Five surprising facts you never knew about Africa
With the world seemingly shrinking due to ever-cheaper airfares, bigger planes to take us anywhere and advances in technology to keep us in touch no matter where we are, it’s no wonder more people than ever are exploring all parts of the globe.
For some, though, the giant continent of Africa can still be a mystery. There are so many countries and territories, all with their own distinct cultures and languages, that it can be hard to pinpoint where to start on a great African adventure.
Growing numbers of travellers and holidaymakers are discovering the African continent, though, for such thrilling experiences as a Kenya safari, for example, or to see stunning sights like Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or the thundering Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Perhaps surprisingly to some, Africa is also great for the beach, with dazzling stretches of white sands along the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts and out to the luxury island of Zanzibar.
Here are five facts about Africa you probably didn’t know without a Google search, and that may well prompt you to soon visit this fascinating land.
Things you need to know about Africa
1. Its people
There are 7.6 billion people in the world, and 1.2 billion of them live in Africa.
It’s not the most populous continent, however; that accolade goes to Asia and its 4.1 billion people, followed by Europe, with 738.6 million.
While populations are generally not a tourism draw, the many peoples of any particular land and their cultures are.
Africa is well known for the colourful cultures of its tribespeople, who collectively speak up to 2,000 separate languages.
2. Its countries
All together there are 54 countries and territories in Africa — the largest is Sudan and the smallest is the Seychelles.
They include perennial tourist favourites such as Morocco and Egypt in the north to Kenya and Tanzania in the central region and South Africa right down at the southern tip.
All have something extraordinary to offer the tourist, from safaris to beaches and breathtaking natural wonders.
It’s a continent you can come back to time and again to discover the distinct attractions of each country.
3. It’s closer than you think
Think Africa is a world away from Europe? It’s only 8.9 miles at the closest point to Europe, a brief ferry ride to Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar between the tiny British territory at the southern tip of Spain.
You can always fly, of course, and flight times from the UK to northern Africa only take a few hours.
4. Its natural wonders
Africa is home to seven astounding natural wonders of the world that you should definitely see and experience during your lifetime.
They are the Serengeti Migration, Ngorongoro Crater, Mount Kilimanjaro, Nile River, Red Sea Reef, Sahara Desert and the Okavango Delta.
5. Its wildlife
Finally, let’s not forget all those incredible animals that Africa is so famous for.
You can at least see what are known as the ‘Big Five’ on something like a Kenya or Tanzania safari: lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo. : lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo. And not forgetting many others that are synonymous with the continent, like the towering and graceful giraffe that’s the world’s tallest creature while the elephant is the largest land animal in the world.
Seeing these fantastic beasts up close on a Kenya safari promises to be a truly unforgettable encounter, memories of which will linger with you long after you get home.
Catch the spell
There’s so much more to explore in Africa than what we’ve mentioned here. It’s why the magical land of Africa is somewhere you must visit at least once — and if you do, you’re sure to return again and again as you become captivated by the continent’s alluring spell.
Photo credit: Greg Montani