Sub-Saharan Africa

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Africa southern of the Sahara

Sub-Saharan Africa (also: Africa south of the Sahara or Black Africa ) refers to the part of the African continent located south of the Sahara .

The UN counts all countries that are wholly or partially south of the Sahara as part of this area. According to this, 49 of the 54 African UN member states belong to Sub-Saharan Africa . The remaining five states Morocco , Algeria , Tunisia , Libya and Egypt as well as the occupied territory of Western Sahara lie in the Sahara or north of it and belong geographically to North Africa . North Africa is part of the Arab world .

A total of around 920 million people live in the 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. With their per capita income , which is growing more slowly than gross domestic product due to the high population growth , most of the African countries south of the Sahara are among the lowest in the world.

Most of Sub-Saharan Africa is in the tropical climate zone, only the southernmost part is in the subtropical climate zone.

Origin and reason of the demarcation

The Sahara represented a natural climatic zone which is geographically , ecologically , ethnically and culturally separated from the rest of Africa by the Sahel zone . While North Africa was in economic and cultural exchange with the rest of the Mediterranean , Sub-Saharan Africa was largely isolated , despite the very old Trans- Saharan trade routes . The European term "dark continent" for Africa therefore mainly refers to this part of Africa south of the Sahara and is not only due to the skin color of the inhabitants, but also to the lack of European knowledge of the interior well into the second half of the 19th century. Century.

The countries Mauritania , Mali , Niger , Chad and Sudan are partly in the Sahara and partly south of it, so that some parts of the country belong to North Africa and others to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Conceptual criticism of "Black Africa"

The term "Black Africa" , which was mainly coined during the colonial period , comes partly from the skin color of the inhabitants of this region, the " Black Africans ", but partly from the Europeans' view of the time that Sub-Saharan Africa was completely cultured, while the North was at least a minimum of culture. The outsourcing of the north of Africa also suggests inappropriately that the rest of Africa is a homogeneous unit, even though a large number of different ethnic groups can be found in this part of the continent . Therefore, the term is now widely seen as racist .

The term black Africa can lead to the misunderstanding that there are no indigenous black populations in northern Africa .

Therefore the term “Black Africa” - following a tendency from the Anglophone- speaking area (here Sub-Saharan Africa has almost completely replaced the former Black Africa ) - is rarely used in official language by authorities and also by many private organizations and in the media often replaced by the other names mentioned above.

Conceptual criticism of "Sub-Saharan Africa"

The term sub-Saharan Africa is often seen as an alternative to black Africa used. Although the racial theoretical background of the term is less obvious, this term incorrectly implies that African states north and south of the Sahara are homogeneous regions.

The North African author Owen 'Alik Shahadah argues that the term sub-Saharan Africa has racist connotations. The word racially stands for "primitive", a place that has not achieved any progress. Therefore, statements such as “There are no written languages in Sub-Saharan Africa”, “ Ancient Egypt was not a sub-Saharan African civilization” can be found. “Sub-Sahara” serves as an exclusionary argument that is flexible in order to adapt to any negative generalization of Africa.

Web links

Wiktionary: Black Africa  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Robert Kappel, Birte Pfeiffer: Performance Analysis Sub-Saharan Africa. GIGA, Hamburg 2013, p. 17 ( PDF).
  2. ^ Lansana Keita: Race, Identity and Africanity: A Reply to Eboussi Boulaga . In: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (Ed.): CODESRIA Bulletin . 1 & 2, 2004, p. 16.
  3. Susan Arndt: Colonialism, Racism and Language - Critical Considerations of German Africa Terminology. July 30, 2004, published by the Federal Agency for Civic Education ( , accessed on January 12, 2018).
  4. ^ Katherine Machnik: Black Africa . In: Susan Arndt, Antje Hornscheidt (Hrsg.): Africa and the German language. A critical reference work . 1st edition. Unrast, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-89771-424-8 , p. 204-205 .
  5. ^ Katherine Machnik: Black Africa . In: Susan Arndt, Antje Hornscheidt (Hrsg.): Africa and the German language. A critical reference work . 1st edition. Unrast, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-89771-424-8 , p. 204-205 .
  6. Owen 'Alik Shahadah: Linguistics for a new African reality . Retrieved February 11, 2011.