Somalia also adopted a provisional constitution and selected parliament members -- all in recent months.
The new leadership marks a milestone for the nation, which plunged into chaos after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown 21 years ago. Clan warlords and militants battled for control after his ouster, sparking a civil war and mayhem.
In another recent achievement, Somali and African Union troops forced out Al-Shabaab militants from Mogadishu, sending residents frolicking to the beach as life in the capital trickled back to normalcy.
Once out of the capital, the militants retreated to the port city of Kismayo, a strategic location for their lucrative coal shipments. Coalition forces forced them out of that city as well.
It was the last major town under militant control.
Ghana lived up to its "mature democracy" reputation again this year, a political feat that has eluded most nations in Africa.
Long hailed as a beacon of democracy and progress in the continent, the nation re-elected the incumbent, who beat his closest contender with a razor-thin margin.
Despite the narrowness of the victory, no violence erupted, unlike elections in nations such as the Ivory Coast, where both the incumbent and the winner clung to power after the results of the 2010 poll.
A series of other African nations have also descended into violence after elections, making Ghana a noteworthy exception.
While there was some bickering from the losing sides, the nation maintained peace for the most part.
President John Mahama served as vice president under his predecessor, who died this year.
In another move highlighting the solidity of its democracy, Ghana immediately swore in Mahama to avoid a power vacuum.
Zambia's emotional win
Zambia won its first African Cup of Nations -- nearly two decades after a plane crash killed its team, coaches and crew members.
The win was sentimental because it occurred in Gabon, the same country where the tragic crash happened in 1993.
And it was a major triumph because the team was not favored to win against the star-studded Ivory Coast.
In the end, Zambia hoisted the Cup of Nations after beating Ivory Coast 8-7 in a dramatic penalty shootout.
Throngs of supporters danced and wept at the airport when the team arrived home.
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