Scientists usually call Africa the “birthplace of the human race”. As they believe that humans evolved around 200,000 years ago in that continent before spreading all over the world. Let’s learn more about Africa Facts and secrets.
On The Land
Africa is the second-largest continent in the world After Asia. Most of the African countries lie in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. The continent has 54 countries and 9 dependent territories. Algeria is the largest country in Africa by area as it covers 2,381,741 square kilometers (919,595 sq mi) making it the 10th largest country in the world. Seychelles is the smallest country in Africa as it only covers 455 sq km (176 sq miles).
Pin on the map
Africa has many rivers. That includes The Niger, The Congo and The Zambezi rivers. However, The Nile is the most famous river in the continent. It is the longest river in the world. The Nile flows for around 6,650 km. The Nile has two major tributaries, the Blue Nile (which begins at Lake Victoria) and the White Nile (which begins at Lake Tana). Both tributaries meet just north of Khartoum (the capital of Sudan). The Nile’s journey passes through 11 countries and ends in the Mediterranean Sea north of Egypt.
Africa has plains, forests, deserts, lakes, mountains and even volcanoes. The Atlas Mountains is the longest unbroken mountain range in Africa. It stretches across northwestern Africa. However, the highest peak in the continent lies in The East African Mountains. It’s called Mount Kilimanjaro which reaches a height of 5,895 meters (19,341 ft) above sea level. Africa is also home to the largest hot desert in the world. The Sahara covers an area of 9,200,000 square kilometers (3,600,000 sq mi).
Around a quarter of Africa is covered by rainforests. That includes Congo forest, Mau forest, Ongoye Forest and Arabuko Sokoke forest. Congo forest is the largest rainforest in Africa the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world after the Amazon in South America. This massive land covers parts of six African countries. However, the size of forests is shrinking in Africa due to urbanization.
Africa is known for its richness in wildlife. The huge continent is home to thousands of different species. This made Africa a favorite destination for animal researchers and lovers. Every year, people flock to Africa to visit the national parks, reserves and sanctuaries. The most famous animals in the continent are called the “big five” which are the buffalos, lions, elephants, leopards and rhinoceros. All of these animals live in Southern Africa. Many other animals that live in Africa, such as giraffes, zebras, ostriches and cheetahs.
Africa’s weather is different from one place to another. In North Africa, the climate is dry and hot. Rain doesn’t often fall in the deserts there. (However, the temperatures can go drop below freezing in the Sahara desert and the mountains at night).
In West and Central Africa, the climate is hot and humid with heavy seasonal rains. In East Africa, the seasons are either dry or rainy while the climate in Southern Africa is mostly moderate.
In many African countries, there aren’t four seasons like Europe and the US. Most countries that lie south of the Sahara Desert have two seasons, the dry and the rainy seasons.
Africa faces many threats. Some of these hazards are natural such as droughts, floods, storms and earthquakes. While others are made by humans. These include pollution, losses to livelihoods and property. The continent is deeply affected by epidemics and diseases. Cholera, malaria and Ebola were among the most famous outbreaks in the continent.
Meet the people
Africa is the second-most-populous continent in the world with more than 1.3 billion people. Nigeria is the most inhabited nation in Africa with more than 206 million people living there.
Africa is a pot of cultures. The continent has more than 3000 different groups. These groups speak more than 2,100 different languages and practice tons of religions. Yoruba is the biggest ethnic group in the continent with more than 35 million people living mainly in three countries, which are Nigeria, Benin, and Togo. Arabic and Swahili are among the most popular languages in the continent. Arabic dominates North Africa while Swahili is mainly spoken in East Africa. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Europeans colonized most countries in Africa. As a result, European languages, such as French and English are spoken as a second language in many African nations.
The colonization, civil wars and droughts had great impacts on many African nations. That’s why many of the world’s poorest nations are in Africa. Somalia and Burundi are among the poorest African nations. On the other hand, there are some rich and fast-growing economies in the continent. This includes South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt.
Sports are very important in Africa. Football is, without doubt, the most practiced and watched sport in the continent. Egypt holds the record in winning the African Cup of Nations. The pharaohs won the title seven times. South Africa was the only African country to host the World Cup. That happened in 2010. African National football teams have left their marks in World Cup. However, they haven’t been able to reach the semi-finals. Maybe their luck would change in 2022 in Qatar. Who knows?
Music is very important in Africa. There are different styles of music in each country. In many African countries, music is often used in religious rituals. Songs are told and passed down from generation to generation and dances are performed to express joy or even sadness! The xylophone and drums are among the most used musical instruments especially in West and East Africa. Fela Kuti was one of the most influential musicians in modern history. The Nigerian artist made songs opposing the dictators in his country.
Take a walk
Africa is full of attractions. From stunning safaris to massive monuments, there’s something for everyone in “the motherland”.
Africa has an array of landscapes and reserves that attract wildlife lovers from all around the globe. It might be difficult to choose from. Here are some parks you shouldn’t miss.
Hwange National Park
Some people like to call this startling park “Home of Elephants”. A huge population of the big-tusked creatures lives there. We recommend visiting the park between August and October. In this dry season, elephants are gathered around the water holes so you might find them easily.
Not only elephants live there. Hwange National Park is a haven for wild dogs, leopards, cheetahs and many other beasts.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
If you love movies about animals, you must have seen Serengeti National Park at least once. The famous area was featured in many films and documentaries. This is not a surprise though. The site is famous for the Great Migration. Every year, millions of animals travel from Serengeti to Kenya. Thousands of tourists visit the park to witness this breathtaking scene.
Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia
Do you like deserts? If so, we have the perfect place for you. Namib-Naukluft National Park has tons of sand as it is the fourth largest national park in the world and home to one of the oldest deserts on the planet, the Namib Desert. The place is home to many wild animals. That includes leopards, springboks, giraffes and black-backed jackals. If you like to experience absolute silence among waves of dunes, then you should head straight to Namibia. We can promise lots of “me time” there.
Africa isn’t all about animals and deserts. People in Africa built outstanding structures. Here are some man-made sites you should consider visiting.
The Egyptian pyramids
Obvious choice, isn’t it? The famous pyramids are among the most famous monuments in the whole world, not just in Africa. The huge structures are called Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure and they are guarded by the sphinx. The sphinx is a massive statue with the head of a human and the body of a lion. The Pyramids at Giza are around 4500 years old! People from all over the world come and watch in awe this magnificent site.
Kano City Wall
The British described the Kano city wall as “the most impressive monument in West Africa”. The wall was built to protect the city of Kano, Nigeria in between 1095 and 1134. The wall is around 15 m high. UNESCO added the site to the world Heritage sites list due to its historical significance. However, only twenty per cent of the wall is still intact as major parts were damaged due to the need for building materials. The remains of the wall show the architectural wonders of West Africa.
Let’s head back north to visit Chefchaouen in Morocco. The wondrous city is famous for its blue buildings. That’s why it was called “the blue pearl.” Chefchaouen was founded in the 15th century as a fortress. However, the famous blue color only came to the city in the 20th century. But why? There are a lot of stories behind the blue secret. Some people believe the city was painted blue as this color keeps mosquitos away while others believe it was a step to attract tourists. Some historians believe that Jewish communities that fled to Morocco during WW II painted many buildings in blue as this color symbolizes the sky which is a reminder of heaven and God. No matter the reason, “the blue pearl” would keep its distinguished color for many years to come.
When you think of space programs, you might think of The US, Russia or even China. But did you know that in the 1960s, the African Nation, Zambia, was thinking about sending astronauts and a cat to Mars? Unfortunately, the program failed. Who knows? We might see an African country landing on the moon or Mars in the future!