Africa Facts
Africa Facts

50 Interesting Africa Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published May 17, 2017Updated September 7, 2019
  • Africa is the world's hottest continent, and the world's second driest continent.[21]
  • Africa is the second-largest continent in the world, making up approximately 22% of the Earth’s total land area and 6% of Earth's total surface.[21]
  • Africa is the second most populous continent in the world, with over 1.1 billion people, or about 16% of the world’s population. Asia is the most populous continent, with over 4.4 billion people, or 59% of the world's population. [21]
  • Africa is the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped continent. The average poor person in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to live on just $.70 a day.[12][21]
  • Of the 40% of Africans who are illiterate, 2/3 are women.[21]
  • Random Facts about Africa
    Africa has the world's youngest population
  • Over half of the population of Africa is under 25 years old, which makes it the youngest population in the world.[21]
  • In Africa, over 25 million people have HIV and over 17 million have died of the disease already.[21]
  • More people in New York City have Internet connections than people in all of Africa.[21]
  • Of all the malaria cases in the world, 90% occur in Africa.[21]
  • Deforestation rates in Africa are twice the average for the rest of the world. Kenya and Zambia only have about 1-5% of the primary forests remaining.[21]
  • Africa has over 25% of the world’s bird species.[21]
  • Over one thousand languages are spoken in Africa, and some scholars place this number closer to two thousand.[19]
  • All of Africa, except for Ethiopia and Liberia, were colonized by foreign powers during the "Scramble for Africa." The "Scramble for Africa" occurred during the period of New Imperialism, between 1881 and 1914.[21]
  • No other continent has endured such an unspeakably bizarre combination of foreign thievery and foreign goodwill.

    - Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

  • Africa has 54 sovereign countries, the most of any continent.[19]
  • Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the second-largest freshwater lake in the world.[11]
  • Egypt is the most popular tourist destination in Africa, attracting around 10 million visitors per year.[11]
  • While Egypt is most well known for its pyramids, the Republic of Sudan actually has 223 of its own pyramids, double the number of pyramids in Egypt.[11]
  • Four of the five fastest land animals reside in Africa: the cheetah, the wildebeest, the lion, and the Thomson’s gazelle. All of these animals can run at speeds above 50 miles per hour, with the cheetah reaching a top speed of about 70 miles per hour.[11]
  • In Africa, women and children walk an average of 3.7 miles a day just to get the water they need to survive.[15]
  • Amazing Africa Fact
    The United Nations estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water

  • George Lucas filmed various parts of Star Wars in the Tunisian Sahara Desert. However, the movie sets are slowly being engulfed by moving sand dunes.[2]
  • Charles Darwin was the first to suggest that humans first emerged in Africa. However, prejudicial attitudes toward the continent made many people in the Western world highly resistant to the idea until well into the twentieth century.[20]
  • Africa is home to the world’s largest living land animal, the African elephant, which can weigh between 6 and 7 tons.[11]
  • In 1974, scientists discovered the oldest known human ancestor in Ethiopia. The 3.2-million year old skeleton was named "Lucy" after the Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," which was playing in the expedition camp.[22]
  • Most etymologists believe the name "Africa" derived from Afri, the title for a group of people who dwelt in North Africa near Carthage around the third century B.C., and -ca, the Roman suffix for “country” or “land.”[9]
  • Interesting Arab Slaver Facts
    The trans-Saharan slave trade developed in the 7th and 8th centuries as Muslim Arabs conquered most of North Africa
  • Between the 7th and 20th centuries, Arab slave trade (also known as slavery in the East) captured and exported 18 million slaves from Africa.[10]
  • Ancient Greeks and Romans originally used the term “Africa” to apply only to the northern region of the continent. In Latin, the word Africa means “sunny,” and the word Aphrike in Greek means “without cold.”[11]
  • Ethiopia is featured prominently in several ancient Greek dramas and poems. The Greek poet Homer mentions Ethiopians in both the Iliad and the Odyssey as a “blameless race” and “amongst the noblest of men.”[11]
  • Islam is currently the largest religion in Africa, with Christianity following closely behind. These two religions make up 85% of the continent’s population, while just 15% of the population are nonreligious or follow traditional African religions.[12]
  • While Africa is the second largest of the earth’s seven continents, it has the shortest coastline, due to very few jutting edges and bays in its landscape.[3]
  • The deadliest animal in all of Africa is the hippo.[3]
  • Barbary pirates captured over 1 million Europeans and sold them as slaves in North Africa between the 16th and 19th centuries.[6]
  • Second Congo War Fact
    Rape was used as a weapon of war in both the First and Second Congo Wars.
  • The Second Congo War (1998-2003) claimed over 5.4 million lives. It is the deadliest worldwide conflict since WWII.[21]
  • In developing countries in Africa, women typically work 12 to 13 hours per week more than men.[1]
  • Tigers only live in Asia, not in Africa.[14]
  • The United States, China, India, New Zealand, Argentina and Europe could all fit within Africa.[3]
  • In South Africa, people can attach flamethrowers to their cars to prevent car jacking.[4]
  • The world’s largest frog, the Goliath frog, is found in Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon.[18]
  • Ethiopia is the only country in Africa with its own alphabet, Ethiopic. It has a whopping 345 letters.[8]
  • Benin, in West Africa, holds the the record for the country with the most twin births, at 27.0 twins per 1,000 births. The world average is 13.6 twins per 1,000 births.[13]
  • Nearly half of all the gold ever mined in history has come from Witwatersrand, South Africa.[5]
  • The Sahara Desert is the world’s largest hot desert in the world, and the third largest in the world after Antarctica and the Arctic. Located in North Africa, it is slightly larger than the continental USA.[21]
  • Interesting Sahara Facts
    The word "Sahara" is Arabic for "the Great Desert"

  • The ancient Egyptian city of Kahun was the first planned city in the world.[19]
  • Women in sub-Saharan Africa are over 230 times more likely to die during childbirth or pregnancy than women in North America.[17]
  • Approximately 589 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live without electricity, which means that 80 percent of the population relies on energy sources such as wood, charcoal and dung in order to cook.[17]
  • Common English words with African origins include, aardvark, banjo, chigger, chimpanzee, cola, coffee, gumbo, jamboree, jazz, jumbo, impala, safari, tango, voodoo, yam, zebra, and zombie.[7]
  • The oldest known mathematical object is the Lebombo bone, which was discovered in the Lebombo Mountains of Swaziland. It dates to approximately 35,000 B.C.[9]
  • Interesting Timbuktu Fact
    In its Golden Age, Timbuktu was an important scholarly center in Africa
  • Scholars describe West African city of Timbuktu as "the Paris of the Medieval World" because of its ancient intellectual culture. It is the home of thousands of medieval manuscripts, including poetry by women, legal reflections, and innovative scientific discussions.[19]
  • The world's largest reptile, the Nile crocodile makes it home in Africa.[20]
  • Approximately one in three people living in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished.[17]
  • Built by North Korean propaganda artists, the African Renaissance Monument stands taller than the Statue of Liberty and is built to last until 3200 A.D. Unfortunately, the statue's depiction of a near-naked man holding a woman with an exposed breast caused controversy among the 92% Muslim population.[16]

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