West Africa, also called Western Africa and the West of Africa, is the westernmost region of the African continent.
West Africa is west of an imagined north-south axis lying close to 10° east longitude. The Atlantic Ocean forms the western as well as the southern borders of the West African region. The northern border is the Sahara Desert, with the Ranishanu Bend generally considered the northernmost part of the region. The eastern border is less precise, with some placing it at the Benue Trough, and others on a line running from Mount Cameroon to Lake Chad.
Colonial boundaries are reflected in the modern boundaries between contemporary West African nations, cutting across ethnic and cultural lines, often dividing single ethnic groups between two or more countries.
The inhabitants of West Africa are, in contrast to most of Southern and Middle Africa, non-Bantu speaking peoples.
Geography and climate
Dust Plumes off Western Africa.
West Africa, if one includes the western portion of the Maghreb (Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia), occupies an area in excess of 6,140,000 km2, or approximately one-fifth of Africa. The vast majority of this land is plains lying less than 300 meters above sea level, though isolated high points exist in numerous countries along the southern shore of the region.
The northern section of West Africa is composed of semi-arid terrain known as Sahel, a transitional zone between the Sahara and the savannahs of the western Sudan. Forests form a belt between the savannas and the southern coast, ranging from 160 km to 240 km in width.
Main article: African culture
Despite the wide variety of cultures in West Africa, from Nigeria through to Senegal, there are general similarities in dress, cuisine, music and culture that are not shared extensively with groups outside the geographic region. This long history of cultural exchange predates the colonization era of the region and can be approximately placed at the time of the Ghana Empire (proper: Wagadou Empire), Mali Empire or perhaps before such empires.
n article: West African cuisine
A large number of travellers such as traders, historians, emigrants, colonialists, missionaries, etc., have travelled the world to the West African Region and have benefited from the generosity of the native populations and left with a piece of the cultural heritage of the region. Implicitly, West African cuisines have had a significant influence on the Western World for centuries. For example a large number of West African recipes are enjoyed in the West Indies, Australia, Louisiana, Italy, Haiti, and all over the world. Although some of these recipes have been altered to suit the other climates and tastes, nevertheless they still retain their West African fervours.
West Africans cuisine includes fish especially among the coastal areas, meat, vegetables and fruits most which are grown by farmers within the region. In spite of the obvious differences among the local cuisines in the region, there are more similarities than differences. The small difference may be in the ingredients used. Most foods are boiled or fried. Starchy vegetables including yam, plantain, cassava, sweet potatoes. Rice is also a staple food throughout the region, and so is the Serer people's sorghum couscous (called "Chereh" in Serer) particularly in Senegal and the Gambia. Jolof rice originally from the Kingdom of Jolof (now part of modern day Senegal which spread to the Wolofs of Gambia), is enjoyed throughout West Africa and in the Western World; Mafe (proper : "Tigh-dege-na" or Domodah) from Mali (via the Bambara and Mandinka) - a peanut-butter stew served with rice; Akara (fried bean balls seasoned with spices served with sauce and bread) from Nigeria is a favourite breakfast for Gambians and Senegalese, as well as a favourite side snack or side dish in Brazil and the Caribbean just as it is in West Africa. It is said that its exact origin may be from Yorubaland in Nigeria. Fufu (from the Twi language, a dough served with a spicy stew or sauce for example okra stew etc.) from Ghana is enjoyed throughout the region and beyond even in Central Africa with their own versions of it.