As long ago as 1858 Sclater,
who studied birds at a global scale, realized that bird
faunas were characteristic for different geographical areas
of the earth. Soon after, Alfred Russell Wallace (1876)
noted the same phenomenon in regard to butterflies, and
refined Sclater’s work. Today, Sclater and Wallace’s
zoogeographical regions remain largely unchanged, with only
minor modifications having been made.
The six biogeographical regions recognized by most
biologists today are as follows:
Europe, northern Asia, Japan
North America, north of Mexico
Central and South America
Africa south of the Sahara
southern Asia and the Malay archipelago
Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea
The Afrotropical Region
was, until recently, known as the Ethiopian Region but in
1977 Crosskey and White suggested the name be changed to
‘Afrotropical Region’ because of the re-naming of the
African country known as Abyssinia to Ethiopia in 1941. This
suggestion has gradually found favour, especially with
The Afrotropical Region includes continental Africa south of
the Sahara (roughly south of 16 degrees N), the southern
parts of the Arabian Peninsula and the offshore islands.
The countries on continental Africa that are included in the
Afrotropical Region are: Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau,
Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo,
Benin, Nigeria, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad,
Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Angola, Central
African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan,
Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda,
Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique,
Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and
The countries in the Arabian Peninsula that are included in
the Afrotropical Region are: Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and
the United Arab Emirates.
The offshore islands of the Afrotropical Region are: Cape
Verde Islands, Bioko (Equatorial Guinea), São Tomé &
Príncipe, and St Helena in the Atlantic Ocean and Socotra,
Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, Seychelles.
& White, G.B. 1977. The Afrotropical Region. A
recommended term in zoogeography. Journal of
Natural History 11: 541-544.
Sclater, P.L. 1858. On the general geographical
distribution of the members of the class Aves.
Proceedings of the Linnean Society
(Zoology) 2: 130-145.
Wallace, A.R. 1876. The Geographical
Distribution of Animals, with a Study of the
Relations of Living and Extinct Faunas as
Elucidating the Past Changes of the Earth’s
Surface, Volume 1, 503 pp. Macmillan & Co.,