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Rescooped by Christian Allié from Geography Education!

These Amazing Maps Show the True Diversity of Africa

These Amazing Maps Show the True Diversity of Africa | Confidences Canopéennes |

"African countries are also quite diverse from an ethnic standpoint. As the Washington Post's Max Fisher noted back in 2013, the world's 20 most ethnically diverse countries are all African, partially because European colonial powers divvied up sections of the continent with little regard for how the residents would have organized the land themselves. This map above shows Africa's ethnographic regions as identified by George Murdock in his 1959 ethnography of the continent."


Tags: Africa, colonialism, borders, political, language, ethnicity.

Via Seth Dixon
Chris Costa's curator insight, October 27, 2015 4:51 PM

We have seen the repercussions of ethnic tensions play out in the Balkans, the Middle East, and even in the United States, and Africa is no exception. Arbitrarily drawn national borders- the remnants of European colonialism- means that there is often significant ethnic diversity within many African nations. Although this creates interesting blends of language and culture, it has often bred violence in many countries, perhaps most notably in South Africa and Rwanda. Although many members of the West like to lump the entire continent into a single category, this could not be further from the truth. The second largest continent with extreme biodiversity, it has bred thousands of languages and hundreds of different cultural backgrounds, sometimes within a single country. It is important for the West to understand the complex make-up of the African continent in order to avoid the Eurocentric assumptions many Westerners make when discussing the continent. There isn't a single "Africa"- there isn't even a single "Nigeria," but rather a multitude of different peoples and cultures, equally as complex as those found in other regions of the world. This map does a very good job at illustrating the complexity and richness of the continent.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 30, 2015 7:20 AM

People often underestimate how diverse Africa really is. We often have the tendency to lump all Africans together in one large ethnic group. The actual number of different ethnic groups in Africa is rather staggering. This map can also be used as a partial explanation for the amount of ethnic conflict in Africa. Often times, these ethnic groups are squashed together in states with poorly drawn borders. Under that situation, ethnic conflict becomes inevitable.

Patty B's curator insight, February 11, 4:52 PM

This map of Africa not only shows the true diversity of the African continent, but it represents the diversity that truly exists everywhere on a global scale. In many ways, people are the same everywhere you go. But people are also vastly different in a multitude of ways. In a highly globalized society it has become easy to focus on the similarities between the people of different countries, but the fact of the matter is that no matter how far reaching a corporation’s influence is, we are always talking about and dealing the individual lives. Towns, cities, states, countries, continents are all comprised of individuals and our society today makes it difficult to remember that by focusing on group statistics and other forms of impersonal data (not to say those tools are useless, there just needs to be a balance between the tools used). Each person that falls within any group being examined or categorized is vastly unique in a variety of other ways and I think this map brings that notion to light. As someone born in the U.S., I would never think of Africa as such a diverse place. Not even close as a matter of fact. It really is easy to examine Africa as a country instead of a continent. I think that goes for many continents, including Europe. We often think of the U.S. as being the melting pot and the most diverse place, but the article points to the fact that 20 of the world’s most diverse countries happen to be in Africa. 

Rescooped by Christian Allié from Geography Education!

The long and ugly tradition of treating Africa as a dirty, diseased place

The long and ugly tradition of treating Africa as a dirty, diseased place | Confidences Canopéennes |
How alarmist, racist coverage of Ebola makes things worse. A dressing down of the latest #NewsweekFail.

Via Seth Dixon
Christian Allié's insight:



[ ...]


_ Vidéo_



The Newsweek story could generate additional prejudice against African migrants, a population that already suffers from greater prejudice than other immigrant groups. In the psychology study referenced above, researchers found that simply manipulating the geographical origin of a hypothetical immigrant group – from Eastern Africa to Eastern Asia to Eastern Europe — yielded significant differences in attitudes in a study population toward the immigrant group.


Fear-mongering narratives about Ebola circulating in the popular media can also have a serious effect on knowledge and attitudes about Ebola. Though there are no cases of person-to-person infection in the United States, a recent poll conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health reports 39 percent of Americans think there will be a large Ebola outbreak in the United States and more than a quarter of Americans are concerned that they or someone in their immediate family may get sick with Ebola in the next year. A similar poll conducted for Reason-Rupe had four in 10 Americans saying an Ebola outbreak in the United States was likely, and conservative Americans were more likely to say an outbreak was likely. These two national surveys show Americans are grossly overestimating their risk of infection.


The long history of associating immigrants and disease in America and the problematic impact that has on attitudes toward immigrants should make us sensitive to the impact of “othering” African immigrants to the United States in the midst of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Scare-mongering about infinitesimally small risks in one context serves no purpose to the greater good of trying to curb disease transmission and relieve people’s suffering in another context.

Kristin Mandsager San Bento's curator insight, April 9, 2015 2:21 PM

Before I even read the article, my first thought went to the Linneaus classification.  That really damaged history with this one chart.  I think people still think of Africans and blacks(very dark blacks) as dirty or unintelligent.  Which is horrible and couldn't be further from the truth.  Misinforming the public is criminal.  News media and social media need to be careful and educate properly.  I've been asked from a customs offical, "Have you been to Africa in the past 6 months?"  Which is a very blanket question because Africa is a continent.  There were areas that were not hit with Ebola.  

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 27, 2015 4:37 PM

Those who deny the continued influence of racism in our society are blinding themselves to the truth. Contemporary influences of the racism that plagued the preceding centuries are still found in most major media depictions of Africa. The Ebola epidemic has served to highlight the bigotry that plagues Western media, as the assumption that all of Africa is diseased and dirty is continuously perpetuated (when, in reality, Ebola only affected a very small part of the continent). Africa is presented as "other," a backwards continent that is in desperate need of Western help and guidance- in what was is that different from the European colonizers who also viewed their actions as benevolent attempts to "civilize" the uncivilized? That mindset has not left Western circles, and yet we continue to pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves for suddenly being so tolerant. The insensitivity of Western audiences to the concerns of black individuals both at home and in Africa related to the prevalence of racism highlights how determined mainstream media is to deny the existence of a problem. Until we recognize the Eurocentrism that continues to plague our media and make the necessary moves to correct the practice, harmful depictions of Africa will continue to loom large in Western media and in the opinions of many Europeans and Americans alike.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 30, 2015 7:12 AM

Africa has long been treated by the western media as a dark , brutish, uncivilized place. Africa is a place were people starve and murder each other in large numbers. There is so much more to Africa than the picture I just described. The problem is, many people just do not accept the existence of a culturally complex Africa. That narrative would destroy the traditional  darker narrative of the past 500 years. A narrative grounded in the beliefs that blacks are inherently inferior beings. During the Ebola crises, the calls to cut off travel to Africa were quick and demanding. Had the crises been in England, would those same calls have been so loud? I think we all can guess the answer  to that question. Much progress has been made, but we still need to change our cultural depiction of Africa.

Rescooped by Christian Allié from Geography Education!

Business Languages In Africa

Business Languages In Africa | Confidences Canopéennes |

"The Main Languages of Business in Africa."

Via Seth Dixon
Kevin Cournoyer's curator insight, May 6, 2015 10:46 PM

This map is a simple but powerful one. Africa is the continent that contains the most nations (53), yet it uses only six languages for business. Not surprisingly, all of the languages (with the exception of Arabic) are European in origin. Clearly, the effects of colonialism are still felt around the world in former colonies. The languages that were forced upon various African countries by their colonizers have endured and become the main languages of business in their respective countries. What is just as unfortunate as the roots of colonialism holding fast, if not more so, is the absence of any indigenous languages being used as the language of business in any of the countries of Africa. While using a business language that is spoken by much of the world is surely a matter of practicality and logistics, it is still robbing African countries of their heritage and culture to some degree.


This brings up the issue of globalization and how it is constantly at odds with the preservation of culture and tradition. In order for Africa (or any continent or region or country) to function in the modern world, it must be capable of conducting business in a language that is spoken by its business partners. The ability to do business with virtually any person, company, or country in the world is an obviously invaluable one. At the same time, however, it allows for the subtle and gradual erasure of unique culture and traditions. So while it would be ideal for cultural preservation for countries to conduct business in their indigenous languages, it seems to be a necessary evil for smaller and less influential countries to adopt the languages of their more powerful and influential business partners if they wish to survive in today's world. 

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 29, 2015 4:24 PM

The lingering effects of colonialism, so strongly relevant in every aspect of African ways of life, are perhaps most evident in the "lingua franca" of African nations today. With a multitude of different ethnicities and languages in use in every African nation today, the result of the arbitrarily drawn national borders made by European colonizers, necessitates the use of the one language that's commonly spoken across every independent nation- a European tongue. This system, while a necessity in today's world, is a solution that no one is quite happy with. It reminds Africans of all ages of the power still held by their colonizers over their everyday lives, a stark reminder of the horrors of the previous century at every business meeting and every exchange of goods. This harms the national psyche of each nation, as well as undermining the importance and pride Africans deservedly maintain in their own native languages. European-made borders, however, make it difficult to find another, native language that every ethnic group can agree upon. As a result, the European languages are still in use in Africa, and will most likely still be in use for some time to come. It's a system that no one likes but, for the time being, everyone must accept as reality.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 30, 2015 7:26 AM

This map is a great resource in showing the diversity of language in Africa. Of course, this map discounts the many native African languages. It instead focuses on the language of business in the continent. That language, has been influence by the European colonization of Africa. The chosen language of business is often tied to the colonizer of the region. The diversity of language in Africa is staggering to say the least.  

Rescooped by Christian Allié from Geography Education!

Africa, Uncolonized: A Detailed Look at an Alternate Continent

Africa, Uncolonized: A Detailed Look at an Alternate Continent | Confidences Canopéennes |
What if the Black Plague had killed off almost all Europeans? Then the Reconquista never happens. Spain and Portugal don't kickstart Europe's colonization of other continents. And this is what Africa might have looked like.


Tags: Africa, colonialism, borders, historical, map.

Via Seth Dixon
Christian Allié's insight:



....... Africa's problems were caused by the borders drawn by European colonists in ignorance of tribal lines.


[ ... ]


.......... slam of course did not originate in Africa, and some would claim that its dominance of large areas of Africa, at the expense of pre-existing belief systems, is as much an example of foreign cultural imperialism as the spread of Western religions and languages is in our day. But that is material for another thought experiment. This one aims to filter out the European influence.

Neither European nor Arab influence is in evidence in the southern part of Africa – although some toponyms relate directly to states in our timeline: BaTswana is Botswana, Wene wa Kongo refers to the two countries bearing that name. Umoja wa Falme za Katanga is echoed in the name of the DR Congo's giant inland province, Katanga. Rundi, Banyarwanda and Buganda, squeezed in between the Great Lakes, are alternative versions of 'our' Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

[ ... ]

Bob Beaven's curator insight, March 26, 2015 2:26 PM

An interesting fact for a geographer/historian to look at is how different events happening in history can affect a map.  This is very fascinating, because Africa or should I say Alkebu-Lan has very strong looking kingdoms without the Influence of Europe.  Another interesting element of the map is how it is not Euro-centric, Africa is shown as the top of the world.  I guess in this history, Northern Europe instead of being a powerhouse of the world, would be classified as the dark region (like the Congo was in our own world).  It is also interesting how the map is not Euro-centric, but the fact to keep in mind there is the old saying, history is written by the winner.  In this case, the map of the world was drawn by the winning Europeans as well, and this map completely reverses that.  Another interesting fact, is that the Iberian is part of an Islamic Empire.  It looks, as if in this history, Portugal was overcome by the "Arabes" and Spain never even attempted to launch the Reconquista.  History and Geography, especially Political Geography are very closely linked with one another.  

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 27, 2015 5:00 PM

I found this particularly interesting to read about, as alternative histories fascinate me. The "what if" questions that historians always ask themselves are fun to examine and illustrate, as they are shown in the alternative map of Africa. It's interesting to see just how different this map- drawn from historical accounts of ethnic and linguistic differences between the various African societies- is from the map of Africa we now have today. European colonizers drew borders without any consideration for the native populace, and that is today reflected in the rigid borders of African states that do not match historical ethnic boundaries. The concept of a Europe unable to recover from the Black Death would have serious repercussions for world history. It would allow for the progression of African economies and polities unmolested by European influences and the slave trade, completely reshaping the course of the continent's history. The increased influence of the Arab world would also be a plausible consequence of the decimation of Europe's population. This is an interesting concept, and it is very informative in the sense that it forces us to consider a multitude of factors that played a role in shaping the world as we see and live it today.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 30, 2015 7:04 AM

Alternative history is always fun. There is no question that Africa would be a different place today, if Europeans had never step foot on the shores of this great continent. Would the great African empires still be alive today? Would Africa be the dominant continent in world affairs? The history of civilization over the past 500 years would almost certainly be radically different. Instead of a Eurocentric world, we may have had an Afrocentric world. What this map really underscores, is the effect that colonialism had on Africa. The Africa we know today is a consequence of that era of European domination. While alternate history is fun, we must always remember the actual history that has occurred in Africa.

Rescooped by Christian Allié from Geography Education!

40 Maps That Explain The Middle East

40 Maps That Explain The Middle East | Confidences Canopéennes |
These maps are crucial for understanding the region's history, its present, and some of the most important stories there today.

Via Seth Dixon
Lora Tortolani's curator insight, March 15, 2015 8:47 PM

It is interesting to see the same trends over and over again.  These maps are a great tool to show the history of the area, as well as the history of religion and political views.  I appreciate the information provided since the Middle East has undergone the most transitions (going all the way back to Mesopotamia) and its history can be confusing. 

Alex Vielman's curator insight, November 23, 2015 3:17 PM

Maps like the ones posted in this article, really helps people to understand and break down deeply of understanding the entire region as a whole. Visualization is very important in geography when trying to understand the region people are talking about. this region as goes down to the Mesopotamia Era. It is important to know, how the culture was in this area to how it differentiated during the Ottoman Empire. During the first couple of maps, we can begin to see the division of the entire region. As you go on, we begin to notice the divisions between people, religion, language between states and in-states. There is so much information to know about the Middle East region and it may be even harder to understand due to the tons of changes and separations, but it is important to understand these divisions like the Sunni's and the Shi'ites in order to fully explain the development and the current situations that are occurring in this region as we speak. 

Matt Ramsdell's curator insight, December 7, 2015 5:18 PM

These 40 maps are a very interesting way of showing how people have traveled around and moved about the Earth from the time of the fertile crescent era to the people of today. It shows us the paths that people have taken to move to a new location. How they used the Meditteranean Sea to move from one side to the other. It also shows how the Tigris and Euphrates came together to form a smaller area of the Persian gulf. This led to smalled economic growth because now there is less land for imports and exports.