Africa, the second largest continent, boasts stunning countries with unique landscapes and wildlife, making it a prime holiday spot. Here are few intriguing facts to pique your interest in this incredible continent!
1. THERE ARE 54 COUNTRIES IN AFRICA
Africa, the world’s second largest continent, surpasses Asia, the largest, in the number of countries. Here they are in alphabetical order: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Reunion, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome & Principe, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
2. AFRICA COVERS 30 MILLION SQUARE KILOMETRES
Africa, a vast continent, is segmented into five regions: North Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa, and West Africa. Encompassing nearly 10 million square miles, it constitutes over 20% of the world’s landmass!
3. THE MOST WIDELY SPOKEN LANGUAGE IS ARABIC
An intriguing fact about Africa is its linguistic diversity. With 54 countries, a multitude of languages are spoken. Arabic takes the lead with 170 million speakers, followed by English (130 million), then Swahili, French, Berber, Hausa, and Portuguese. Additionally, there are numerous lesser-known languages in this vibrant continent!
4. THERE ARE MORE THAN 2,000 RECOGNISED LANGUAGES
Africa hosts over 2,000 recognized languages, representing over a quarter of global linguistic diversity. Approximately 200 are Afro-Asiatic in Northern Africa, including Central Sahara, and 140 are Nilo-Saharan in Central and Eastern Africa. The majority, exceeding 1,000, belong to Niger-Saharan languages.
5. ILLITERACY IS AS HIGH AS 40% ACROSS THE CONTINENT
Although Africa holds many different resources it is a continent where many of the countries have vast numbers of their populations living in poverty. This has led to 40% of adults in Africa being illiterate. The worst affected areas, with shocking illiteracy over 50% are in Ethiopia, Chad, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Niger, Benin and Burkina Faso.
6. AFRICA IS THE WORLD’S HOTTEST CONTINENT
Africa is renowned for its scorching climate, earning it the title of the hottest continent. Approximately 60% of its land is arid, dominated by deserts, with the Sahara standing as the largest, often reaching temperatures over 100°F (40°C). While El Azizia, Libya once recorded Earth’s highest temperature at 136.4°F (58°C), Africa also experiences extremes in cold, with Ifrane, Morocco dropping to as low as −11°F (−23.9 °C). This highlights the remarkable diversity in climates across the continent, showcasing the wide-ranging differences between its countries.
7. AFRICA WAS ONCE MADE UP OF 10,000 STATES
Prior to colonialism, Africa comprised 10,000 separate states and autonomous groups, each with their own distinct languages and customs. This pre-colonial fragmentation likely contributes to the multitude of languages spoken across the continent and the regional exclusivity of many of these languages.
8. ZAMBIA HAD A SPACE PROGRAM IN THE 1960S
In the 1960s, Zambia embarked on an ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful space program, aiming to outpace both the Americans and the Russians in lunar exploration. Beyond this endeavor, there was a £7 million grant proposal to dispatch 12 astronauts and a cat to Mars, but it was rejected, leading to the program’s downfall. This stands as one of our most intriguing African fun facts!
9. NIGERIA HAS THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF TWINS BORN IN THE WORLD
Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest nations, has earned the moniker “The Land of Twins” from the BBC due to its world-leading rate of twin births. Statistics indicate that West Africa sees four times as many twin births compared to any other region globally. At the heart of this phenomenon lies the tranquil town of Igbo-Ora in Nigeria, where recent data showed an astonishing average of 50 sets of twins per 1,000 births.
10. OVER 5 MILLION PEOPLE DIED IN THE SECOND CONGO WAR
Following the First Congo War, the Second Congo War erupted in August 1998. It stands as the second deadliest global conflict, surpassed only by World War II. Originating from political and military tensions between Rwanda and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), the war later drew in seven other nations. This devastating conflict claimed over 5 million lives. Though a peace agreement was signed in 2002 to curb the bloodshed, some violence persists, rendering travel to the DRC currently unsafe. It’s crucial not to confuse this with the Republic of Congo, a very secure safari destination and an exceptional one at that!