Geography of the African Union

The African Union covers almost the entirety of continental Africa and several off-shore islands. Consequently, it is wildly diverse, including the world's largest hot desert (the Sahara), huge jungles and savannas, and the world's longest river (the Nile).

The African Union in location to the rest of the world.


The AU presently has an area of 29,922,059 km² (18,592,705 mi²), with 24,165 km² (15,015 mi²) of coastline. The vast majority of this area is on continental Africa, while the only significant territory off the mainland is the island of Madagascar (the world's fourth largest), accounting for slightly less than 2% of the total.

Extreme points

African Union at large
NorthernmostRas ben Sakka Tunisia(37°21′ N)
SouthernmostCape Agulhas South Africa(34°51'15"S) [1]
WesternmostSanto Antão Cape Verde(25°25'W)
EasternmostRodrigues Mauritius(63°30'E)
Most distant point from the coastlineAfrican pole of inaccessibility near the town Obo.
Highest point above landMount Kilimanjaro Tanzania5,895 m (6,447 yd)
Lowest point below sea levelLake Asal Djibouti−156 m (−171 yd)
Longest RiverNile
6,650 km (4,130 miles) long
Deepest LakeLake Tanganyika 1,470 m (4,820 ft) deep
Largest lake by areaLake Victoria 68,800 km2 (26,600 sq mi)
Highest waterfallTugela Falls South Africa948 m (3,110 feet)
Largest IslandMadagascar Island Madagascar587,040 km2 (226,657 sq mi)

Countries bordering the African Union

The AU has two land borders: Morocco borders the Spanish semi-enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula borders the Gaza Strip for 11 km (6.8 mi) and Israel for 400 km (248 mi) on its western frontier. Since it is Asian, the Sinai is the only territorial region of the AU on another geopolitical continent.

Previous borders

OAU member states by the decade they joined.

The AU is the successor to the Organisation of African Unity, an international organization that gradually included sovereign African states as the continent was decolonized. The membership of the African Union, and consequently its borders, have not changed since its founding.

Founding of the OAU: May 25 – December 13, 1963

December 13, 1963 – July 13, 1964

  • Kenya joins the OAU.

July 13 – December 16, 1964

  • Malawi joins the OAU.

December 16, 1964 – October 1965

  • Zambia joins the OAU. It bordered the following territories to the south:
  • Botswana – A colony of the United Kingdom at the time, Botswana joined the OAU on October 31, 1966; it achieved independence the September 30 prior.
  • South West Africa – A colony of the United Kingdom under the mandate of South Africa, the territory wouldn't become independent until March 21, 1990, as Namibia. It joined the OAU in June of that year.
  • Zimbabwe – A colony of the United Kingdom at the time, Zimbabwe joined the OAU in June, 1980; it achieved independence as Rhodesia on November 11, 1965.

October 31, 1965

  • The Gambia joins the OAU.

October 31, 1966 – July 13, 1964

  • Botswana and Lesotho join the OAU. The bordered:
  • South Africa – While independent, South Africa was ruled under the system of apartheid, and was ineligible and uninterested in membership. Following a democratic revolution in 1994, it joined the OAU that June 6; becoming the most recent member. It bordered Botswana to the south and is perforated by Lesotho.

August 1968 – September 24, 1968

September 24, 1968 – October 12, 1968

  • Swaziland joins the OAU.

October 12, 1968 – November 19, 1973

November 19, 1973 – February 11, 1975

  • Guinea-Bissau joins the OAU. At the time, it was still considered a dependency of Portugal. It gained independence on September 10, 1974.

February 11 – July 18, 1975

  • Angola joins the OAU. At the time, it was still considered a dependency of Portugal. It gained independence on November 11, 1975.

July 18 – February 27, 1976

Cape Verde, Comoros, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe join the OAU.

February 27 – June 29, 1976

June 29, 1976 – June 27, 1977

June 27, 1977 – June 1980

  • Djibouti becomes independent of France and joins the OAU.

June 1980 – February 22, 1982

Zimbabwe joins the OAU.

February 22, 1982 – November 12, 1984

  • The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic joins the OAU. It does not participate in the next two summits, due to pressure from Morocco.

November 12, 1984 – March 21, 1990

  • Morocco leaves the OAU; leaving no border with Spain.

March 21 – June 1990

  • Namibia becomes independent of the South African mandate.

June 1990 – May 24, 1993

  • Namibia joins the OAU.

May 24, 1993 – June 6, 1994

  • Eritrea becomes independent from Ethiopia and joins the OAU.

June 6, 1994 – 2011

  • South Africa joins the OAU after the fall of apartheid.

2011 – January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017 – present

  • Morocco readmitted, moving the border to Spain.


  1. If the Prince Edward Islands are included in Africa, then Marion Island is the southernmost point at 46°54'S.
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