From Nigeria having the highest population of twins to Cameroon having 280 languages, we list 40 quirky and astonishing facts about Africa and her people.

  1. It’s true! In a Nigerian town called Igbo-Ora, which is considered the world capital of twins, there is an average of 150 sets of twins for every 1000 births. The global average is anywhere from 9-16 twins sets per 1000 births in Europe, to 18-33 twin sets per 1000 births in the United States
  2. From Nigeria having the highest population of twins to Cameroon having 280 languages, we list 40 quirky and astonishing facts about Africa and her people
  3. Mopane worms, famously eaten as a source of protein in some African countries, aren’t worms at all. They are caterpillars that eventually transform into rather pretty moths.
  4. The predominant language on the African continent is actually Arabic (spoken by 170 million people). This is followed by English (130 million), then Swahili (100m), French (115m), the North African dialects of Berber (50m), Hausa, that is spoken in West and Central Africa (50m), Portuguese (20m) and Spanish (10m).
  5. The Vredefort Dome, near Parys in South Africa, which is the site of one of the oldest meteor sites in the world, has its own magnetic field!
  6. The largest frog in the world is found in the rainforests of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. It is aptly called the ‘Goliath Frog’ and can weigh up to 3kg!
  7. The cheapest place in the world to get an open-water diving certification is Lake Malawi.
  8. The African cicada (brevisana brevis) holds the Guinness World Record for the loudest Insect, with an average sound pressure level of an ear-splitting 106.7 decibels.

  9. Another Guinness World Record held in Africa is for the Thinnest Continental Crust at only 15km thick.
  10. South Africa is the only producer in the world of the Mercedes-Benz C Class, right-hand drive cars.
  11. The Koeberg nuclear power station is the only commercial one on the continent – and it is built on a fault line! The Milnerton fault last saw an earthquake in 1809 (measuring 6.5 in magnitude). Scientists believe it is due for another quake soon.
  12. Megafauna, or ‘mammals of particularly large size’ are unique to the continent, and animals like giraffe, zebra, gorilla, hippopotamus, chimpanzee and wildebeest can only be found in Africa.
  13. Speaking of giraffes, did you know that they have blue tongues? And that their blue tongues are an average of 50cm in length?
  14. There are over 280 languages in the Republic of Cameroon – 286, in fact, if you count six languages that have since become extinct. However, not all over them are being spoken and 54 of those languages are considered to be in danger, and another 26 are dying.
  15. After World War II, the deadliest conflict in history was the Second Congo War, which claimed over 5.4 million lives between 1998 and 2008.
  16. The Sahara desert, which is the largest in the world, is bigger than the whole of the United States of America if you take landmass only into account (i.e. don’t include lakes and rivers).
  17. There is a colossal bronze statue in Dakar in Senegal, depicting a couple and their baby, pointing towards the future. It is called “the African renaissance” and at 49m, is the tallest statue in Africa, and also taller than the Statue of Liberty (without it’s pedestal), and the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
  18. Deforestation is a huge problem in Africa. In countries like Kenya, Malawi and Zambia, only 1% to 5% of their original forests (called primary forests) remain.
  19. Africa might be the cradle of mankind, but it is also the youngest continent, with 50% of the population under the age of 25.
  20. Have you seen the animated movie Madagascar, where the King of the Lemurs is voiced by Sasha Baron Cohen? There are actually over 100 different species of lemur on the island of Madagascar.
  21. Madagascar broke away from the African continent 165 million years ago, and away from India 100 million years ago. Because of this isolation, 90% of the flora and fauna on the island can be found nowhere else on earth!
  22.  Monkey Gland steak is a South African favourite. But did you know that the famous sauce was actually created by visiting international chefs as an insult (according to one version of the story), for locals’ habit of mixing tomato sauce and Worchestershire together?
  23. Did you know that there are less people with Internet connections across the entire continent of Africa, than there are in just New York City?
  24. In Tunisia, it is believed that the symbol of the fish provides protection from evil. The foundations and walls of new buildings often contain fish bones, and brightly coloured cloth or plastic fish are attached to cars and taxis, to protect the passengers within.
  25. Another fun fact for Tunisia, this one for Star Wars fans: the sets for the planet Tatooine were created in the Tunisia desert, and still stand today. You can visit Luke Skywalker’s home!
  26. Hippos kill more than 3000 people a year, and the hippo’s closest living relative is the whale.
  27. In Nigeria, the locals drink more Guinness beer than is consumed in Ireland.
  28. South Africa is the only place in the world where two Nobel Prize winners lived on the same street. What are the chances? Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both lived on Vilikazi Street in Soweto.
  29. There are over one million Chinese citizens in Africa, and China is Africa’s biggest partner in trade. This is sparking economic fears of neo-colonialism, in other words, that China is slowly but surely colonising the continent.
  30. Over 90% of the soil in Africa is unsuitable for farming and agriculture.
  31. 32. Let’s hope that if aliens make contact, they don’t choose to land in South Africa first – legally, they would be considered property of state!
  32. Another from the Guinness World Records: The last Sharifian Emperor of Morocco, Moulay Ismail, known as The Bloodthirsty, goes down in history as having the most decedents. He was reputed to have fathered a total of 525 sons and 342 daughters.
  33. Hyenas, those most perfect of scavenger machines, and native to the African continent, are genetically closer to cats than dogs.
  34. Somali’s pirates are infamous for taking tourists prisoner and ransoming them back to their home countries. In 2010, it is estimated Somalian pirates made $238 million in ransom money.
  35. In Angola, tipping is not standard practice. If you do tip, it should never be more than 10% of the bill, and you don’t have to tip in money – you can even leave cigarettes.
  36. Despite their name and habits, African dung beetles are fascinating creatures. Did you know that they use the starry Milky Way to navigate?
  37. Left-handers beware, it is considered rude to greet a Tanzanian with your left hand as it is considered unclean.
  38. More films are made in Nigeria’s film industry (Nollywood) than are made in Hollywood every year.
  39. The closest point from America to Africa is between Quoddy Head State Park in the US state of Maine to Safi Province in Morocco.