Offbeat facts about Africa


  • There was once over 10 000 states

    Before colonial rule, Africa was made up of 10 000 different states and autonomous groups, each with their own very distinct languages and unique customs.

  • Nigeria is home to the most twins

    One of Africa’s largest countries, Nigeria, has been nicknamed “The Land of Twins” by the BBC because it has the highest rate of twin births in the world. Numbers show that twin birth rates in West Africa are actually four times higher than anywhere else in the world and the centre of it all takes place in a sleepy little town in Nigeria called Igbo-Ora where the last recorded figures revealed an average of 50 sets of twins in every 1 000 births.

  • Arabic is the most widely spoken language

    This may be a somewhat surprising, but the some 170 million Africans speak Arabic, followed by English, Swahili and French.

  • Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt

    Egypt may be famous for its pyramids but it is Sudan which has even double the amount of its northern neighbour. With a total of over 220 pyramids, these structures were built by the Nubian kings as part of the ancient Kingdom of Kush.

  • The African elephant is the largest land mammal

    African elephants are so big that they can weigh over six tonnes and reach up to seven metres in length. They are distinct from their Asian relatives in that they are bigger in size, have much larger ears, more wrinkles and more rings on their trunks.

  • There are over 2 000 recognised languages

    Over a quarter of all of the different languages that are spoken in the world are spoken in Africa in their relative regions. There are over 2,000 different recognised languages spoken in Africa.

  • The Sahara desert is bigger than the USA

    The Sahara dessert which spans large parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia is bigger than the entire USA at 9 million square metres. It is also equivalent to the size of China. The Sahara itself covers around 8% of the global landmass.

  • The distance between Africa and Europe is under 15km

    The differences between Africa and Europe are stark, yet at their closest point, they are less than 15 kilometers apart. This is at the Strait of Gibraltar between Morocco and Spain.

  • Tunisian buildings are made with fish bones

    In Tunisia, fish are considered to have a supernatural significance and they use them to guard against evil spirits. Some families will simply use pictures of fish in their homes as protection but there are many houses that have been built with fish bones embedded into the walls and floors in order to protect the inhabitants from the evil spirits.

  • Africa is the continent of gold

    Almost half of the gold ever mined on Earth has come from Africa, and more specifically, from the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

  • Lake Malawi has the most fish species in the world

    With an estimated 800 to 1 000 different types of fish, Lake Malawi has more distinct fish species than any other lake in the world. Scientists are constantly finding new species and suspect the lake could host up to 2 000 different fish types. Lake Malawi is the third deepest freshwater lake in the world.

  • The biggest frog species lives in Africa

    The Goliath Frog which can grow up to a 32cm long and reach a weight of 3.2kg is found in Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon. These amphibians are considered endangered.


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