Continuing our series of spotlight on Africa, February focuses on interesting facts about Africa.
Before you carry on reading this article make sure you have a fresh cup of African speciality coffee to sip on, which brings us to the first fact.
1. It is considered impolite in Ethiopian culture to turn down a cup of coffee so bear this in mind when travelling around Ethiopia. Why would anyone want to turn down Ethiopian coffee?
2. Victoria Falls is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site but also one of the 7 wonders of the world. It’s located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls is also the world's largest sheet of falling water. It's almost twice the height of Niagara Falls and is around half a kilometre wider 5,604 feet wide. The flow rate is so strong that one can hear the thunder of the waterfall up to 40km away.
Victoria Falls is known locally as Mosi-oa Tunya (the smoke that thunders) due to the columns of spray can be seen from miles away. The falls was renamed by Scottish explorer David Livingstone in 1855 (after queen Victoria) who described it in his writing as one of the most beautiful sights he had witnessed.
3. Whilst we are on the topic of rivers, Ethiopia is home to the source of the Blue Nile, which together with the White Nile makes up the Nile River, Africa’s longest river and also regarded as the longest in the world but contested by suggestions that the Amazon river is slightly longer. The Nile is about 6,650 km (4,130 mi) long and its drainage basin covers eleven countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of the Sudan, and Egypt.
4. Africa has 145 UNESCO World Heritage Sites scattered across the continent.
5. The West African nation of Benin has a higher concentration of twins than any other country in the developing world. Research shows that Benin had a rate of 27.9 twins per 1,000 births whilst the global average among the countries surveyed was 13.1 twins per 1,000 births. Another lesser known fact is that a small town in southwest Nigeria has a birthrate about four times higher than in the rest of the world! The town of Igbo-Ora, has been nicknamed the twin capital of the world.
6. Nigeria’s movie industry, Nollywood, is technically bigger than Hollywood! Dubbed Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry outputs over 1000 movies a year and is now the second largest in the world after Bollywood.
7. Ever heard of the African penguin? African penguins are believed to be one of the first penguin species to be discovered by humans. These hardy little penguins can dive over 400 feet and hold their breath over 2 minutes! They reside in large colonies along the southwestern rocky coast of Africa from Namibia to Port Elizabeth.
8. Africa is home to the largest hot desert in the world, the Sahara desert. It is larger than the entire United States and continues to grow each year! Covering 3.6 million square miles, nearly a third of the African continent and about the size of the United States including Alaska and Hawaii. It's the third largest desert behind Antarctica and the Arctic, which are both cold deserts.
9. Senegal has a pink lake called Lac Rose (also known as lake Retba). Its distinct pink colour is caused by the Dunaliella salina bacteria, which is attracted by the lake’s salt content.
The bacteria produces a red pigment in order to absorb the sunlight, thus giving the lake its unique colour and is safe to swim in.
10. The gemstone Tanzanite is only found in Tanzania. It was discovered in the 1800s by a Maasai warrior and today it’s seen as the second most popular blue gem after sapphire. It is one of a very small number of gems of any colour that have been discovered and brought to strong consumer popularity within the past century.
Look out for more articles soon as we explore what this wonderful continent holds.
Until then kwaheri (goodbye).