Spatial Variations in Urbanization in Former French Africa, 1885- 2004


  • David Rosenblum


Despite sharing a similar colonial government and gaining independence in 1960, the former French colonies of Sub-Saharan West and Central Africa have experienced varying trends of urbanization. Landlocked nations Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad currently range from 18 to 39 percent urbanized while coastal nations Mauritania and Gabon are 38 to 73 percent urbanized. These trends towards coastal development show a reversal from pre-colonial growth in which many kingdoms (Ashanti and Sokoto) and cities (Kano and Timbuktu) developed further inland. What has caused this reversal in urbanization and spatial demographics?