It’s a quandary
Africa is possibly the last enigma. But is it the exotic wildlife, formidable mountains, endless savannahs, or the hostile, beautiful deserts? Could it be the passion and warmth of the people, from Ras ben Sakka in Tunisia to Cape Agulhas in South Africa, expressing the determination of the human spirit to survive? See how many of these, you can already guess?
- Africa is a geographical anomaly and the most environmentally diverse continent on the planet.
- Africa is the only continent that straddles all of the earth’s four hemispheres – the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western.
- Paleoanthropologists believe Africa to be the oldest inhabited landmass, the world’s oldest populated area.
- With deserts, such as the Kalahari, Sahara and Namib, and drylands covering 60% of the land surface area, Africa is the hottest continent in the world.
- There are more fish species in Lake Malawi than occur in any other freshwater system on earth.
- Africa is home to the shortest people in the world, ethnic groups whose average height is 1.45 m (4.3”) for males and 1.33 m (4”) for females. African pygmies are found in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo (ROC), the Central African Republic, Cameroon, the Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Madagascar, and Zambia.
- The longest river on the planet is the Nile River with a total length of 6,650 kms (4133 miles).
- Africa was an early center for learning. Timbuktu, Mali was once such an intellectual hub that it was referred to as the Paris of the medieval world. It houses one of the oldest universities in the world, begun in 982 CE.
- Africa has the largest number of large animal species. This refers to megafauna, animals that weigh over 40 kgs (90 lb).
- Victoria Falls has the distinction of being the largest waterfall on earth because of its unusual shape. The Zambezi River plunges 108m (354”) over a distance of 1,708m (5,604”), creating the world’s largest expanse of falling water.
- The largest desert in the world is bigger than the continental USA and guess what? Only in Africa! That’s right, it’s the Sahara.
- There are Sudanese tribes where the average height of a man is 6’ 4” (193 cms) and 6’ (182 cms) for woman, the tallest people (on average) in the world.
- The Great Migration is the planet’s longest and biggest overland animal migration, spanning Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara, an area covering 18,641 square miles.
- Of the top ten countries with the largest yearly loss of forested area, six are in Africa.
- Tanzania boast the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera, formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself two to three million years ago.
- The world’s largest primate – the gorilla – can be found in the forests of central Africa.
- The world’s biggest frog? Look no further than Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon where you’ll find the endangered Goliath frog, growing up to 12” (30 cms) long and weighing nearly 8 lb (3.63 kgs).
- Ethiopia is the only African country with its own alphabet called Ethiopic, one of the world’s oldest and possibly one of the longest with 345 letters.
- The world’s first miners lived in Southern Africa. Their stone-made mining tools and artefacts were found in the Ngwenya mountain range in Swaziland in the 1960s and dated to be 43,000 years old!
- New York City has more internet connections than all of Africa.
- Africa has the largest-remaining populations of lion, elephant, rhinoceros, cheetah, hyena, leopard and hundreds of other species. And I can testify ants must be one.
- Another African lesser known fact, is that the Congo is the deepest river in the world, exceeding depths of over 210 meters- 700 feet.
- To cap it off with a surprise, Africa and Europe, our nearest continental neighbor, are closer to one another than England and Europe. Don’t believe me? Well, Africa is 14.3 km – 8.9 miles from Europe while England is 33.3 km 20.7 miles, making it an easy Sunday afternoon paddle, compared to swimming the English channel.
There are too many other amazing facts about Africa to list in just one article. For example, the world’s largest land animal is the African elephant, the tallest animal, the giraffe, lives in Africa, the fastest land animal in the world, the cheetah, is here too. Africa is home to the world’s largest reptile, the Nile crocodile. The continent boasts over 25% of the world’s bird species.
We’ve also got the largest reserves of precious metals with over 40% of the gold reserves, over 60% of the cobalt, and 90% of the platinum reserves.
Africa’s top trade partner is China but that’s another story. China was trading with Africa centuries before anyone else. Check back soon for the fascinating story of the real Sinbad the Sailor!
Blame it on the bossa nova, because I think you’ll like this video. The second largest frog in Africa lives in South Africa. Enjoy.