People seldom realize how big Africa is



It tends to irk me when people think that England IS the UK, or when people talk of Europe as one country with one currency. The EU alone has 28 countries and over 500 million inhabitants. Only 18 of these countries use the euro. But the thing that really annoys me is when people talk about Africa as though it is one country. There are 53 or 54 countries in Africa, depending on whether you regard West Sahara as an independent country or a province of Morocco. Most people cannot name more than 15 African countries with no problem. The countries in Africa vary widely in terms of history, language and size. Many of them are at war with each other. Only two have never been colonized – Ethiopia and Liberia. The image above gives you an idea of the sheer size of this continent. It is absolutely enormous.

Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent. At about 30.2 million km2 (11.7 million sq mi) including adjacent islands, it covers six percent of the Earth’s total surface area and 20.4 percent of the total land area.  With 1.1 billion people as of 2013, it accounts for about 15% of the world’s human population. (Wikipedia)

I have never been asked if there are lions walking in the streets but some of the things that people have said to me:

  • How can you come from Africa? You’re white!
  • You mean there is more than one country in Africa?
  • Do you know my cousin XXX? He lives in Kenya I think.
  • I bet you see lots of tigers in Africa (though I can’t really laugh at that one. I thought Sweden had polar bears until I came to live here)
  • There are two Congos?

But I can say that when I drive from Grahamstown to Port Elizabeth in South Africa, I see zebra and giraffe as I drive, and that there are double lion fences so if your car goes off the road through one fence, there is a second electrified fence to keep the lions away from you. These are game parks though – I come from an area of the country where the farms were struggling so many of them became huge game farms. It is not safe to drink the water, I am unable to donate blood in Sweden as I come from a malaria country, I have seen bigger spiders than most people can even imagine on my bedroom wall (something I do NOT miss in Sweden) and I know someone who has a cheetah and a karakul as pets.

Another one which makes you think is the Ebola map, created by Anthony England



Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

5 thoughts

  1. Surprisingly, it irritates about 6 million Scots people who are well aware that England is NOT the UK – there are other countries who are generally regarded as second class citizens by Westminster and to complain is to be treated like a petulant child. As for Australia – it is the sixth largest country at 7 692 024 sq.kms. and we generally are asked if there are Kangaroos wandering the streets.

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