The African continent currently comprises 55 independent states, all of which (except Morocco) are gathered in the African Union. The largest African country in terms of area is Algeria in the north of the continent with 2,381,741 km² . On the other hand, Nigeria has the most inhabitants of Africa with around 129 million inhabitants – this is currently number 7 in the global statistics done by Countryaah.com.
|Sahara Desert||252.120||270,000||El Aaiun|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||1,001||182,000||Sao Tome|
|Central African Republic||622.884||3,790,000||Bangui|
From the north to the south, the continent is about 8000 kilometers longest. The continent reaches about as far north as south of the equator, but with about two-thirds of the land mass north of the equator. The largest distance east-west is around 7600 kilometers.
The northernmost point on mainland Africa is Cape Blanc in Tunisia, the westernmost is Cape Verde in Senegal, the southernmost is Cape Agulhas in South Africa, and the easternmost is Ras Hafun in Somalia.
There are few deep cuts in Africa’s coastline; the largest are the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast and Great and Little South on the north coast. Relatively few islands make up about two percent of the land area. The largest island is Madagascar off the southeast coast.
The African continent consists of five ancient cratons (bedrock areas) associated with younger mountain ranges. More than half of the continent has Precambrian rocks in the surface, the rest are younger deposits on the bedrock. In the modern days of the Earth, the search pit system Rift Valley originated from south of Lake Malawi and north through East Africa and all the way up to the Jordan Valley in Asia. Along the edges of East Africa, the land mass was raised to ridges with a number of active volcanoes. The Atlas Mountains of North West Africa are part of the alpine folding zone of the Earth’s modern age.
Africa has many lakes, including several large ones in connection with the Rift Valley in East Africa. From the south to the north to Ethiopia are the most important Malawi, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Victoria, Lake Kivus, Lake Edward, Lake Alberta, Lake Turkana and Lake Tanas. In the steppe belt south of the Sahara lies Lake Chad.
In Algeria, Libya, northwestern Egypt as well as in Ethiopia and Djibouti, there are recesses of salt and soda lakes that are lower than the sea level.
The North African rivers are short, but through Northeast Africa, Africa’s longest river, the Nile, flows from Lake Victoria and Lake Albert to the outlet delta in the southeastern Mediterranean. In West Africa, several major rivers, including Niger, flow into the Gulf of Guinea. Further south, the Congolese river , which is Africa’s most water-rich river, flows. In South Africa, the Orange River flows into the Atlantic Ocean, and in the southeast, among others, the river Zambezi with the mighty Victoria Falls.
On the coast and inland into Northeast Africa are the Atlas Mountains, and in the Sahara Desert there are several mountain masses, including Ahaggar and Tibesti. On the coast in several places in Africa there are several similar ridges, such as the mountain ranges along the Red Sea and Ethiopian Highlands in the northeast, the Ruwenzori massif and other mountain regions in East Africa, and the Drakensberg and Namib mountains in southern Africa.
The coastal strip along the Mediterranean is fertile in many places, but within is the largest desert in the world, the Sahara (eight million square kilometers) and the Kalahari Desert north of the mountains of South Africa.
In the Central African lowlands as well as along the north and north of the Gulf of Guinea there are tropical rainforests. To the north, south and east the forests turn into savannas, steppes and deserts.
Africa’s coastal landscapes range from dunes to lagoons and ridges. The striking shortage of peninsulas and smaller bays provides a very low number of natural ports compared to the total coast length of 30,000 kilometers.