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16 Landlocked Countries in Africa That You Should Know 

There are 16 landlocked countries in Africa. Africa has the largest number of landlocked countries among other continents. Despite the geographical constraints, these countries have diverse geographical features including vast expanses of plateaus, plains, mountains, rivers, and lack. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS), these countries can access seas via the transit state. However, most of the African Countries have poor economies and due to having no direct access to water, they suffer more than the other countries in terms of economic development. 

List of 16 Landlocked Countries in Africa 

Here is the list of 16 landlocked countries in Africa;

  • Botswana
  • Burundi
  • Central Africa
  • Chad
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Niger
  • Zimbabwe
  • Rwanda
  • Swaziland
  • Uganda
  • Burkina Faso
  • Zambia
  • Ethiopia
  • South Sudan

Also Read: 10 Largest Landlocked Countries In the World

1) Botswana

The official name of Botswana is the Republic of Botswana. It lies in South Africa and is a landlocked country.  It borders Namibia to the north and west, Zimbabwe to the northeast, and South Africa to the south and southeast. The area of Botswana is 581,730 square kilometers with a population of 2.588 million. The massive Kalahari Desert covers 70 % of the land area of Botswana. Botswana gained independence in 1966 and has been a stable democracy. Gaborone is the capital of Botswana. Other than the Kalahari Desert, Botswana’s landscape is defined by the Okavango Delta, river valleys, and grasslands, home to various animals including cheetahs, wild dogs, hyenas, and giraffes.

2) Burundi

The Republic of Burundi lies in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa and is a landlocked country. It borders Rwanda to the north, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Lake Tanganyika to the southwest, and Tanzania to the east and south. The country is situated on the rolling plateau in the center of Africa and is part of the Albertine Rift. The area of Burundi is 27,834 square kilometers with a population of 12.55 million. Gitega is the capital city of Burundi. Bujumbura is the largest and the economic capital of the country. Burundi’s landscape includes the eastern flanks of the Western Rift Valley, high plateaus, a chain of mountains, shallow lakes, and river valleys.  

3) Central Africa

It is the subregion of African continents and is landlocked in the heart of Africa. Central Africa comprises the Central African Republics, the Republic of the Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The area of Central Africa is 623,000 square kilometers with a population of 5.457 million. Bangui lies at the Ubangi River and is the capital and largest city of Central Africa. The landscape consists of wide plateaus, drier surfaces ( alluvial terraces or low plateaus), high plateaus, rugged terrain, and lakes. The highest peak in Central Africa is Margherita Peak located on the eastern side of the Rift Valley on the border of Uganda and Congo. 

4) Chad 

Chad is a landlocked country situated at the crossroads of Central and North Africa. It borders Sudan to the east, Libya to the north, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, Central African Republics to the south, and Niger to the west. The area of Chad is 1.284 million square kilometers with a population of 17.18 million. Chad is the fifth largest country in Africa and N’ Djamena is the capital city of the country. The landscape of Chad includes a wide basin bounded by the Tibesti mountains and the Ennedi plateau. Lake Chad is the second-largest wetland in Africa. The country’s extensive marshes and tall grasses provide a favorable environment for reptiles, birds, and large mammals. 

5) Lesotho

The Kingdom of Lesotho lies in South Africa and is a landlocked country. The area of Lesotho is 30,355 square kilometers with a population of 2.281 million. As an enclave of South Africa, it is the only sovereign enclave in the world. Maseru is the largest and capital city of the Kingdom of Lesotho. After San Marino and Vatican City, this is the third country surrounded by the territory of the third country. Lesotho is situated in the Maloti Mountains, containing the highest peaks in Southern Africa. The two-thirds of the landscape of Lesotho comprises mountains, the highest peak is Ntlenyana Mount. 

6) Malawi

The Republic of Malawi lies in southeastern Africa and is a landlocked country. It borders Tanzania to the north and northeast, Zambia to the west, and Mozambique to the south, east, and southwest. Lilongwe is the capital city of Malawi and its commercial capital is Blantyre.  The area of Malawi is 118,480 square kilometers with a population of 19.89 million. The landscape comprises highlands divided by the Great Rift Valley and Lake Malawi. The economy of Malawi is dependent on Agriculture and is the world’s least developed economy. However, Lake Malawi National Park and Chingoni Rock Art Area are the two sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1984 and 2006 respectively.

7) Mali

Mali lies in West Africa and is a landlocked country. Mali is the eighth-largest country in Africa. It borders Algeria to the north, Niger to the east, Mauritania to the northwest, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso to the south, and Senegal and Guinea to the west. The area of Mali is 1.24 million square kilometers with a population of  21.9 million. Bamako is the capital city of Mali. Most of the country lies in the southern Saharan Desert. Mali is mostly covered with sand, arid, flat, and rising to rolling northern plains. 

8) Niger

The Republic of Niger lies in West Africa and is a landlocked country. It is a unitary state that borders Chad to the east, Libya to the northeast, Benin and Burkina Faso to the southwest, Algeria to the southwest, and Nigeria to the south. The area of Niger is 1.267 million square kilometers with a population of 25.25 million. Niamey is the capital city of Niger. The terrains of Niger are predominantly sand dunes and desert plains with hills in the north, and flat to rolling savanna in the south.

9) Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe lies in southern Africa between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers and is a landlocked country. It borders Botswana to the southwest, South Africa to the south, Mozambique to the east, and Zambia to the north. The area of Zimbabwe is 390.745 square kilometers with a population of 15.99 million. Harare is the capital and the largest city of Zimbabwe. The landscape of the country consists of mountains, central plateaus, eastern highlands, and the highest point Mount Nyangani. The natural environment attracts millions of tourists every year. The world’s most spectacular and largest waterfalls, Victoria Falls are a part of the Zambezi River, located in the extreme northwest part of the country.

Also Read: 11 Landlocked Countries In Asia

10) Rwanda

Rwanda lies in the Great Rift Valley of Central Africa and is a landlocked country. It borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Tanzania to the east, Uganda to the North, and Burundi to the south. The area of Rwanda is 26,338 square kilometers with a population of 13.46 million. Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda. Rwanda has many lakes, Lake Kivu is the largest among them. The Western and Central Rwanda is dominated by the mountains. The center of the country comprises rolling hills consisting of plains, savanna, and swamps. 

11) Eswatini

Eswatini lies in Southern Africa and is a landlocked country. It borders South Africa to the west, north, south, and southeast and Mozambique to the northeast. The area of Eswatini is 17,364 square kilometers with a population of 1.192 million. Mbabane and Lobamba are the capital cities of Eswatini. Eswatini contains three ecosystems; Drakensberg montane grasslands, Maputaland coastal forest mosaic, and Zambezian and mopane woodlands.

12) Uganda

The Republic of Uganda lies in East Africa and is a landlocked country. It borders South Sudan to the north, Kenya to the east, Rwanda to the southwest, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the West, and Tanzania to the south. The area of Uganda is 241,038 square kilometers with a population of 45.85 million. Kampala is the capital city of Uganda. The landscape of Uganda contains mountain ranges in which Alexandra is the highest peak. Lake Victoria covers much of the south of the country. The country’s center contains Lake Kyoga, bounded by extensive marshy areas. 

13) Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso lies in West Africa and is a landlocked country. It borders Mali to the northwest, Togo and Ghana to the south, Benin to the southeast, Niger to the northeast, and Ivory Coast to the southwest. The area of Burkina Faso is 274,000 square kilometers with a population of 22.1 million. Ouagadougou is the capital and the largest city of Burkina Faso. The landscape of Burkina Faso includes extensive plateaus, the lateritic layer of rock, and Rivers including Black Volta, White Volta, and Red Volta. Burkina Faso is situated within two terrestrial ecoregions; West Sudanian Savanna and Sahelian Acacia Savanna. 

14) Zambia

Zambia is located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa. and is a landlocked country. It borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Malawi to the east, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the south, Angola to the west, Tanzania to the northeast, Mozambique to the southeast, and Namibia to the southwest. The area of Zambia is 752,614 square kilometers with a population of 19.47 million. Lusaka is the capital city of Zambia and is located in the south-central part of the country. Zambia experiences a tropical climate and mostly comprises plateaus with some mountains and hills, divided by river valleys. Two major river basins drain Zambia; The Zambezi/ Kafue basin and the Congo basin. 

15) Ethiopia

Ethiopia lies in the horn of the African region of East Africa and is a landlocked country. It borders Somalia to the east and southeast, Sudan to the northwest, South Sudan to the west, Eritrea to the north, Kenya to the South, and Djibouti to the northeast. Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia. The area of Ethiopia is 1.112 million square kilometers with a population of 120.3 million which makes it the most populous landlocked country in the world. The landscape of Ethiopia consists of the dissected plateaus and the highland complex of mountains divided by the Great Rift Valley. There is a great diversity of climate, soil, lowlands, terrains, and natural vegetation.

16) South Sudan

South Sudan lies in Eastern Central Africa and is a landlocked country. It borders Sudan to the north, Kenya to the southeast, Ethiopia to the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the southwest, Uganda to the south, and the Central African Republic to the West. Juba is the capital and the largest city of South Sudan. The area of South Sudan is 644,329 square kilometers with a population of 10.75 million. The habitat of the country includes wooded and grassy Savannas, high-altitude plateaus and escarpments, grasslands, wetlands, and floodplains. 

Also Read: 15 Landlocked Countries In Europe

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Conclusion

From the mineral wealth of Nigeria to the agricultural abundance of Zambia, African landlocked countries possess valuable resources, geographical landscapes, and strategic importance. Among all the landlocked countries in Africa, Chad is the largest landlocked country by area, and Eswatini is the smallest landlocked country in Africa. Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in Africa. Most African landlocked countries comprise mountains, hills, rolling plains, vast expanse plateaus, rivers, wide marshes, and lakes. Lake Victoria which is a major tourist destination also lies in one of the landlocked countries of Africa. Despite the geographical barriers, African countries are playing a pivotal role in the socio-political development of regional and geopolitics. 

FAQs

How do landlocked countries affect Africa?

Landlocked countries have no direct access to the sea which makes their economic development constraints. Most African states have poor economies and being landlocked, they suffered the most. 

Which continent has the most landlocked countries?

Africa has the most landlocked countries following Europe. There are 16 landlocked countries in the African Continent.

What is the largest landlocked country in Africa? 

Chad is the largest landlocked country in Africa with an area of 1,284,000 while Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in Africa.

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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