Is Africa a Country?
Is Africa a country? You may think the answer to this question is a no-brainer but interestingly, our friends from the West and other parts of the world may think otherwise. You hear popular phrases such as “I visited Africa”and “I just came back from Africa”. Some people think Africa is one giant country with many popular states such as Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Africa is the second biggest continent in the world after Asia with a population of about 1.6 billion people as of 2016, and accounts for about 16 percent of the world’s human population. Africa covers 6 percent of the earth’s total surface area and 20 percent of its land area.
It is made up of 54 countries as recognized by both the African Union and the United Nations. By this, I think it should be made emphatically clear that AFRICA IS NOT ONE HUGE GIGANTIC COUNTRY! It is a beautiful continent made up of countries with beautiful cities.
A lot of people also have this false notion that Southern Africa is the same as South Africa. Southern Africa is a region that is made up ten countries of which South Africa is one. These countries are:
- South Africa
Africa is also the continent which has the youngest population, making it a very promising continent. The economy of most African countries has been experiencing very rapid growth in recent times. Most notable among them are Ghana, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Senegal, which have been ranked by the World Bank as some of the countries with the fastest growing economies in the world!
Divisions in Africa
Africa is divided into different regions (Northern Africa, Western Africa, Central Africa, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa) with different Regional Economic Communities (RECs) that see to the economic welfare of the members of their respective regions. The African Union recognizes eight Regional Economic Communities. These are;
- Arab Maghreb Union (AMU)
- Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
- Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD)
- East African Community (EAC)
- Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
- Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
- Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
- Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Languages spoken in Africa
People from Africa do not speak one language. There are more than thousand languages spoken by the people of Africa but the most common and widely used ones are English, French and Arabic; the languages of the former colonial masters. However, some widely spoken native African languages are Swahili, Xhosa, Amharic, Oromo, Zulu, Hausa, Yoruba, Twi and Igbo.
This makes Africa arguably the most diverse continent in the world. So the next time someone tells you she is from Uganda, please do not ask her whether she knows Nkemefula from Nigeria.
Interesting Africa Facts
- Algeria is Africa’s largest country
- The Seychelles are Africa’s smallest country
- Nigeria is Africa’s largest country by population
- Africa’s highest point is Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
- Africa’s lowest point is Lake Assal in Djibouti
- Over one thousand languages are spoken by the people of Africa.
- The oldest human remains ever discovered were found in Ethiopia. They are approximately 200,000 years old.
- The longest river in the world, the Nile (4,132 miles), is located in Africa.
- A plateau called Witwatersrand in South Africa has produced half of the gold ever mined on Earth.
- The world’s largest land animal is the African elephant.
- The fastest land animal in the world, the cheetah, lives in Africa.
- The world’s tallest animal, the giraffe, lives in Africa
- Twenty five percent of the earth’s bird species live in Africa
Africa is not a country but a continent. Africa is home to more than 1 billion people in the world which means that out of every 7 people, 1 is an African. We must endeavor to stop the tendency to make sweeping generalizations about entire continents. Let us read a little more and research before making assumptions.