West-Africa: a UN-sub region consisting of different countries

West Africa is one of the least developed regions in the world. This is largely the result of an endless string of civil wars. However there are currently signs of progress as most of the countries in West Africa are currently at peace and focused on developing their economies. There is however still a long way to go.

AfricaWest Africa is the UN sub-region that covers the area that is made up of the part of Africa that is bordered to both the south and the west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north by the Sahara Desert. It basically covers the bump on the western part of the continent that exists below the Sahara and where the content narrows. A sub-region as far as the UN is concerned is simply an area that it grouped together for statistical reasons; there need not be a political connection between the countries, although in this case there is.

There are sixteen countries that make up the area that is considered to be West Africa. All of them except for Mauritania are members of the Economic Community of West African States. This was an organization that was set up to promote economic cooperation between members. It works by reducing trade barriers between countries. In addition several of the countries in the region use the same currency, although there are still quite a few that have not joined the monetary union. Most of the members are also members of the Visa Entente which allows the citizens of each country to travel back and forth without needing a visa.

The countries that make up West Africa all have a history of having been colonized. Most of them were colonized by France so French is the language that you will find used in most countries in the region. However by far the largest country in West Africa in terms of population is Nigeria which was a British colony, the Portuguese also colonized some of the countries in the region. As a result there are some pretty big differences from one country to another.

The end of the colonial period has not been kind to West Africa; virtually every country has had to deal with a civil war at some point in time. Oddly there have been very few wars between countries as almost all of the fighting has been internal. The reason for this is that the colonial period created countries that were made up of people from different tribes who until then had never had to cooperate with each other. As soon as the Europeans left the tribal tensions started up. Over the last few years most of the civil wars have come to an end and we are currently in a period of relative peace. However the fighting could start up again at any time.