Africa is one of the 7 continents of the world. It is the second largest and the second most populous continent in the world with Nigeria as the largest country by population. Africa covers 6% of the total surface area of the earth and 20% of its total land area while Algeria is its largest country by area. As of 2016, there were 1.2 billion people in Africa; that is one-seventh and 16% of the entire world’s population.
According to the United Nations, there are 54 fully recognized sovereign states or countries in Africa today and this explains why the continent can boast of diverse ethnic groups, cultures, and a very high linguistic diversity, although there are uniting forces among these countries. In a bid to foster a strong bond among African countries, African Union was established with its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
What are the Things Africa is Known For?
Africa, like every other continent that has grown through the process of time, is known around the world for many reasons. Popular for the ancient Egyptian Pyramids and its huge cultural heritage, the continent is also known to be the origin of civilization and written language dating back to more than 4000 years. Africa is also known for being one of the hottest places on earth. Apart from these, below are some other amazing things for which Africa is known.
World’s Second Largest Continent
Africa is the second largest continent in the world covering almost 12 million sq. miles (approximately 31 million sq. km) and what this means is that Africa could hold the land space occupied by India, China, New Zealand, Argentina, Europe and the continental parts of United States, with more spaces left to spare!
The Sahara Desert
This is the world’s hottest desert which occupies 25% of the total area of Africa- an area greater in size than the entire United States. The desert got its name from the dialectal Arabic word for “desert”, ‘ṣaḥra’, which by literal translation means ‘the greatest desert’. It is usually cited as the world’s largest desert but going by the definition of the term ‘desert’, both Antarctica and the Arctic qualify as deserts, and since they are both larger than the Sahara, that automatically makes Sahara desert the third largest in the world.
Home To The Longest and Deepest Rivers In The World
The Nile river, located in northeastern Africa, is the longest river in the world, measuring 4,132 miles. It runs through eleven African countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Republic of the Sudan and Egypt.
Africa is also known to be the home of the Congo River which is the deepest river in the world, reaching more than 750 feet in depth. It is also the ninth longest river in the world and runs through the second largest rainforest in the world. The volume of water discharged by the Congo river is second to the Amazon River.
The Second Congo War
Just a little more than one year after the First Congo War, the second lap of the war kicked off in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on 2 August 1998 and lasted until 18 July 2003. The Second Congo War holds a record of being the deadliest war in the world since World War II. Though not something Africa is proud of, this brutal war which involved nine African countries and about twenty armed groups, claimed the lives of 5.4 million people- the second-highest number of casualties after the Second World War.
Africa was once joined to the other continents in a massive continent called Pangaea. Over millions of years, this huge continent broke apart shaping the world landscape as we know it today in what has been referred to the continental drift.
One in four of the world’s languages are spoken only in Africa and Arabic is the most widely spoken language in Africa. A total of 170 million individuals mainly living in the northern parts of Africa speak Arabic. This is outside over 2000 other languages spoken in Africa.
In Africa, Egypt is the most attractive country for tourism and part of what drives this is the Egyptian pyramids. It is worthy of note, however, that Sudan has over 200 pyramids which is much more than the number found in Egypt.
Origin Of World Civilization
World Civilization started in Africa and the most ancient civilization known to man was the state of the Pharaohs which started in ancient Egypt about 3300 BC and ended in 343 BC.
Origin Of The Human Race
Following the excavation of the oldest skeletal remains of anatomically modern humans (or homo sapiens) known to the world, at sites in East Africa, it has been said that the human race has its origin in Africa. This human remains which is approximately 200,000-years-old were found at Omo in Ethiopia.
The Victoria Falls
Described as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Victoria Falls located on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border is the largest waterfall in the world based on its height (108 meters) and width (1,708 meters). It was first seen by in 1855 by David Livingstone, a famous Scottish explorer and missionary, while he was trying to maneuver a dugout canoe through swirling rapids. The falls got its name from Livingstone who named it after Queen Victoria of Britain. However, the local till date, still call it Mosi-oa-Tunya – “Smoke That Thunders” and both names are officially recognized by the World Heritage List.
This is the largest lake in Africa, the ninth largest continental lake and the second largest freshwater lake in the world. located in East Africa, Victoria Lake is the source of the famous River Nile. It was discovered in 1858 by John Speke who named the river after the then Queen of England- Queen Victoria.
Poorest Continent In The World
A February 2017 ranking of the world’s poorest countries by Global Finance Magazine shows that African countries again were dominant. The ranking, done based on data from the International Monetary Fund, ranked the world’s countries according to their gross domestic product (GDP) based on purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita.
In Africa, a lot of people survive on a thousand dollars or less (per person) per year in GDP. This is due to political instability, poverty, genocide, many years of war, lack of natural resources, among other things.
The largest remaining populations of wild animals like lions, elephants, buffalos, rhinoceros, cheetah, hyena, leopard and hundreds of other species are found in Africa.
Africa has the largest number of countries with 60% of illiterate people, according to World literacy statistics. Nearly 40% of adults in Africa are illiterate, and two-thirds of them are women.