Africa Facts

Welcome to Africa – the second-largest continent in the world. Africa is also second in the number of people – the population – who live here. Africa is a vast, beautiful land with dry, hot deserts in the north and grasslands and tropical jungles in the south.

Africa is the world’s second-largest continent, with a population of over 1.3 billion people. It is home to the world’s longest river, the Nile, and the world’s largest hot desert, the Sahara. Africa has a rich cultural heritage, with over 3,000 ethnic groups and more than 2,000 languages spoken. Despite its vast natural resources, Africa remains the world’s poorest continent, with many countries facing challenges such as poverty, disease, and political instability.

Anthropologists believe that the first human beings lived in Africa 7 million years ago. These early people didn’t live in villages or cities. They roamed as nomads, hunting animals and gathering plants and berries.

Africa Facts for Kids

  • Africa is the second-largest continent.
  • It is home to the world’s longest river, the Nile.
  • Africa has the largest desert, the Sahara.
  • Many wild animals like lions and elephants live in Africa.
  • There are over 2,000 different languages spoken in Africa.
  • Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is Africa’s highest mountain.
  • Africa has a rich culture with diverse music and dance.

African History

Africa’s history is crucial for understanding its present. The continent was home to many prosperous ancient civilizations and empires before colonial rule in the 19th and 20th centuries. This colonial era deeply impacted Africa’s politics, economy, and society.

By the mid-20th century, decolonization led to a new era of independence, although the effects of colonial rule remained. Key historical events, such as the fight against apartheid in South Africa and the Arab Spring in North Africa, have significantly shaped the modern continent. Therefore, knowing Africa’s history is important to grasp the facts about Africa today.

African Geography

Understanding Africa’s geography is important to appreciate the diversity of the continent. As the second largest continent, Africa is home to a variety of landscapes, from the Sahara desert in the north to the Congo rainforest in the south, and the Great Rift Valley in the east.

It’s made up of 54 unique countries, each with its own geographical features that influence its culture and economy. For example, natural resources like diamonds and oil shape the economies of countries like Botswana and Nigeria. So, grasping the geographical aspects of Africa is crucial to understand the continent’s dynamics.

African Cultures

African cultures offer a diverse and vibrant range of traditions, contributing significantly to the understanding of the continent. With over 2000 languages spoken across 54 countries, each region has unique customs, arts, music, and food. Examples of these can be seen in distinctive rites of passage, folklore, music, and visual arts across various ethnic groups.

Numerous festivals across Africa further showcase this cultural richness. These aspects of African cultures provide valuable insight into the resilience, creativity, and community spirit of the African people.

African Politics

African politics is essential to understanding the continent’s dynamics. The political landscape varies widely across Africa’s 54 countries, with different systems of governance, from democracies to autocracies and regions facing political instability.

Notable political events like South Africa’s move from apartheid to democracy and the Arab Spring have influenced the political climate significantly. These political structures and happenings affect every aspect of life, including economic development, social justice, and peace. Therefore, knowledge of African politics is key to understanding the continent’s complexities.

African Economies

Understanding African economies is key to appreciating the facts about Africa, showcasing the continent’s potential and challenges. Africa’s diverse economies are influenced by resources, political stability, and geography. Some countries are reliant on oil, while others have diversified into manufacturing and services.

Certain countries also contribute significantly to the digital economy. Despite challenges like infrastructure deficits and socio-economic disparities, there’s considerable potential for growth in many African economies. This economic perspective helps to understand Africa’s development trajectory.

African Wildlife

African wildlife is central to the continent’s identity. Africa’s diverse habitats, like savannas, rainforests, and deserts, support a wide range of unique wildlife populations. Notably, Africa is home to the “Big Five” – lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalos – and countless other species.

These animals are a significant attraction for tourism, contributing to the economies of many countries. However, threats like poaching, habitat loss, and climate change pose challenges to Africa’s wildlife. So, understanding Africa’s wildlife is key to gaining a complete perspective of the continent.

African Education

Understanding African education is essential to appreciating the continent’s development. Educational systems and literacy rates vary across Africa, influenced by government investment, socio-economic factors, and cultural norms. Some countries still face challenges in improving access to quality education, and gender disparities exist in several regions.

However, progress has been seen with rising primary school enrollment and the emergence of digital learning platforms. Some prestigious universities also represent centers of academic excellence. Therefore, knowledge of Africa’s education systems gives insight into its development and efforts towards quality education for all.

African Diaspora

The African Diaspora contributes to a deeper understanding of Africa’s global influence. It refers to communities worldwide descended from people who moved from Africa, mainly during the Transatlantic Slave Trades.

The diaspora has significantly influenced the cultures of many countries, including contributions to music, literature, art, and other fields. Furthermore, remittances from the diaspora are crucial for several African economies. Therefore, understanding the African Diaspora is key to recognizing Africa’s global impacts and influence.

African Environmental Issues

Understanding African environmental issues is crucial for appreciating the continent’s challenges and efforts in conservation and sustainability. Africa faces significant threats from climate change, deforestation, land degradation, and pollution.

These issues impact livelihoods, biodiversity, and quality of life. For example, climate change exacerbates drought conditions in some regions, while deforestation threatens diverse habitats. Despite these challenges, efforts like the Great Green Wall project are combating desertification. Hence, knowledge of Africa’s environmental issues highlights its resilience and role in global environmental sustainability.

West Africa

West Africa is a significant region in the context of Africa facts, showcasing a diverse range of cultures, histories, economies, and ecosystems. Encompassing 16 nations, including Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, and Mali, West Africa is known for its rich history, seen in ancient empires like Mali and Songhai, and historic trade routes such as the Trans-Saharan trade.

The region’s cultures are vibrant, with music genres like Afrobeat and Highlife, and the region’s famed cuisine including dishes like Jollof rice. Economically, West Africa has some of Africa’s largest economies, like Nigeria, which is oil-rich and also a significant player in Africa’s tech startup scene. Environmentally, the region spans from the Sahel in the north to the lush rainforests in the south, with diverse wildlife. Politically, it’s a mix of democracies and countries grappling with stability issues.

Understanding West Africa provides a snapshot of the continent’s diversity in many facets of societal and natural life.

Country Capital Population Language Currency
Nigeria Abuja 200 million English Naira
Ghana Accra 30 million English Cedi
Senegal Dakar 16 million French CFA Franc
Ivory Coast Yamoussoukro 25 million French CFA Franc
Burkina Faso Ouagadougou 20 million French CFA Franc
Mali Bamako 19 million French CFA Franc


Central Africa

Understanding Central Africa is crucial to appreciating Africa’s diversity. This region, including countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad, has a rich history with powerful kingdoms and global trade routes. Its cultural diversity is vast with numerous ethnic groups and unique traditions.

Economically, Central Africa is rich in natural resources like petroleum and minerals. Environmentally, it houses the Congo Rainforest, a critical biodiversity hotspot. However, challenges like political instability and poverty persist. Therefore, knowledge of Central Africa contributes to understanding the diverse realities of Africa.

Country Capital Population Language
Cameroon Yaoundé 26 million French
Chad N’Djamena 15 million French
Congo Brazzaville 5 million French
DR Congo Kinshasa 87 million French
Gabon Libreville 2 million French
Equatorial Guinea Guinea Malabo Spanish
Guinea Conakry 12 million French
Rwanda Kigali 12 million Kinyarwanda
Burundi Bujumbura 11 million Kirundi


Southern Africa

Southern Africa, when considered in the context of African facts, provides a glimpse into the unique blend of the region’s history, culture, economy, and natural wonders. The region includes countries like South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.

Southern Africa is known for its historical significance, from ancient San rock art to the apartheid era in South Africa and its transition into a democratic state. Culturally, the region is diverse, with numerous ethnic groups each with their unique traditions, languages, and music styles like Kwaito and Mbaqanga.

Economically, South Africa stands out as one of the continent’s largest economies, with sectors like mining, manufacturing, and services playing key roles. Moreover, the region is rich in natural beauty, from the Kalahari Desert and Okavango Delta in Botswana to the Table Mountain and Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Nevertheless, the region faces challenges such as socio-economic inequality and climate change impacts. Understanding Southern Africa allows for a more nuanced view of the diverse experiences and contexts within the African continent.

Country Capital Population Language
South Africa Pretoria 60 million Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa
Namibia Windhoek 3 million English
Botswana Gaborone 2 million English, Setswana
Zimbabwe Harare 15 million English, Shona, Ndebele
Mozambique Maputo 29 million Portuguese
Zambia Lusaka 18 million English
Malawi Lilongwe 19 million English, Chichewa

Africa’s History: Slavery, Colonization, and Present Challenges

Slavery has been a part of Africa’s history for hundreds of years. The Arab slave trade lasted from the 7th to the 20th century. During that time over 18 million slaves were shipped from Africa to the Middle East. The European slave trade, which includes slaves sold in the United States, operated from the 15th to the 19th century.

During this time, between seven and 12 million slaves were taken to the New World to work on plantations in America, as well as South America and the Caribbean Islands. Unfortunately, many governments in Africa benefited from selling slaves. In the mid-1850s, the British government worked to outlaw slavery. Some of Africa’s leaders refused to cooperate.

Africa was colonized by European countries in the late 1800s. This led to several wars for independence. Today, all countries in Africa are independent, yet the continent continues to endure wars and conflicts. Africa is the poorest continent in the world. Many people do not have enough food. They do not have clean water, electricity or access to medical care.

Fun Facts about Africa for Kids

  • 50% of the African population is 19 years old or younger
  • Ancient Greeks and Romans were the first Europeans to explore Africa
  • Egypt, in northern Africa, was ruled by the Ptolemaic dynasty for almost 300 years. All the males who ruled in Egypt during this time took the name “Ptolemy” while the females preferred Cleopatra, Arsinoe and Berenice
  • Africans follow a wide variety of religions including Islam, Christianity, African Traditional Religion and even Hindu, Buddhist, Confucianist, Baha’I and Judaism
  • Africa covers about 30.2 million square kilometers of land. This is 6% of the total surface of the Earth and 20.4% of total land area on the planet
  • The Nile River in northeastern Africa is the longest river in the world
  • The largest mountain in Africa is Mount Kilimanjaro at 5,895 m. It is located in Tanzania and is a dormant volcano.
  • The largest country in Africa by area is Algeria.
  • Nigeria has the largest population in Africa with over 190 million people living here.
  • There are 54 recognized countries in Africa

Africa Vocabulary

  1. Slavery: Owning and/or selling of human beings as property
  2. Cooperate: Work together; function in harmony
  3. Plantation: Large farm
  4. Independence: Not controlled by others
  5. Continent: Large, continuous land-mass on the earth’s surface

All About Africa Video for Kids

Here’s a great video for kids on Africa:

A video of a children’s song all about Africa and the countries that belong in the continent.

Africa Q&A

Question: Does everyone in Africa go to school?

Answer: All children are allowed to go to school, but lack of funding, lack of facilities and the needs of the family usually mean kids don’t get to go. All of the military conflict common throughout African countries also can make it not just difficult, but dangerous for kids to go to school.


Question: Where do lions really live?

Answer: Though called “King of the Jungle” lions do not live in a jungle at all. They typically live in the wide open spaces of grassland and savanna areas. Sometimes they may live in the bush or forest depending on where they can find their prey.


Question: What type of Elephants live in Africa?

Answer: There are two types of elephants that live on the continent of Africa, they are: The African savanna and African forest.


Map of Africa

Here’s a map of the continent of Africa and all its countries. Zoom in to get into street level or zoom out to see other countries around the continent of Africa! You can see the terrain, but also see the roads, images of the buildings and even take a 3D tour through the streets of the cities of the countries of Africa, as though you are actually there!