view North East Africa 200BC
Egypt is now ruled by monarchs descended from one of Alexander the Great's generalsclick to view Egypt 200BC
The city of Carthage has had its power weakened by Romeclick to view North Africa 200BC
The conquests of Alexander the Great have reshaped the map of the Middle East, and Greek-speaking kingdoms, founded by Alexander's generals, now cover the regionclick to view Middle East 200BC
The Celts still dominate much of Europe, but a new power, Rome, is on the rise and is now the leading power in the western Mediterraneanclick to view Europe 200BC
In sub-Saharan Africa, the southward migration of the Bantu peoples has by now reached full momentum. This expansion seems to have followed two lines of movement, one to the west, through the Congo forests and down into the grasslands of Namibia, the other through East Africa and now approaching southern Africa. The hunter-gatherers they encounter are either eliminated or pushed into the denser forests or the more arid areas. The speed of the Bantu movement is startling. In the forefront there are probably mobile bands of colonists seeking out the best land, farming it for a few years, and then move on to fresh land.
Meanwhile, the North Africa has passed under Roman control, either as provinces of the empire, as in the case of Egypt and the old territory of Carthage, or as client tribes, like the Mauritanians to the west. Nubia, however, retains its independence.
The kingdom of Nubia is flourishingclick to view North East Africa 30BC
Egyptian independence has come to an end with the death of its famous queen, Cleopatraclick to view Egypt 30BC
North Africa has now largely fallen under the power of Romeclick to view North Africa 30BC
With Octavian's victory over Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium, the Roman Empire knows peace at lastclick to view The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 30BC
The Middle East is now divided between the Roman and Parthian empiresclick to view Middle East 30BC
The Roman empire now rules much of Europeclick to view Europe 30BC
All of North Africa is now firmly under Roman rule. This territory includes some of the most flourishing and Romanized provinces within the empire. In fact, the emperor at this time is Septimius Severus, whose family originated in North Africa. Egypt, meanwhile, has become the breadbasket on which the capital city of Rome depends for its grain.
A major new state has recently appeared in Ethiopia. This is the kingdom of Axum. The rulers of this kingdom trace their origins back to migrants from southern Arabia, and links between Axum and Arabia remain strong. The Ethiopian script is derived from an Arabian one.
Berber tribes are pioneering long-distance trade routes across the Sahara, aided by the use of camels, introduced into this region around this time. The traders are in search of salt, ivory, gold, exotic animals for the Roman circus, and slaves.
In the southern regions of sub-Saharan Africa, the Bantu iron age migration continues, confining the San hunter-gatherer peoples ever further south.
Nubian civilization is suffering from a shortage of resourcesclick to view North East Africa 200AD
click to view Ethiopia 200AD
Egypt is a province of the Roman empireclick to view Egypt 200AD
North Africa is one of the most prosperous and Romanized parts of the Roman empireclick to view North Africa 200AD
The Roman empire has given two centuries of peace to the Mediterranean worldclick to view The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 200AD
One small part of the region, Judaea, has given birth to the new religion of Christianity, but has also seen the dispersal of the Jewish people from their homelandclick to view Middle East 200AD
The Roman empire has given much of Europe two centuries of peace and prosperityclick to view Europe 200AD
The Roman provinces of North Africa have shared in the troubles of the declining Roman empire. By this date the western portions of North Africa have fallen away from the empire, and are being occupied by Berber nomads from beyond the old imperial frontiers, as well as by a German tribe which has crossed over from Europe, the Vandals.
Egypt remains an important part of the Eastern Roman Empire. To its south, the centuries-old kingdom of Nubia has been shattered by a strong invasion from the Axumite kingdom of Ethiopia; it has fragmented into three smaller kingdoms. Meanwhile, Axum has become a powerful Christian state, converted by monks from the Byzantine empire. Axum, and its port Adulis, on the Red Sea coast, are flourishing centres of trade, and at this time seem to have controlled the maritime trade coming up the Red Sea from India and the East.
In West Africa, large chiefdoms are emerging on the southern fringes of the Sahara. This is probably the result of efforts by some chiefs to control the southern end of the trans-Saharan trade. Importing horses from the north allows some chiefs to form cavalry forces and, so, to dominate surrounding villages more easily. Kingdoms are in the making.
By the time the Bantu migration has reached South Africa. At this latitude, the Bantu farmers reach the limits of tropical crops, and therefore can go no further.
click to view North East Africa 500AD
Ethiopia has become a powerful Christian kingdomclick to view Ethiopia 500AD
click to view West Africa 500AD
Egypt is a province of the Eastern Roman Empireclick to view Egypt 500AD
click to view North Africa 500AD
The Roman empire has lost its western provinces to barbarian invaders, but the eastern half remains intactclick to view The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 500AD
The Middle East is divided between the Eastern Roman empire and the Persian empireclick to view Middle East 500AD
The western Roman empire has fallen to German invaders, but the eastern Roman empire remains intactclick to view Europe 500AD
North Africa, including Egypt, has been conquered by Arab armies and is now part of the vast Islamic caliphate. Meanwhile the Nubian kingdoms in the upper Nile valley have become home to a vibrant Christian culture.
In West Africa, the powerful and wealthy kingdom of Ghana has appeared, built on the proceeds of the lucrative trans-Saharan trade in salt, gold and slaves.
By this date, a flourishing Indian Ocean trade has been established between the east coast of Africa, India and the Middle East. Arab Merchants and sailors visit coastal settlements in search of gold, ivory and slaves, and have set up a string of trading posts there.
In central and southern Africa the economy shows a shift away from the mixed farming, which the Bantu brought with them, towards an increasingly herding way of life. The herding of cattle is better suited to the extensive plains and grasslands of the region.
In Madagascar, one of the most remarkable migrations in world history has been completed with the arrival of boat-borne colonists from South East Asia. At around the same time, groups of Bantu make the crossing from East Africa to northern Madagascar.
click to view North East Africa 750AD
click to view West Africa 750AD
Cattle-herding cultures are beginning to appearclick to view Central Africa 750AD
Egypt has become a province of the Islamic Caliphateclick to view Egypt 750AD
click to view North Africa 750AD
Medieval Europe is beginning to emerge from the wreckage of the Ancient World.click to view Europe 750AD
The Middle East has been conquered by Arab armies under the banners of a new religion, Islamclick to view Middle East 750AD
In North Africa, the Islamic religion has taken root, and a Shiite movement, called the Fatimids, now rules most of that region from Egypt.
The Christian civilization of the Nubian kingdoms in the Nile Valley continues to flourish, while the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia is under fierce pressure from surrounding pagan tribes.
Islam is also now spreading across the Sahara desert into West Africa, carried by merchants and missionaries, although at his date the great bulk of the population remain pagans. West African civilization continues to advance, and other kingdoms have appeared beside Ghana, notably Songhai and Mali. Further east, the development of a more easterly trade route across the Sahara has led to the rise of the kingdom of Kanem, on the shores of Lake Chad.
The maritime trade between the east coast of Africa, Arabia and India is also expanding, and is leading to the rise of a coastal society, predominantly black by race and Muslim by culture, which will later be given the name "Swahili". There is evidence for the beginnings of urbanization in this period along the coast.
In southern Africa, the Bantu herding cultures are thriving, pushing the pre-Bantu hunter-gatherer peoples further and further into inhospitable desert areas.
click to view North East Africa 979AD
click to view West Africa 979AD
click to view Central Africa 979AD
click to view North Africa 979AD
Western Europe experiences internal wars and external attacks which bring widespread insecurity and lead to the rise of feudalism
click to view Europe 979AD
The Islamic Caliphate is beginning to fragmentclick to view Middle East 979AD
Ethiopia also now experiencing something of a Golden Age. Powerful and prosperous, its Christian culture, though isolated, is flourishing and giving rise to the great rock-cut churches of king Lalibela.
In North Africa, a series of Islamic movements, the Almoravids and the Almohads have conquered large areas, at one point even stretching into West Africa.
These movements have given the Islamic religion a huge boost in the West African kingdoms, and by this date their ruling classes are mostly Muslim, at least nominally. By the period, also, extensive trade networks criss-cross the region. Several large trading cities, such as Timbuktu and Jenne, flourish, and to the east of the Niger, the Hausa people have founded their own powerful city states. Trade routes are also penetrating into the southern rainforest region, leading to the rise of the first kingdoms there, especially the Yoruba kingdom of Oyo.
Trade is also playing a decisive role in Central and East Africa. Here, the Indian Ocean trade between Africa, Arabia and India has resulted in the rise of coastal city-states. Trade routes have spread inland, leading to the appearance of the wealthy and powerful Shona kingdom, centred on the famous urban centre of Great Zimbabwe.
click to view North East Africa 1215AD
click to view West Africa 1215AD
click to view Central Africa 1215AD
click to view Southern Africa 1215AD
Egypt is now under the dynasty of the renowned Muslim leader, Saladinclick to view Egypt 1215AD
click to view North Africa 1215AD
European feudalism is at its height
click to view Europe 1215AD
Islam has by now become the majority religion in the Middle Eastclick to view Middle East 1215AD
By this date, large-scale immigration of Arabs into North Africa have made this region largely Arab-speaking.
The Africa coasts have been visited by the ships of two alien powers. At the beginning of the 15th century, a large Chinese fleet visited some of the Swahili ports on the Indian Ocean coast of East Africa. In the mid-century, the first Portuguese ships arrived off the coast of West Africa. Whereas Chinese ships have not returned since, the Portuguese ships, although appearing in far smaller numbers (and are themselves far smaller in size than the great Chinese vessels), have started trading in the area.
They are mainly interested in buying gold from local chiefs, but they soon get involved in the slave trade of the region. Shortly slaves are being shipped back to Europe in Portuguese holds, mainly for work on the sugar plantations of Portugal and Madeira.
The West African kingdoms have continued to flourish and to grow, and the trade network has continued to expand. This has led to the rise of more kingdoms in the forest regions, near the coast. Elsewhere in Africa, other kingdoms are also emerging. In the south and east, this is probably related to the penetration of trade routes further and further inland from the Indian Ocean. Here, the maritime trade with Arabia and India has been expanding, and the Swahili city-states have been flourishing. Arab and Swahili traders have planted more ports southwards along the coast.
click to view North East Africa 1453AD
click to view West Africa 1453AD
click to view Central Africa 1453AD
click to view Southern Africa 1453AD
Egypt is now ruled by a class of slave-soldiers, the Mamluqsclick to view Egypt 1453AD
click to view North Africa 1453AD
The Middle East has been ruled by a succession of conquerors from central Asiaclick to view Middle East 1453AD
The old feudal order and is beginning to give way to early modern Europe
Egypt and most of North Africa have come under the rule of the Ottoman empire. Meanwhile, the kingdom of Morocco has formed its own empire, straddling the Sahara desert. By now, however, the southern regions of this empire essentially form independent kingdoms.
European sailors and traders first arrived off the coast of West Africa in the mid-15th century. Since then, Africa has been incorporated into an Atlantic trading system which is centred on the enslavement of large numbers of Africans and shipping them to the labour-hungry European colonies in the Americas. About 60% of the slaves are taken from the West African coast, the rest from south of the equator. Within Africa itself, the trade is mostly in the hands of African chiefs and merchants, and in return for supplying slaves, they demand metal goods, cloths, spirits and guns.
In Central and East Africa, new kingdoms are forming as trade networks spread deeper into the continent. Meanwhile, on the east coast of Africa, the Swahili trading states have had to face the eruption of the Portuguese into the Indian Ocean. Superior warships and cannon have given the newcomers a dominating position, and they have now seized the southern cities, and exert a tight influence over the rest of the coast. The Portuguese domination has led to a decline in the prosperity of all the Swahili cities.
The Portuguese have established the first European colonies in Africa south of the Sahara. Their settlement in modern-day Angola is the base for their slave trade. In South Africa, the Cape has become a regular point of call for European ships, particularly those of the Dutch East India Company. There, they barter with the Khoikhoi natives for provisions for the onward journey.
click to view North East Africa 1648AD
click to view West Africa 1648AD
click to view Central Africa 1648AD
click to view Southern Africa 1648AD
Egypt is now a part of the Ottoman empireclick to view Egypt 1648AD
click to view North Africa 1648AD
Developments such as the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the expansion of trade and colonization throughout the world, have transformed Europeclick to view Europe 1648AD
The Ottoman empire now dominates most of the Middle eastclick to view Middle East 1648AD
About 45,000 Africans are being forcibly taken to the Americas each year, in the holds of European and American ships. Modern scholars estimate that this trade is checking population growth, although not actually diminishing it. Slaving states, whose economy is based in servicing this trade, have arisen in West and Central Africa. Whereas the majority of slaves are being taken from West Africa, the impact of the slave trade is probably greater in Central Africa. This is because the population is much smaller here, and therefore more vulnerable to slaving activity; and also because the population suffers from predation from both the Atlantic coast, where Europeans slavers hold sway, and the Indian Ocean coast, where the slave trade is under Arab control. The impact of the slave trade spreads over a much wider area than that from which slaves are actually taken. Populations fleeing the slavers fan out across central and southern Africa, overwhelming older societies and causing new, more militarized states to emerge.
Dutch and French (known as Boer) farmers have settled in South Africa. These are under the rule of the Dutch East India Company.
In West Africa, a herding people called the Fulani, who adhere to a strict form of Islam, have spread out across a wide area and are beginning to launch Jihads against neighbouring states aimed at establishing pure Islamic states in the region. In East Africa also, another herding people, the Masai, have expanded over a large area.
For an in-depth look at the Atlantic Slave Trade, check out our iPad app here
click to view North East Africa 1789AD
click to view West Africa 1789AD
click to view Central Africa 1789AD
click to view Southern Africa 1789AD
Although officially a part of the Ottoman empire, Egypt is really ruled by the Mamluqsclick to view Egypt 1789AD
click to view North Africa 1789AD
The foundations for worldwide scientific and military dominance are being laid in the struggles between European nationsclick to view Europe 1789AD
The Middle East experiences political weakness in both the Ottoman empire and Iranclick to view Middle East 1789AD
By now, Western countries have mostly banned the slave trade. A ban is one thing, however; to enforce it is quite another. The slave trade continues to flourish, shifting its centre of gravity further south. Two thirds of the slaves are now taken from central and southern Africa, with most slaves destined for Brazil.
In central and southern Africa, the slave trade, and later the ivory trades, and the endemic violence these have fuelled, have led to the wholesale dissolution of traditional tribal structures and ways of life. In many cases, peaceful communities have turned themselves into armed bands. In southern Africa the increasing competition for land, caused by the expansion of European settlement, has intensified these conditions, which see the rise of the highly-militarized Zulu kingdom. The Zulu conquests set off a mass migration of other armed groups, the effects of which are felt a thousand miles and more to the north.
In West Africa, Fulani jihads have led to the rise of large states, most notably the empire founded by Usman dan Fidio which now controls the ancient Hausa city-states and their neighbours.
The Cape colony in South Africa, founded by Dutch settlers, has now passed from Dutch to British control. This has led to the original settlers (called the Boer) moving into the interior and founding new states, where they can live free from British interference.
click to view North East Africa 1837AD
click to view West Africa 1837AD
click to view Central Africa 1837AD
click to view Southern Africa 1837AD
Egypt is now semi-independent from the Ottoman empireclick to view Egypt 1837AD
click to view North Africa 1837AD
Europe continues to be transformed by intellectual change and industrial expansionclick to view Europe 1837AD
Some Middle Eastern governments are taking steps to modernize their countriesclick to view Middle East 1837AD
With the abolition of slavery in the USA, in 1865, the Atlantic Slave Trade has been dealt a decisive blow, and is now in steep decline. However, European nations are beginning to take a more assertive stance towards Africa. They have become more involved in Egypt with the building of the Suez Canal (1869), France has now colonized the coast of North Africa, and both France and Britain have established colonial enclaves on the coasts of West Africa. In South Africa, the original Dutch-speaking settlers (the Boer) have founded homelands in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, away from the British-controlled Cape; however, the discovery of diamonds in the interior (1867) starts a rush of British settlers into the area and increases tensions between the two European communities.
The Zulu conquests, and the mass-migrations they have caused, have resulted in a huge upheaval over a large part of southern Africa. In this process, many old kingdoms have been destroyed, and new ones formed. Southern and central Africa have experienced huge dislocation. Into this turbulent region have come the first Christian missionaries from Europe, David Livingstone being the most famous. They are appalled at what they see, and their reports home arouse widespread indignation. Agitation in Britain against the Indian Ocean slave trade follows, and a new imperial movement gathers pace, which regards Europeans as agents of a superior civilization, whose duty it is to bring Africans the benefits that their own people enjoy.
click to view North East Africa 1871AD
click to view West Africa 1871AD
click to view Central Africa 1871AD
click to view Southern Africa 1871AD
The Suez Canal has been openedclick to view Egypt 1871AD
click to view North Africa 1871AD
Nationalism and industrialization continue to transform Europeclick to view Europe 1871AD
The Ottoman empire has tightened its grip on much of the Middle Eastclick to view Middle East 1871AD
In the latter part of the 19th century, European interest in Africa grew. With the discovery of quinine, giving Europeans resistance to malaria and therefore opening up the interior of sub-Saharan Africa to them, the continent suddenly became a potential sphere for commercial and colonial expansion. Britain and France, with their already-existing toe-holds in Africa, led the way in sending expeditions of exploration and conquest into the continent. Other European countries were soon following suit, and the last two decades of the 19th century saw what modern historians call the "Scramble for Africa". The inevitable tensions which resulted from overlapping ambitions led to European diplomats carving Africa up into "spheres of influence", within which each power could do almost what it liked.
The British took the lion's share, with the French close on their heels, but other powers came in too - Italy, Belgium (or rather, the king of the Belgians, who took the Congo as his personal estate), and the Germans.
In South Africa, British attempts to bring the Boer homelands more under their control eventually led to full-scale war (the Boer War 1899-1902). The British were only able to subdue the Boers with greatest of difficulty. The Boer republics were incorporated into the British-ruled Union of South Africa.
click to view North East Africa 1914AD
click to view West Africa 1914AD
click to view Central Africa 1914AD
click to view Southern Africa 1914AD
Egypt is now effectively a part of the British empireclick to view Egypt 1914AD
click to view North Africa 1914AD
European nations now rule much of the world, but their rivalries are now leading them into the First World Warclick to view Europe 1914AD
The British and French are increasingly active in the Middle Eastclick to view Middle East 1914AD
Both World War 1 and World War 2 saw significant campaigns on African soil, and also thousands of African troops serving in other parts of the world in the service of the colonial powers. As a result of the First World War, the German territories were transferred to France (Cameroon) and Britain (in South West Africa and East Africa). In the years since the Second World War, the European powers have begun withdrawing from Africa.
This process of decolonization is in response to nationalist movements within Africa; to international pressure from the USA and the Soviet Union; and to the European countries' own awareness of their economic weakness after two world wars. The North African countries became independent from France in 1956 - except Algeria, where the French settlers have insisted that Algeria becomes administratively integrated with France, and where a major uprising has thus broken out. French West Africa was divided amongst a cluster of newly independent countries by the end of 1960. The British left Egypt in 1947, Sudan in 1956, Ghana in 1957, and Nigeria and Somalia in 1960. Large chunks of East Africa remain under British rule at the end of 1960, but these are all preparing for independence. The Belgians hurriedly withdraw from the Congo in 1960 with no preparation, leaving it in such chaos the the UN has to send troops to keep order there; and the Portuguese seem to be making no moves to leave. In South Africa, even though it has been independent from Britain since 1931, a white regime is in power, ensuring that whites remain predominant within the country, both politically and economically.
click to view North East Africa 1960AD
click to view West Africa 1960AD
click to view Central Africa 1960AD
click to view Southern Africa 1960AD
Egypt is now ruled by President Nasserclick to view Egypt 1960AD
click to view North Africa 1960AD
Europe has experienced two devastating world wars, and is now divided between East and Westclick to view Europe 1960AD
The Cold War has had a major impact on the Middle Eastclick to view Middle East 1960AD
Decolonization was mostly completed within a few years of 1960, though white minorities effectively continued colonial rule in South Africa and Rhodesia for somewhat longer, whilst the Portuguese hung on in their possessions in Angola and Mozambique.
Since independence, African countries, with very few exceptions, have experienced political instability, ethnic and religious strife, military dictatorship, corruption, entrenched poverty, and a lethal HIV/AIDS pandemic. With the end of the Cold War, however, and the cessation of the destructive international rivalries within Africa, a more constructive approach to Africa's problems has been evident, both on the part of the international community and within Africa itself. Recent years have seen the end of white rule in South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and freedom for Angola and Mozambique. However, some parts of the continent have continued a descent into anarchy – above all in the Congo, which has seen the largest scale war-related death-toll anywhere in the world since the World War 2 - but also in Liberia and Sierra Leone. A fearful genocide in the small country of Rwanda (1994) shocked the entire world.
click to view North East Africa 2005AD
click to view West Africa 2005AD
click to view Central Africa 2005AD
click to view Southern Africa 2005AD
Egypt is now ruled by President Mubarakclick to view Egypt 2005AD
click to view North Africa 2005AD
Most of Europe now belongs to the EUclick to view Europe 2005AD
Arab-Israeli hostility has dominated Middle Eastern politicsclick to view Middle East 2005AD
Hover MAP for summary and tap to zoom. MAP < and > buttons change date. TIMELINE icons jump to date. See below for historical summary.