Religion in Africa

The African continent is dominated by Christianity, Islam and traditional religions in local cultures.


Christianity was dominant throughout Roman (and later partly Byzantine) North Africa until the Arab conquest in the 6th century. The Coptic Church continues to live in Egypt and Ethiopia.

Sub-Saharan Christianity has come with the European colonial powers; first and foremost the Portuguese (from the early 16th century), then with the Dutch (from the 16th century in South Africa) and from the 1800s with the other colonial powers.

Mission from other countries was also organized. From the 1840s there was a Norwegian mission in South Africa, from the 1860s in Madagascar. In the 1900s, numerous “native” African churches have emerged, such as Kimbanguism, especially in southern Africa.

African Countries


Islam (mainly Sunni) has been developing rapidly over the last 150 years. Alongside North Africa, Sudan and Somalia, Islam dominates a wide belt across the sub-Saharan continent as well as the coastal region of East Africa down to Mozambique.

The traditional ethnic religions

The traditional ethnic religions are found partly in West Africa, partly in Central and East Africa, South Sudan and parts of Ethiopia, but also in areas in southern Africa. These religions are closely linked to traditional way of life (agriculture, cattle keeping, hunting) and are therefore under strong pressure, not only from Christian mission and Islamic propaganda, but also from social and ecological changes such as urbanization and desertification.

A fundamental common feature of traditional religions is the belief in a generally distant high god; a hierarchy of inferior gods and spirit beings, often associated with nature (forests, rivers); an active cult of the ancestors; and a widespread belief in witches and the use of magic and fetishes.


Africa Judaism

The formerly numerous Jewish population in North Africa has almost completely emigrated to Israel after 1948.

Country Capital Languages People
Algeria Algiers Arabic *, French Algerian
Angola Luanda Bantu, Portuguese * Angolan
Benin Porto-Novo (official),
Cotonou (de facto capital)
French Beninese
Botswana Gaborone English *, Setswana Batswana
Burkina Faso Ouagadougou French * Burkinesis
Burundi Bujumbura Kirundi *, French *, Swahili Burundian
Central African Republic Yaoundé French, English Cameroonian
Comoros Praia Portuguese, Criuolo Cape Verdean
Djibouti Bangui French *, Sangho, Arabic, Hansa, Swahili **
Egypt N’Djamena French, Arabic Chadian
Equatorial Guinea Moroni French *, Arab *, Shaafi Islam, Malagasu Comoran
Ivory Coast Brazzaville French *, Lingala, Kikongo Congolese
Eritrea Kinshasa French *, Swahili, Lingala, Ishiluba, Kikongo Congolese
Ethiopia Abidjan /
French **
Gabon Djibouti Arabic *, French *, Afar, Somali Djiboutian
Gambia Cairo Arabic Egyptian
Ghana Malabo Spanish *, French *, English, Fang, Bubi, Creole Equatorial Guinean
Guinea Asmara Afar, Bilen, Kunama, Nara, Arabic, Tobedawi, Saho, Tigre, Tigrinya Eritrean
Guinea-Bissau Addis Ababa Amharic *, English, Orominga, Tigrigna Ethiopian
Cameroon Libreville French *, Fang, Myene, Bateke, Bapounou / Eschira, Bandjabi Gabonese
Cape Verde Banjul English Gambian
Kenya Accra English Ghanian
Congo-Brazzaville Conakry French Guinean
Congo-Kinshasa Bissau Portuguese Criolo Guinean
Lesotho Nairobi English *, Swahili Kenyan
Liberia Maseru English *, Sesotho *, Zulu, Xhosa Basotho
Libya Monrovia English Liberian
Madagascar Tripoli Arabic, Italian, English Libyan
Malawi Antananarivo Malagasy, French Madagascan
Mali Lilongwe English, Chichewa Malawian
Morocco Bamako French Malian
Mauritania Nouakchott Arabic *, French Mauretanian
Mauritius Port Louis English *, French *, Creole, Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bojpoori Mauritian
Mozambique Rabat Arabic *, French, Berber dialects, Spanish Moroccan
Namibia Maputo Portuguese *, Bantu languages Mozambiquean
Niger Windhoek English *, Afrikaans, German Namibian
Nigeria Niamey French *, Hausa, Songhai, Arabic Nigerian
Rwanda Abuja English *, Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, Nigerian
São Tomé and Príncipe Kigali Kinyarwanda, French, English Rwandan
Senegal Sao Tome Portuguese **
Seychelles Dakar French *, Wolof, Serer Senegalese
Sierra Leone Victoria English *, French *, Seselwa Seychellois
Somalia Freetown English *, Mende, Temne, Krio Sierra Leonean
Sudan Mogadishu Somali *, Arabic, English, Italian Somali
Swaziland Pretoria
Cape Town (legislative)
Bloemfontein (judicial)
Xhosa *, Zulu *, English, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Sesotho sa Leboa, Sesotho, Swati, Xitsonga, Setswana, Tshivenda South African
South Africa Khartoum Arabic *, English Sudanese
South Sudan Mbabane English, Swazi Swazi
Tanzania Dodoma (official)
Dar es Salaam (administrative)
Swahili, English Tanzanian
Chad Lomé French *, Ewé, Mina, Kabyé, Cotocoli Togolese
Togo Tunis Arabic *, French Tunisian
Tunisia Kampala English *, Swahili, Luganda, Ateso, Luo Ugandan
Uganda Lusaka English Zambian
Zambia Harare English *, Ndebele, Shona Zimbabwean


Africa People

Over the past 40 years, Africa has had a strong population increase, and today has more than one billion people. According to Abbreviationfinder, the population is relatively young, and in several countries more than half of the population is under 25. But population development is not as high across the continent. While several countries in North Africa have a birth rate similar to that in Europe, that is, just enough to sustain today’s population, some countries in West Africa stand out with very high birth rates. According to Countryaah, the current population of Africa is 1.216 billion. In East Africa, several countries also have strong population growth, while southern Africa has experienced a decline in birth rates.

The Sahara and the driest Savannah areas are thinnest. Since most of the African countries, since the 1980s, there has been a large migration from rural to urban, which has led to significant social and economic problems, which is seen in all countries with economic growth.

The most important religions are Islam north of the equator except Ethiopia, which also has a large population professing to Coptic-Orthodox Christianity. Christianity is most prevalent in South and East Africa as well as in coastal areas. In many parts of Africa, a variety of traditional religions still exist, with common features as a creative god and the cultivation of ancestors and natural objects. Beliefs about witches, fetishes and magic, and the traditional religions, are also partly incorporated into local varieties of Islam and Christianity.

There are about 3000 languages ​​spoken on the continent. The African languages ​​are often divided into four language families: the Afro-Asian family, the Niger-Congo family, the Nilo-Sahara family and the Khoisan family. In Madagascar, Malagasy is spoken, which belongs to the Austronesian language family. In North Africa, Arabic is most prevalent, in West Africa Hausa and in East Africa Swahili. In Ethiopia, amhara is the biggest language. In sub-Saharan Africa, English, French or Portuguese are still official languages. In South Africa is still Afrikaans official language but the main language is isiZulu.


Africa has large mineral reserves, most notably gold and diamonds, as well as energy sources such as oil and natural gas. It is also abundant in antimony, phosphates, manganese, cobalt and copper.

South Africa’s largest economy is South Africa, followed by countries such as Morocco and Tunisia (major phosphate exporters, raw material for the fertilizer industry).

Also of note is Algeria, rich in oil and natural gas, and a member of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries).

However, the exploitation of mineral wealth is practiced by European or North American companies, which are attracted by the low price of labor, electricity and raw materials.

These companies extract and produce at reduced costs, allowing them high profit margins.