7.3 Africa’s Independence from Colonial Powers

When did African countries gain their independence?

Step 1: Go to the ArcGIS Online map, African Independence, and analyze the map.

Step 2: Observe the dates of independence.

  • Which countries were independent before 1945?
  • How many years passed between the first and second countries gaining independence?
  • During what year did most countries gain independence?
  • Which country was the last to achieve independence? When?

How did the paths to African Independence differ?

Step 3: With the Details button depressed, click the button (Show) Contents.

Step 4: Check the box to the left of the layer name, Paths to Independence.

Step 5: To view the legend, click the layer name, Paths to Independence.

  • Which method of achieving independence was used most often?
  • Which countries resulted in civil wars?
  • How do you think civil war affects life in a country?
  • Why do you think some independence movements were more violent than others?

Civil Wars impact the way of life in a country because the government tends to invest more in the military and crowds out social investments and creates internally displaced people, refugees, and more.

What challenges did Africans seeking independence overcome?

Step 6: Turn on the Case Studies layer, and use the bookmarks and pushpins to answer the following questions.

  • Many French citizens settled in Algeria and also opposed that nation’s independence. (T/F)
  • How did Ghana gain independence?
  • The USA and the USSR were involved with Zaire (Congo, DRC) because each country backed the same leader. (T/F)
  • What do you notice about the leaders of the independence movements in Kenya and South Africa?

What challenges did African governments face after independence?

  • A coup d’état is the sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group. What are some reasons that a government would be overthrown?

Step 7: Turn on the layer, Number of Coups to 2010.

  • Which areas of Africa have had the fewest coups?
  • Which two countries experienced the most coups from independence to 2010?

Why does the number of coups differ?

Step 8: Click a symbol for coups and read the pop-ups.

Step 9: Compare the number of coups with the method of achieving independence.

  • Many of the countries with large numbers of coups had peaceful transitions to independence, while most of the countries with guerrilla warfare have had fewer coups. (T/F)


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World Regional Geography Lab Manual by R. Adam Dastrup, MA, GISP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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