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Interesting Facts About Africa: Vol 4

Updated on November 21, 2015
The people of Ghana at their independence day celebration. Ghana values hospitality.
The people of Ghana at their independence day celebration. Ghana values hospitality.
Elmina Castle, the oldest building in Ghana.
Elmina Castle, the oldest building in Ghana.

Ghana

  • Ghana, a country that has a population of approximately 27 million people, is located in West Africa along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean which also has a total surface area of 238,837 sq Km. The country was initially named Gold coast (because the Ghana Empire was built on trade in salt and Gold) by the British who ultimately won and took control of the native resistance.
  • Kwame Nkrumah who was the first Prime Minister of the Gold Coast in 1951 and after independence on March 6 1957 he later became the first President of Ghana which literally means “Warrior King” in local Mande tongue.
  • Ghana’s National Flag which was designed by Theodosia Salome Okoh is very symbolic; as the red represents the blood that was shed towards independence, the gold represents the industrial mineral wealth of Ghana, the green symbolizes the rich grasslands of Ghana, and the black star is the symbol of the Ghanaian people and African emancipation.
  • Ghana was named most peaceful, safest and the most trustworthy country in Africa by Global Peace Index. This qualifies the country to pioneer a prototype nuclear power plant which is opened to nuclear investors for the development of high tech nuclear power plants for a West Africa Electric Power Pool project.

National Flag of Ghana
National Flag of Ghana
  • Ghana is the world’s second largest producer of cocoa and is projected to become the largest producer of cocoa in the world by the end of 2016. The Ghana Stock Exchange is the fifth largest in Africa and 3rd in sub-Saharan Africa with a market capitalization of 57.2 billion Ghana Cedis or 180.4 billion Chinese Yen in 2012.
  • Despite the Ghana currency being denominated by converting about $0.23 for 1 GC in July 2007, most street vendors and traders still operate in terms of the defunct old Cedi which is so surprising to the new currency users, while the government have done nothing to stop their activities.
  • Built in 1482 by the Portuguese, Ghana boasts of the Elmina Castle which is the oldest surviving European building still within sub-Saharan Africa but sadly enough it was located at the center of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade route and was used to store slaves about to be taken to America.
  • Ghana has over 70 major tribes and spoken languages which are classified into four linguistic groups; Mole-Dagbani, Akan, Ga and Ewe. Twi which is the most popular Akan language is spoken widely by about half population of Ghana.
  • Lake Volta, in the Volta region of the country, is the world’s largest man-made lake, it is 250 miles long and covers 3,283 square miles, or 3.6 percent of Ghana’s surface area.
  • Kejetia market in Ghana is the largest market in West Africa and it’s located in Kumasi, the Ashanti region’s capital. There you can find everything under the hot Ghanaian sun, from local crafts — beads, cloth and sandals — to second-hand jeans and clothing, and meats, fruit and vegetables.
  • In 1991, Ferdie Ato Adoboe of Ghana set a world record by running 100 meters backwards in 13.6 seconds.

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Ghana:
Ghana

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Ghana one of the most peaceful countries in Africa

Map of Guinea Conakry
Map of Guinea Conakry
Alpha Conde, the current President of Guinea-Conakry
Alpha Conde, the current President of Guinea-Conakry
National Flag of Guinea-conakry
National Flag of Guinea-conakry

Guinea

  • Republic of Guinea is a country located in West Africa with a population of approximately 10.5 million people and which shares its northern border in between Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone.
  • Guinea is sometimes called Guinea-Conakry so as to differentiate it from other countries of Africa they share the same name with such as Guinea Bissau and Equatorial Guinea. It is located in West Africa and covers a total surface area of 245,860 sq Km.
  • Guinea is the world’s second largest producer of bauxite, but also has other natural resources in abundance, major mineral deposits, hydroelectric power resources and rich agricultural potential.
  • French is the country’s official language but major ethnic groups that exist in the country speak their own native languages such as the Fula, Mandigo and the Susu. 90% of the people in Guinea are Muslims, 5% are Christians and the remaining practice indigenous beliefs.

Map of Guinea Bissau
Map of Guinea Bissau
Flag of Guinea-Bissau
Flag of Guinea-Bissau
Mhoje Island in Guinea Bissau
Mhoje Island in Guinea Bissau

Guinea-Bissau

  • Guinea-Bissau whose capital is Bissau of course has its name to prevent confusion with Guinea-Conakry and Equatorial Guinea, is a country in West Africa that covers 36,125 km² (nearly 14,000 sq mi) with an estimated population of 1,704,000.
  • Before her independence from the Portuguese in 1974, the country was occupied by the Kingdom of Gabu as well as part of the Mali Empire before the Portuguese Empire started ruling since the 16th century.
  • Guinea-Bissau has a history of political instability since independence, and no elected president has successfully served a full five-year term. The first multi-party elections was held in 1994 and Luis Cabral brother of Amilcar Cabral, the leader and founder of PAIGC who was assassinated in January 1973, won the elections but was ousted after the Civil War in June 1999.
  • Kumba Lala, the elected president in 2000 elections after the Civil War of 1998, was overthrown and killed in a military coup of 2003. In June 2005, Joao Bernardo Vieira won in the conducted elections of that year but was assassinated on March 2, 2009. Elections were conducted again in 2009 and Malam Bacai Sanha was elected President but later died in April 2012 after a coup d’état. Then former vice chief of staff, General Mamadu Ture Kuruma, assumed control of the country in the transitional period before handing over to Jose Mario Vaz who is the current President till date.

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Guinea Bissau:
Guinea-Bissau

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The official language of the people of Guinea Bissau is Portuguese but there are many other people who speak native languages like Crioulo. So the people who originated from Guinea Bissau are called Bissau-Guineans.

The country is blessed with many natural resources which include timber, granite, clay, bauxite, phosphates. They majorly exports fish, shrimp, peanuts, cashews, palm kernels and peanuts to their trading partners like India, Pakistan, Brazil, Cuba, Senegal, Nigeria and Portugal.

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Cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast
Cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast
Men from Akan Tribe of Ivory Coast
Men from Akan Tribe of Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast

  • Ivory Coast is a country located in western part of Africa with a population of 23.9 million people according to 2014 census, covering an area of 124,502 square miles. The country is flat with undulating plains and mountains in the north-west.
  • Literally, two different pronunciations of the country exist and are used in popular literature. There is the English version, Ivory Coast and the French version is Cote d’Ivoire, but it was in 1985 that the country’s official name was changed to the current French version now widely used internationally.
  • Also, Ivory Coast has two officially recognized capitals. Abidjan serves as the official and economic capital of the country while Yamoussoukro serves as the administrative, political capital and fourth largest city in the country.
  • The official currency used in Ivory Coast is called the West African Franc which also officially being used by seven other neighbouring nations like Mali, Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Togo and Niger.
  • The official language of the country is French but other five major ethnic groups such as Akan (42.1%), Voltaiques or Gur (17.6%) Northern Mandes (16.5%) Krous (11%), Southern Mandes (10%) also speak their local languages.

Abidjan, administrative Capital of Ivory Coast
Abidjan, administrative Capital of Ivory Coast
  • Ivory Coast is the World’s largest producers and exporters of Coffee, Cocoa beans and even palm oil, perhaps the reason why Agriculture engages more than 75% of the country’s population as their main source of income as well as the country’s mainstay of economy.Fishing and Forestry also play a major contributor to the economy of the country.
  • There is a strong and large presence of foreigners in Ivory Coast making it the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. According to latest count, about 100,000 Lebanese, 40,000 French and other Europeans, and other African natives from neighbouring countries reside in the country.
  • Ivory Coast won the Oscar Award for the Best Foreign Language Film for “Black and White in Color”.
  • The dominant religion is Islam significantly followed by RomanChristianity, and the country is also home to the Largest Roman Catholic Basilica in the world; the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, located in the administrative capital of Yamoussoukro.
  • Ivory Coast has a large presence of highly educated teachers in schools inducted from very high-level government ministries and others but has a relatively low literacy rate particularly women.
  • Attieke is a popular side dish in Ivory Coast made with grated cassava and is a vegetable-based couscous. Kedjenou is a dish consisting of chicken and vegetables that are slow-cooked in a sealed pot with little or no added liquid, which concentrates the flavors of the chicken and vegetables and tenderizes the chicken. Bangui is a local liquor (palm wine).

Map of Kenya
Map of Kenya
Uhuru Kenyatta is the current President of Kenya
Uhuru Kenyatta is the current President of Kenya | Source

Kenya

  • Kenya is a country widely known for its tourist sites is located in East Africa, whose capital and largest city is Nairobi. The country is the 47th largest country in the world covering a surface area of 580,367 km2 (224,081 sq mi) with a population of 43 million people.
  • History has it that the name Kenya originated from words from tribes of Kikuyu, Embu and Kamba which are names for Mount Kenya, “Kirinyaga”, “Kirinyaa and “Kiinyaa” which literally means “God’s resting place” in all the three languages. But it is widely known by majority that the country was named after Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain (after Mount Kilimanjaro) in Africa.
  • Kenya was a British colony and was under British colonial rule from 1895 to 1963, when the country finally gained independence and the first president was nationalist veteran Jomo Kenyatta.
  • Kenya is traditionally known and famous for its safaris, diverse climate, geography, expansive wildlife reserves and national parks such as the East and West Tsavo Park, Maasai Mara etc. The country has several world heritage sites like Lamu, Diani, Bamburi and Kilifi where international yachting competitions are held every year.

Mount Kenya
Mount Kenya
National Flag of Kenya
National Flag of Kenya
  • The two official languages in Kenya are English and Swahili (which is the most widely spoken language in Africa after Arabic), although there are dozens of other languages spoken in various parts of the country. The Masai tribes of Kenya are naturally tall, slender and are known for their skill in the use of weapons and their strong belief in living independently.
  • Kenya has the biggest and most advanced economy in east and central Africa with Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.519 ranking her 145 out of 186 in the world. The Nairobi Securities Exchange is ranked 1st in East and Central Africa making it the zone’s hub for financial services and 4th in Africa in terms of Market capitalization.
  • Tourism which is the service sector is the country’s largest export earning sector and contributor economic growth followed by coffee, tea and flowers. Kenyan government announced that in 2006 tourism generated US$803 million, up from US$699 million the previous year.
  • Agriculture is the second contributor to Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP). But despite the fact that Coffee being Kenya’s second biggest export product, most Kenyans prefer to consume tea and beer.
  • The Lake Victoria in Kenya is the largest tropical freshwater lake in the world and the country shares it with neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda.
  • Sprint athletics is the most popular sports in Kenya, as the country is best known for its middle distance and long distance runners and frequently producing Olympic champions.

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Lesotho:
Lesotho

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The Kingdom of Lesotho

National Flag of Lesotho
National Flag of Lesotho

Lesotho

  • Lesotho, whose official name is Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country located in the southern part of Africa entirely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa and many mountains, with nearly two-thirds of the country consisting of 2200-3000 meters high mountains. The country is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations
  • With Maseru as its capital and largest city, the country covers a surface area of 30,355km2 (12,583 sq mi) just about the size of Belgium, Israel or slightly smaller than Maryland in US and has a total population of about 2.2 million people.
  • Lesotho was named after the indigenous Sotho people, whose own name means “black” or “dark-skinned”. Sotho opposition to incorporation into the Union of South Africa saw the creation of the independent Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966, just after gaining independence from Britain and Moshoeshoe II, great-grandson of Moshoeshoe became its first king and head of state after independence.
  • Lesotho is one of the 3 remaining kingdoms (the other two are Morocco and Swaziland) in Africa ruled by a constitutional monarchy. King Letsi III is the Head of State and reigning king of Lesotho since 1990.
  • Lesotho is home to the Katse Dam, the highest dam in Africa reaching about 2050 meters surface coverage when at 100% and at 185 meters high, it is the second largest dam wall in Africa.

A tourist viewing the magnificient Katse Dam in Lesotho
A tourist viewing the magnificient Katse Dam in Lesotho
  • English and Sesotho (or sotho) is the official language in the country but the Basotho tribe which are also the Bantu speaking people and form majority of Lesotho population use Sesotho as their main language and as also administrative and official language.
  • The official currency of the country is Lesotho loti (ISO Code-LSL), though the South African rand is also widely accepted as legal tender within the kingdom.
  • Christianity is the largest and most followed religion in the Kingdom of Lesotho with 90% of the population following this religion. Roman Catholics and Protestants represent 45% of this, while the remaining 10% consists of Muslims and other traditional followers.
  • People from Lesotho are called Basotho. The Basotho blanket is a trademark that comes in a very colourful and attractive pattern which is not only used to protect the Basotho against cold, but is also worn as a status symbol and cultural identification for the people who are proud of it , made to replace animal skins which are always worn differently for men and women all seasons. Tourist and visitors can always buy one as souvenirs of Basotho tribal culture.
  • The country, whose literacy rate is at 82%, has its national Motto as Khosto, Pula, Nala which literally means Peace, Rain and Prosperity.

Men wearing the colourful Basotho blanket
Men wearing the colourful Basotho blanket
  • Also known as the kingdom in the sky, Lesotho has the highest low point of any country at over 1,000 meters. Over 80% of the country is 1,800 meters above sea level.

  • The major natural resources of Lesotho are water and diamonds. Lesotho exports mohair, wool, clothing and footwear. One of Levi’s jeans manufacturing facilities is located in this country.
  • Lesotho imports food, machinery, petroleum products, medicines and vehicles from United States of America and Canada but exports clothing, Furniture, Footwear and wool. Agriculture includes wheat, pulses, corn, sorghum and livestock.
  • Today's tourists can find footprints from dinosaurs such as the small Lesothosaurus and rock art left by ancient San Bushmen. The Afri-Ski Resort in the Maluti Mountains is the highest ski resort in Africa and attracts winter sports enthusiasts and tourists from all round the world.

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