January 15, 2024 | Sammy Tran

Little Known Facts About Africa

Africa is rich in cultural heritage and diversity, has a wealth of natural resources, and hosts some of the most breathtaking wildlife on Earth. Explore this incredible continent with some of our favorite facts about Africa.

1. Lots of people, lots of language

Africa is home to more than 1 billion people who speak over 1,500 different languages. One in every four of the world’s language are spoken only in Africa.


2. Size matters

Africa’s total size is roughly 11.7 square miles, representing approximately a fifth of the earth’s total landmass. This means Africa is larger than India, China, Mexico, and the USA combined.

giraffes standing on grass field surrounded by plantsFrancesco Ungaro, Pexels

3. Once we were all one

During the early Mesozoic Era, Africa was once attached to all the other continents, forming one gigantic continental landmass called Pangea. Pangea broke apart to form the world’s continents as we know them today.

AfricaPixabay, Pexels

4. Look at that thing run!

Four of the five fastest land animals in the world are found in Africa. Wildebeest, lion, and Thomson's gazelle can reach speeds up to 50 mph (80.47 KPH). For a short sprint, Cheetah can hit an unbelievable 70 mph (112.65 KPH)! 

two gazelles standing next to each otherDavid Rama, Pexels

5. Reading those hieroglyphics

The Pharaonic civilization of ancient Egypt is the oldest literate civilization. According to historical records, the Egyptian state dates back to about 3300 B.C.

old Egyptian temple in Luxor with hieroglyphsauntmasako, Pixabay

6. Save these magnificent creatures

Africa is home to the world’s largest living land animal, the African elephant, which can weigh up to 7 tons. Tragically, 25,000 African elephants are poached annually for their ivory.

African Elephant walking, surrounded by green bushesBernard Dupont, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

7. Ouch

The Nile crocodile is the largest reptile in Africa. The average length is five meters (16.4 feet). These dangerous creatures end hundreds of people each year. Crocodiles liquidate prey using a maneuver call the demise roll. The crocs clamp their jaws shut around their prey's body, then spin in a corkscrew motion. This causes teeth to cut deep into flesh and rip their prey into more manageable pieces. It also can help drown the victim.

Big Nile Crocodile on a rockLeigh Bedford, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

8. Religion

Islam is the dominant religion in Africa. Arabic is also the most widely-spoken language in Africa. Christianity is the second most common religion.

Big mosque in Cairo Egypt surrounded wit other buildingsshadyshaker, Pixabay

9. Slavery

Between 1525 and 1866, 12.5 million Africans were kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Americas.

Photography representing Hands in metal ChainsValery Sidelnykov, Shutterstock

10. Riches and Poverty

South Africa has the highest GDP (($182 billion) in Africa. Guinea Bissau has the lowest at $230 million.

Village in Guinea Bissau Africa, huts surrounded by green bushesValeriaRodrigues, Pixabay

11. A really big river

Africa’s Nile River is the world’s longest river. It has a total length of 6,650 kilometers (4,132 miles) and cuts across 11 countries. It drains into the Mediterranean Sea from Africa’s Northeastern edge.

palm trees forest by the river NileAXP Photography, Pexels

12. Natural wonder

The Victoria Falls, located along the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Zambezi River is the fall’s main water source.

Photo of the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, with rainbow in frontGary Faulkner, Flickr

13. Sunscreen recommended

Africa’s Sahara desert is the world’s largest hot desert covering 9.1 million km2. Of the deserts of the world, it is the third largest after the Arctic (second largest) and Antarctic (largest) deserts.

Part of the Sahara Desert in Libya, man walking on the dune, surrounded with hillsLuca Galuzzi, CC BY-SA 2.5, Wikimedia Commons

14. Riiiiibit!

In Cameroon you can find frogs that are a foot long. They're the largest frogs in the world and are appropriately named goliath frogs.

Photography of an Iberian Painted FrogJanek Pfeifer, Wikimedia Commons

15. Lots of young people

Africa is the second most populous continent with about 1.1 billion people or 16% of the world’s population. Over 50% of Africans are under the age of 25.

A crowd of local faithfuls attends the procession in the annual religious celebration of TimketGimas, Shutterstock

16. Literacy

Almost 40% of adults in Africa are illiterate.  Adult literacy rates are below 50% in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.

Child wearing white clothes holding pencil sitting on a school deskUSAID Africa Bureau, Wikimedia Commons

17. Tragic conflict

The Second Congo Conflict claimed over 5.4 million lives and is the deadliest worldwide conflict since World WII.

Photography of Boma a port town on the Congo River, river and ships in front, blue sky backgroundMikebrown7, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

18. Mosquitoes are not friends

Approximately 90% of all cases of malaria worldwide occur in Africa. Malaria accounts for 24% of all child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.

Photo of Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictusJames Gathany, Wikimedia Commons

19. Penguins!

The last animal you might expect to see in Africa is a penguin, but they're there. There's a colony living near the cape in South Africa. They are attracted to the cold currents there.

African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), near Boulders Beach, South AfricaPaul Mannix, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

20. Unique wildlife

Giraffe, zebra, gorilla, hippopotamus, chimpanzee and wildebeest are unique to Africa. They's found in the wild on no other continent on Earth.

Large group of African safari animals composited together in a scene of the grasslandsGoodFocused, Shutterstock

21. Fast little Creatures 

Only a few minutes after being born, a wildebeest can run. After a few days, they can gallop fast enough to keep up with the herd.

Wildebeest on the Kilimanjaro Safaris trip at Disney's Animal Kingdom, green grass in front, green forest backgroundHarshLight, Flickr

22. Gold in abundance

South Africa is extremely rich in mining and minerals and considered the world’s leader with nearly 90% of all the platinum metals on earth and around 41% of all the world’s Gold!

People mining Wolframite and CasseriteJulien Harneis , CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

23. Stampede!

The Serengeti (Tanzania) hosts the largest wildlife migration on Earth. Over 750,000 zebra march ahead of 1.2 million wildebeest as they cross this amazing landscape.

Great Migration, a natural movement of big animals in Kogatende, SerengetiReginald Victor Runyoro, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

24. Long live the king

Despite South Africa's status as a democratic republic, the Province of KwaZulu-Natal has a monarch. Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu rules the Zulu Nation, has 27 kids and 6 wives and lives, literally, like a king!

Deputy President David Mabuza delivers keynote address during honourary Doctorate conferment of King Goodwil Zwelithini Ka BhekuzuluGovernmentZA, Flickr

25. Ancient dinosaurs

Dinosaurs roamed Africa millions of years before modern day animals inhabited the continent. In Tanzania, the oldest dinosaur bones ever discovered were unearthed. This dinosaur, named Nyasasaurus parringtoni, lived around 240 million years ago.

Photo of Big artificial figures of Dinosaurs roaming in the forestgryzoon, Pixabay

26. A long climb to the top

The highest point in Africa is Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It rises 5895 meters (19,340 feet) above sea level.

kilimanjaroTwilight Kenya, Pexels

27. Sticks and stones

The San people, who reside in southern Africa, use the same tools as those found in a cave that dates back 44,000 years.

The daughters of a small community of bushmen living in NamibiaNicolas M. Perrault, CC0, Wikimedia Commons

28. A long journey for a drink.

In Africa, people have to walk an average of 3.7 miles daily to fetch water for drinking, bathing, cooking, and other uses.

Woman carry jerrycan with water, wears pink shirt, blue dressSagiomhza, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

29. A gruesome disease

Over 90 percent of all malaria cases reported worldwide come from Africa. Every year, 3,000 children pass from the disease. Malaria causes symptoms fever, fatigue, vomiting, and headaches. In severe cases, it can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma, and demise.

group photo of children smiling and facing the cameraShelagh Murphy, Pexels

30. More tragic disease

To date, over 17 million people in SSA have succumbed to AIDS. Estimates put the current number of HIV infection in Africa at 25 million people.

Photo of a Sign: Know your HIV status hanging on a tree in ZambiaJonrawlinson, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

31. Albino

Tanzania has the world’s highest Albinism rates. In the certain regions, Albino are hunted by witchdoctors, who use their organs for rituals believed to heal diseases.

Unidentified albino child and boys in UkereweDietmar Temps, Shutterstock

32. Bonjour!

There are more French-speaking Africans than French-speaking people in France.

 Two girls walking near the concrete house, smiling, big plant in frontBlue Ox Studio, Pexels

33. Guns and flags.

The national flag of Mozambique has the image of an AK-47 assault arm embedded into it. It is the only national flag in the world featuring such a modern arm.

Part of Chicamba Dam, Manica province in Mozambique. View from Messica towards the SouthTon Rulkens, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

34. Hungry, hungry hippos!

The hippopotamus is Africa’s deadliest mammal. It kills more people in Africa than do crocodiles and lions combined.

Pod of Hippos (Hippopotamus amphibius) in Luangwa ValleyPaul Maritz, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Help educate others about the wonders and struggles of Africa. Share this with your friends by clicking below! Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


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