Africa is one of the most incredible continents on the planet. A truly diverse region home to much of the world’s most famous wildlife, it is also an incredible region for commerce and culture. It’s one of the biggest continents on the globe full stop, meaning that it’s unlikely you will be able to cover it all in one sitting! Each country has its own unique history and story to tell – which is why it is well worth diving deep and doing some further reading!
To start you off, we thought we’d set you up with a larger fact file than normal on Africa, stretching from the North to the South – how much do you really know about the second-biggest continent? Get ready to learn 66 interesting facts about Africa…
Africa is home to 54 different countries, though there were 10,000 different states split across the continent before colonisation.
The Western Sahara remains the only area in Africa which is non-governed.
The Sahara, of course, is the biggest desert in the world.
It’s thought that around 70% of the population in Africa has to live on less than $2 each day.
It’s thought that Africa contributes 25% of all languages spoken across the world, numbering up to 2,000 or more at last count. It’s one of the most culturally diverse continents.
The continent remains hugely important for mineral resource, as around 30% of minerals are thought to emanate in Africa.
Cairo is the biggest city in Africa, being the capital of Egypt to the very North, and home to more than nine million people. Egypt also boasts the longest river in the Nile, which is one of the world’s ‘longest three’ at over 4,160 miles.
Australia is still the driest continent worldwide, but Africa isn’t far behind in second place – the Sahara is, at least in part, to blame for that statistic.
The equator effectively splits Africa in half, and actually travels through several countries, such as Uganda and Kenya.
Nigeria is responsible for producing much of the world’s oil, with around 2.2 million barrels of produce coming from the country each and every day. It’s actually the top country in the continent for oil production and export, with Algeria and Angola not too far behind.
Tsavo East National Park Kenya, Africa, Kenya
Famine and undernourishment is rife across states in Africa. It’s thought that more than 240 million people across the continent suffer from too low nutrition.
Africa’s land is thought to account for 5.7% of the Earth’s surface. This might not sound like much, but it actually makes up 30% of total land on Earth full stop. You have to remember that much of the planet is water!
Africa also suffers from extensive mass deforestation. It is thought that around four million hectares of forest are felled year on year across the continent. In fact, forests in Africa are thought to be shrinking at a rate of 0.6% each year.
Africa is home to around 3,000 different groups and ethnicities, which include traditional tribes and communities.
Around 12% of the world’s population live in Africa, helping to make it the second-most populous continent on the planet.
The biggest mountain in Africa is found in Tanzania, with Mount Kilimanjaro stretching up to more than 19,300ft in height.
Africa has a fascinating educational history. It’s home to one of the oldest universities in the world, with Timbuktu having set up at least three of them by the 12th Century. You’ll find Timbuktu out in Mali.
Nigeria is thought to be home to around 370 different tribes which are officially recognised worldwide.
Africa is home to the biggest stocks and reserves of precious minerals and metals. Around 90% of the world’s platinum comes out of Africa, with 60% of global gold heading out from here, too.
A devastating statistic is that the ten poorest countries in the world right now can all be found in Africa.
Further to this, around 90% of all malaria cases are thought to take place in the continent.
There are more species of fish, numbering over 500, in Lake Malawi than anywhere else on the planet.
Africa, amazingly, seems to be as wide as it is long. North to South and East to West, length, and breadth, are approximately the same.
The smallest country in Africa is the Seychelles, a collection of stunning tropical islands. The smallest mainland country on the continent is The Gambia.
The most-spoken language in Africa is Arabic, amongst the hundreds of tongues and dialects shared across nation to nation.
Maasai Mara National Reserve, Narok County, Kenya
Libya is home to the hottest place in the world on record, specifically out in Al’Aziziyah.
Some of the most dangerous cities and zones in the world are found in Africa. The county’s most dangerous city is Mogadishu, in Somalia, while Johannesburg in South Africa is not too far behind on the global list.
The total area of Africa reaches around 30 million square km – a staggering amount of land!
The biggest lake on the continent is Lake Victoria, with a mass of 26,828 square miles.
Africa helps to provide at least 50% of the world’s diamonds, though across the years, not all of these have been sourced ethically.
Africa boasts 16 countries which are completely landlocked. Among these are Lesotho and Swaziland.
Charles Darwin, author of the Origin of Species, first proposed that people emerged from Africa before anywhere else.
Africa plays host to some of the biggest diversities of animals across the world. In fact, there are thought to be more than 2,300 different species of bird native to the continent alone. This is said to account for around 25% of all species of bird worldwide!
Africa’s birth rates are colossal compared to many other territories worldwide. Niger alone takes the top spot globally, while Mali and Uganda follow in second and third.
Africa has many islands, though Madagascar is one of the most fascinating. It is home to some exclusive wildlife, specifically the ring-tailed lemur. It is also one of the largest islands on the planet, ranking in the top five for size.
Africa is home to some of the biggest cities on Earth, many of which are huge commerce hubs, and which are big tourist destinations. These include Nairobi, Casablanca, and Cape Town.
Africa is a very religious continent, though there are clear splits in faith up and down the region. It is predominantly Muslim, though Islam and Christianity contribute to at least 85% of faith on the continent. Millions more people don’t follow a faith at all, or actually choose to follow tribal beliefs and traditional systems.
Believe it or not, one of the most expensive cities in the world – at least to live in – can be found in Gabon. Libreville ranks in the top five!
Africa actually has the shortest coastline of all continents, despite being the second-largest on Earth. Quite how this works mathematically – we’ll get back to you.
Egypt remains the most popular tourist hotspot on the continent, as it’s said to welcome a staggering 10 million people each year.
It’s thought that much of Africa is undergoing a form of ‘neo-colonialism’. For example, around a million Chinese people live across the continent at last count.
The Blyde River Canyon is a record-holder as far as canyons worldwide are concerned. It is the world’s third biggest and is thought to be the biggest green canyon of its kind. You’ll find it in South Africa.
The majority of Africa, despite its dense population, is actually savannah and grassland. It’s also home to dry deserts, mountains, rainforests, plains and more. If there’s a natural feature that exists, you may well find it somewhere in Africa.
The Nile Crocodile is the biggest reptile on the planet, and as its name suggests, it has a home in the African wilds.
The biggest country in Africa, at least by physical land area, is Algeria. However, Nigeria, again, sets records – it’s the most populated in the continent by far, with more than 145 million people calling the country home.
Mount Kahuzi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Africa is home to some truly deadly animals, but the hippo, found in the wild across the continent, is easily the deadliest of them all – believe it or not!
There are more people who speak Portuguese in Angola than there are in Portugal itself.
Surfers love to head to Liberia each year during the warmer seasons. That’s because its famous Shipwreck Point is home to some of the biggest waves on the planet. They are certainly not for newbies or for the faint of heart!
There is a pink lake in Africa, which you will find out in Senegal. Don’t worry – it’s not filled with Pepto-Bismol!
It’s a misnomer that Africa never receives any rain. While the Sahara is intensely dry, you’ll find huge rainfall rates up at Mount Cameroon, with around 950cm experienced year on year.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Isiolo, Kenya
You won’t find any tigers in the wilds of Africa. It’s a bit of a misconception – while you’ll find lions, leopards, and cheetahs out here, you’ll only find wild tigers out in Asia.
Africa is also home to several of the world’s most dangerous roads. Specifically, Libya, Egypt, and Eritrea all rank in the global top three. It’s safe to say that you had better watch where you walk the next time you try to cross anywhere in these countries.
Benin is regarded as the twin capital of the world. It’s thought that around 27 births in every 1,000 here result in twins, around 13 cases more than the global average.
Over 50% of all French-speaking people live across Africa.
Africa burns more biomass than any other continent. However, its CO2 emissions are amongst the world’s lowest – contributing around 4%. We can probably learn a lot from these figures!
‘Lucy’ was the name given to the world’s oldest skeleton, found in Ethiopia. She’s estimated to be around 3.2 million years old and was named after the song ‘Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds’, a song playing on the radio when she was discovered in the early 1970s.
Witwatersrand in South Africa is regarded as the gold capital of the planet. So much so, that it’s thought around 50% of all gold ever mined came from the region.
Much of the Star Wars saga was filmed in Africa, specifically the Sahara Desert. However, over time, the sand has started creeping back over any artefacts and pieces left behind.
The oldest city in the world – at least, the oldest with a formal plan – is Kahun, in Egypt.
We have much African language to thanks for some of the oldest English words. For example, the words jazz, coffee, aardvark, safari, zombie, and jamboree have African roots.
Africa is home to both the biggest and the tallest animals on land – the tallest, of course, is the giraffe, while the largest land animal is the African elephant.
Do you have any interesting, fun, or strange facts about Africa that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!