If you travel southwest along the edge of the Sahara Desert, you will reach West Africa where many coastal countries of the Gulf of Guinea are situated. This is probably the area which the Taiwanese people are the least familiar with so far. Most have probably only heard the names of these countries during the world cup but could not find them on a map.
There are 16 countries in West Africa. Most of them densely situated along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, except for a few land-locked states. This region has the smallest average country size by area in Africa. The region boasts of rich fossil fuel and mineral reserves and some countries are even known for their gold and diamond mines. However, the people of these countries largely don’t benefit from the wealth these resources bring. This region used to be an important French colony, leading to eight countries adopting French as their official language and the West African CFA franc as their common currency. However, countries in this region still cannot find common ground on decolonization. Tribal conflict is a severe problem in this area. News about civil wars and village massacres are not news anymore. But now, West Africa faces an ever more unsettling threat: the Islamic State (IS), an extremist group, is likely to make a comeback here.