Can’t get enough geography? We’re right there with you. The world is a big, beautiful, fascinating place. Here are a few interesting geography facts related to Africa.
1. Africa is home to the second longest river in the world.
With a length of about 4,258 miles, the Nile River rises south of the Equator and flows northward through northeastern Africa to drain into the Mediterranean Sea. Its drainage basin covers eleven countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt. At one time, it was considered the longest river in the world. However, better measuring technologies now put the Amazon River in South America ahead of the Nile.
2. Africa has the world’s largest non-polar desert.
Comprising most of North Africa, the Sahara desert is the largest hot desert, and the third largest desert in the world after Antarctica and the Arctic. With an area of 3,600,000 sq mi, it is comparable in size to China or the United States. Now that’s big!
3. Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the continent.
Towering over 19,300 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano located in Tanzania. Kilimanjaro is so tall, glaciers can be found at its summit even though the mountain is near the Equator. Unfortunately, however, these glaciers and other ice fields are shrinking.
4. Africa lies on all four hemispheres of the Earth.
With both the Prime Meridian and the Equator slicing through the continent, Africa can lay claim to being located in the Western, Eastern, Northern, and Southern Hemispheres. Furthermore, Africa is the only continent to extend from the northern temperate zone to the southern temperate zone.
5. Africa is hot!
Africa isn’t just hot, it is actually the hottest continent in the world. Around 60% of the land surface of Africa comprises dry lands and deserts, such as Sahara Desert and the Danakil Desert. These places experience exceedingly high temperatures. Dallol in Ethiopia witnesses an average temperature of 93.0°F (33.9°C) throughout the year, the record high average temperature for an inhabited location on Earth.
6. Africa has many mineral resources.
Roughly 30% of the earth’s remaining mineral resources can be found in Africa. The continent has the largest reserves of precious metals with over 40% of the gold reserves, over 60% of the cobalt, and 90% of the platinum reserves.
7. Africa is big.
Despite how it looks on some maps, Africa is the second largest continent on earth, measuring approximately 11.7 million square miles. It is also the second most populous continent after Asia, and is home to 54 sovereign countries, the most of any continent. Lesotho, which is landlocked within South Africa, is one of three countries in the world completely landlocked by another.
8. Savannas, or grasslands, cover almost half of Africa.
Grasslands make up most roughly 5 million square miles of central Africa, beginning south of the Sahara and the Sahel and ending north of the continents southern tip. The Serengeti in Tanzania is perhaps the most well-known savanna region, and is home to one of the continents highest concentrations of large mammal species, including lions, hyenas, zebras, giraffes, and elephants.
9. Africa has their own Great Lakes.
Located primarily along the East African Rift, Africa’s Great Lakes (typically considered Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, Lake Edward, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Kivu, Lake Malawi, and Lake Turkana) collectively contain some 7,400 cu mi of water, more than either Lake Baikal or the North American Great Lakes, and constitute about 25% of the planet’s unfrozen surface fresh water. Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the second-largest freshwater lake in the world, while Lake Malawi has more fish species than any other freshwater system on earth.
10. Africa has one of the few places on Earth left unclaimed by any country or state.
Due to a discrepancy over border recognition between Egypt and Sudan, there is a region in Africa called Bir Tawil that belongs to no country. Various individuals have tried to claim it as their own over the years, but none of these claims have been taken seriously. For now, Bir Tawil maintains its terra nullius (Latin meaning ‘nobody’s land’) status.
Mark Heald is an Associate Product Manager and Sporcle Admin. He enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and bemoaning the fact the Sonics left Seattle.