Africa’s population was estimated at 1.111 billion in 2013, a statistic cited in just about every business news story you’ll read about the continent. The World Population Review puts the continent’s population today at 1,166,235,182. Its most populous country, Nigeria, is projected to have 182 million inhabitants this year.
However, much of this density is concentrated in certain regions and cities, leaving vast tracts of land nearly empty; other areas are sparsely populated simply because they are islands with very little in the way of square kilometers. Here are 10 of the least populated countries in Africa, in descending order.
This article originally appeared on AFKInsider.com.
Swaziland: population 1,267,704
Swaziland is a sovereign nation that has grown significantly in population since 2007, when it had an estimated 1,106,000 people. Most of the residents are ethnic Swazis, and their language is Siswati. A small number of Zulus and white Africans also live in Swaziland.
Djibouti: population 886,313
Djibouti sits in the horn of Africa and is a very small country in area, measuring around 8,880 square miles. Only one city in the country has a population of more than 50,000. The predominant religion is Islam, and the main ethnic groups are Somali and Afar. There is a small community of French and Italian Europeans. This population estimate is from 2014.
Réunion: population 870,332
Réunion island is a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. As such, the residents have the same rights as those living on the French mainland. There are several groups including African, Indian, Malagasy, European and Chinese, but there are no indigenous residents – the island was empty before being colonized by the Portuguese. This population estimate is from 2014.
Comoros: population 752,438
Comoros is an archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean and is the third smallest African country in terms of land. That means that though it has a small population relative to other African countries, it is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with about 275 people per 710 square miles. The majority of the residents are of African-Arab descent.
Western Sahara: population 605,971
Western Sahara, which is mostly under Moroccan control, is a disputed territory that the Saharawi people (desert nomads living in the region) seek to control. The main language is Arabic, and the main religion is Islam. It’s a phosphate-rich area and believed to have oil deposits offshore. This population estimate is from 2014.
Cape Verde: population 514,000
Cape Verde is an archipelago made up of 10 volcanic islands. About 25% of the country’s residents live in the capital, and around 35% live in rural areas. Most Cape Verdeans are of mixed black and white descent, with West African heritage comprising about 56% of residents’ DNA, and European making up about 44%. This population estimate is from 2014.
Mayotte: population 221,498
Mayotte is an overseas department of France that sits in the Mozambique Channel. The majority of Mayotte residents were born in Mayotte. Some were born in other parts of the French Republic and nearly 30% are from the nearby island nation of Comoros, which is why one of the native languages is a Comorian language similar to Swahili. This population estimate is from 2014.
Sāo Tomé and Príncipe: population 197,882
Sāo Tomé and Príncipe, in the Gulf of Guinea, is the second-smallest African nation after the Seychelles. The island nation is made of two archipelagoes, both part of inactive volcanic mountains. The demographics of the country are very mixed. Citizens are descendants of slaves brought in by Portuguese settlers from various countries. This population estimate is from 2014.
Seychelles: population 93,306
Seychelles is an archipelago made up of 155 islands, but nearly 90% of its citizens live on the island of Mahé. Part of the African Union, Seychelles has the smallest population of any African country. Seychelles culture is mostly French and African, with the local language being a creole language. This population estimate is from the end of 2014.
Saint Helena: population 4,107
The U.N. classifies this tropical island as geographically part of West Africa; legally it is part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, and waves a British flag. The island measures 10 miles by five miles, and most of its inhabitants are of European or Chinese descent. This population estimate is from 2014.
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