In 1472 the Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit the country. The hinterland was developed as a source of slaves. By 1700, some 20,000 slaves were being exported annually. After long resisting attempts at colonization, the south became a French protectorate in 1893 while the north was added incrementally between 1895 and 1898. In 1904, present day Benin, then known as Dahomey, became part of the French West African Federation. Dahomey played a key role in the administration of the region, providing educated staff to other parts of the French African empire. It became independent on 1 August 1960.
The earliest inhabitants of the region were the San, who were followed by the Tswana The culture is mainly of native Bantu. In common with many of their neighbors, the Tswana suffered greatly from Nguni and Afrikaner incursions in the mid 19th century, leading to the establishment of a British Protectorate in 1885. Coveted in turn by the early Boer republics, by Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company and then by South Africa, Bechuanaland ('Bechuana' is synologous with 'Batswana', the correct term for the people of Botswana) has often trodden a narrow path between its neighbors' political, military and economic ambitions.
Burkinafaso, originally known as Upper Volta until its name change in 1983, was a French colony, part of French West Africa. It gained its independence from France in August 1960. The post-independence civilian government was authoritarian, and opposition parties were banned. This eventually led to the country's first military coup in 1966. For the following 24 years, there was a succession of military regimes, mostly conservative, but including the short lived revolutionary regime of Captain Isidore Thomas Sankara (August 1983 – October 1987).
Burundi existed as an independent Kingdom for several centuries before becoming part of German East Africa in 1899. After WWI it became the Belgian-run territory of ‘Ruanda-Urundi’, with neighboring Rwanda, under a League of Nations mandate. Following independence in 01 July 1962, Burundi was run by a series of brutal regimes dominated by the minority Tutsi group. Massacres in 1972 killed an estimated 300,000 of which the majority were Hutu. In 1987 Major Pierre Buyoya, a Tutsi, took control in a bloodless coup and initiated a 5-year transition to democracy.
The French-administered UN trusteeship gained independence on January 1, 1960 from France Before the trusteeship it was a German colony. Modern Cameroon was created as the German protectorate of Kamerun in 1884. After the First World War, under League of Nations mandates, France was awarded administration of Eastern Cameroon, and Britain Northern and Southern Cameroons. These mandates were converted in 1946 to UN Trusteeships.
Cape Verde was colonized by the Portuguese started from 1456. The Portuguese used Cape Verdeans as administrators throughout their African empire, and as labor on their shipping lines. During the 19th century Cape Verdeans used to crew American whalers in the Atlantic. Since this time, Cape Verdeans have had a strong tradition of emigrating to find work. Major droughts and famines have historically also propelled mass migrations from the islands.
Central African Republic (CAR) was a French colony, as Ubanghi-Shari. The territory of present day CAR was called Oubangui-Shari in colonial times, named after the country's two largest rivers. It was 1 of 4 territories of French Equatorial African Empire, marking the point where French colonial advance to the east was halted. Colonial rule was based on a plantation economy, and the French were often brutal in their treatment of the local population.
The French extending their power in 1910, made Chad a territory of French equatorial African federation administered from Brazaville (CongoB). Chad, formerly part of France's Central African colonial administration, became independent on 11 August 1960, although a large part of the north of the country remained under French military administration until 1964. Francois Tombalbaye, the leader of the PPT party, became President. He declared single party rule in 1963. In 1965 the National Front for the Liberation of Chad (FRONILAT), started a rebellion in the north and the east of the country claiming that the government was run solely in the interests of southerners.
Over the centuries, the islands were invaded by a succession of diverse groups from the coast of Africa, the Persian Gulf, Indonesia and Madagascar. The culture is mainly of European and Arabic. The earliest inhabitants were probably of Malay-Polynesian origin. Later settlers came from mainland Africa, Madagascar and the Arab world. The Shirazis from Persia became dominant in the 15th-16th century, establishing sultanates in the Comoros linked to their trading settlements in Kilwa (on the coast of present-day Tanzania) and Zanzibar, and dealing in spices and slaves to the Middle East.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire): A vast country with immense economic resources at the heart of Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has been at the centre of what could be termed Africa's world war. Formerly Belgian colony of "Congo Leopoldville". The Congo is located at the heart of Africa with a narrow strip of land along the Congo river estuary leading to the Atlantic ocean in the west. The Congo is vast, fertile, diverse and mineral rich is also Africa’s second largest country (2.3 million sq km) with over 200 ethnic groups. With just over 70 million people, the Congo has the second largest Christian population in Africa with lots of natural resources.