20 Interesting Facts About Africa

Top 20 Fascinating Facts abut Africa Which You Should Know

Africa stands as the second-largest continent globally, home to some of the world’s most captivating countries with unique landscapes and wildlife. Despite its rich natural resources, Africa grapples with significant challenges, including poverty and conflicts. These complexities, perhaps, contribute to the continent being underrated in the realm of travel.

In this article, we present a series of curiosities about Africa, a continent of stark contrasts. Let’s explore the top 20 interesting facts about Africa, fostering a deeper curiosity about this enchanting land.

20 Surprising Insights about Africa

1. Africa’s Vast Expanse

Africa, the second-largest continent, surpasses Asia in country count with 54 nations. It is divided into five subsets: North Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa, and West Africa. Encompassing nearly 10 million square kilometers, Africa represents over 20% of the world’s land.

There are 54 countries in Africa, including Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and more.

2. Linguistic Diversity: Over 2,000 Recognized Languages

africa facts languages
Photo Credit : AfricanGlobe.net

Africa, the second most populous continent, hosts over 2,000 recognized languages, constituting more than a quarter of the world’s linguistic diversity. These languages are categorized into Afro-Asiatic, Nilo-Saharan, and Niger-Saharan, with Arabic (170 million speakers), English (130 million), Swahili, French, Berber, Hausa, and Portuguese among the most spoken.

3. Illiteracy Challenges: 40% Across the Continent

Despite abundant resources, Africa faces high illiteracy rates, reaching 40%. Regions like Ethiopia, Chad, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Niger, Benin, and Burkina Faso suffer shocking illiteracy rates exceeding 50%.

4. Oldest Universities: Africa’s Academic Legacy

al quaraouiyine university
Photo Credit : Getty Images

Despite high illiteracy rates, Africa is home to one of the world’s oldest universities. Founded in 859, the University of Al Quaraouiyine in Fez, Morocco, holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating and first degree-granting educational institution globally.

5. Africa: The Hottest Continent

Africa boasts a very hot climate, earning the title of the hottest continent. Approximately 60% of its land is dry and covered in desert, with the Sahara, the world’s largest desert, experiencing temperatures often exceeding 100°F. Notably, Africa exhibits extreme temperature variations, from El Azizia, Libya’s record-high of 136.4°F (58°C), to Ifrane, Morocco’s coldest at -11°F (-23.9°C).

6. Richest Man: Mansa Musa’s Historic Wealth

mansa musa
Photo Credit : Msingi Africa

While Africa is often deemed the poorest continent today, history tells a different tale. Mansa Musa, or Musa I of Mali, is considered one of the richest men in human history. Acquiring wealth from salt and gold trade, estimates place his net worth at $300 to $400 billion at the time of his death in 1337.

Elon Musk, the current world’s richest man with a net worth of $265 billion as of May 2022, also hails from South Africa. Interestingly, the average salary in Africa is $12. Africa, with its rich tapestry of history, challenges, and triumphs, continues to captivate the world’s attention.

7. Malaria Menace: 90% of Global Cases in Africa

Malaria, a deadly disease, claims around 3,000 African children daily. Unfortunately, 90% of all malaria cases in the world occur on this continent. In 2019, an estimated 94% of deaths occurred in the WHO African Region. Charities such as Malaria No More, Christian Aid, UNICEF, and Against Malaria Foundation seek global support to combat this disease amid challenging economic conditions.

8. Expansive Sahara Desert: Bigger Than the United States

africa facts sahara desert
Photo Credit : Getty Images

Most of Africa’s land comprises desert, primarily the Sahara, the world’s largest. Covering 9.4 million square kilometers, it surpasses the entire United States. Interestingly, the Sahara is expanding into southern regions at a rate of half a mile per month, equivalent to six miles per year.

9. Gold: Africa’s Mining Hub

Africa is a sought-after hub for resources, with nearly half of the world’s gold originating from the Witwatersrand in South Africa. Despite production declines, gold exports were valued at $3.8 billion in 2005. Additionally, Africa produces at least 50% of the world’s diamonds and gold.

10. Sudan’s Pyramid Surplus: More Than Egypt

facts about africa pyramids
Photo Credit : Getty Images

Contrary to common perception, Sudan boasts 223 pyramids, double the number in Egypt. The forgotten pyramids of Meroe were the capital of the Kush kingdom, ruled by Nubian kings.

Also Read: 10 Mind Blowing Facts about Africa

11. Rwanda’s Remarkable Gender Equality Achievement

In 2016, Rwanda secured the fifth position globally for gender equality. Women actively hold 40% of ministerial portfolios and constitute over 60% of deputies. This achievement is particularly noteworthy, given that Rwanda, despite being the 46th least developed country globally, surpasses the United States, Britain, France, and nearly every developed nation, except the Nordic countries (Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden).

12. Hippos: Africa’s Unseen Threat

hippo attack
Photo Credit : Getty Images

Despite the popular perception of lions, crocodiles, and great white sharks as powerful predators, hippos pose a more significant threat, causing more deaths in Africa than the combined fatalities from these three predators.

13. Algeria: The Largest African Country

With a vast expanse of 2,381,741 km2, Algeria claims the title of the largest African country by area. The Democratic Republic of Congo follows closely in second place with 2,344,858 km2. Despite its enormous size, Algeria ranks ninth in population with around 40 million citizens, primarily due to its extensive desert terrain.

14. Africa’s Formidable Snakes: Black Mamba and King Cobra

black mamba snake
Photo Credit : Getty Images

Africa hosts a variety of deadly snakes, including the King Cobra, Black Mamba, Green Mamba, and vipers responsible for most human deaths from snakebites. Beyond these, the continent is home to the Gaboon Viper, Boomslang, and numerous Cobra species, all capable of delivering fatal venom.

15. Population Surge: Africa’s Projection for 2050

While Western countries experience population declines, African nations are witnessing a significant increase. According to INED’s biennial study, the African continent is anticipated to reach at least 2 billion inhabitants by 2050. The 2019 report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) highlights the dominance of young people in Africa. Despite this demographic advantage, life expectancy, estimated at 60 years, remains comparatively low due to factors such as political instability, poverty, limited access to quality health services, and poor universal health coverage.

Also Read: Top 10 African Countries with Beautiful Women

16. Africa’s Stunning Lakes

lake retba africa
Photo Credit : NewScientist.com

Close to Senegal’s capital lies the pink Lake Retba, its unique hue attributed to the presence of the bacterium Dunaliella salina thriving in the highly saline water. The pink color intensifies during the dry season from November to June.

Lake Malawi, the world’s fourth-largest by volume, harbors nearly 1,000 fish species, predominantly from the Cichlidae family. Despite these natural wonders, a significant proportion of Africans endure water and food scarcity, with women and children covering an average of 5.7 km daily to secure essential water resources.

17. Africa’s Youthful Demographic: Median Age Below 20

young africans
Photo Credit : Getty Images

The United Nations reports a median age of 19.5 years for all Africans, a stark contrast to Europe’s median age of 42.9 years, underscoring Africa’s youthful population.

18. The Strait of Gibraltar: Spain and Morocco’s Proximity

Although Spain technically resides on the African continent, considering the enclosed territories of Ceuta and Melilla, the actual distance between Africa and Europe measures a mere 14.5 km of water in the Strait of Gibraltar. Proposals have emerged to explore the feasibility of constructing an undersea railway between the two continents.

19. Lagos: Africa’s Megalopolis

african megacity lagos
Photo Credit : Getty Images

Lagos, Nigeria’s capital, surpasses New York in population, boasting over one and a half times more citizens. Government estimates suggest around 17.5 million residents, although other projections soar as high as 21 million.

20. The Nile: Africa’s Mighty River (6650 km)

Embarking on a Nile cruise is a popular activity in Egypt, offering a journey through the historical sites of ancient Egypt. The Nile, stretching 6650 km, is the world’s longest river, home to the infamous Nile crocodile, capable of reaching lengths of up to 4 meters and weighing up to 550 kilos.

More Interesting Facts About Africa

africa facts increasing population
Photo Credit : Getty Images
  1. Ninety percent of malaria cases in the world occur there.
  2. There is a small country within the borders of South Africa, Lesotho.
  3. More than 50% of the world’s French-speaking population lives on the African continent.
  4. Ethiopia is the only African country that has its own alphabet, called Ge’ez.
  5. The largest frog in the world lives in Cameroon; it is known as the Goliath frog.
  6. Around 30% of Earth’s natural mineral resources are found in Africa.
  7. Between 1525 and 1866, 12.5 million Africans were kidnapped and sold into slavery on the American continent.
  8. Niger has the youngest population, with an average of 14.5 years.
  9. Angola has more Portuguese speakers than Portugal.
  10. The Second Congo War left more than 5.4 million dead.
  11. Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa.
  12. Nearly 40% of adults in Africa are illiterate, including two-thirds of women.
  13. Some African countries are known to be the most corrupt in the world, such as Somalia, South Sudan, Libya, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Eritrea, and Burundi, to name just a few examples.
  14. In Africa, there is beer brewed from bananas.
  15. Nollywood in Nigeria produces around 50 films per week.
  16. There is a beetle native to Africa, that rolls around balls of dung; it is known as the dung beetle.
  17. In South Africa, you can visit a bar inside a 6,000-year-old baobab tree.
  18. The first humans came from Africa.
  19. More than 100 million people speak Swahili.
  20. Mount Kilimajaro is the highest mountain in Africa at 5,895 meters.

Also Read: Top 10 Countries in Africa You must Visit

Conclusion

In conclusion, Africa’s narrative unfolds as a captivating blend of contrasts, challenges, and triumphs. As the continent navigates adversities, its resilience and vibrancy beckon the world to explore its depths and embrace the richness within. Africa, with its enigmatic allure, invites the global community to acknowledge its untold stories and diverse treasures.

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