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Interesting Facts About Africa
Africa is the second largest and the second most populous continent in the world. It encompasses all the four hemispheres and has the Tropic of Cancer, the Tropic of Capricorn and the Equator passing through it. In this section we look at some of the interesting facts about this part of the world.
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- The name ‘Africa’ came from ‘Afri’, the title for a group of people who dwelt in North Africa and ‘ca’, the Roman suffix for ‘country’ or ‘land’.
- In Latin, ‘Africa’ means ‘sunny’ and in Greek ‘Aphrike’ means ‘without cold’.
- Africa covers 6% of the earth’s total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area.
- There are 54 countries and 1 non-self governing territory in Africa.
- Except for Ethiopia and Liberia, all of Africa was colonized by non-African countries.
- In the 1950’s, the independence struggle in Africa gathered momentum. Libya was the first African country to declare its independence.
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- The northernmost countries of Africa (bordering the Mediterranean Sea) are generally called ‘Middle East’ and the countries to the south are referred to as ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’.
- Algeria is the largest country in Africa and Seychelles is the smallest.
- Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and Seychelles is the least populated.
- Namibia is the least densely populated country in Africa.
- Cairo, Egypt is the largest urban agglomeration in Africa. The second largest is Lagos, Nigeria.
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- The largest land animal in the world, the African elephant lives in Africa.
- The tallest animal in the world, the giraffe lives in Africa.
- The fastest animal in the world, the cheetah lives in Africa.
- The largest reptile in the world, the Nile crocodile lives in Africa.
- The largest primate in the world, the gorilla lives in Africa.
- The world’s largest wildlife migration occurs in Serengeti, Tanzania.
- Africa has more than 25% of the total bird species in the world.
- Lake Malawi has more fish species than any other freshwater lake in the world.
- Africa has about 3,000 protected areas which includes 129 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 50 Biosphere Reserves and 198 Marine Protected Areas.
- Mt. Kilimanjaro (5,895m) is the highest peak in Africa. It is a dormant volcano.
- Lake Assal (Djibouti) is the lowest point in Africa. It is 155m below sea level.
- Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa. It is also the second largest freshwater lake in the world.
- The Victoria Falls is the largest waterfalls in Africa. It is about 1.7km wide and 108m high.
- Madagascar is the largest island in Africa. It is also the fourth largest in the world.
- The deepest river in the world is River Congo (220m). It is also the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged.
- The River Nile is the longest river (6,650km) in the world. It is formed by the confluence of two smaller rivers namely the Blue Nile and the White Nile.
- Egypt is called as ‘The Gift of Nile’.
- Africa is the world’s hottest continent.
- Africa is the second driest continent in the world (after Australia).
- The Sahara is the world’s hottest desert and the third largest desert after Antarctica and the Arctic.
- The Sahara desert covers around one tenth of the total land area of Africa.
- The highest temperature ever recorded in the world is in Al-Aziziyah (Libya) in the Saharan desert (1360F or 580C in 1922).
- The oldest human remains (Lucy) ever discovered were in Ethiopia (dating back to roughly 200,000 years).
- The skeleton of ‘Lucy’, a hominid (discovered in Ethiopia, 1974) and a 165-foot trail of hominid footprints (discovered in Tanzania, 1979) helped scientists mark the northeastern territory of Africa as the birthplace of humanity.
- The Pharaonic civilization (Egypt) is one of the oldest and longest lasting civilizations in the world.
- Arabic is the most common language spoken in Africa.
- More than 2,000 languages are spoken in Africa.
- There are atleast 3,000 different ethnic groups in Africa.
- Islam is the most followed religion in Africa, with Christianity being the second.
- Egypt is the most popular tourist destination in Africa.
- Africa is the world’s poorest and the most under-developed continent.
- Africa is the only continent to have a large percentage of its inhabitants transported elsewhere for slave labor.
- The Second Congo War (1998 – 2006) is the deadliest worldwide conflict (in terms of death toll) since World War II. It is also considered as the largest war in African history.
- The two most popular sports in Africa are football and cricket. The success of African teams added to the popularity and flourishing of these games in the continent.
- More than 90% of the soils in Africa are unsuitable for agriculture.
- Deforestation rates in Africa are twice than that of the rest of the world.
- Africa is connected to Asia via Sinai Peninsula.
- Suez Canal is the artificial waterway connecting Mediterranean Sea to Red Sea. It allows ship transport between Europe and Asia without navigating around Africa.
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