The African continent is located mainly in the Eastern hemisphere and to the major part in the Northern hemisphere. Did you know that Africa, which covers over 30 million square kilometres, is bigger than the USA, Canada and India together?
There are 54 countries in Africa – and 9 territories –with a total of more than 1.1 billion people living on the continent, which is 15% of the world’s total population.
Largest Country: Algeria. This country is among the ten largest countries in the world. The most populous country in Africa, however, is Nigeria, with more than 185 million people, but the country is only a third of the size of Algeria.
Largest City: Lagos in Nigeria. With more than 21 million inhabitants, Lagos is also one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the world and is estimated to become the world’s largest city by 2100.
Smallest Country: Seychelles, which is an archipelago (nation of islands) in the Indian Ocean. On the African mainland, the smallest country is The Gambia.
Biggest Island: Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world (after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo).
Longest River: Nile (6852 km/ 4258 miles). The Nile is the longest river in the world and passes through eleven countries. The Nile has two sources: The White Nile coming from Lake Victoria in Tanzania and the Blue Nile coming from Lake Tana in Ethiopia. The river mouth is in Egypt. The confluence in Khartoum/Sudan.
Highest Mountain: Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The highest peak of the mountain ‘Kibo’, is called ‘Uhuru Peak’, (5895 m/ 19340 ft) is located in the Tanzanian highlands.
Biggest Lake: Lake Victoria (bordering Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya) is also the world’s second largest freshwater lake. Only Lake Superior in North America is bigger!
Driest Place: The Sahara in northern Africa is the largest hot desert in the world. The climate is extremely dry (arid) in this region.
There are sixteen landlocked countries in Africa. Two tiny countries, Swaziland and Lesotho, are located within South Africa. These countries are all located in the interior of the continent and have neither access to the Atlantic Ocean nor to the Indian Ocean. Two of these countries, the tiny countries, Swaziland and Lesotho, are located within South Africa.
Africa is the ‘cradle of humankind’, the place where the first hominids, human beings and their closest relatives the gorilla and chimpanzees, evolved 5 to 10 million years ago. Fossils found in Africa, show that the modern human beings spread from this continent. One of the earliest evidences of human life were found in South Africa. ‘Mrs Ples and the Taung Child are among the most important fossils found. Many powerful kingdoms existed on the African continent in the early history and the Middle Ages. Between the 5th and 15th century, African slaves were traded mainly by Arab traders. In the late 19th century Europeans started conquering Africa which was then colonised in the 19th and 20th century mainly from Britain and France, but also from the Dutch, Italian and Germans.
People of Africa
There are more than 3,000 different groups of indigenous people living in Africa. They have their own language and culture. The majority of Africans is poor. The poorest countries are the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Zimbabwe. Among the most developed and richest countries are the Seychelles, Libya, Mauritius, Algeria, Egypt, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
Languages in Africa
It is estimated that about 2,000 different languages are spoken on the African continent! Many Africans speak several African languages and also often another ‘European’ language. In many countries, people speak English, French or Portuguese as an additional language, as these languages are often used in communication and business. English is widely spoken in Africa as many countries were formerly British colonies. Arabic, the language spoken in northern Africa, is also used as official language.
Most of the African people are Christians and Muslims. In North Africa and many West African countries, most people follow the Islam. There are also almost 10% of Africans that follow traditional religious rituals which means they have traditional healing rituals such as bone-throwing, ‘magic’ and herbal medicine and celebrating the spirit of the ancestors.
Tourist attractions in Africa
The most popular African tourist attractions are:
Cape Town in South Africa
Masai Mara National Park in Kenya
Kruger National Park in South Africa
Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe
Namibia: Namib Desert and Etosha National Park
Mauritius and the Indian Ocean Islands
Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
Morocco – Markets, Deserts and Mountains
Biggest Cities: The most populous city in Africa is Lagos with more than 21 million people. Cairo in Egypt is the second largest city in Africa.
Other big cities in Africa are
Kinshasa (DR Congo)
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Cape Town (South Africa)
Africa Facts – Did you know? The southernmost city in Africa is Cape Town in South Africa! However, the southernmost point of the African continent is Cape Agulhas, which is roughly 170km/100 miles southeast from Cape Town.
In Africa, you will find some of the largest mammals on this planet. Among them are the largest land mammal, the African elephant, the tallest mammal, the giraffe, and the fastest mammal, the cheetah, which can run with speeds up to 113km/hour or 70 miles/hour!
Africa is also home to many endangered animals such as the White and Black Rhinoceros. Kruger National Park where one can admire the beautiful African wildlife is one of the biggest national parks and wildlife conservation areas in the world.
Main natural resources in Africa are minerals such as oil, copper, gold, diamonds, platinum and agricultural produce such as corn, coffee, wheat and fruits. Almost 65% of all Africans work in the agricultural sector.
Sahara desert is the driest hot desert on earth
The Nile is the world’s longest river
Tugela Falls in South Africa are Africa’s highest waterfalls
Blyde River Canyon in South Africa is the world’s largest green canyon
More than half of the African continent is covered by grassland or savannah. Northern Africa is dominated by the vast Sahara desert and the semi-arid Sahel zone which also includes fertile land in the Nile delta. Central Africa has rainforests, coastal plains and the continents highest mountains and lakes. Southern Africa lies mainly on a high plateau and only has a small coastal band.
And one more interesting fact: The Cape Floral Region in South Africa has the most plant varieties in the world!