The first Europeans arrived on the coast of W. Africa at the end of the 15th cent., but for the most part they were involved in the slave trade rather than in evangelization. In the 19th cent. there was sustained missionary activity by Churches of every denomination. Anglicans, Methodists, and Baptists were active in Sierra Leone and, with Presbyterians, in Nigeria, while Methodists also set up missions in Ghana, Gambia, and Dahomey. The RC Church enjoyed a favoured position in the Congo, and RC missions were established in almost every part of W. Africa. In French territory, Evangelicals (including A. Schweitzer) were active.
The independence which most W. African States achieved after the Second World War was matched by the establishment of national Churches by Protestant bodies and the replacement of the older vicariates by hierarchies in the RC Church. In 1951 the Anglican dioceses in the area, except Liberia, were formed into the Church of the Province of West Africa. In 1979 a separate Nigerian Province was formed out of part of it, but in 1982 the diocese of Liberia was joined to it. See also Africa, Christianity in.