Benin, Burkina, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo
West Africa is a very diverse region. It has desert landscapes and also the tropical rain forest of the more humid south. The mainly Muslim populations of the Saharan countries have a variety of local languages and cultures. The rich natural resources of this area were exploited by Europeans.
Most of the slaves came from this region, causing serious depopulation. Former leading colonial powers, Britain and France, have influenced the languages and institutions of the countries they once governed.
Virgin rain forest, which once covered much of the West African coast, has been drastically reduced by logging and agriculture. The southern regions’ tropical rain forest grows some of the world’s most prized hardwood trees, such as mahogany and iroko. The Niger River flows 2,600 miles (4,181 km) and supports rich fish stocks.