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West Africa

At the start of 2016 there were officially 16 countries in West Africa. The area covers an area of over 6 million square kilometres. Note that AfriTree has excluded the Magheb (Arib West) from it’s definition of West Africa. These countries are included in our North African list.

Great Britain and France were the major European countries to colonise West Africa, hence the fact that countries in this region have English or French as their national language. The French influence is at times larger than commonly known.

The West African countries with capital cities in brackets are:

  • Mauritania (Nouakchott)
  • Mali (Bamako)
  • Niger (Niamey)
  • Chad (N’Djamena)
  • Nigeria (Abuja)
  • Benin (Porto-Novo)
  • Togo (Lome)
  • Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou – it’s a tong twister but rest assured, the locals only refer to it as “Ouaga”)
  • Ghana (Accra)
  • Ivory Coast, or use the French name Cote D’Ivoire (Yamoussoukro/Abidjan)
  • Liberia (Monrovia)
  • Sierra Leone (Freetown)
  • Guinea (Conakry)
  • Guinea-Bissau (Bissau)
  • The Gambia (Banjul)
  • Senegal (Dakar)


Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Togo use the common West Africa currency CFA franc, pronounced locally as “say-eff-ah” with currency code XOF. CFA is short for the French Communauté Financière d’Afrique, or Financial Community of Africa.

This is not to be confused with the central African Franc CFA (currency code XAF), which is short for Coopération Financière en Afrique Centrale, or Financial Cooperation in Central Africa. Cameroon uses this currency.

The exchange rates for both these currencies are set at 655.957 to the euro.