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33 Interesting Facts About Africa

33 Interesting Facts About Africa

I love trivia and I hope you enjoy these weird and wonderful tidbits – some of which I learned on my most recent trip to the African continent.

33 Interesting Facts About Africa

There are 54 countries 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.

Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa with over 195 million people as of 2020. It is the 7th most populated country in the world. The majority of the population is either Muslim or Christian. Within the country are an astounding 520spoken languages.

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

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! 

Laden boats in Uganda
Life on Lake Victoria in Kampala, Uganda

The northern most point in Africa is Ras ben Sakka in Tunisia. The most southerly point is Cape Agulhas in South Africa.

Stunning scenery in South Africa
Stunning scenery in South Africa – Photo credit: Lina Loos on Unsplash

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 mat be completely ice-free.

On top of Mt Kilimanjaro - the highest point in Africa
On top of Mt Kilimanjaro – the highest point 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.

Chad has the second fastest growing economy in the world.

Unfortunately the top 10 poorest countries in the world are all in Africa.

Mogadishu, Somalia is the fourth most dangerous city in the world. Johannesburg, South Africa is 10th. (For comparison’s sake Washington, DC is the 5th most dangerous city in the world!!!)

Libreville, Gabon is the 5th most expensive city in the world to live in. Tokyo is the most expensive city.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

Angola has the world’s highest infant mortality rate at 192.5 deaths per 1000 live births.

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

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.

Shipwreck Point in Liberia is a mecca for globe trotting surfers. They come for the 10 metre waves between March and October

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.

Eighteen people from Africa have been awarded a Nobel prize. They come from Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

Almost 100 species of lemurs are found in Madagascar.

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.

Orphaned elephants in Nairobi
Orphaned elephants in Nairobi

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

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

The Sahara Desert is expanding in the south at a rate of about half a mile a month.

Read: A Trip to Morocco’s Sahara Desert

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

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

Lake Malawi has the largest number of fish species in the world – over 500.

There are about 2300 bird species in Africa.

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

Further reading on things to do in Africa

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 48 Comments
  1. A great selection of fact’s there Leigh. Of all the places on the planet, it’s the African continent that I am always drawn to. It’s hard going sometimes, but I keep going back for more.

    It’s been a few years now since I’ve been back, and your post is just another little piece of inspiration, to help push me along for one more trip.

    1. I’ve been 4 times – and look forward to lots more visits. It’s still seen as the dark continent by so many but I always leave in awe of the people I’ve met (and their mostly very positive view on life despite their circumstances) and the scenery I’ve seen.

  2. Definitely some unexpected facts for me, never knew Chad was the fastest growing economy in the world, and that Libreville would be so high up on the list of expensive cities to live in. Also the option to swim with whale sharks is new for me in Africa. Was always planning on doing that in Central America, or the west coast of Australia.

    1. Some African cities actually are some of the most expensive to live in the world. Business Week(2011) has recently published an article and in it they list the 30 most expensive cities to live in the world. Three of the top 30 are in Africa. Libreville, Gabon; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Luanda, Angola.

  3. Great list. I am so fascinated by Africa but have only made it to Egypt and Tunisia which don’t count for me as “real” Africa, if you know what I mean! Am also impressed to learn about the university in Timbuktu, I had no idea. (And when I was a kid I was quite sure that was a made up place, and so surprised when I later learned it wasn’t).

    1. I think you need to give yourself more credit. Egypt and Tunisia are certainly different than the animal packed regions to the south or the deserts to the east but they are still part of the face of Africa. I hope you get a chance to explore more of the continent one day. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. The African continent is so diverse geographically and culturally, unfortunately, many of the countries have faced so much hardship, mostly due to greed. All of the facts you have written are fascinating.

    Leticia Alaniz

    1. The 33 interesting facts barely touches on what makes Africa as a continent so interesting. Anything that opens people’s eyes to what it offers – and not just all the negatives is a good thing. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Hi guys!

    I am South African & what can I say…there is no place like home! Africa is beautiful and her dignity is being restored to her with each year, decade that passes by. What I appreciate most about us as Africans is our humanism and definitely how we are not sissies. We are overcomers in the face of adversity, and I mean everyday is a crisis somewhere, but we still make it. The more I learn I about ourselves, the more my pasion grows and man, it’s never felt THIS GOOD being AFRICAN.

    1. I love your positive attitude and with more people like you around, Africa will face its’adversity and overcome it. I have nothing but respect for the people of Africa. With four visits to the continent under my belt I have come to admire the African people- their resiliency and their dignity.

  6. I FIND IT WEIRD HOW YOU PEOPLE REMAIN SO IGNORANT ABOUT AFRICA… AS EUROPEANS AND AMERICAN TOURIST, I DON’T REALLY EXPECT ANY OF YOU TO UNDERSTAND AFRICA FOR WHAT IT REALLY IS… its BEYOND MERE INSIGNIFICANT FACTS. YOU ALL JUST MAKE ME LAUGH WITH YOU WITH YOU BLIND IMPRESSIONS OF AFRICA. I WOULD PREFER YOU ALL STAY AWAY FROM OUR BEAUTIFUL CONTINENT. YOU’VE DONE ENOUGH DAMAGE AS IT IS!!!

    1. Easy enough to paint everyone who visits with the same brush stroke isn’t it? And by the way I’m Canadian.

      I for one have been to Africa on four different occasions – including biking for a month and sleeping in tents, talking to locals, taking local buses, putting money in the economy, giving back wherever I could…

      I have been on the board of the KiBO Foundation – a RESPECTED Ugandan charity, that teaches Ugandan youth IT and leadership skills. It’s also one of the few out there that gets Africans helping themselves with great results.

      If you don’t think education about even basic facts about Africa doesn’t help then I feel sorry for you. Education holds the key for all of us to better understand each other and where we’re coming from.

      I’m just sorry you have so much anger but I do thank you for taking the time to comment.

      And perhaps you could be more illuminating about “blind impressions of Africa’. Three weeks on my last visit to Uganda involved daily discussions with Africans – respectful, courageous, intelligent, open minded Africans.

  7. Love these fun facts. I will go to Egypt next month and can’t wait, I will be careful on the roads though, thanks for the tip. 🙂

  8. Great post, I used few of them on our twitter page. THANKS!
    For those who went to Afrika, we are sharing our experience on twitter and facebook the group name is “I’ve Been to Africa”. Please join us and share your story

    John

  9. I am Ethiopian and I really love my country no matter what people say about it. These facts are really interesting i didn’t even know most of them. One thing i want to tell everyone that lives in America, Europe, etc. is that “Don’t judge Africa before you even go their” It pisses me off a lot when they say bad things about Africa.

    Oh and I went to Ethiopia this summer and i had the best time ever but i never been anywhere else in Africa except Ethiopia 🙂

    1. @Mimi Africa has more good than bad to offer. From the North American perspective it seems very far away and people tend to believe what they read and see in themedia because they have never experienced it firsthand. Now that I’ve been to Africa I would love to explore more of the great continent.

  10. Hi

    Thank you for the interesting facts, didn’t even know half of them (hides away). To “McLean Handjaba” i’m sorry you are this angry, remember the only way you can get rid of ignorance is through knowledge & the only way that can happen is by using whatever platform u can get to promote the “Other Side” of Africa. With the media being in favour of “bad publicity is good publicity” who’s job is it to make that right? Fighting fire with fire isn’t always the best option “Wooosaaaaa” 🙂 .
    Thank you Leigh, come back soon!

  11. I ve been enlightened about Africa more…..We have the Most better things in the world as well as the most ugly things in the world….I strongly have faith that Africa can move from a state of mockery to one of Glory. God loves us too and not only Europe’s and the America’s…..We need the word of God cos that is the only remedy to our problems and also put an end to those funny believes of the old….God will ask us if we don’t make changes with the little we can in our time so as the future generation will come to enjoy…God save us..

  12. iam a nigerian,Its all good having people like you visit africa,wot i wod jus say is there is so much more the world aint telling bout africa and africans,and i know the west doesnt want africa to develop cause they like exploiting africa all in the name of help.

    1. There will always be those that exploit others but I am not one of them;I know so many people here in Canada only wish the continent of Africa much success and I would like them to be able to determine their own destiny.

  13. I guess you left out one important point, I’m an African and the rate poverty is truly alarming amid all our resources.
    Africa is therefore the continent sitting on gold but chewing rocks.

    1. I did read in the past week that many of the economies of countries in Africa are some of teh fastest growing in the world. Millions of people are being lifted out of poverty – though I totally appreciate that doesn’t mean that life is easy. Unfortunately most places still have a very long way to go – and the way you have phrased it sitting on gold but chewing on rocks is brilliant. The Democratic Republic of the Congo in particular comes to mind.

    1. @Sarah I would agree now but I think before Sudan broke up – from what I’ve seen on the web it was the biggest country and I appreciate that it isn’t anymore. I need to update the post but at the time of writing it held true.

  14. Africa is really a beautiful content but its leadership is what is really wanting!Africa needs serious and development conscious leadership if it is to match other developed continents!

  15. Hey – interesting facts however not sure about the source for the most dangerous roads? I googled the topic and what you shared didn’t seem to square with other info.

  16. Africa is an interesting continent, and most of all its very beautiful. Especially the African Safari, thank you so much for the article guys it was so amazing and informative, ok mostly informative.lol I stay in Cape Town, South Africa, its a very beautiful place.

  17. Hai hike bike please when ever in africa pass through zambia we have great sites especially northern part of zambia we are offering you free stop for night stoppage at our farm and come and see the highest mountain in zambia standing at 2067 meters above sea level and the tunels that where used by the german soldiers during first world war there are at the farm

  18. To add on the lists, explore fascinating wildlife in africa, there are mountain gorillas the world most endangered species in Uganda (Mgahinga National Park, Rwanda and Congo (virunga volcano mountains)

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