Francolins are birds that traditionally have been placed in the genus Francolinus, but now commonly are divided into multiple genera (see below), although some of the major taxonomic listing sources have yet to divide them. The francolins' closest relatives are the junglefowl, Long-billed Partridge, Alectoris and Coturnix. Together this monophyletic clade may warrant family status as the Gallusinidae or in a sub-family Gallusininae. The pheasant Phasianidae and partridge Perdicinidae families have been established as paraphyletic.

Francolins are terrestrial (though not flightless) birds that feed on insects, vegetable matter and seeds. Most of the members have a hooked upper beak, well-suited for digging at the bases of grass tussocks and rootballs. They have wide tails with fourteen retrice feathers. Most species exhibit spurs on the tarsi.

Of the approximately 40 extant species, the natural range of five (comprising the genus
Francolinus) are restricted to Asia, while the remaining genera are restricted to Africa. Several species have been introduced to other parts of the world, notably Hawaii.

Twelve of the species which occur in Africa are found in the subcontinental region of southern Africa; of these, seven occur in varying proportions within the political boundaries of Namibia. Six southern African francolins are considered endemic to the subcontinent, of which three are found in Namibia (the Hartlaub's, Red-billed and Orange River Francolins. The Cape Spurfowl, endemic to the Cape Province of South Africa, occurs marginally in southern Namibia.

Until the early 1990s, major authorities placed all francolins in the genus
Francolinus. In 1992 it was suggested that this treatment was problematic, and the francolins should be split into four genera: Francolinus for the Asian species, and the African species divided into Peliperdix, Scleroptila and Pternistis. The Crested Francolin and Nahan's Francolin were considered possibly quite distinct, but still maintained in Peliperdix and Pternistis respectively. Based on further evidence, the Crested Francolin was moved to the monotypic genus Dendroperdix in 1998, and the Nahan's Francolin was moved to Ptilopachus in 2006. Though some still maintain all these in Francolinus, the split into multiple genera is becoming more widespread. When split, the English name "francolin" is generally restricted to the members of the genera Francolinus, Peliperdix, Dendroperdix and Scleroptila, while the name "spurfowl" is used for Pternistis.

Francolinus:
Black Francolin, Francolinus francolinus
Painted Francolin, Francolinus pictus
Chinese Francolin, Francolinus pintadeanus
Grey Francolin, Francolinus pondicerianus
Swamp Francolin, Francolinus gularis
Peliperdix:
Coqui Francolin, Peliperdix coqui
White-throated Francolin, Peliperdix albogularis
Schlegel's Francolin, Peliperdix schlegelii
Latham's Francolin, Peliperdix lathami
Dendroperdix:
Crested Francolin, Dendroperdix sephaena
Scleroptila:
Ring-necked Francolin, Scleroptila streptophorus
Finsch's Francolin, Scleroptila finschi
Red-winged Francolin, Scleroptila levaillantii
Grey-winged Francolin, Scleroptila africanus
Moorland Francolin, Scleroptila psilolaemus
Shelley's Francolin, Scleroptila shelleyi
Orange River Francolin, Scleroptila levaillantoides
Pternistis ("Spurfowl"):
Scaly Francolin, Pternistis squamatus
Ahanta Francolin, Pternistis ahantensis
Grey-striped Francolin, Pternistis griseostriatus
Hartlaub's Francolin, Pternistis hartlaubi
Double-spurred Francolin, Pternistis bicalcaratus
Heuglin's Francolin, Pternistis icterorhynchus
Clapperton's Francolin, Pternistis clappertoni
Harwood's Francolin, Pternistis harwoodi
Hildebrandt's Francolin, Pternistis hildebrandti
Jackson's Francolin, Pternistis jacksoni
Handsome Francolin, Pternistis nobilis
Mount Cameroon Francolin, Pternistis camerunensis
Swierstra's Francolin, Pternistis swierstrai
Chestnut-naped Francolin, Pternistis castaneicollis
Erckel's Francolin, Pternistis erckelii
Djibouti Francolin, Pternistis ochropectus
Red-billed Spurfowl, Pternistis adspersus
Cape Spurfowl, Pternistis capensis
Natal Spurfowl, Pternistis natalensis
Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Pternistis leucoscepus
Grey-breasted Spurfowl, Pternistis rufopictus
Red-necked Spurfowl, Pternistis afer
Swainson's Spurfowl, Pternistis swainsonii