African Countries in French

Instructor: Pascale Bert

Pascale is a bilingual French teacher. She has a bachelor degree in Education and an master degree in Sciences.

Have you ever traveled to Africa? This continent is really big; it's actually more than three times the size of the United States! In this lesson, you will learn about the five regions of Africa and how to talk about their countries in French.

The Five African Regions

Three French friends are discussing their next trip. They want to go to Africa next winter. Each of their families comes from a different region of Africa, so they have a hard time agreeing on the itinerary.

Here is a list of the five African regions and some vocabulary that Djamila, Mamadou and Hando will use in their discussion.

French Pronunciation Translation
l'Afrique du Nord lah-free-kuh dü nohr Northern Africa
l'Afrique de l'Ouest lah-free-kuh duh loo-ayst Western Africa
l'Afrique Centrale lah-free-kuh sahn-trah-luh Central Africa
l'Afrique de l'Est lah-free-kuh duh layst Eastern Africa
l'Afrique du Sud lah-free-kuh dü sü-duh Southern Africa
originaire oh-ree-gee-nay-ruh native
les parents lay pah-rahn the parents
la famille lah fah-mee-yuh the family
visiter vee-zee-tay to visit
une région uhn ray-jee-ohn a region

Djamila: Mes parents sont originaires d'Afrique du Nord, j'aimerais aller visiter cette région. (My parents are native from Northern Africa. I would like to visit this region.)

Hando: Ma famille vient de l'Afrique de l'Est, c'est une très belle région aussi. Nous devrions aller la visiter. (My family is from Eastern Africa; it is a very nice region too. We should visit it.)

Mamadou: On ne parle pas beaucoup le français en Afrique de l'Est. Toute ma famille vie en Afrique Centrale. Il y a beaucoup de pays francophones. (We do not speak much French in Eastern Africa. All my family is in Central Africa. There are many francophone countries.)

Another important thing to remember: in French, countries and continents have a gender. For instance, here you see that Mamadou is coming from L'Afrique centrale. An 'e' was added to the end of the word centrale, which means that the continent l'Afrique is feminine.

African regions

Francophone Countries

Djamila's parents are from Morocco, which is a francophone (or French-speaking) country. Djamila agrees with Mamadou. Here are some words that will help you follow Djamila and Mamadou's conversation.

French words Pronunciation Translation
un pays uhn pay-ee a country
francophone frohn-koh-fohn French-speaking
un parc uhn pah-rk a parc
protéger proh-tay-jay to protect
une plage uh-nuh plah-juh a beach

French countries Pronunciation Translation
l'Algérie (f) lahl-jay-ree Algeria
le Maroc luh mah-rok Morocco
La Tunisie lah tü-nee-zee Tunisia
L'Égypte (f) lay-jeept Egypt
 Le Sahara Occidental luh sah-ah-rah oh-ksee-dahn-tahl Western Sahara
La Mauritanie lah mo-ree-tah-nee- Mauritania
La Côte d'Ivoire  lah coh-tuh dee-vwahr Ivory Coast
Le Niger luh nee-jayr  Niger
Le Gabon luh gah-bohn Gabon
Le Cameroun luh cah-muh-roon Cameroon

Djamila: Bonne idée, visitons les pays francophones. En Afrique du Nord, il y a trois pays francophones, L'Algérie, le Maroc et la Tunisie. Et même en Égypte et au Sahara Occidental, on parle aussi un peu le français. (Good idea, let's visit French-speaking countries. In Northern Africa, there are three French-speaking countries--Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Even in Egypt and Western Sahara, we speak a little French.)

Mamadou: En Afrique de l'Ouest, presque tous les pays sont francophones. Nous pourrions aller en Mauritanie, en Côte d'Ivoire ou au Niger. (In Western Africa, most of the countries are French-speaking. We could go in Mauritania, Ivory Coast or in Niger.)

Djamila: Mais pourquoi ne pas visiter l'Afrique centrale? Nous pourrions aller au Gabon, il y a beaucoup de parcs protégés à visiter et des plages magnifiques. (Why not visit Central Africa? We could go to Gabon, there are plenty of protected parks to visit and beautiful beaches.)

Mamadou: Ma famille vient du Cameroun, nous pourrions aller faire un safari photo. (My family is from Cameroon, we could go for a photo safari.)

Here, it is important to notice the articles used for each country. Le Maroc is a masculine word and La Tunisie is feminine.

Mamadou says aller en Mauritanie but also aller au Niger…why do you think he uses different articles for these two countries? Because of the gender. The country la Mauritanie is feminine so you use the article en, but Le Niger is masculine so you use au to translate the preposition to.

Translation: French-speaking countries & Countries sometimes considered French-speaking
Francophone Africa

Anglophone Countries

Hando doesn't agree with Mamadou; he thinks they should visit Anglophone (English-speaking) countries to get the best safari experience. Here are some words and countries Hando, Mamadou and Djamila will use in their discussion.

French words Pronunciation Translation
un paysage uhn pay-ee-zah-juh a landscape
des animaux day ah-nee-moh animals
un safari photo uhn sah-fah-ree foh-toh a photo safari

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