the 53 Nations of Africa




Are There Really Fifty-Three Nations Within Africa?

Author:  Rochele Ogden
Grade Level: Early Elementary

Background Information and Resources

        1.  Students will color a map showing that Africa consists of 53 nations.
        2.  Children will, on a map of Africa, will recognize the difference between a nation and a continent.

Materials Needed:

        Map of Africa, student copies of the African map, model map that has already been completed for the students to view, and crayons/colored pencils.


        1.  Begin lesson by conducting a class discussion.  Ask, "Who has ever heard of the word 'nation?'"  Chances are many students will automatically raise their hands-- their attention has been grasped.  At this point, it is not necessary to call on anyone, but after a few seconds of wait time, proceed to ask the question, "Who can tell me what a 'nation' is?"  Depending on the age of the students, some students will be able to give a brief description like, "It is a country."  Or else they may give the examples of names of nations.  If the children are able to name countries, be sure to pull down the world map and point out the locations of each as they share.

        2.  Once that particular discussion dies down, switch the focus of the discussion to the term "continent."  Ask, "Who knows what a continent is?" Some children won't recognize this term so be prepared to conduct a discussion.  Also, some children may accidentally interpret the idea that country and continent are the same.  Explain that a continent is land that often contains many nations within it.  Use a large map to physically point out the differences between continents and nations.  Once the explanation is complete, point to an area on the map and have the entire class chant out loud "nation!" or "continent!" depending on which one is the correct answer.

        3.  Next ask the students, "How many nations do you think are within Africa?"  After guesses have been completed, explain that Africa has over fifty nations (53 to be exact). At this point, pull out a large map of Africa and point out the boundaries lines that separate the nations.  As you point out the many nations, it is useful to read some of the names of the African nations as well.  Perhaps add that Sudan is the largest country and Seychelles is the smallest.

        4.  After the discussion is finished, the students will receive a blank, or unlabeled map that will illustrate the boundaries within the African continent. As a teacher you must realize that the purpose of the learning activity is not for the students to memorize each country.  Rather, the students just need to realize that Africa is a continent with many nations within it.  At this point, the students will receive crayons/colored pencils so that they can color each nation taking care that no two touching countries are in the same color. This way each country will stand out.  Model this for the students.  Have the finished example displayed in the room.


        1.  First and foremost, realize that this lesson probably would not be taught separate from other Africa unit lessons.  Therefore, a teacher may easily integrate an evaluation for this lesson throughout the unit.  For instance, when a teacher is reading a book about a child from Gambia, it would be really easy to assess the child's understanding that this is one nation among many in Africa.

        2.  Move among the students as they work asking them what the lines mean (borders of countries) and to show you the continent and then a sample nation.

        3.  Each student will also be evaluated by turning in their individual map.  The student doesn't need to memorize the names of the nations, but they need to realize that Africa is a continent that has many nations within it.

Background Information

Africa is a very large and diverse part of the world.  After all, there are over seven hundred languages just within the African continent.  Many of these languages are closely related, but each tribe claims to have a distinct and unique language.
        The sizes of the nations are also very diverse.  The largest country is Sudan.  It is 2,505,813 square kilometers and the smallest nation is Seychelles, a small cluster of islands on the east coast.  Seychelles consists of 455 square kilometers, which is comparable to 2.5 times the size of Washington D.C.
        The populations among the nations are equally diverse.  The largest population lies within the country of Zaire which contains 42.55 million people.  The Seychelles islands contain the smallest population which is 70,000 people.  The media doesn't always depict Africa as a land full of people.  They often show it as a place of deserts, Savannas,  and animals.  When in actual reality, Africa contains a large portion of the population of the world.



World Views

Lists 53 nations of Africa


Summary and location of the 53 nations 


Excellent resource for map location of tourist sites


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