- Travel and Places
Interesting Facts About Africa:Vol 5
- The Republic of Liberia is on Africa’s west coast Ivory Coast to the east, Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north and the Atlantic Ocean to its south. The country covers a land surface area of 111,369 sq km (43,000 sq mi) with a population of 4.5 million people according to 2015 estimate.
- Monrovia is the capital, chief port and largest city of Liberia. It is also the administrative, commercial and financial centre of the country which was named after James Monroe, US president from 1817-1825.
- In 1817, Robert Finley founded a group called American Colonization Society whose aim was to return freed African-American slaves back to Africa for settlement. More than 11,000 African –American were successfully transported back to Sierra Leone.
- The name Liberia was adopted from a Latin word which means Land of the free, simply because the country was settled by freed American slaves.
- Liberia is the only country in Africa colonized by the United States of America and also the first country in Africa to elect a woman as president. Her name is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Harvard-trained economist.
- The National flag was adopted in 1847 when the country became independent, as the 11 red and white stripes represent the 11 men who signed Liberia’s declaration of Independence.
- English is the official spoken language and serves as the lingua franca of the country. The Kpelle are the largest ethnic group in Liberia, other tribes include Americo-Liberians, Congo minority, Afro-Carribean slaves.
- Under Charles Taylor’s leadership as president things deteriorated as UN imposed an arms embargo on Liberia in 2001 due to the fact that the president Taylor traded diamonds and illegal timber to fund the Revolutionary United Front in the Sierra Leone Civil War. This single action amounted to rebel group attack and pressure from international community which led to Taylor’s resignation in 2003 and exile in Nigeria.
- Bushmeat hunting is very popular especially during the Civil War as animals like Pygmy Hippos was among the endangered species hunted for food consumption and also exported to neighbouring countries, despite a ban on the sale of wild animals by Liberian government.
- An outbreak of a deadly virus called Ebola in Guinea spread to Liberia in 2014 killing more than 8,000 people and on May 9, 2015 the country was declared Ebola free after six weeks with no identifiable cases.
- Football in Liberia is a popular sports as George Weah a Liberia became the only African till date to win FIFA World Footballer of the year in 1995 and also contested as president of Liberia in 2005 but lost to the current woman president Ellen Sirleaf Johnson.
- Libya is country located at the Maghreb region of North Africa with a population of about 6.5 million people covering a land surface area of 1,759,540 km sq (679,362 sq mi) larger than Alaska, making her the 4th largest country in Africa and 16th largest country in the world.
- History has it that Libya got its name apparently from local tribesmen who were called Libues in Greek, which was later Latinized into Libyes. The country practices a socialist Military Dictatorship type of government.
- Libya was first inhabited by the Berbers since the Bronze Age but it has been ruled by different empires since then, starting with the Phoenicians who were the first to establish trading posts in the country followed by the Persians, Egyptians and then the Greek-Egyptians before becoming a part of the Roman Empire.
- The official spoken language in Tunisia is Arabic, but the Berbers and Arabs ethnicities form over 97% of Libya’s population and the remaining 3% of residents which include Tunisians, Egyptians, Greeks, Turks and Indians.
- Tripoli is the capital and largest city of Libya closely followed by Benghazi, Mistratah and Homs. About 88% of the entire Libya’s urban populations are mostly concentrated in these largest cities.
- The Ancient Greeks who colonized Eastern Libya founded a city called Cyrene in 630 B.C. In the city lies the temple of one of Greek’s god king, Zeus, which of course has become one of the World Heritage sites in Libya.
- In Libya exists the oldest mosque in the Sahara region called Atiq Mosque located in Awjila which was apparently built by Arabs who invaded Western Libya in 647 B.C.
- Libya practiced a constitutional and hereditary monarchial system of government under King Idris I, who became the only monarch Libya ever had and who announced Libya’s independence on December 24, 1951.
- Libya suffered its worst political rule under General Muammar Gaddafi who seized power in September 1969 after he had ousted King Idris in a successful military coup d'état. Under Gaddafi’s tyrant regime, Amnesty International had listed over 25 assassinations carried out by Gaddafi between 1980 and 1987.
- After a popular movement called the Arab Spring that overturned the longtime rulers of Tunisia and Egypt, Libya also experienced a full-scale revolt beginning on 17 February 2011 against Muammar Gaddafi which led to his capture and killing on October 20, 2011 by opposition rebels with the help of NATO.
- In Libya, it is illegal to consume alcohol; with the internet country code of .ly, several companies have registered there to create interesting names including the popular website bit.ly.
- Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa and one of the largest supplies of the world’s light, sweet crude. Agriculture is an important sector in Libya.
Starting from the year 2020, African cuntries will be become a major player in the world'd economic and political summits.
- The Republic of Madagascar is a country that lies 390 km off the south-east coast of Africa which is also the fourth largest island in the World. The country covers a land surface area of 587,040 sq km (226,657 sq mi) with a total population of 22 million people.
- The Malagasy ethnic group forms over 90% of Madagascar entire population which is why Malagasy and French are the official spoken languages in the country recorded in the constitution of 1992.
- The county’s capital and largest city is Antananarivo also pronounced as Tananarive, which was found around 1625. It is also the economic capital of the country
- Moraingy is a very popular spectator sport in Madagascar which is the traditional martial art that involves hand-to-hand combat.
- Famadihana is a common traditional practice which is a reburial ceremony whereby a deceased family member's remains may be exhumed to be periodically re-wrapped in fresh silk shrouds before being replaced in the tomb.
- Despite the training and leadership provided by British military advisers due to French attacks on its coastal towns, the Malagasy army was unable to withstand French weaponry and was forced to surrender following an attack on the royal palace at Antananarivo. Madagascar was declared a colony of France in 1897.
- Hery Rajaonarimampiannia is the current president of Madagascar who was declared the winner of the 2013 presidential election. An election the international community deemed as fair and transparent.
- The Republic of Malawi is one of the smallest, landlocked countries which not more than 160 km (100 mi) wide located in southeast Africa. The country covers a land surface area of 118,484 sq km (45,747 sq mi) making it the 99th largest country in the world and with a population of 16.4 million people according to 2013 estimate.
- The country got its name from Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that once inhabited the area. But the country was first settled by the Bantu-speaking tribe in Malawi who first reached the area around 2000 years ago introducing an Iron Age culture and developing kingdoms in the region.
- Malawi is among the world’s least-developed countries as around 85% of the population live in the rural areas surviving on solely on agriculture. Malawi has a low life expectancy and high infant mortality rate.
- Malawi was called Nyasaland until gaining independence from British rule on July 6, 1964 and Dr. Hastings Banda became her first president. In 1971, Banda declared himself “president-for-life” and consequently ruled for almost 30 years before he lost in the presidential elections of 1993.
- Agriculture is the major source of country’s economic growth. Agricultural products like tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, groundnuts are very common among farmers and exported to other countries like Germany, Russia, South Africa, United States and Netherlands.
- Malawian cannabis, known as Malawi Gold, is the best and finest in the world grown for recreational drug use according to a recent World Bank and this may contribute to crimes and corruptions in the country.
- The Republic of Mali is a landlocked country and the largest in West Africa covering land surface area of 1,240,192 sq km (478,838 sq mi), with a population of 14.5 million people and GDP per capita of $631. It’s capital and largest city is Bamako.
- French is the official spoken language in Mali but other major languages exists such as the Bambara the largest single ethnic group which over 80% population of Mali can understand and communicate with.
- Mali is the third largest producer of gold in Africa (after South Africa and Ghana) although the country’s economy centers largely on agriculture such as fishing and cotton farming, making her one of Africa’s major cotton producers and exporters.
- The present day Mali was named after the great Mali Empire which flourished in the 13th century controlling the trans-Saharan trade zone with the other two, Ghana Empire and Songhai Empire.
- Since after her independence from France in 1960, Mali has suffered several decades of droughts, rebellions, a coup and 23 years of military dictatorship under President Moussa Traore until democratic elections in 1992 returned the country to political stability.
- Mali was regarded as a model of African democracy not until in March 2012 when the military seized power and northern Mali fell under the control of al-Qaeda terrorist and Tuareg separatists. But the presidential polls of August 2013 were meant for the country to return to civilian rule.
- Mali is among the 25 poorest countries in the world. Public education in Mali is compulsory for nine years between the ages of seven and sixteen, but the literacy rate in the country is averagely low ranging from 30% to 46.5%which is significantly lower among women.
- Slavery in Mali has persisted for centuries till date as approximately 200,000 Malians are still enslaved. Over 800,000 estimated people are descendants from slaves with the Arabic population kept slaves well into the 20th century.
- 90% of Malians are Sunni or Ahmadiyya Muslims, 5% practice Christianity and the remaining 5% still adhere to their indigenous traditional beliefs.
- Despite its political travails, Mali is renowned worldwide for having produced some of the stars of African music, most notably Salif Keita. The annual Festival in the Desert has traditionally celebrated this talent.
- Salt was such a valuable commodity that people would trade a pound of gold for a pound of salt. Mali is famous for its salt mines.
- The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is a country located in the Maghreb region of north-western Africa which covers a land surface area of 1,025,520 sq km (395,953 sq mi), twice the size of France with a population of 3.4 million people.
- Mauritania got her name apparently from the misnamed classical Mauretania in northern Morocco
- Nouakchott is the capital and largest city of Mauritania which was named capital when the country became independent in 1960. The city is underdeveloped with congested roads, outdated architecture and a busy market that traded majorly fish.
- Mahadaras is a regular name for Quaranic schools in Mauritania.
- In Mauritania, life expectancy at birth is about 56% and infant mortality is 5.6 percent. According to statistics, there are 13 doctors for every 100,000 people.
- Two-thirds of Mauritania is desert and the desert is expanding southwards every year due to a severe drought that has hit the country since 1960s. This poses a serious threat and risk to the economy of Mauritania.
- The official spoken language in Mauritania is Arabic particularly the Hassaniya dialect. The two major ethnic groups in the country are the black Africans and Arab-Berbers but minor groups like Fulani, Soninke and Bambara also exist. Almost all of the people of Mauritania are Muslim, mostly Sunni.