Africa is the world’s second-largest continent and the home of the most beautiful countries in the world with some of the most unique landscapes and wildlife. Yet, it’s also the most underrated destination when it comes to travelling. Therefore, in this article, we will expose the top 10 interesting facts about Africa so you can have more reasons to choose this exquisite continent for your next holiday.
1.AFRICA COVERS 30 MILLION SQUARE KILOMETRES WITH 54 COUNTRIES
Africa is the second-largest continent globally and boasts more countries than Asia - the largest continent in the world. It is a huge continent that is divided up into five sub-sections: North Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa. Entire Africa covers almost 10 million square miles, making up more than 20% of the world’s land!
There are 54 countries in Africa. Some countries in Africa you might know including Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Zimbabwe, etc.
2. THERE ARE MORE THAN 2,000 RECOGNISED LANGUAGES AND THE MOST WIDELY SPOKEN LANGUAGE IS ARABIC
Not only the second-largest continent in the world, Africa is also the second-most populated continent. Therefore, over a quarter of all of the different languages that are spoken in the world are spoken in Africa in their relative regions.
There are over 2,000 different recognised languages spoken in Africa. Around 200 of these are spoken in Northern Africa including Central Sahara and are known as Afro-Asiatic languages, 140 are spoken in Central and Eastern Africa known as Nilo-Saharan languages and more than 1,000 are Niger-Saharan languages. However, the most widely spoken language here is Arabic (by 170 million people), followed by English (by 130 million people) then Swahili, French, Berber, Hausa and Portuguese.
3. 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.
4. AFRICA IS THE WORLD’S HOTTEST CONTINENT
As you probably already know, Africa has a very warm climate and it is actually considered to be the world’s hottest continent. Around 60% of the land is dry and covered by desert. The Sahara is the world’s biggest desert with temperatures often topping 100°F (or exceeding 40°C). But whilst the hottest recorded temperature on Earth was once in El Azizia, Libya at 136.4°F (58°C), the continent also has the other extreme with the coldest temperate in Africa being as low as −11°F (−23.9 °C) in Ifrane, Morocco. This just shows the diversity of the different countries here in Africa and the differences don’t end with the climate!
5. AROUND 90% OF ALL MALARIA CASES IN THE WORLD ARE IN AFRICA
Malaria is a highly deadly disease, particularly in Africa. Around 3,000 children die of Malaria EVERY SINGLE DAY in Africa. Sadly, 90% of all Malaria cases across the world occur here, in this continent. In 2019, an estimated 94% of deaths were in the WHO African Region.
Many charities are calling for donation to help save children in need of medical help such as Malaria No More, Christian Aid, UNICEF or Against Malaria Foundation. This is a horrible disease and one that is not easily fought when the country is in so much poverty. Any support and compassion from the world are important in helping Africa lower this shockingly high rate.
6. AFRICA’S SAHARA DESERT IS BIGGER THAN THE USA
Most of Africa’s land is made up of desert, hence its extremely hot climate. The Sahara of Africa, being the largest desert in the world, is truly vast. Its expansive size is 9.4 million square kilometres – bigger than the entire USA! Another interesting fact about the Sahara is that it is actually growing in size as it’s been expanding in the southern regions at a rate of half a mile per month which equates to six miles per year!
7. IT’S THE BIGGEST SINGLE SOURCE OF GOLD THROUGHOUT MINING HISTORY
Africa is home to some great resources sought after by the Western world. Almost half of the gold ever mined on Earth has come from Africa, and more specifically, from Witwatersrand in South Africa. Despite the decline in production, gold exports were valued at $3.8 billion back in 2005.
South Africa is also famous for its diamonds, although Botswana leads the way in terms of production. Africa produces at least 50% of the diamonds and gold in the whole world. The rest of the countries around the world contribute to the remaining 50% of the production of these precious stones and metal.
8. SUDAN HAS MORE PYRAMIDS THAN EGYPT
Many of you might immediately think of Egypt when it comes to pyramids. But shockingly, the country of Sudan, in Africa, has a total of 223 pyramids, which is twice the amount of pyramids that Egypt has!
These forgotten pyramids are the Meroe Pyramids; these once made up the capital of the Kingdom of Kush, ruled by the Nubian kings.
9. IT HAS THE OLDEST UNIVERSITIES IN THE WORLD
Although the illiteracy rate here is high, Africa is actually home to one of the oldest universities in the world.
Established in 859, the University of Al Quaraouiyine in Fez, Morocco is the very first universities in the world. According to UNESCO and Guinness World Records, the University of Al Quaraouiyine is the oldest existing, continually operating and the first degree-awarding educational institution in the world. The institution was incorporated into Morocco's modern state university system in 1963.
The University was founded with an associated madrasa, a specific type of religious school or college for the study of the Islamic religion, by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy merchant. Fatima vowed to spend her inheritance on the construction of a mosque suitable for her community. Al Quaraouiyine is open to both men and women.
10. THE RICHEST MAN EVER IS AFRICAN
Although Africa is considered to be the poorest continent of the world nowadays, it used to be the home country of the richest man ever lived. Mansa Musa, or Musa I of Mali is considered one of the richest men in human history. Musa was the tenth emperor of the Mali Empire, one of the prosperous Sahelian kingdoms that developed along the Saharan slave trade routes in the later medieval period.
Mansa Musa acquired most of his wealth from the production and trade of salt and gold. He was the world’s biggest gold producer and distributor, as gold was a highly sought commodity at the time and an important indicator of status and affluence. By the time of his death in 1937, estimates place his net worth in the range of US$300 billion to US$400 billion in adjusted dollars for the late 2000s.