Africa, the Mother Continent, is the second-largest continent on Earth. Its land surface area is about 11,724,000 square miles remarkably covering about the one-fifth area of the overall land surface of the planet Earth. It is the continent on Earth that was first inhabited by humans in primitive times. Therefore, it is sometimes nicknamed as the Mother Continent. It is the only continent that lies in all four hemispheres, Western, Eastern, Southern, and Northern Hemispheres. The geographical facts of Africa are difficult to contract because of the geographical richness of the continent, yet we have tried to share some major geographical facts with you.
The Sahara, the Swahili Coast, the Savannah, the Sahel, African Great Lakes, the Ethiopian Highlands, Southern Africa, and the Rain Forest are the main physical regions of the African continent. Each of these regions is famous for its unique and various species of animals and plants. The Sahara and Sahel cover large bands of the continent while some others areas such as the Great Lakes that are existing in isolation.
Seas and Oceans
It is bounded by the four big seas, the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea.
Most of the African surface area is covered by plains of the pediplain and etchplain types that strangely occur in steps. The Sahel is among the most famous plains of Africa. The Serengeti plains are among the most famous. They are in fact “endless plains” with a vast ecosystem spanning 12,000 square miles.
A large portion of Africa is covered by three deserts, the Sahara, the Namib, and the Kalahari. The Sahara is the largest non-polar desert in the world. It is also the world’s largest hot desert and the third largest desert. Its total surface area is 3,600,000 square miles that makes it comparable in size to America and China.
Africa has also a land of rivers. The river Nile is the world’s second largest river running near 4,258 miles. Niger, Congo, Senegal, Orange, Zambezi, and Limpopo are among other popular rivers in Africa.
A lot of islands are associated with it along the coasts. Among these islands, Madagascar is the most significant that is one of the largest islands in the world. The Azores and the Madeira, Canary, Seychelles, Socotra, Cape Verde, Bioko, Mauritius, and a few other islands are also associated with this gigantic continent.
Culture and Cuisine of Africa
The culture of Africa is hugely diverse but it is incredibly interesting. It varies from region to region and from one country to another. Each country and each region in Africa has its own tribes, traditions, rituals, languages, and cultural differences. It is interesting to note that even a small country like Uganda has more than thirty tribes. So, you can imagine how hugely diverse the culture of Africa is.
African cuisine is also as diverse as its culture. There is no such thing as “single African cuisine.” Drinking and eating habits of the inhabitants also vary significantly from one region to another. However, most of the African cuisines traditionally use locally produced cereal grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, and other milk products. In some parts, the traditional diet consists of a combination of fresh vegetables, curd, milk, and whey.
We shall now share with you some of the most famous cultural products of Africa including tribes, cuisines, art, and languages.
There are hundreds of tribes in Africa. Only in the Omo River region alone, there are more than fifty unique tribes acting as specimens of diverse African tribal culture.
The largest ethnic group of the African continent is the Zulu tribe with approximately ten to eleven million people. The province of Kwazulu-natal is the center of the Zulu tribe and its traditions.
The Rift Valley region of Kenya and Tanzania is inhabited by the Maasai tribe. They are independent and proud people who have their own currency in the form of goats, sheep, and cattle.
As we have discussed earlier that African food is diverse but it mainly revolves around home-grown vegetables, fruit, meat, and dairy products. Couscous served with meat and vegetables, is the most famous dish in countries like Algeria and Morocco. People of Western Africa are fond of cassava, maize, millet, and plantains. Colonizers have also left their imprints on African cuisine that you can observe while visiting Africa. One such example is Kenya very people are fond of tea.
The art of sculpting is the most ancient art of Africa and it is still famous in the continent. Africans are the biggest contributor to this ancient art and they are adept sculptors.
Every African country has its own language and dialect. Arabic is the language of Northern African countries. Swahili is the most prominent language in the Eastern African countries. People of different countries can also speak English, French, and Portuguese influenced by the colonizers of the respective territories.
Some Interesting Facts about Africa
- Africa is the home of 1.1 billion residents that makes 16% of the total population. That makes it the second largest continent with respect to population.
- Africa is also the hottest continent on Earth comprising of deserts and drylands covering almost 60% of the total land area.
- After Australia, it is the driest continent as well.
- Africa is a fortunate continent with 40% of gold reserves, 90% of the platinum reserves, 60% of cobalt, and 30% of Earth’s minerals
- Africa has also oil reserves, Algeria being the fourth largest oil exporter
- Africa is home to Bir Tawil that is among one of the few places that are unclaimed by any of the country
- Africa also is the land of languages with more than 2,000 recognized languages. More than 25% of the languages of the world are spoken in Africa.
- Africa is, unfortunately, the most underdeveloped and the poorest continent with GDP that is just 2.4% of the world’s overall GDP
- Over 90% of the land is not suitable for agriculture
- Africa is also unfortunate in terms of the highest percentages of different diseases and undernourishment with all across the globe
- China is currently the biggest trade partner of Africa with $200 billion per annum trade between them
- Africa is also facing heavy deforestation than the rest of the world and degradation of productive land because of mismanagement and neglect.