LivingTravelFun facts and statistics about the African continent

Fun facts and statistics about the African continent

The African continent is a land of superlatives. Here you will find the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, the longest river in the world, and the largest land animal on Earth. It is also a place of incredible diversity, not only in terms of its many different habitats, but also in terms of its people. Human history is believed to have started in Africa, with sites like the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania contributing to our understanding of our earliest ancestors. Today, the continent is home to rural tribes whose customs have remained unchanged for thousands of years; as well as some of the fastest developing cities on the planet.

In this article, we look at some facts and statistics that show just how amazing Africa really is.

Facts about African geography

Number of countries:

There are 54 officially recognized countries in Africa, in addition to the disputed territories of Somaliland and Western Sahara. The largest African country in terms of area is Algeria, while the smallest is the island nation of Seychelles.

The highest mountain:

The highest mountain in Africa is Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. With a total height of 19,341 feet / 5,895 meters, it is also the tallest mountain in the world.

Lower depression:

The lowest point on the African continent is Lake Assal, located in the Afar Triangle in Djibouti. It lies 509 feet / 155 meters below sea level, and is the third lowest point on Earth (behind the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee).

Largest desert:

The Sahara Desert is the largest desert in Africa and the largest hot desert on the planet. It spans a vast area of about 3.6 million square miles / 9.2 million square kilometers, making it comparable in size to China.

Longest river:

The Nile is the longest river in Africa and the longest river in the world. It runs 4,258 miles / 6,853 kilometers through 11 countries, including Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Rwanda.

The longest lake:

The largest lake in Africa is Lake Victoria, which borders Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. It has an area of 26,600 square miles / 68,800 square kilometers, and it is also the largest tropical lake in the world.

Largest waterfall:

Also known as The Smoke That Thunders, the largest waterfall in Africa is Victoria Falls. Located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the waterfall is 5,604 feet / 1,708 meters wide and 354 feet / 108 meters high. It is the largest layer of water that falls in the world.

Facts about the people of Africa

Number of ethnic groups:

There are believed to be more than 3,000 ethnic groups in Africa. The most populated include the Luba and the Mongo in Central Africa; the Berbers in North Africa; the Shona and the Zulus in southern Africa; and the Yoruba and Igbo in West Africa.

Oldest African tribe:

The San are the oldest tribe in Africa and the direct descendants of the first Homo sapiens . They have lived in southern African countries like Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Angola for more than 20,000 years.

Number of languages:

The total number of indigenous languages spoken in Africa is estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000. Nigeria alone has more than 520 different languages; although the country with the most official languages is Zimbabwe, with 16.

Most populated country:

Nigeria is the most populous African country, providing a home for approximately 181.5 million people.

Least populated country:

The Seychelles have the lowest population of any country in Africa at around 97,000 people. However, Namibia is the least densely populated African country.

Most popular religion:

Christianity is the most popular religion in Africa, with Islam in second place. It is estimated that by 2025, there will be approximately 633 million Christians living in Africa.

Facts about African animals

Largest mammal:

The largest mammal in Africa is the African bush elephant. The largest specimen on record registered a scale of 11.5 tons and measured 13 feet / 4 meters in height. This subspecies is also the largest and heaviest land animal on Earth, only hit by the blue whale.

The smallest mammal:

The Etruscan pygmy shrew is the smallest mammal in Africa, measuring 1.6 inches / 4 centimeters long and weighing only 0.06 oz / 1.8 grams. It is also the smallest mammal in the world by mass.

Largest bird:

The common ostrich is the largest bird on the planet. It can reach a maximum height of 8.5 feet / 2.6 meters and can weigh up to 297 lbs / 135 kilograms.

The fastest animal:

The fastest land animal on Earth, the cheetah, can achieve short bursts of incredible speed; supposedly as fast as 112 kmph / 70 mph.

Tallest animal:

Another world record, the giraffe is the tallest animal both in Africa and around the world. Males are taller than females, with the tallest giraffe on record reaching 19.3 feet / 5.88 meters.

Deadliest animal:

The hippopotamus is the deadliest large animal in Africa, although it pales in comparison to man himself. However, the biggest killer is the mosquito, and malaria alone claimed 438,000 lives worldwide in 2015, 90% of them in Africa.

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