20th Century Maps
Maps of the World

South and Central Africa

The political map of Africa is a snapshot of the world in its most complete and historical state. The history of Africa starts with early hominid evolution, archaic humans, and then anatomically modern human beings (Homo sapiens) in West Africa, and continuing unbroken to the present day as a patchwork of many politically developed country states. Africa has many different types of geography, including coastline and the vast interior where the coast meets the Atlantic Ocean, an ocean that separates East Africa from the rest of the continent.  re-creationEast Africa was occupied by nomadic hunter-gatherers and foragers, while the rest of the continent is more densely settled. As people settled down in East Africa, the land began to become desertified, and this desertification was an important part of African cultural development. In West Africa, the coastlines of the interior were first occupied by Caucasian speakers (who were known to have come from Europe and Asia as far back as 50,000 BC), but as trade routes and other types of interaction became more established, these groups spread into the rest of the continent. Meanwhile, they also began to intermarry with people of other races, often in places where there were no racial boundaries. This mixture resulted in the formation of many different languages, each with its own unique characteristics.

Technological Developments

Many different types of technology were developed across East and West Africa, particularly during the expansion of agriculture. As farming became more widespread, people living in villages began to live in more dispersed settlements, in an attempt to reduce their dependence on seasonal migration to harvest their crops. This meant that food production increased more rapidly than the population itself, leading to the development of a more complex political map of Africa. These changes resulted in significant demographic shifts, with many small groups of people becoming permanently separated from their neighbors. This political map also produced the first recorded language on the continent, in the form of the Maasai languages spoken on the Kenyan and Samburu Rift Valley, as well as other areas of Central Africa.  photoMaasai speakers are the ancestors of today's Bantu-speaking Bantu of East and Southern Africa. The Maasai languages have been adapted over time to include West African dialects, including Creole, Swahili and Portuguese. The political map of Africa also created a series of states called "territories," which exist under colonial rule or as independent nations after independence. There are several political boundaries in South and Central Africa that have been in existence since the nineteenth century. One of the most prominent is the Transkei line, which separates Zambia from Zambia. There are several other historical political boundaries that still exist in Central and Southern Africa. The boundary between Namibia and Botswana has been in existence for nearly five decades; the border between Namibia and South Africa is the border between Zaire, which was set by the Durban Conference in 1994. The most recent political boundary, set in 2020, between Swaziland and Zambia, has caused some controversy, especially due to the recent violence in Zambia, which has made the current political boundary invalid. The most recent boundary has been set along the Zambezi River, dividing Zambia from Zimbabwe and Zambia from South Africa.

Evolving Political Boundaries

Despite the controversy surrounding these lines, the political boundary was put in place to separate two countries that had a strong historical relationship and were often at war with each other, in particular Rhodesia and Zimbabwe.  portrayalThe boundary, designed in the mid-nineteenth century, was intended to stop the influx of Zulus, a tribe of Panykurs who lived in Southern Rhodesia. For many years after independence, there was no political boundary between the two countries, but they did continue to trade with one another on the Zambezi. This continued until Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe declared independence from Rhodesian rule in 1980. Political boundary lines are sometimes created to protect ethnic groups, such as in the case of the Masai tribe, the Hausa people, in Western Namibia. Many ethnic groups in Central Africa are politically divided by the boundaries established when colonial powers first settled down. This has led to many ethnic groups moving their political borders around over time. This has also led to the creation of new political boundaries, which have been used by many other groups to divide up their territories.