Albania, on Southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula, is a small country with Adriatic and Ionian coastlines and an interior crossed by the Albanian Alps. The country has many castles and archaeological sites. Capital Tirana centers on sprawling Skanderbeg Square, site of the National History Museum, with exhibits spanning antiquity to post-communism, and frescoed Et’hem Bey Mosque.
Algeria is a North African country with a Mediterranean coastline and a Saharan desert interior. Many empires have left legacies here, such as the ancient Roman ruins in seaside Tipaza. In the capital, Algiers, Ottoman landmarks like circa-1612 Ketchaoua Mosque line the hillside Casbah quarter, with its narrow alleys and stairways. The city’s Neo-Byzantine basilica Notre Dame d’Afrique dates to French colonial rule.
Angola is a Southern African nation whose varied terrain encompasses tropical Atlantic beaches, a labyrinthine system of rivers and Sub-Saharan desert that extends across the border into Namibia. The country’s colonial history is reflected in its Portuguese-influenced cuisine and its landmarks including Fortaleza de São Miguel, a fortress built by the Portuguese in 1576 to defend the capital, Luanda.
Benin, a French-speaking West African nation, is a birthplace of the vodun (or “voodoo”) religion and home to the former Dahomey Kingdom from circa 1600–1900. In Abomey, Dahomey’s former capital, the Historical Museum occupies two royal palaces with bas-reliefs recounting the kingdom’s past and a throne mounted on human skulls. To the north, Pendjari National Park offers safaris with elephants, hippos and lions.
Botswana, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, has a landscape defined by the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta, which becomes a lush animal habitat during the seasonal floods. The massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve, with its fossilized river valleys and undulating grasslands, is home to numerous animals including giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs.
Cameroon, on the Gulf of Guinea, is a Central African country of varied terrain and wildlife. Its inland capital, Yaoundé, and its biggest city, the seaport Douala, are transit points to ecotourism sites as well as beach resorts like Kribi – near the Chutes de la Lobé waterfalls, which plunge directly into the sea – and Limbe, where the Limbe Wildlife Centre houses rescued primates.
The Central African Republic is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Chad to the north, Sudan to the northeast, South Sudan to the southeast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south, the Republic of the Congo to the southwest and Cameroon to the west.
Brazzaville is the capital of the Republic of the Congo, in central Africa. It’s on the Congo River, opposite Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Just outside the city are the Congo Rapids. The cylindrical Nabemba Tower overlooks the river in the city center. The marble Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza Memorial contains the remains of the city’s founder. Nearby is the Modernist Basilique Sainte-Anne.
Côte d’Ivoire is a West African country with beach resorts, rainforests and a French-colonial legacy. Abidjan, on the Atlantic coast, is the country’s major urban center. Its modern landmarks include zigguratlike, concrete La Pyramide and St. Paul’s Cathedral, a swooping structure tethered to a massive cross. North of the central business district, Banco National Park is a rainforest preserve with hiking trails.
Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, is a mostly French- and Arabic-speaking country of dry shrublands, volcanic formations and Gulf of Aden beaches. It’s home to one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, the low-lying Lake Assal, in the Danakil Desert. The nomadic Afar people have settlements along Lake Abbe, a body of saltwater featuring chimneylike mineral formations.
Egypt, a country linking northeast Africa with the Middle East, dates to the time of the pharaohs. Millennia-old monuments sit along the fertile Nile River Valley, including Giza’s colossal Pyramids and Great Sphinx as well as Luxor’s hieroglyph-lined Karnak Temple and Valley of the Kings tombs. The capital, Cairo, is home to Ottoman landmarks like Muhammad Ali Mosque and the Egyptian Museum, a trove of antiquities.
Equatorial Guinea is a Central African country comprising the Rio Muni mainland and 5 volcanic offshore islands. Capital Malabo, on Bioko Island, has Spanish colonial architecture and is a hub for the country’s prosperous oil industry. Its Arena Blanca beach draws dry-season butterflies. The tropical forest of the mainland’s Monte Alen National Park is home to gorillas, chimpanzees and elephants.
Eritrea is a northeast African country on the Red Sea coast. It shares borders with Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti. The capital city, Asmara, is known for its Italian colonial buildings, like St. Joseph’s Cathedral, as well as art deco structures. Italian, Egyptian and Turkish architecture in Massawa reflect the port city’s colorful history. Notable buildings here include St. Mariam Cathedral and the Imperial Palace.
Eswatini, officially the Kingdom of Eswatini, sometimes written in English as eSwatini, and formerly and still commonly known in English as Swaziland, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and South Africa to its north, west, and south.
Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, is a rugged, landlocked country split by the Great Rift Valley. With archaeological finds dating back more than 3 million years, it’s a place of ancient culture. Among its important sites are Lalibela with its rock-cut Christian churches from the 12th–13th centuries. Aksum is the ruins of an ancient city with obelisks, tombs, castles and Our Lady Mary of Zion church.
Gabon, a country along the Atlantic coast of Central Africa, has significant areas of protected parkland. The forested coastal terrain of its famed Loango National Park shelters a diversity of wildlife, from gorillas and hippos to whales. Lopé National Park consists of mostly rainforest. Akanda National Park is known for its mangroves and tidal beaches.
The Gambia is a small West African country, bounded by Senegal, with a narrow Atlantic coastline. It’s known for its diverse ecosystems around the central Gambia River. Abundant wildlife in its Kiang West National Park and Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve includes monkeys, leopards, hippos, hyenas and rare birds. The capital, Banjul, and nearby Serrekunda offer access to beaches.
Guinea-Bissau is a tropical country on West Africa’s Atlantic coast that’s known for national parks and wildlife. The forested, sparsely populated Bijagós archipelago is a protected biosphere reserve. Its main island, Bubaque, forms part of the Orango Islands National Park, a habitat for saltwater hippos. On the mainland, the capital, Bissau, is a port with Portuguese colonial buildings in its old city center.
Guinea is a country in West Africa, bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. It’s known for the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, in the southeast. The reserve protects a forested mountain range rich in native plants and animals, including chimpanzees and the viviparous toad. On the coast, the capital city, Conakry, is home to the modern Grand Mosque and the National Museum, with its regional artifacts.
Guyana, a country on South America’s North Atlantic coast, is defined by its dense rainforest. English-speaking, with cricket and calypso music, it’s culturally connected to the Caribbean region. Its capital, Georgetown, is known for British colonial architecture, including tall, painted-timber St. George’s Anglican Cathedral. A large clock marks the facade of Stabroek Market, a source of local produce.
Kenya is a country in East Africa with coastline on the Indian Ocean. It encompasses savannah, lakelands, the dramatic Great Rift Valley and mountain highlands. It’s also home to wildlife like lions, elephants and rhinos. From Nairobi, the capital, safaris visit the Maasai Mara Reserve, known for its annual wildebeest migrations, and Amboseli National Park, offering views of Tanzania’s 5,895m Mt. Kilimanjaro
Lesotho, a high-altitude, landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa, is crisscrossed by a network of rivers and mountain ranges including the 3,482m-high peak of Thabana Ntlenyana. On the Thaba Bosiu plateau, near Lesotho’s capital, Maseru, are ruins dating from the 19th-century reign of King Moshoeshoe I. Thaba Bosiu overlooks iconic Mount Qiloane, an enduring symbol of the nation’s Basotho people.
Liberia is a country in West Africa, bordering Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. On the Atlantic coast, the capital city of Monrovia is home to the Liberia National Museum, with its exhibits on national culture and history. Around Monrovia are palm-lined beaches like Silver and CeCe. Along the coast, beach towns include the port of Buchanan, as well as laid-back Robertsport, known for its strong surf.
Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa across the Mozambique Channel. At 592,800 square kilometres Madagascar is the world’s second-largest island country.
Malawi, a landlocked country in southeastern Africa, is defined by its topography of highlands split by the Great Rift Valley and enormous Lake Malawi. The lake’s southern end falls within Lake Malawi National Park – sheltering diverse wildlife from colorful fish to baboons – and its clear waters are popular for diving and boating. Peninsular Cape Maclear is known for its beach resorts.
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa. Mali is the eighth-largest country in Africa, with an area of just over 1,240,000 square kilometres. The population of Mali is 19.1 million. 67% of its population was estimated to be under the age of 25 in 2017. Its capital is Bamako.
Mauritania, officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a country in Northwest Africa. It is the twenty-eighth largest country or dependency in the world, the eleventh largest sovereign state in Africa and the largest country lying entirely below an altitude of 1,000 metres.
Morocco, a North African country bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, is distinguished by its Berber, Arabian and European cultural influences. Marrakesh’s medina, a mazelike medieval quarter, offers entertainment in its Djemaa el-Fna square and souks (marketplaces) selling ceramics, jewelry and metal lanterns. The capital Rabat’s Kasbah of the Udayas is a 12th-century royal fort overlooking the water.
Mozambique is a southern African nation whose long Indian Ocean coastline is dotted with popular beaches like Tofo, as well as offshore marine parks. In the Quirimbas Archipelago, a 250km stretch of coral islands, mangrove-covered Ibo Island has colonial-era ruins surviving from a period of Portuguese rule. The Bazaruto Archipelago farther south has reefs which protect rare marine life including dugongs.
Namibia, a country in southwest Africa, is distinguished by the Namib Desert along its Atlantic Ocean coast. The country is home to diverse wildlife, including a significant cheetah population. The capital, Windhoek, and coastal town Swakopmund contain German colonial-era buildings such as Windhoek’s Christuskirche, built in 1907. In the north, Etosha National Park’s salt pan draws game including rhinos and giraffes.
Niger or the Niger, officially the Republic of the Niger, is a landlocked country in West Africa named after the Niger River. Niger is bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria to the south, Benin and Burkina Faso to the southwest, Mali to the west, and Algeria to the northwest.