Interesting Facts About Africa

Essaouira is a colourful coastal city

I love trivia and I hope you enjoy these weird and interesting facts about Africa many of which I learned on my fourth trip to the African continent. 

33 Interesting Facts About Africa

Number of countries in Africa

There are 54 countries in Africa. Algeria is the largest country by area with 2,381,741 square kilometres. It’s the 10th largest country in the world.

Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa with over 226.2 million people as of 2023. It is the 6th most populated country in the world. The majority of the population is either Muslim or Christian. Within the country are an astounding 520 spoken languages.

One of the oldest universities in the world is in Africa

One of the oldest universities in the world is in Timbuktu, Mali. By the 12th century Timbuktu was home to three universities. Over 25,000 students attended one of the Timbuktu universities in the 12th century.

The largest lake and longest river in Africa

Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the world’s second largest fresh water lake. It borders Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. There are over 1,000 islands in the lake – some tiny and some that are inhabited. The average depth of the lake is just 25 metres and at it’s deepest its just 82 metres!

The Nile is the longest river in the world – the 6,670 km takes you through Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan and Egypt. 

One of the interesting facts about Africa is that Lake Victoria pictured here is the largest lake Laden on the continent
Life on Lake Victoria in Kampala, Uganda
Stunning scenery in South Africa
Stunning scenery in South Africa – Photo credit: Lina Loos on Unsplash

Interesting facts about the highest point in Africa

Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest point in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.

It tops out at 19,340 feet (5,895 metres) above sea level. The snow caps are melting, with more than 80 percent of their mass gone since 1912. Sometime in the next 20 years the mountain may be completely ice-free.

One of the interesting facts about Africa is that the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro is the highest point on the continent
On top of Mt Kilimanjaro – the highest point in Africa

Interesting facts about the geographic points (north, south, east, west) in Africa

The northernmost point on the African continent is Ras ben Sakka in Tunisia. The most southerly point is Cape Agulhas in South Africa. Xaafuun (Hafun) Point, near Cape Gwardafuy in Somalia, is the easternmost point of the African continent. Pointe des Almadies or Point Almadies in Senegal is the westernmost point in Africa.

Interesting facts about the economy in Africa

Equatorial Guinea is the richest country in Africa. The GDP per capita is $30,200. Botswana is second with a GDP of $15,800. Coming in last is Zimbabwe at $200 per year.

Countries in 2024 that have ten of the fastest growing economies in the world include Niger, Senegal, Libya, Rwanda, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Benin. 

Unfortunately the top 10 poorest countries in the world in 2023 are all in Africa. They include Liberia, Chad, Malawi, Niger, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Central African Republic, Burundi, and South Sudan.

Tripoli, Libya is the world’s third least expensive to live in during 2023. Other inexpensive cities in Africa to live in are Tunis, Tunisia, Lusaka, Zambia, and Lagos, Nigeria.

Most dangerous city in the world

Cape Town, South Africa is the tenth most dangerous city in the world. Johannesburg, South Africa is 10th. (For comparison’s sake New Orleans is the 21st most dangerous city in the world!!!)

Valley of the Kings near Luxor
One of the driest places in the world  – Valley of the Kings near Luxor – Photo credit: Jeremy Zero on Unsplash

Driest and hottest places in the world

Six of the driest places in the world are in Africa – Al’Kufrah, Libya, Aswan and Luxor in Egypt, Wadi Halfa in Sudan, Pelican Point in Namibia and Aoelef in Algeria.

The hottest place in the world is recorded at Al’Aziziyah in Libya.

Disease and mortality rates in Africa

South Africa has the highest number (5.3 million) of people living with HIV/Aids in the world. Compare that to Canada with 56,000 and Croatia with only 200.

One of the unfortunate interesting facts about Africa is that Angola has the world’s highest infant mortality rate at 192.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Niger, Mali and Uganda take the #1,2 and 3 spots for the highest birth rates in the world.

Three thousand kids a day die from malaria – mostly in sub Saharan Africa.

Nobel peace prize

Thirty people from Africa have been awarded a Nobel prize for achievements in peace, chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine and literature. Winners come from Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Liberia, Tunisia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Africa.

Interesting facts about nature in Africa

There are about 2,300 bird species in Africa. Of those 1,400 or 57% are endemic to the continent.

Almost 100 species of lemurs are found in Madagascar.

In the Gulf of Tadjourah in Djibouti you can swim from November to January with massive whale sharks who come to feed on plankton during their annual migration.

The world’s biggest frog comes from Cameroon. It is over one foot long.

Lake Malawi has the largest number of fish species in the world.

Four of the five fastest land animals live in Africa. The cheetah is the fastest and can run at 60 mph.

African elephants are the largest living land animals. They can weigh up to 6 – 7 tons and drink over 160 litres of water a day.


Interesting facts about the Sahara Desert in Africa

The Sahara Desert is expanding in the south at a rate of about half a mile a month. It covers 3.6 million square miles, so it is as big as China. The highest temperature recorded in the desert is 136°F or 57.8ºC.

Camels eating flowers in the Sahara Desert
Happy camels when the Sahara Desert is lush with flowers

Random interesting facts about Africa

The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is the second largest canyon in the world.

Eritrea, Egypt and Libya are in the number 1,2 and 3 spots respectively for the world’s most dangerous roads. And I thought Kenya was bad.

About half of the world’s diamonds come from southern and central Africa. The largest gem quality diamond ever found (the 3106.75 carat Cullinan Diamond) came from the Premier Mine near Pretoria. It was found in 1905.

Three of the world’s largest gold producers have their primary operations in Africa – Harmony Gold, Gold Fields and Anglogold Ashanti.

One of the interesting facts about Africa is that the Sahara Desert is bigger than China
Sahara Desert at sunrise

Further reading on things to do in Africa

We followed this women as she descended from way up high herding goats and scrambling over precarious rocks
We followed this women as she descended from way up high herding goats and scrambling over precarious rocks in Morocco’s Anti-Atlas Mountains


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