Thursday, August 20, 2020

Map: Which Countries are in the African Union?

This map and explainer will be updated whenever there's a change in AU membership, including suspensions and reinstatements. News about each change will be published in separate articles, which you can find listed below, or by viewing all African Union content on PolGeoNow.

African Union: Map of Africa showing which countries are in the African Union in 2020, including active and suspended member countries and non-member territories. Updated for the September 2019 reinstatement of Sudan, the June 2020 suspension of South Sudan, and the August 2020 suspension of Mali (colorblind accessible).
Map by Evan Centanni, from this blank map by Eric Gaba. License: CC BY-SA

What is the African Union?

Launched in 2002 as a replacement for the earlier Organization of African Unity (OAU), the African Union (AU) is an intergovernmental organization that works on increasing cooperation, stability, and development within the continent of Africa. The organization is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Ethiopia is the only African country that the European empires never colonized, and is also the second most populous country on the continent.)

Flag of the African Union (AU)Organization Name:  
• African Union (English)
• al-Āthḥād al-’Āfrīqī (Arabic)
• Union africaine (French)
• União Africana (Portuguese)
• Unión Africana (Spanish)
• Umoja wa Afrika (Swahili)
Launched: 2002 in Durban, South Africa
Headquarters: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Website: www.au.int
Compared to the neighboring European Union (EU), the AU is still only a loose forum for cooperation between its member countries. AU members do not have an integrated economic system, union-wide laws, or shared foreign policy, though further integration is a goal for the future. One part of that integration is the now-active African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aims to increase and streamline trade between African countries.

Learn More: What is the AfCFTA, and which countries are in it? (map)

Which Countries Are (and Aren't) Part of the African Union?


Since the 2017 readmission of Morocco, the African Union now includes every internationally-recognized country with a capital in Africa. The only parts of Africa not under AU member control are a few groups of offshore islands controlled by European countries, as well the small Spanish exclaves in North Africa. And though not treated as part of the union for practical purposes, many of those areas are still claimed by AU member countries in principle.

Even the controversial, partially-recognized Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) - which calls itself the government of Western Sahara, but only controls a sparsely-populated strip of desert in the region's east - is a member (the rest of Western Sahara is controlled by Morocco). However, the breakaway Republic of Somaliland is not a member, with the AU instead treating it as part of member-state Somalia.

Learn More: Map of which territory is controlled by Somalia vs. Somaliland

Changes to African Union Membership

Political Geography Now has reported on all changes to the African Union members map, including suspensions and reinstatements, since 2013. The news articles for each of these changes, with maps pointing out the countries involved, are listed here:


African Union: Map of Africa showing which countries are in the African Union in 2020, including active and suspended member countries and non-member territories. Updated for the September 2019 reinstatement of Sudan, the June 2020 suspension of South Sudan, and the August 2020 suspension of Mali (colorblind accessible).Map Update: Mali & South Sudan Suspended, Sudan Reinstated
After Sudan's suspension was lifted in September 2019, there were no suspended countries in the AU until June 2020, when South Sudan was shut out for failing to pay membership dues. In August 2020, Mali was also suspended after mutinying soldiers overthrew its president.

Full map and article
Map of Africa showing active and suspended members of the African Union (AU). Updated for the January 2017 admission of Morocco and the April 2016 lifting of the Central African Republic's suspension (colorblind accessible).Map Update: Sudan Suspended from African Union
Sudan was suspended from the AU in June 2019 amid a major change of government and violence towards protesters. This update also introduces some improvements to the map, including country labels and markers for small island countries and territories.

Full map and article
Map of Africa showing active and suspended members of the African Union (AU). Updated for the January 2017 admission of Morocco and the April 2016 lifting of the Central African Republic's suspension (colorblind accessible).Morocco Joins African Union; CAR Reinstated (Map)
The North African kingdom of Morocco joined the AU in January 2017, 33 years after withdrawing from an earlier version of the organization. The Central African Republic's suspension was lifted in April 2016.

Full map and article
Map of Africa showing active and suspended members of the African Union (AU). Updated for the September 2015 suspension and reinstatement of Burkina Faso (colorblind accessible).African Union Suspends Burkina Faso, Then Reinstates it Again
In September 2015, the West African country of Burkina Faso was suspended from the AU after a military coup, but quickly reinstated to active membership when the coup leaders backed down.

Full map and article
Map of Africa showing active and suspended members of the African Union (AU). Updated for the June 2014 reinstatement of suspended members Egypt and Guinea Bissau (colorblind accessible).African Union Reinstates Egypt and Guinea-Bissau
North Africa's Egypt and West Africa's Guinea-Bissau both had their AU suspensions lifted in June 2014, after each held new elections to replace a coup-installed government.

Full map and article
Map of Africa showing active and suspended members of the African Union (AU). Updated for the January 2014 reinstatement of suspended member Madagascar (colorblind accessible).Madagascar Un-suspended from African Union 
The African island country of Madagascar ended its five-year suspension from the AU in January 2014, after a coup-installed military government was replaced by a newly-elected president.

Full map and article
Map of Africa showing active and suspended members of the African Union (AU). Updated for the July 2013 suspension of Egypt (colorblind accessible).Egypt Suspended from African Union 
The North African country of Egypt, one of Africa's largest, was suspended from the AU in July 2013 after a military coup.

Full map and article



Low-resolution graphic of the African Union flag is displayed under fair use principles (source).