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Interesting Facts You should Know about Africa: Vol 1

Updated on November 8, 2015

Africa is the second largest among the seven continents of the world and also the second most populated continent (after Asia with 4.2 billion) with over 1.1 billion people as at 2013 count, which have 52 countries mostly developing countries. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Corrupt leaders, greed and poverty are the bane and always a threat to development in a continent regarded by many as a Virgin world of opportunities.

Map of Africa
Map of Africa
A
Africa:
Africa

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In alphabetical order, let’s give you some facts you might never know about countries in Africa that could also serve as a tour guide when next you are planning on a vacation trip to Africa. Here we go;

Algeria
Algeria
Map of Algeria
Map of Algeria

Algeria

  • Algeria which is located in north western Africa is the second largest country after Sudan in terms of land mask. Four-fifth of Algeria is located in the Sahara, the world’s largest desert and over 80% of Algerians live in the northern part of the country because of its fertile lands.
  • Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the president of Algeria is one of the longest serving presidents in Northern Africa that was not affected by the famous “Arab Spring”, ruling for over 15 years since he was elected in 1999 after being favoured by the army.
  • The largest concentration of Algerian migrants outside Algeria is in France, which has reportedly over 1.7 million Algerians of up to the second generation.
  • Local Berbers were the indigenous occupants before Algeria was invaded by the Arabs in the AD 600s, forcefully converting them to Islam and introduced Arabic.

Local Berbers of Algeria
Local Berbers of Algeria
  • Algeria was later colonized by the French and Algiers was made the capital by the French colonial masters in 1830, so in World War II it became the headquarters of the Allies.
  • Algeria is among the world’s largest reserve of natural gas, so Oil and gas account for around two-thirds of the country’s total revenues and more than 90% of the exports.

Map of Angola
Map of Angola

Angola

  • Angola is a large country which is more than twice the size of France and fourteen times bigger than Portugal, the country that colonized them.
  • Angola is a developing country where 70% of the people are poor peasant farmers; ironically agriculture contributes only about 9% of the gross domestic product.
  • The Bantu people became the first from the north to settle in Angola around 2000 years ago.

National Flag of Angola
National Flag of Angola
  • In the early 16th century, the Portuguese set up bases and took over control of Angola which became their important source of slaves for Brazil (another huge colony for Portugal in South America), but in 1975 Angola got her independence.
  • Luanda is the capital and largest city of Angola which was first settled by the Portuguese in 1575.

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Map of Benin Republic and neighboring countries
Map of Benin Republic and neighboring countries
National Flag of Rep. of Benin
National Flag of Rep. of Benin

Benin

  • The Republic of Benin, which was formerly called Dahomey until 1975 when military president Lt-Col Matthieu Kerekou announced that the country be renamed Benin after he visited Benin Kingdom in Nigeria, a powerful city known for its magnificent sculptures and war conquest.
  • Benin is a poor developing country and one of the smallest countries in Africa with just 112,662 sq km.
  • The shoreline of the present-day Benin became part of what was called the Slave Coast, a point used in those days to ship many Dahomeans as slaves to Europe, North and South America.
  • Many slaves were shipped to South America especially Brazil which is why there some traces of Dahomeans culture and religion practice like the voodoo cult in Haiti which originated in Dahomey.

Map of Botswana
Map of Botswana
National Flag of Botswana
National Flag of Botswana

Botswana

  • Chobe National Park, found in the Chobe District, has the world's largest concentration of African elephants. The park covers about 11,000 km2 (4,247 sq mi) and supports about 350 species of birds.
  • Botswana’s Orapa mine is the largest diamond mine in the world in terms of value and quantity of carats produced annually. In 2013, the mine produced over 11 million carats of diamond which is valued at about $1.6 billion with an average price of $145/carat.
  • About 10,000 San (a minority ethnic group) are still living the traditional hunter-gatherer style of life which explains why the central government of Botswana has been trying to move San out of their lands since 1990’s.

San Bushman from Botswana
San Bushman from Botswana
  • Botswana has the second highest HIV infection rate in the world after nearby Swaziland which was estimated at 24% for adults in 2006.
  • The oldest paintings from both Botswana and South Africa depict hunting, animal and human figures, and were made by the Khoisan (Kung San/Bushmen) over twenty thousand years ago within the Kalahari Desert.

Map of Burkina Faso
Map of Burkina Faso
National Flag of Burkina Faso
National Flag of Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso

  • The country which is a landlocked area located in West Africa owes its former name of Upper Volta to three rivers which flows across it: the Black Volta (or Mouhoun), the White Volta (Nakambé) and the Red Volta (Nazinon).
  • Burkina Faso is home to Africa’s most endangered animal species (predators) such as the cheetah, the caracal or African lynx, the spotted hyena and the African wild dog.
  • An average Burkinabe woman is very fertile and so the total fertility rate of Burkina Faso is 5.93 children born per woman (2014 estimates), the sixth highest in the world.
  • The country was ranked as the lowest level of literacy in the world, despite a concerted effort to double its literacy rate from 12.8% in 1990 to 25.3% in 2008 by UN Development Program Report.

A Farmer in Burkina Faso
A Farmer in Burkina Faso | Source
  • Burkina Faso is the fourth-largest gold producer in Africa, after South Africa, Mali and Ghana when Gold production increased 32% in 2011 at six gold mine sites in the country.
  • Burkina Faso became the most recent country in the world to experience a coup when on 17 September 2015 the provisional government was toppled by an apparent military coup d'état carried out by the Regiment of Presidential Security.

Map of Burundi and neighbours
Map of Burundi and neighbours
National Flag of Burundi
National Flag of Burundi

Burundi

  • Since Burundi's independence in 1962, there have been two genocides in the country; the 1972 mass killing of about 210,000 Hutus by the Tutsi-dominated army and the 1993 mass killing of 300,000 people majorly Tutsis by the Hutu majority.
  • Burundi is ranked 2nd from bottom according to the 2013 World Economic Forum's Network Readiness Index (NRI) – an indicator for determining the development level of a country’s information and communication technologies.
  • In April 2009, the government of Burundi made the practice of homosexuality a capital offence and persons found guilty of consensual same-sex relationship risk two to three years in prison with a fine of 50,000 to 100,000 Burundian francs.

Burundians in wild jubilation over war victory
Burundians in wild jubilation over war victory
  • Burundi which remains an overwhelmingly underdeveloped rural society with just 13% of the population living in urban areas in 2013, and has the fifth highest total fertility rate in the world, at 6.08 children born per one woman according to a 2012 World study.
  • Lack of access to financial services is a serious problem for the majority of the population, even in the densely populated rural areas as only 2% of the country’s total population holds bank accounts, and less than 0.5% use bank lending services (currently one of the lowest in the world). Poor
  • In April 1994, Burundian elected President Cyprien Ntaryamira (a Hutu) and Rwandan President Major General Habyarimana died together when their airplane was shot down, in retaliation the Hutu army and militia launched an act of genocide against the Tutsi minority, massacring over 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda which became the worst and largest killings in the Africa.

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