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Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa definition UN.png
Dark and lighter green: Definition of "sub-Saharan Africa" as used in the statistics of the United Nations institutions.
Lighter green: However, Sudan is classified as Northern Africa by the United Nations Statistics Division,[1] though the organisation states "the assignment of countries or areas to specific groupings is for statistical convenience and does not imply any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories".
Population1,038,627,178 (2018)
Religions
LanguagesOver 1,000 languages
Internet TLD.africa
Major cities
Geographical map of sub-Saharan Africa
Red: Arab states in Africa (Arab League and UNESCO)
Simplified climatic map of Africa: sub-Saharan Africa consists of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa in the north (yellow), the tropical savannas (light green) and the tropical rainforests (dark green) of Equatorial Africa, and the arid Kalahari Basin (yellow) and the "Mediterranean" south coast (olive) of Southern Africa. The numbers shown correspond to the dates of all Iron Age artifacts associated with the Bantu expansion.

Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically and ethnoculturally, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all African countries and territories that are fully or partially south of the Sahara.[2] While the Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically and ethnoculturally, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all African countries and territories that are fully or partially south of the Sahara.[2] While the United Nations geoscheme for Africa excludes Sudan from its definition of sub-Saharan Africa, the African Union's definition includes Sudan but instead excludes Mauritania.

It contrasts with North Africa, whose countries are part of the League of Arab states within the Arab world. The states of Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros, and the Arabic-speaking Mauritania and Sudan are, however, geographically in sub-Saharan Africa, although they are members of the Arab League as well.[3] The UN Development Program lists 46 of Africa's 54 countries as "sub-Saharan", excluding Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia.[4]

The term has been criticized by late Professor Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe,[5] on Pambazuka as being a racist word[6] because it refers to the area south of the Sahara by geographical conventions (as opposed to North Africa, which refers to a cardinal direction). Critics such as Professor Ekwe-Ekwe consider the term to imply a linguistic connotation of inferiority through its use of the prefix sub- (Latin for "under" or "below"; cf. sub-arctic), which they see as a linguistic vestige of European colonialism.[7][8]

Since probably 3500 BCE,[9][10] the Saharan and sub-Saharan regions of Africa have been separated by the extremely harsh climate of the sparsely populated Sahara, forming an effective barrier interrupted by only the Nile in Sudan, though the Nile was blocked by the river's cataracts. The Sahara pump theory explains how flora and fauna (including Homo sapiens) left Africa to penetrate the Middle East and beyond. African pluvial periods are associated with a Wet Sahara phase, during which larger lakes and more rivers existed.[11]