The Human Truth Foundation

Which are the Best Countries in Africa?

By Vexen Crabtree 2013


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

Social & Moral
Development Index
Pos.Higher is better
2S. Africa59.0
6Cape Verde50.4
Africa Avg43.8
World Avg54.1

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. Social and Moral Development Index and Basic Demographics

#demographics #economics #health #human_development #life_expectancy #population

The Social and Moral Development Index concentrates on moral issues and human rights, violence, public health, equality, tolerance, freedom and effectiveness in climate change mitigation and environmentalism, and on some technological issues. A country scores higher for achieving well in those areas, and for sustaining that achievement in the long term. Those countries towards the top of this index can truly said to be setting good examples and leading humankind onwards into a bright, humane, and free future. See: What is the Best Country in the World? An Index of Morality, Conscience and Good Life.

Pos.Social & Moral
Higher is better

Expectancy (2015)
Higher is better

Gross National
Income (2011)
Higher is better
PPP $2
UN HDI (2016)
Lower is better

Population (2012)4Land Area (2011)
Per km2
Lower is better
1Mauritius61.374.60$17 948641.3m 2 030 647
2S. Africa59.057.66$12 08711950.7m1 213 090 42
3Seychelles55.473.30$23 8866387 169 460 189
4Morocco53.574.31$7 19512332.6m 446 300 73
5Tunisia51.374.98$10 2499710.7m 155 360 69
6Cape Verde50.473.54$6 0491220.5m 4 030 125
7Kenya50.062.16$2 88114642.7m 569 140 75
8Senegal49.666.93$2 25016213.1m 192 530 68
9Ghana49.661.53$3 83913925.5m 227 540 112
10Namibia49.565.06$9 7701252.4m 823 290 3
11Burkina Faso49.159.01$1 53718517.5m 273 600 64
12Botswana48.964.51$14 6631082.1m 566 730 4
13Djibouti47.862.30$3 2161720.9m 23 180 40
14Sao Tome & Principe46.966.58$3 0701420.2m 960 179
15Egypt46.571.33$10 06411184.0m 995 450 84
16Uganda46.459.21$1 67016335.6m 199 810 178
17Rwanda45.864.75$1 61715911.3m 24 670 457
18Libya45.771.76$14 3031026.5m1 759 540 4
19Gambia45.560.46$1 5411731.8m 10 120 180
20Ethiopia45.264.60$1 52317486.5m1 000 000 87
21Malawi45.063.88$1 07317015.9m 94 280 168
22Tanzania44.965.51$2 46715147.7m 885 800 54
23Comoros44.863.57$1 3351600.8m 1 861 416
24Liberia44.761.19$0 6831774.2m 96 320 44
25Benin44.259.76$1 9791679.4m 112 760 83
26Lesotho44.250.08$3 3191602.2m 30 360 73
27Togo44.160.18$1 2621666.3m 54 390 116
28Madagascar44.165.52$1 32015821.9m 581 540 38
29Cameroon43.855.96$2 89415320.5m 472 710 43
30Guinea-Bissau43.855.49$1 3691781.6m 28 120 56
31Zambia43.760.82$3 46413913.9m 743 390 19
32Algeria43.575.03$13 5338336.5m2 381 740 15
33Guinea42.859.22$1 05818310.5m 245 720 43
34Eritrea42.664.19$1 4901795.6m 101 000 55
35Swaziland42.448.94$7 5221481.2m 17 200 71
36S. Sudan42.356.13$1 88218110.7m
37Mozambique42.155.48$1 09818124.5m 786 380 31
38Zimbabwe41.659.20$1 58815413.0m 386 850 34
39Sierra Leone41.451.32$1 5291796.1m 71 620 86
40Ivory Coast40.151.89$3 16317120.6m 318 000 65
41Gabon40.064.94$19 0441091.6m 257 670 6
42Nigeria39.653.06$5 443152166.6m 910 770 183
43Congo, (Brazzaville)39.162.89$5 5031354.2m 341 500 12
44Mauritania38.363.24$3 5271573.6m1 030 700 4
45Mali38.058.47$2 21817516.3m1 220 190 13
46Niger38.061.94$0 88918716.6m1 266 700 13
47Sudan37.963.73$3 84616535.0m2 376 000 15
48Burundi35.657.12$0 6911848.7m 25 680 341
49Equatorial Guinea34.357.91$21 5171350.7m 28 050 26
50Central African Rep.34.251.46$0 5871884.6m 622 980 7
51Somalia32.955.71$0 2949.8m 627 340 16
52Congo, DR32.559.06$0 68017669.6m2 267 050 31
53Chad31.351.90$1 99118611.8m1 259 200 9
54Angola30.752.70$6 29115020.2m1 246 700 16
Africa Avg43.861.59$5 109150.719.8m 554 309 36
World Avg54.171.27$17 24094.336.0m 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. Human Rights and Moral Development

#gender #homosexuality #human_development #human_rights #mass_media #misogyny #morals #politics #women

Pos.Social & Moral
Higher is better

Gender Inequality (2015)
Lower is better6
Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)
Higher is better

Press Freedom (2013)
Lower is better
LGBT Equality (2017)
Higher is better

2S. Africa59.00.3920245678
6Cape Verde50.415143325
11Burkina Faso49.10.6220237015
14Sao Tome & Principe46.90.52720
36S. Sudan42.33620-10
39Sierra Leone41.40.65152635-3
40Ivory Coast40.10.671329771
43Congo, (Brazzaville)39.10.591328205
49Equatorial Guinea34.313672015
50Central African Rep.34.20.6512266120
52Congo, DR32.50.6616416615
Africa Avg43.80.5414.83511-10.4
World Avg54.10.3615.1324912.6

Human Rights struggle in Africa, where poverty and unstable education systems prevent attempts to engender wider support for human rights. The International Criminal Court is most active in Africa.

The ICC, which was created in 2002, is a permanent tribunal that provides individual criminal liability for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. [...] In 2011 the ICC dealt with situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (involving four cases against five individuals), the Central African Republic (one case against one individual), Uganda (one case against four individuals), the Darfur region of Sudan (four cases against six individuals, including the sitting president of the country), Kenya (one case against three individuals), Libya (one case against two individuals), and Cote D'Ivoire (one case against the former president). This is a reasonable sampling of major cases in recent years and the fact that national leaders have been charged is of considerable significance.

"Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice" by Jack Donnelly (2013)10

It seems to some commentators that the ICC is exclusively concerned with Africa to an extent that is undue and even biased. Arguments have been made that its existence is slowing the progress of the African Union to develop continental procedures of its own. But, ultimately, the ICC only ever manages to engage with very small numbers of cases, and it seems that a local body can, and should, be developed to take on the rest.11

Things are indeed changing for the better:

In 2016 May, Hissene Habre, Chad's ex-dictator, has been convicted in a court in Senegal, found guilty of war crimes against humanity, of rape and of torture. The Economist reports this as a potential game-changer - the first time a African national court has unilaterally tried a foreign dictator, setting a precedence for African human rights law. 'Perhaps 40,000 people died in Chad during Mr Habré's reign of terror between 1982 and 1990. Armed by America (and supported with hundreds of millions of dollars in aid because of his opposition to Muammar Qadaffi's regime in Libya), his political police crushed any tribe they deemed a threat to his rule. [...] This is a landmark for African justice, and a coup for the victims who have pursued it with help from Human Rights Watch, a watchdog.

The Economist (2016)12

Such developments do have a bit of history, albeit a weak one.

A regional human rights regime also operates in Africa, based on the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. It is substantively much weaker than its European and American counterparts. Nonetheless, it is of great regional symbolic significance and has provided considerable encouragement and support to national activists. The norms in the African Charter are riddled with clawback clauses that weaken the protections. For example, Article 6 states, No one may be deprived of his freedom except for reasons and conditions previously laid down by law. In other words, so long as a government bothers to pass a law first it can deprive people of their freedom for pretty much any reason it chooses. [...] The institutions for monitoring and enforcement are extremely weak. [...]

Despite all these limitations, the African Commission is a leading regional voice for human rights. Its meetings provide the occasion for valuable networking by NGOs from across the continent. Its activities have helped to socialize African states to the idea that their human rights practices are legitimately subject to regional scrutiny - a not insignificant achievement given the radical notions of sovereignty and nonintervention that dominated the continent in the 1970s and 1980s. And, whatever the current shortcoming, there is an infrastructure in place that African states can build on in the future.

"Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice" by Jack Donnelly (2013)13

3. 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 better15
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)17

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)18

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)19

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.20 [...] 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"21. Although, because of the prevalence of Sufi Islam (a kinder branch of Islam), sub-Saharan Africa does better.

4. The Rise of Christianity in Africa22

#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)23 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"24, 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"24.

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)23 p. xii-xiii.

Current edition: 2013 Nov 06
Last Modified: 2017 Apr 06
Parent page: Compare International Statistics by Region and Continent

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

#africa #belief #benin #buddhism #chad #christianity #demographics #economics #folk_religion #gender #god #guinea #health #hinduism #homosexuality #human_development #human_rights #islam #judaism #kenya #libya #life_expectancy #malawi #mali #mass_media #misogyny #morals #niger #nigeria #no_religion #politics #population #religion #senegal #sudan #women #zambia

Social Media

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.

Crabtree, Vexen
(2018) "What is the Best Country in the World? An Index of Morality, Conscience and Good Life" (2018). Accessed 2018 Aug 22.

Donnelly, Jack
(2013) Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice. 3rd edition. Published by Cornell University Press.

(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.

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 (2018)^^^^
  2. UN (2017). Table 1. Higher is better.^
  3. UN (2017). Table 1. Lower is better.^
  4. UN (2013). Table 14.^
  5. World Bank data on accessed 2013 Nov 04.^
  6. UN (2017). Table 5. Lower is better.^
  7. Max possible=24. Total amount of treaties ratified. Nominal Commitment to Human Rights report published by UCL School of Public Policy, London, UK, at accessed 2011 Apr 30.^
  8. Reporters Without Borders Report "2013 World Press Freedom Index: Dashed hopes after spring" at accessed 2013 Feb.^
  9. Sources:^
  10. Donnelly (2013). P183-184. Added to this page on 2017 May 06.^
  11. For a discussion, listen to the University Of Cambridge podcast "The ICC's African Dilemmas" chaired by Dr Adam Branch, available on SoundCloud. Aired March 2017.^
  12. The Economist (2016 Jun 04) Article "One dictator down". Added to this page on 2017 Apr 06.^
  13. Donnelly (2013). P177-178. Added to this page on 2017 Apr 06.^
  14. Gallup (2009) .^
  15. 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)25.^
  16. Pew Forum (2011) - data for 2010.26^
  17. Hinnells (1997). African Religions. Added to this page on 2015 Jun 26.^
  18. Hinnells (1997). Ancestor Worship (African). Added to this page on 2015 Jun 27.^
  19. Harrison (2008). Chapter 17 "Anything is better than being an atheist" digital location 1267-1268. Added to this page on 2017 Apr 06.^
  20. Grim & Finke (2011). Chapter 6 "What about Muslim-Majority Countries?" digital location 4526.^
  21. Grim & Finke (2011). Chapter 6 "What about Muslim-Majority Countries?" digital location 4245.^
  22. Added to this page on 2015 Jun 27.^
  23. 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)27.^
  24. Terence (2008). P30. Added to this page on 2015 Jun 27.^
  25. Lynn, Harvey & Nyborg (2009) .^
  26. Pew (2012) .^
  27. Terence (2008) .^

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