The African people and the impressive amalgam of African cultures is perhaps what makes Africa a truly interesting continent. Africa has such a diverse culture, from the very traditional lifestyle of the Masai and Samburu of Kenya, and the San of Southern Africa, to the unique Swahili culture in the Coast of Eastern Africa, the Arab culture of Northern Africa countries like Egypt, Libya, Northern Sudan, Morocco, and Tunisia, to the more westernized cultures in most big African cities.
Apart from just being the world’s poorest continent, there are many facts about Africa that you may find amazing, some positive and some not so positive.
The African Continent in General
- Africa is the world’s second largest continent after Asia.
- Historians and archaeologists believe the continent was the original home of all mankind. Some of the oldest fossils of man’s prehistoric ancestors have been found in Eastern and Southern Africa.
- With 53 independent nations, it is the continent with the highest number of countries
- It is the only continent crossed by the Equator, the Tropic of Cancer, and Tropic of Capricorn. In addition, the Greenwhich Prime Meridian also passes through the continent.
- The population of Africa is the second highest among all the continents
- Africa is the home of the world’s biggest hospital – the Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto South Africa
- Lalibela region in Ethiopia is home to 11 monolithic churches (churches hewn from a single block of stone) constructed way back in the 12th century. Arguably no other site in the world rivals this.
- The Grand Mosque of Djenne in Mali is the world’s largest mud structure.
- Africa is home of the world’s largest reservoir (artificial lake) i.e Lake Volta in Ghana. The lake formed after construction of the Akosombo dam on the Black Volta and White Volta rivers.
- One of the world’s most notable relocation of structures took place in Africa in the late 1960′s when the rock temples of Abu Simbel were moved to a new location to save them from being submerged in the Lake that formed after the Aswan High Dam was built.
Africa countries facts
- The biggest country in the continent is Sudan
- The Seychelles Islands are the smallest country
- Nigeria in West Africa is the country with the highest population in Africa
- Zimbabwe in Southern Central Africa has the world’s highest inflation rate of over 100,000,000 per cent.
- Liberia, in West Africa, is the continent’s oldest independent country, having been formed around 1822 to settle freed slaves from America. In 1847, Liberia proclaimed independence from America and became a republic.
- Somalia is the only country in which the entire population speaks one language – the Somali language.
- The youngest African country is Eritrea, which seceded from Ethiopia in 1993. Since then, these two countries in the horn of Africa have engaged in hostilities, and the border between them has always been volatile. Currently, there is an ongoing United Nations peace mission to maintain the ceasefire agreed between the two countries.
- Namibia was the last country to attain independence from colonialism, have been colonized by South Africa upto 1990.
- Contrary to popular belief, South Africa did not get independence in 1990. In fact, South Africa attained independence from Britain in 1910. South African Boers then introduced the apartheid system, an official oppressive racial segregation system. The apartheid era in South Africa ended in 1990, the year when Nelson Mandela was released from prison, after having served 27 years of life sentence in Robben Islands. South Africa held it’s first democratic elections in 1994, with Mandela being elected president.
Natural land features
- There are three snow capped or glaciated mountains right near the equator in Africa i.e Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya, and the Ruwenzori mountains.
- The highest point in Africa is Mount Kilimanjaro’s Uhuru peak, standing at 5895 metres above sea level. Mt Kilimanjaro is also the highest free standing mountain in the world.
- Lake Assal in the Afar depression in Djibouti is the lowest land point in Africa.
- River nile is the longest river in Africa and also in the world. The nile river valley is a source of livelihood for Egypt.
- Lake Victoria in East Africa is the largest lake in Africa and also the second largest freshwater lake in the entire world. Lake Victoria is shared among Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania
- Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania is the deepest in Africa, and the second deepest freshwater lake in the world, after lake Baikal.
- The African elephant is the largest land animal in the world. An adult male of an African elephant can weigh as much as 6 tonnes.
- The African lion is the biggest of the African big cats. Tigers, the largest cats in the world are not found in any natural habitat in Africa
- The African cheetah is the fastest animal on land, capable of attaining a speed of 70 miles per hour. Since cheetahs hunt during the day, it is interesting to see them overcome their prey by sheer speed.