The Human Truth Foundation

Which are the Best Countries in Africa?

By Vexen Crabtree 2013


#africa #benin #chad #guinea #human_development #mali #niger #sudan

Social & Moral
Development Index
Pos.Higher is better
2S. Africa58.5
6Cape Verde50.4
Africa Avg43.4
World Avg53.8

There are 61 locations that fall within this category. By adding up all the known populations that fall within these locations, and summing their physical land areas, we can calculate population densities. Some islands and territories can end up being counted twice depending on how they are classified and divided up politically, but, mostly such errors involve only small populations. So, some data on this collection of countries in total:

1. Basic Stats and Demographics

#economics #health #human_development #life_expectancy #population

Pos.Population (2012)2Life
Expectancy (2015)
Higher is better

Gross National
Income (2011)
Higher is better
PPP $3
UN HDI (2016)
Lower is better

Land Area (2011)
Per km2
Lower is better
1Nigeria166.6m53.06$5 443152 910 770 183
2Ethiopia86.5m64.60$1 5231741 000 000 87
3Egypt84.0m71.33$10 064111 995 450 84
4Congo, DR69.6m59.06$0 6801762 267 050 31
5S. Africa50.7m57.66$12 0871191 213 090 42
6Tanzania47.7m65.51$2 467151 885 800 54
7Kenya42.7m62.16$2 881146 569 140 75
8Algeria36.5m75.03$13 533832 381 740 15
9Uganda35.6m59.21$1 670163 199 810 178
10Sudan35.0m63.73$3 8461652 376 000 15
11Morocco32.6m74.31$7 195123 446 300 73
12Ghana25.5m61.53$3 839139 227 540 112
13Mozambique24.5m55.48$1 098181 786 380 31
14Madagascar21.9m65.52$1 320158 581 540 38
15Ivory Coast20.6m51.89$3 163171 318 000 65
16Cameroon20.5m55.96$2 894153 472 710 43
17Angola20.2m52.70$6 2911501 246 700 16
18Burkina Faso17.5m59.01$1 537185 273 600 64
19Niger16.6m61.94$0 8891871 266 700 13
20Mali16.3m58.47$2 2181751 220 190 13
21Malawi15.9m63.88$1 073170 94 280 168
22Zambia13.9m60.82$3 464139 743 390 19
23Senegal13.1m66.93$2 250162 192 530 68
24Zimbabwe13.0m59.20$1 588154 386 850 34
25Chad11.8m51.90$1 9911861 259 200 9
26Rwanda11.3m64.75$1 617159 24 670 457
27Tunisia10.7m74.98$10 24997 155 360 69
28S. Sudan10.7m56.13$1 882181
29Guinea10.5m59.22$1 058183 245 720 43
30Somalia9.8m55.71$0 294 627 340 16
31Benin9.4m59.76$1 979167 112 760 83
32Burundi8.7m57.12$0 691184 25 680 341
33Libya6.5m71.76$14 3031021 759 540 4
34Togo6.3m60.18$1 262166 54 390 116
35Sierra Leone6.1m51.32$1 529179 71 620 86
36Eritrea5.6m64.19$1 490179 101 000 55
37Central African Rep.4.6m51.46$0 587188 622 980 7
38Liberia4.2m61.19$0 683177 96 320 44
39Congo, (Brazzaville)4.2m62.89$5 503135 341 500 12
40Mauritania3.6m63.24$3 5271571 030 700 4
41Namibia2.4m65.06$9 770125 823 290 3
42Lesotho2.2m50.08$3 319160 30 360 73
43Botswana2.1m64.51$14 663108 566 730 4
44Gambia1.8m60.46$1 541173 10 120 180
45Guinea-Bissau1.6m55.49$1 369178 28 120 56
46Gabon1.6m64.94$19 044109 257 670 6
47Mauritius1.3m74.60$17 94864 2 030 647
48Swaziland1.2m48.94$7 522148 17 200 71
49Djibouti0.9m62.30$3 216172 23 180 40
50Comoros0.8m63.57$1 335160 1 861 416
51Equatorial Guinea0.7m57.91$21 517135 28 050 26
52Cape Verde0.5m73.54$6 049122 4 030 125
53Sao Tome & Principe0.2m66.58$3 070142 960 179
54Seychelles87 16973.30$23 88663 460 189
Africa Avg19.8m61.59$5 109150.7 554 309 36
World Avg36.0m71.27$17 24094.3 620 450 58

Not showing due to lack of data: Somaliland. This page only shows places where the database has enough data to be able to come to reasonable conclusions about each place. The main focus is on nation states, but, some distinct external territories may be listed if the database has enough information about them. Averages are calculated from as many valid data points as possible, meaning, that some territories and locations that are not listed above may still be used to calculate some of the average values. Some calculations only use Independent State data - hover the cursor over values to see hints.


2. Immigration and Emigration

#africa #emigration #immigration #migration

Pos.Immigrants (2010)
Emigrants (2010)
5Ivory Coast11.2%5.4%
Africa Avg3.5%6.2%

The countries in Africa with the highest percent of immigrants in their populations are Gabon (18.9%), The Gambia (16.6%) and Djibouti (13.0%), although the average for Africa is 3%. Conversely, emigration is highest in Cape Verde (37.6%), Sao Tome & Principe (21.9%) and Lesotho (20.5%), whilst the continental average of emigrants for a country is 6%.

For full stats and comparisons, see: Which Country in Africa Has the Most Immigrants Or Emigrants?.

3. Human Rights, Tolerance and Equality

#Africa #equality #human_development #human_rights #ICC #morals #politics #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2019)7
Pos.Higher is better
1S. Africa64.2
4Cape Verde62.0
8Burkina Faso57.9
Africa Avg47.1
World Avg55.7

Human Rights struggle in much of Africa. The best countries in Africa at protecting human rights, engendering tolerance and supporting equality, are S. Africa, Mauritius and Seychelles but the region as a whole does poorly compared to the global average. The worst countries are Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan. But things are getting better. In the last decade, a series of murderous dictators have been brought to justice8, and the developing courts of Africa have found themselves empowered to seek out human rights abusers at the highest levels. Although many countries are steeped in conflict, a message is being sent that war crimes and abusers cannot operate with immunity. When multiple rulers threatened to cease support for the International Criminal Court, an "an outpouring of popular support... helped to persuade most African governments to continue to stand behind the court9". In sub-Saharan Africa, a decrease in violence and increase in the rule of law and protections of human rights have led to a steady increase in peaceability since 200710.

For full data, see: Human Rights, Freedom, Tolerance and Equality in Africa: Statistical Comparisons.

4. Religion and Beliefs

#belief #buddhism #christianity #folk_religion #god #hinduism #human_development #islam #judaism #no_religion #religion

Pos.Religiosity (2009)
Lower is better
Disbelief In God (2007)
Higher is better12
Jews (2010)
Christians (2010)
Muslims (2010)
Hindus (2010)
Buddhists (2010)
Folk Religion (2010)
Unaffiliated (2010)
5Burkina Faso00.122.561.
8Cape Verde0.
9Central African Rep.
12Congo, DR940.
13Congo, (Brazzaville)
14Ivory Coast8800.
17Equatorial Guinea0.
40Sao Tome & Principe0.
43Sierra Leone00.120.978.
45S. Africa8510.
56St Helena0.
58Ascension Islands
59Tristan da Cunha
60S. Sudan0.
61Western Sahara0.
Africa Avg94.
World Avg75.19.90.560.622.


Some notes from John R. Hinnells:

There are as many African religions as peoples or 'tribes', that is, many hundreds. [...] African religions belonged to pre-literate societies. This has affected ... our knowledge. [...] Non-literate religions change at least as much as literate ones, but changes go unrecorded, hence the mistaken view that African religions are unchanging. Their historical developments may be partially plotted through analysis of layers within current ritual an myth [and] historical documentation. [...] There has been some sharp reaction against [Christian texts on African religion that make a monotheistic God central to African beliefs]. There are certainly some peoples with either no conception of a supreme God or one so limited as to be effectively otiose (Achloli, Lango, Lovedu, Nyakyusa, Swazi, Zande; Jok). These are significant exceptions. [...] More characteristic is a pattern of intermediaries - ancestors or nature gods - to which most ritual and prayer are immediately directed.

"The Penguin Dictionary of Religions" by John R. Hinnells (1997)14

Ancestor Worship:.

In most although not all African religions (among exceptions are the Masai, Nuer, and Tiv) ancestors play a major role. [... They] are seen as elders, named and approached in much the same way as the most senior of living elders; yet they have additional mystical powers. [...] In more God-conscious societies ancestors may be approached simply as intermediaries to God, but where ritual, petition and sacrifice are regularly directed to ancestral spirits with little or no reference to God, it seems linguistically perverse to deny that this is worship - a word itself admitting a range of meaning. [...] In some west African societies (for example, Benin and the Ibo) ancestor veneration is combined with belief in their reincarnation in descendants.

"The Penguin Dictionary of Religions" by John R. Hinnells (1997)15

Wars Between Believers: Some in the West argue against non-believers, stating that religion is required for morals. Guy Harrison provides a counter-argument:

There are very few atheists in sub-Saharan Africa yet that region is plagued with numerous wars decade after decade. Who can be blamed but believers?

"50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God" by Guy Harrison (2008)16

There are too many examples to go into details. "Chad has experienced some tensions between fundamentalist and moderate Muslims, Guinea has strong social pressure discouraging conversion from Islam, Mali experienced violence in 2003 between traditional Sunni practitioners and Wahhabi Sunnis, and Niger similarly saw mainstream Sunni youths demonstrating against the Wahhabist Izalay sect.17 [...] The most lethal religion-related armed conflict in recent decades occurred during the Sudanese civil war, which resulted in more than six million people being killed or displaced between 1989 and 2005. Religion played a central role in splitting the country into warring sides, primarily pitting government forces from the Muslim-majority north against an array of opposition forces from the south, which is largely Christian"18. Although, because of the prevalence of Sufi Islam (a kinder branch of Islam), sub-Saharan Africa does better.

5. The Rise of Christianity in Africa19

#christianity #islam #kenya #malawi #nigeria #zambia

According to religion demographers David Barett and Todd Johnson, Christians numbered 10 million in 1900 and 30 million in 1945, but then jumped to 144 million by 1970 and further to 411 million by 2005. Africa's most dramatic Christian growth, in other words, occurred after decolonization. [...] The most important driver and beneficiary of Protestantism's demographic expansion across the global South has clearly been evangelicalism - particularly, in recent years, in its Pentecostal expressions.

Timothy Samuel Shah (2008)20 p. x.

Much of this rise has not been in the spirit of a healthy competition of ideas, wherein the religion that best makes sense grows in numbers. Organized and wealthy Christian evangelists have used their power and resources to systematically undermine and diminish African religion. Anthropologist Terence O. Ranger writes that "evangelicals of all kinds 'demonize' African religion and seek to expel it both from the private and the public sphere"21, and quotes Mutna (1999):

The modern African state, right from its inception, has relentlessly engaged in a campaign of the marginalization, at best, or eradication, at worst, of African religion... The destruction and delegitimation of African religion have been actively effected at the urging or with the collusion and for the benefit of, either or both Islam and Christianity... [T]he conscious, willful and planned displacement of African religion goes beyond and legitimate bounds of religious advocacy and violates the human rights of Africans:... it is in fact a repudiation... of the humanity of African culture.

Mutna (1999), 170.

With wealth comes power and influence, over both religion and government. In several countries "freedom of religion" has been enshrined into law, not to protect African religion, but to ensure the easy spread of evangelical churches - and Muslim outreach churches do exactly the same in countries where they have a foothold. "Mutua, an academic lawyer, shows that the constitutions of independent African states - Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia, Congo, etc. - guarantee 'liberal generic protection of religious freedoms.' But these are defined in such a way that they refer exclusively to Islam and Christianity"21.

As such, Timothy S. Shah, senior research scholar at the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University, warns about "numerous instances" of Christian communities supporting any party, no matter how vile if it happens to further the interests of their own community.

It is also true that the contributors document numerous instances in which evangelical leaders and their constituencies have been all too willing to offer their fervent prayers and praise for dictators they deem 'godly' - a designation dictators usually earn by their adoption of biblical rhetoric and sponsorship of religious functions, particularly the ubiquitous evangelical crusade. In so doing, some evangelicals reproduce and indeed reinforce the corrupt clientelist politics rife in the region.

Timothy Samuel Shah (2008)20 p. xii-xiii.

Current edition: 2013 Nov 06
Last Modified: 2019 Jan 20
Parent page: Compare International Statistics by Region and Continent

All #tags used on this page - click for more:

#africa #belief #benin #buddhism #chad #christianity #economics #emigration #equality #folk_religion #god #guinea #health #hinduism #human_development #human_rights #ICC #immigration #islam #judaism #kenya #life_expectancy #malawi #mali #migration #morals #niger #nigeria #no_religion #politics #population #religion #sudan #tolerance #zambia

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References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

The Economist. Published by The Economist Group, Ltd. A weekly newspaper in magazine format, famed for its accuracy, wide scope and intelligent content. See for some commentary on this source. A newspaper.

(2009) Religiosity. The survey question was "Is religion an important part of your daily life?" and results are charted for those who said "yes". 1000 adults were polled in each of 114 countries.

Grim & Finke. Dr Grim is senior researcher in religion and world affairs at the Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C, USA. Finke is Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies at the Pennsylvania State University.
(2011) The Price of Freedom Denied. Subtitled: "Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century". Amazon Kindle digital edition. Published by Cambridge University Press, UK. An e-book.

Harrison, Guy P.
(2008) 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God. Amazon Kindle digital edition. Published by Prometheus Books, New York, USA. An e-book.

Hinnells, John R.. Currently professor of theology at Liverpool Hope University.
(1997, Ed.) The Penguin Dictionary of Religions. Originally published 1984. Current version published by Penguin Books, London, UK. References to this book simply state the title of the entry used. A paperback book.

Human Rights Watch
(2018) World Report 2018. Covering the events of 2017.

Lynn, Harvey & Nyborg
(2009) Average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 nations. Richard Lynn, John Harvey and Helmuth Nyborg. Published in Intelligence (2009 Jan/Feb) vol. 37 issue 1 pages 11-15. Online at, accessed 2009 Sep 15.

Mutua, Makau W.
(1999) "Returning to My Roots: African 'Religions' and the State" in Proselytization and Communal Self-Determination in Africa, ed. Abdullahi An-Na'im, 169-190. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books. Terence O. Ranger (2008)1 p30.

Pew Forum. Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
(2012) The Global Religious Landscape: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Major Religious Groups as of 2010. Published 2012 Dec 18, accessed online 2013 May 01.

Terence O. Ranger
(2008, Ed.) Evangelical Christianity And Democracy in Africa. Published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. Part of the series of books on Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in the Global South (series editor Timothy Samuel Shah).

United Nations
(2013) Human Development Report. Published by the UN Development Programme. This edition had the theme of The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World. Available on UN Development Program: About the Human Development Index.
(2017) Human Development Report. Published by the UN Development Programme. Data for 2015. Available on


  1. "What is the Best Country in the World? An Index of Morality, Conscience and Good Life" by Vexen Crabtree (2019)^^
  2. UN (2013). Table 14.^
  3. UN (2017). Table 1. Higher is better.^
  4. UN (2017). Table 1. Lower is better.^
  5. World Bank data on accessed 2013 Nov 04.^
  6. UN (2013). Table 11.^
  7. "Human Rights" by Vexen Crabtree (2018)^
  8. The Economist (2016 Jun 04). Article "One dictator down".^
  9. Human Rights Watch (2018). p8-9,12,235.^
  10. ^
  11. Gallup (2009) .^
  12. Zuckerman, P. (2007). Atheism: contemporary numbers and patterns. In M.Martin (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Atheism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. In "Average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 nations" by Lynn et al. (2009)22.^
  13. Pew Forum (2011) - data for 2010.23^
  14. Hinnells (1997). Entry "African Religions". Added to this page on 2015 Jun 26.^
  15. Hinnells (1997). Entry "Ancestor Worship (African)". Added to this page on 2015 Jun 27.^
  16. Harrison (2008). Chapter 17 "Anything is better than being an atheist" digital location 1267-1268. Added to this page on 2017 Apr 06.^
  17. Grim & Finke (2011). Chapter 6 "What about Muslim-Majority Countries?" digital location 4526.^
  18. Grim & Finke (2011). Chapter 6 "What about Muslim-Majority Countries?" digital location 4245.^
  19. Added to this page on 2015 Jun 27.^
  20. Timothy Samuel Shah, Boston University, USA. Senior research scholar at the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University; adjunct senior fellow for religion and foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He also serves as a principal researcher for Religion in Global Politics research project at Harvard University. Quotes from his preface to Terence O. Ranger (2008)24.^
  21. Terence (2008). p30. Added to this page on 2015 Jun 27.^
  22. Lynn, Harvey & Nyborg (2009) .^
  23. Pew (2012) .^
  24. Terence (2008) .^

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