West Africa is one of the most interesting places on earth. One of the reasons for this is the huge diversity of cultures that exist. There are several reasons for this diversity but in large part it comes down to the history of the countries.

It is hard to describe the culture and the religion of West Africa because there have been so many influences on it. Over the years a lot of people have called the area home and they have had a huge influence on both the culture and the religion. In large part this is why the area has suffered through so many wars and other conflicts, all of the different groups that have moved into the area.

The most common group that you will find in West Africa are the black Africans, they come mainly from the Sub-Saharan region. They make up the bulk of the population and they are the ones who have been there the longest. However there are many different tribes that make up this group and as a result there are many different cultures and religions. While there has been some mixing for the most part the tribes all have different religions and cultures which has made it hard for them to live together. In addition many of the people in this group have been affected by colonial influences.

Over the years the Europeans have brought their own culture and religion to the area as the colonized Africa. Again there are big differences in the way that this was done although at least in this case the religions were fairly similar. One of the goals of colonization was to introduce Christianity to the Africans. In large part West Africa was colonized by the French who tried to introduce Catholicism as well as their own culture. Other countries in the region where colonized by the British or Portuguese, these have completely different cultures. The differences are not just the result of the different cultures of the European nations but also because of the different ways in which they colonized them. The British were much more forceful than the French were for example.

The West African nations have also experienced a large influence from Muslims coming from North Africa. In the early years this was just a trading arrangement but over time they settled in the region as well. This has brought and additional religion and culture that has affected these countries. In general the farther north you go in West Africa the larger the Muslim presence will be, in some cases they will represent nearly half the population. There are some exceptions however as the French were more accepting of the Muslims in their colonies than the other European nations so the former French colonies tend to have a larger Muslim influence.

Credit: atlas-westafrica.org