Humanities › History & Culture The Colonial Names of African States Modern African Nations Compared with Their Colonial Names Share Flipboard Email Print Map of Africa, 1911. World Atlas from Minnesota State,County Survey Atlas, via Getty Images History & Culture African History Key Events American History African American History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More by Angela Thompsell Angela Thompsell, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of British and African History at the College at Brockport, State University of New York. Updated September 17, 2019 After decolonization, state boundaries in Africa remained remarkably stable, but the colonial names of African states often changed. Explore a list of current African countries according to their former colonial names, with explanations of border changes and amalgamations of territories. Why Were Boundaries Stable Following Decolonization? In 1963, during the era of independence, the Organization of African Union agreed to a policy of inviolable borders, which dictated that colonial-era boundaries were to be upheld, with one caveat. Due to the French policy of governing their colonies as large federated territories, several countries were created out of each of France's former colonies, using the old territorial boundaries for the new country boundaries. There were Pan-Africanist efforts to create federated states, like the Federation of Mali, but these all failed. The Colonial Names of Present-Day African States Africa, 1914 Africa, 2015 Independent States Abyssinia Ethiopia Liberia Liberia British Colonies Anglo-Egyptian Sudan Sudan, The Republic of the South Sudan Basutoland Lesotho Bechuanaland Botswana British East Africa Kenya, Uganda British Somaliland Somalia* The Gambia The Gambia Gold Coast Ghana Nigeria Nigeria Northern Rhodesia Zambia Nyasaland Malawi Sierra Leone Sierra Leone South Africa South Africa Southern Rhodesia Zimbabwe Swaziland Swaziland French Colonies Algeria Algeria French Equatorial Africa Chad, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic French West Africa Benin, Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso French Somaliland Djibouti Madagascar Madagascar Morocco Morocco (see note) Tunisia Tunisia German Colonies Kamerun Cameroon German East Africa Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi South West Africa Namibia Togoland Togo Belgian Colonies Belgian Congo Democratic Republic of the Congo Portuguese Colonies Angola Angola Portuguese East Africa Mozambique Portuguese Guinea Guinea-Bissau Italian Colonies Eritrea Eritrea Libya Libya Somalia Somalia (see note) Spanish Colonies Rio de Oro Western Sahara (disputed territory claimed by Morocco) Spanish Morocco Morocco (see note) Spanish Guinea Equatorial Guinea German Colonies After World War I, all of Germany's African colonies were taken away and made mandate territories by the League of Nations. This meant they were supposed to be "prepared" for independence by Allied powers, namely Britain, France, Belgium, and South Africa. German East Africa was divided between Britain and Belgium, with Belgium taking control over Rwanda and Burundi and Britain taking control of what was then called Tanganyika. After independence, Tanganyika united with Zanzibar and become Tanzania. German Kamerun was also larger than Cameroon is today, extending into what is today Nigeria, Chad, and the Central African Republic. Following World War I, most of German Kamerun went to France, but Britain also controlled the portion adjacent to Nigeria. At independence, the northern British Cameroons elected to join Nigeria, and the southern British Cameroons joined Cameroon. German South West Africa was controlled by South Africa until 1990. Somalia The country of Somalia is comprised of what were formerly Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland. Morocco Morocco's borders are still disputed. The country is made up primarily of two separate colonies, French Morocco and Spanish Morocco. Spanish Morocco lay on the northern coast, near the Strait of Gibraltar, but Spain also had two separate territories (Rio de Oro and Saguia el-Hamra) just south of French Morocco. Spain merged these two colonies into Spanish Sahara in the 1920s, and in 1957 ceded much of what had been Saguia el-Hamra to Morocco. Morocco continued to claim the southern portion as well and in 1975 seized control of the territory. The United Nations recognizes the southern portion, often called Western Sahara, as a non-self-governing territory. The African Union recognizes it as the sovereign state Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), but the SADR only controls a portion of the territory known as Western Sahara. 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