The African continent, covering an area of about 30 million km² extends from the southern shores of the Mediterranean to Cape Agulhas, in South Africa.
The biggest country in Africa is Algeria and the smallest country is Seychelles.
Below is an extract of some African countries, their flags and information from the book, Flags of the World.
Flag adopted: in 1999.
Capital: is Tunis
Religion: Sunni Islam
Exports: Textiles and clothing
Tunisia was part of the Ottoman empire (Turkish) from 1574 until 1881, when the country became a French Protectorate. Independence was granted in 1956 and Tunisia became the republic in 1957.
The crescent and start are Islamic symbols, but the crescent alone was used in North Africa centuries before Islam arose. The waxing crescent moon is said to bring good fortune.
Flag adopted: 25 February 1992
Language: Portuguese, Crioulo
Religion: Roman Catholic
Currency: Cape Verde escudo
Exports: Re-exported fuel, shoes, clothing and textiles, fish and fish products, salt and bannanas
Cape Verde was settled by the Portuguese in the 15th century. When it gained independence in 1975, there was a move towards linking it with Guinea and so the two countries initially used similar flags.
The circle of yellow stars depicts the archipelago’s ten main islands in the unity and without domination. Blue is for the Atlantic Ocean and for the sky, red is the road to progress and reconstruction and the effort must be expended to follow it, white is for peace.
Flag adopted: 1 August 1990
Capital: Porto Novo
Language: French, Fon, Yoruba
Religion: Traditional beliefs, Roman Catholic, Sunni Islam
Currency: CFA franc
Exports: Cotton and cotton yarn, petroleum, palm products, cocoa.
From the 17th to 19th centuries, the kingdom of Dahomey, as Benin was then known, was active in the slave trade. A former French colony, Benin became self-governing in 1958 and independent in 1960.
Green stands for the hope of renewal, red for the ancestors’ courage, the yellow for natural riches. As Pan-African colours, they also represent unity and nationalism. Following the establishment of a Marxist-based People’s Republic in 1975, a plain green flag with a red star in the canton was used. The original flag was restored in 1990 after a referendum favoured a return to multiparty politics.
Flag adopted: 27 September 1982
Language: Rundi, French, Swahili
Religion: Roman Catholic, traditional beliefs, Sunni Islam
Currency: Burundi franc
Exports: Coffee, tea, sugar, cotton, animal hides.
Burundi, a Belgian possession from 1919 – 1962, became an independent kingdom in 1962. The flag’s emblems were a drum and a stalk of sorghum, but when the country became a republic in 1966 these were replaced by three red stars in a white disc at the centre of a white saltire.
The stars represent the national motto and the main ethnic groups, Tutsi, Hulu and Twa. The saltire’s arms create four triangles, the apexes clipped by the central disc. Those at the hoist and fly are green, the others are red. White is for hope, red for sacrifices made for independence, and green represents hope for a peaceful, prosperous future.
Fag adopted: 6 July 1964
Language: English, Chichewa, Lomwe
Religion: Sunni Islam, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian
Currency: Malawi Kwacha
Exports: Tobacco, tea, sugar, cotton, coffee, peanuts, wood.
Midway along the uppermost band of the horizontal tricolour of Malawi is a representation of a radiant rising sun, or kwacha, in red, symbolizing a new dawn of hope and progress in Africa. The role of the sun is underscored by the fact that Malawi’s currency is termed the Kwacha. At independence in 1964, the colours chosen were those of the dominant Malawi Congress Party. Black represents the people and their heritage, red is the colour of sacrifice, while green represents the land and it’s natural resources.
Flag adopted: 30 September 1966
Language: English, Tswana, Shona
Religion: Traditional beliefs, Roman Catholic
Exports: Diamonds, copper-nickle, meat and textiles.
Rain, a rare and precious commodity, is depicted on the Botswana flag by two equal horizontal bands of pale blue. In the desert, water is life, and the Setswana world pula means not only “water” but “rain”, but also the life that is derived from it. The country’s currency is the Pula, and the term forms the national motto as well. Between the blue bands is a narrow horizontal band of black bordered with white, symbolizing the harmonious coexistence of the country’s large black population with the relatively small number of whites.
Flag adopted: 27 April 1994
Capital: Pretoria (admin) Cape Town (legislative) Bloemfontein (juducial)
Language: English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho languages
Religion: Traditional beliefs, African Christian Churches, Afrikaans Reformed Church
Exports: Gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals, machinery and equipment, foodstuffs.
Many flags have flown over South Africa in 350 years, and this legacy is reflected. Red, white and blue are from the Dutch and British flags, black and green and yellow are from the African National Congress. They Y-pattern symbolizes the merging of groups. From its establishment as a republic in 1961 to the first democratic elections in 1994, South Africa was fragmented between economically powerful white minority and a disenfranchised black majority. Under Nelson Mandela the country united, but issues of poverty reduction and economic growth still prevail.
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