Posted: 24 January 2001

A semi-arid to arid area, subject to seasonal and long-term drought, in West Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Named from the Arabic word 'border', since it borders the desert, the Sahel proper consists of six nations - Senegal, Mauretania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad - but the name has come to include adjacent nations that suffer from problems of drought, famine and desertification that are characteristic of the Sahel.