Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Maps of Africa - All maps you need to know about Africa

Maps of Africa are an invaluable tool when you're planning a trip. Africa is comprised of more than 50 countries spanning across deserts, mountains, forests and savannas. 

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In fact Africa takes up a fifth of the earth's landmass. It's approximately 5000 miles from Tunisia to South Africa (north to south) and about 4,600 miles from east to west at its widest point.

Look at a political map of Africa and it's almost guaranteed that you'll see a few countries you may never have heard of, yet they are likely to be bigger than most countries in Europe. Check out this map of Africa and be surprised by the true size of the continent. Hear about East Africa and not sure what countries are included? Here's the UN map defining Africa's regions. Interested in how Africa was divided up during the "Scramble for Africa? Check out this map.

There are 53 countries in Africa. The biggest country in Africa is Sudan, and the country with the largest population is Nigeria. Find more fun facts below.

Some Fun Geographical Facts About Africa

  • There are 53 countries in Africa
  • Sudan is the biggest country in Africa (almost 100,000 square miles)
  • The smallest African country is the Seychelles, these are islands off the east coast of Africa
  • Cairo is Africa's biggest city with over 9 million inhabitants (16 million if you include "greater Cairo")
  • Nigeria has the largest population at over 100 million inhabitants
  • The tallest African mountain is Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania which stands at 19,340 feet
  • Africa's largest lake is Lake Victoria in East Africa
  • The longest river in Africa is the Nile River which runs for over 4000 miles
  • Africa's biggest island is Madagscar which lies in the Indian Ocean

More fun facts about Africa ...

01. Political Map of Africa (2008)

Political map of Africa from 2008.

02. Regional Map of Africa

You often hear people referring to East Africa, or North Africa but it's not always clear which countries belong to which region. Find out from the list below:

Northern Africa (shaded blue on the map) includes:

  • Algeria
  • Egypt
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Sudan
  • Tunisia
  • Western Sahara

Western Africa (shaded green on the map) includes:

  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cape Verde
  • Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Liberia
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Togo

Eastern Africa (shaded yellow on the map) includes:

  • Burundi
  • Comoros
  • Djibouti
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mauritius
  • Mozambique
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Somalia
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Middle (Central) Africa (shaded purple on the map) includes:

  • Angola
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Gabon
  • Republic of the Congo
  • São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Botswana
  • Lesotho
  • Namibia
  • South Africa
  • Swaziland

03. Blank Outline Map of Africa

A blank map of Africa is a useful tool for any classroom or to simply test your own knowledge of African geography. Try and name all 53 countries correctly!

04. Blank Political Map of Africa

A nice blank map of Africa with countries outlined, perfect for school projects.

05. Map of Natural Vegetation in Africa - African Vegetation Map

Map of Africa showing natural vegetation including deserts, savanna, tropical rainforest, tundra, woodland and more.

06. Topographical Map of Africa

From this topographical map of Africa you can clearly see the Atlas Mountain Range in Morocco (NW) and the Rift Valley Lakes of East Africa.

Africa's topography is incredibly varied. Its mountain ranges, savannahs, plateaus, lakes, rivers and deserts sustain an incredibly diverse array of life. A brief description of Africa's topography follows below, courtesy of NASA:

Its Olduvai Gorge region is known as the "cradle of humanity," the site of the earliest known human habitation. The arid Sahara is Earth's largest desert. Mt. Kilimanjaro, despite its proximity to the equator, is tall enough to sport glaciers, though they are rapidly melting due to climate change (scientists hope to combine the new elevation data with other satellite imagery of the area to better monitor and understand the environmental changes taking place there). The Great Rift Valley is one of the world's longest earthquake faults. Lake Victoria is the second largest freshwater lake in the world behind the U.S. Lake Superior. The Congo Basin is home to the second largest concentration of rainforests on Earth behind South America's Amazon. And, of course, there are the great savannas, such as the Serengeti, which teem with some of Earth's most exotic wildlife, including plenty of those elephants.

07. Satellite Image of Africa

This satellite image of Africa from NASA clearly shows the vast Saharan Desert as well as the Kalahari desert in Southern Africa.

08. Map of Africa 1829

In 1829 the slave-trade was booming in Africa, European colonization was on the horizon and the Zulus were an established force in Southern Africa ....

In 1829 Africa was still an unknown quantity beyond its coast, to many outsiders. Freed American slaves were establishing a home in Liberia. Slavery was in full swing along both coasts. Livingstone was still at college and had not set off yet to explore the interior of Africa. Mungo Park had completed his adventures in West Africa by this time. The Zulus were consolidating their power in southern Africa during the 1820's as the Boers moved further inland to find more farm land and the British began to arrive in ever increasing numbers. Find out more about African History ...

09. Map of Africa from 1890

From 1880-1914 the European powers divided the map of Africa amongst themselves; this period is known as "The Scramble for Africa". Africans were not consulted.

Africa held many attractions for the European powers during the late 1890's. While explorers including Livingstone, Stanley and Speke had mapped out most of the continent during the 1850's, much of Africa was not under direct European control. But the 1890's marked an era where Europan powers, namely the British, French, Portuguese and Germans, decided that grabbing land for themselves and setting up colonies was an economic and poltitcal necessity. Africans did not consent or even realise their land was now in the hands of foreigners. In some cases entire tribes were massacared. For more details, Wikipedia has a nice synposis of this era with the conclusion below:

Between 1885 and 1914 Britain took nearly 30% of Africa's population under her control, to 15% for France, 9% for Germany, 7% for Belgium and only 1% for Italy. Nigeria alone contributed 15 million subjects, more than in the whole of French West Africa or the entire German colonial empire. It was paradoxical that Britain, the staunch advocate of free trade, emerged in 1914 with not only the largest overseas empire thanks to her long-standing presence in India, but also the greatest gains in the "scramble for Africa", reflecting her advantageous position at its inception. In terms of surface area occupied, the French were the marginal victors but most of their empire was covered by desert.

For more about Africa's fascinating history, see's African History Site. Among other curious details, find out why Queen Victoria handily re-drew the border between Kenya and Tanzania in order to give her grandson a mountain of his own in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro.

10. How Big is Africa?

How big is Africa? It's fair to say that Africa is probably bigger than you think, even if you know it covers approximately 30,221,000 sq km (11,699,000 sq mi).

How big is Africa? You can see from this map created by Kai Krause, that Africa is large. If you combine the USA, China, India, Europe and Japan - they all fit into the continent of Africa. Click on the map to see it in detail. The US can fit comfortably no less than three times. The UK can fit into Africa over 120 times. Even those of us who were educated in Africa may be surprised at these statistics. That's because the geography books at school tend to originate from Europe or the US, and show a proportionally skewed perspective of the world.

Why Should Size Matter?

The fact that Africa is much bigger than most people realize just goes to show how little people know about the continent. This is not just a giant slab of land that's filled with poverty, disease and war. There are 54 nations in Africa, with cities, towns and villages. This is not a piece of land that can be generalized. A simple reality check by looking at this type of map, will hopefully lead at least some to find out a little more about the continent.

And if you happen to be planning a trip to Africa, best to check out a map. Make sure you understand that combining a trip to Egypt with a safari in Kenya means you'll be covering more than two thousand miles. You probably wouldn't think of combining a visit to San Francisco with a quick side-trip to New Orleans, nor a trip to Paris with a weekend in Tel Aviv.

11. Map of Africa to Scale Made of Recycled Tin Cans

Large map of Africa, created using recycled tin cans (soda cans), to scale. This map of Africa depicts all 53 African countries, each one is a different can.

This large, country map of Africa was inspired by the recycled art that I love and can be found throughout Africa. I created this map of Africa in December 2010, using recycled drink cans. My aim was to produce an accurate, to scale, colorful map where every individual African country got its own unique, shiny design. The scale is: 1 inch = 147 miles, or 1cm = 93km. The size of the map is about 4ft by 3ft.

The cans I used were specific to each country. I took into consideration team soccer colors, exports, favorite beers, and many of my personal experiences. The best oranges I ever tasted growing up came from South Africa. Nigeria drinks more Guinness than Ireland. Botswana exports diamonds and Zimbabwe exports flowers. The ocean was created from hundreds of Pepsi cans. All the cans are washed, cut and then nailed into wood. The only tools I needed was a hammer, small nails, a National Geographic map for accuracy, scissors, carbon paper and a friendly recycling plant.

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