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A Dozen Amazing Facts About Africa: Do you know more than one?

Africa is a huge continent made up of 54 countries and over a billion people. But did you know that in Ethiopia, clocks are upside down with our 6:00 at their 12:00? This and 12 other incredible facts are sure to turn you into the captain at your next trivia tournament.


The view of Morocco from Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar.

1. Africa and Europe are separated by less than 9 miles at the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Spain from Morocco. The two countries are discussing constructing an undersea rail tunnel to connect the rail systems on the two continents.


2. In South Africa you are legally allowed to attach flamethrowers to your car in order to deter car jacking. Seriously.

Sankore Mosque - TIMBUKTU Photos (9)

Sankore Mosque, part of the University of Timbuktu in Mali.

3. Timbuktu, Mali is home of one of the oldest universities in the world, established in 982 CE. By the 12th century, the city was such an intellectual hub that National Geographic has referred to it as the Paris of the medieval world. I guess the Spice Girls didn’t take geography because in one of their self penned lyrics they believed Timbuktu to be located in China!


African Goliath Frog

4. The world’s biggest frog is found in Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon. Named the Goliath frog, it can grow up to be a foot long and weigh up to 8 lb.


5. The word “Crossword” in Kiswahili, a language spoken mainly by people in eastern and central Africa is “chemshebongo” which, when translated, means “boil brains”. I suppose after trying to do the Sunday New York Times puzzle your head might feel like exploding!


6. The official title of Idi Amin, the Ugandan dictator, was “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular”.



7. Ethiopia is the only African country with its own alphabet. It’s also the world’s oldest living alphabets – Ethiopic – and probably one of the longest with its 345 letters.


Ngwenya mountains – site of the world’s oldest mine.

8. People living in what is currently Swaziland were the world’s first miners. In the late 1960s a hematite mine was found in the Ngwenya mountain range along with 300,000 artifacts and stone-made mining tools that were later dated to be 43,000 years old!

DAR ES SALAAM/TANZANIA, 7MAY10 - Graca Machel (Founder and President, Foundation for Community Development) at the World Economic Forum on Africa held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, May 7, 2010. Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org)/Photo by Zahur Ramji / Mediapix

9. Graca Machel is the only women to have ever been first lady of two different countries (Mozambique and South Africa).


The Meroe pyramids in Sudan.

10. Sudan has more than 200 pyramids, double the number found in Egypt. The Meroe pyramids were part of the Nubian Kingdom of Kush and are up to 4,600 years old.


11.  Almost half of the gold ever mined on Earth has come from a single place – Witwatersrand, South Africa.


The Kingdom of Libya’s flag.

12. Libya’s current flag, introduced in 2011 after the overthrow of Gaddafi’s government, is a red-black-green triband featuring a white star and crescent.  However, from 1977 to 2011, Libya was the only country in the world with only one color for its flag, with no insignias, design or other details. It was chosen by Gaddafi since it symbolized both Islam and his political philosophy (after his Green Book).

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