Exploring Africa Oldest Nations: Tracing Their Historical Roots
Africa boasts a wealth of historically significant nations. Among them, Egypt stands out as not only one of Africa’s oldest countries but also one of the world’s most ancient civilizations.
When considering their independence from colonial rule, some of the oldest nations in Africa include:
Liberia holds the distinction of being Africa’s oldest independent nation. Its capital is Monrovia, and the country covers an area of 111,369 square kilometers with a population of around 5.058 million in 2020.
The British established Liberia as a colony in 1822, and it gained independence in 1847, making it Africa’s oldest nation.
During the colonial period, Liberia’s economy relied on trade with other nations, primarily exporting rubber to the United Kingdom. Around 80% of Liberia’s population once worked as slaves, farmers, or laborers.
In 1904, Liberia became the first independent black republic in Africa. It did not establish a stable government until 1944 when Joseph Jenkins Roberts was elected as president.
Located in the southern part of Africa, South Africa has three capitals: Pretoria, Cape Town, and Bloemfontein. It spans approximately 1.22 million square kilometers with a population of 59.31 million in 2020.
South Africa gained independence on May 31, 1910. Previously, it was known as South West Africa and the Boer Republic before being renamed in 1910. The current name, “South Africa,” is derived from the Dutch word “Zuid-Afrika,” meaning “South Africa.”
In terms of gaining independence, Egypt ranks as the third oldest country in Africa achieved independence from the United Kingdom on February 28, 1922, but it became a republic in 1956.
Prior to independence, Egypt was ruled as a monarchy. The country, with its capital in Cairo, covers an area of 1.002 million square kilometers and had a population of 106.6 million.
Ethiopia, the fourth oldest African nation in terms of independence, gained its freedom on May 5, 1941. Ethiopia, with its capital in Addis Ababa, is home to numerous historical sites and museums.
The country’s population stood at 115 million in 2020, with approximately 80% of the population practicing Christianity and 15% practicing Islam. Ethiopia has been governed by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front since 1991.
Libya obtained its independence from the United Kingdom on December 24, 1951. The country’s governmental structure is based on a constitution approved by the Libyan People’s Congress in December 1973.
Libya has a population of around 6.871 million people and covers an area of 1.76 million square kilometers.
Sudan, with its capital in Khartoum, gained independence on January 1, 1956. The country is one of the largest in the world, spanning 1.862 million square kilometers.
Despite having a population of over 40 million, approximately 43.85 million in 2020, Sudan is considered one of the least developed countries globally.
Morocco, located in northwest Africa, is the seventh oldest nation on this list. The country shares borders with the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Algeria to the east and southeast, Western Sahara to the south and southwest, and Mauritania to the west and northwest.
Morocco covers an area of 710,850 square kilometers with a population of approximately 37 million. Its capital is Rabat. The nation gained independence from France on March 2, 1956, following ten years of resistance led by nationalist leader Mohammed V.
Tunisia is the last of the oldest African nations in this article. The country has its governmental capital in Tunis and had a population of 11.56 million in 2020. It covers an area of around 163,610 square kilometers.
The nation independence on March 20, 1956, marking a significant victory for the people of Africa. They not only secured their own nation but also overthrew a corrupt and oppressive regime.
The new government ensured that everyone had equal rights and opportunities that were previously enjoyed by French colonialists before independence. They also implemented nationalization policies, meaning that all land belonged to the state, not individuals or private companies. This policy provided many Tunisians with access to land and the opportunity to become self-sufficient farmers on their own land.
These countries carry a rich historical legacy, and their stories continue to unfold as they navigate the challenges and opportunities of the modern world.