Africa’s Independence from Colonial Powers

Ask: When did African countries gain their independence?

Step 1: Go to the ArcGIS Online map, African Independence, and explore 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?

Acquire: 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?

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.

Explore: 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)
  • How did Kenya gain independence?
  • The leaders of the “rebellion” became leaders of the country after independence in Kenya and South Africa. 

Analyze: 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?

Act: Why do 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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