Fifty Facts About Africa
  1. Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country (over 2000 years, they were never colonised)
  2. The name ‘Senegal’ is said to come from the 16th century, when the Portuguese visited the country’s coast and the fisherman said ‘sunu gaal’, which translates into ‘these are our boats’. Because the Portuguese did not understand what the fishermen were saying, they simply named the land ‘Senegal’.
  3. The Yoruba people, who are mostly resident in Nigeria, are said to be one of the world’s largest ethnic groups.
  4. The Republic of South Sudan is Africa’s youngest country (it became independent from Sudan in 2011).
  5. President Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) is Africa’s oldest Head of State, and the world’s second oldest Head of State (he was born in 1924).
  6. President Mugabe was jailed for 11 years for fighting for freedom, he is one of the most prominent African revolutionaries of our time. President Mugabe is also the world’s most educated Head of State, with 18 degrees.
  7. Somalia got its first ATM on 7th October 2014.
  8. The Nigerian film industry ‘Nollywood’ is the third largest film industry in the world after ‘Hollywood’ and ‘Bollywood’.
  9. The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, was once a football referee in prison.
  10. In Burkina Faso, schooling is theoretically free and compulsory until the age of 16.
  11. In 1787, British philanthropists founded a coastal settlement in Sierra Leone, called the Province of Freedom, as an experimental colony for freed slaves.
  12. The longest river in the world is located in Africa: the Nile is 4132 miles long.
  13. The oldest human remains ever found in the world were located in Ethiopia, they are estimated to be over 200,000 years old.
  14. Nigeria’s current Head of State, President Muhammadu Buhari, was also a former Military Head of State of Nigeria.
  15. Cairo, Egypt is the continent’s largest city.
  16. The largest land animal in the world is the African elephant.
  17. During the early Mesozoic Era Africa was attached to all the other continents to form one gigantic continental landmass called Pangea. Pangea later broke apart to form the world’s continents as we know them today.
  18. The longest sand beach in West Africa is located in Ibeno, Nigeria and it is called Ibeno beach.
  19. South Africa is Africa’s most visited country (by non-Africans).
  20. Arabic is the most widely spoken language in Africa.
  21. Africa is the most centrally located continent in the world. Both the prime meridian (0 degrees longitude), and the equator (0 degrees latitude) cut across it.
  22. Nigeria has the largest population in Africa.
  23. The Second Congo War, which began in 1998 and lasted until 2006, claimed the second-highest number of casualties (5.4 million lives), after World War II. The conflict involved eight African countries.
  24. Burkina Faso was formerly known as Upper Volta, and adopted its current name after it gained its independence from France August 5, 1960.
  25. Senegal is the only country in West Africa which wasn’t overrun by a military coup. Its democratic stability has earned it many allies in Europe and the Americas.
  26. There are over 3,000 protected areas in Africa, including 198 Marine Protected Areas, 50 Biosphere Reserves, and 129 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  27. The national flag of Mozambique has the image of an AK-47 assault rifle embedded into it. It is one of only two national flags of UN member states to feature a firearm. The other is Guatemala.
  28. The richest black man in the world is Nigerian, his name is Aliko Dangote.
  29. Africa has more than 25% of the world’s bird species.
  30. Most of the world’s fastest runners come from a single tribe in Kenya called the “Kalenjins.”
  31. The world’s oldest and still functioning educational institution, the University of Al-Karaouine, is located in Morocco. It was originally a madrassa, and it was founded in 859 AD by Fatima al-Fihri.
  32. The African continent has the highest number of sovereign states in the world with 54 countries.
  33. In ancient Greece, the word ‘Ethiopian’ signified ‘African’, and vice versa. Ethiopia is featured prominently in several ancient Greek dramas and poems. The Greek poet Homer mentions Ethiopians in both the Iliad and the Odyssey as a “blameless race” and “amongst the noblest of men.”
  34. Benin, in West Africa, holds the the record for the country with the most twin births, at 27.0 twins per 1000 births. The world average is 13.6 twins per 1000 births.
  35. The oldest known mathematical object is the Lebombo bone, which was discovered in the Lebombo Mountains of Swaziland. It dates to approximately 35,000 B.C.
  36. Nsibidi is a system of symbols indigenous to what is now southeastern Nigeria that is apparently an ideographic script, though there have been suggestions that it includes logographic elements. There are thousands of Nsibidi symbols but only about 500 are recorded.
  37. The currency unit in Ghana is called the cedi. The word “cedi” comes from a local word meaning a cowry shell. Cowry shells (from sea snails) were once used as money in Ghana.
  38. Sudan has more than 200 pyramids, double the number found in Egypt.
  39. Mpingo trees ( African blackwood trees, commonly seen in Tanzania) are the most expensive hardwood tree in the world.
  40. Tanzania shares it national anthem with South Africa. It’s called “Mungu Ibariki Afrika” (God Bless Africa) and was composed by Enock Sontonga.
  41. Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from colonial powers  on March 6, 1957.
  42. Lake Volta, in the Volta region of Ghana, is the world’s largest man-made lake. It’s 250 miles long and covers 3,283 square miles, or 3.6 percent of Ghana’s area.
  43. The people who live in Togo can trace their roots back to the Ewe peoples who were migrating from Nigeria and Benin, and settled along the coast of Togo centuries before European arrival.
  44. Graca Machel is the only woman to have ever been first lady of two different countries (Mozambique and South Africa).
  45. The black star in Ghana’s flag was adopted from legendary Pan African leader Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, which had the Black Star Line Steamship company.
  46. Senegal’s location towards the west coast made it a hub for the international slave trade of the 18th and 19th century. Gorée Island, in particular, became a major transit point of the Atlantic Slave Trade.
  47. The River Niger gives the countries Nigeria and Niger their names.
  48. Ibibio is a Congo-Benue language that is spoken in the states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River by about 1.5 million people. It is also closely related to Efik and in fact many consider them as one. The language has also been used on television and radio since the 1970s, it is used for business in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria and is also taught in the primary, secondary schools and the universities.
  49. Joseph Kasavubu became the first president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with independence leader Patrice Lumumba as prime minister.
  50. Ghana has the largest market in West Africa. It’s called Kejetia market and it’s located in Kumasi, the Ashanti region’s capital.