How Big is Africa?

Updated: Oct 18, 2018

Ever wonder how big Africa is? Well Africa is huge, so huge in fact it can literally swallow China, U.S, India and some parts of Europe based on landmass.

When you look at the map of the world, it appears as if Africa is smaller than Greenland, however that isn’t actually the case. Maps can sometimes significantly distort the size of countries and continents. The reason being the conversion from a spherical surface into a rectangular surface. As a result, the area of the landmasses towards the poles appear seemingly larger than the ones close to the equator.

As you can see by the visuals published by Scientific America, Africa is actually bigger than China, U.S, India and some parts of Europe. The image below is a correctly proportioned image…

Image Credit: Scientific America

CHINA 3,705,390 sq. mi

USA 3,618770 sq.. mi

INDIA 1,266,595 sq. mi

EUROPE 1,905,000 sq. mi

ARGENTINA 1,065,189 sq. mi

​NEW ZEALAND 103,736 sq. mi


TOTAL 11,664,680 sq. mi

AREA OF AFRICA = 11,700,00 sq. mi

Why is this even relevant some may ask? Well it is relevant considering, most people confuse Africa as a country when it is in fact a continent. Some may also wonder why people get it confused.

Another reason why this topic is relevant is to take into consideration why some African countries are still struggling eradicating poverty. It gives a perspective on the idea that if we are to solve the issue of poverty, then we must solve it one country at a time. It also pays to understand the root cause of the problem in each individual country. There are 54 sovereign nations in the continent and two states whose independence is disputed – Western Sahara and Somaliland, to say the least about the vast nature of the continent.

The continent occupies 11.7 million sq. mi surrounded by the Red Sea and the Suez Canal to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent is estimated to be over seven million years old. Numerous fossils have been found by anthropologists that suggests the continent has been inhabited as far back as seven million years ago BP (Before Present). In fact the human race is said to be of African origin. The oldest known fossil anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) were excavated at fossil sites in East Africa. The oldest known fossil dating back 195,000 years was discovered at Omo Kibish, Ethiopia. Although new dates and fossils found in Jebel Irhoud, Morocco may suggest the fossils dates 600,000 years ago, according to an article by Ann Gibbons on

(GRAPHIC) G. Grullón/Science; (DATA) Smithsonian Human Origins Program; (PHOTOS, COUNTERCLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) Ryan Somma/Wikimedia Commons; James Di Loreto & Donald H. Hurlbert/Smithsonian Institution/Wikimedia Commons; SHOP; SHOP; University of the Witwatersrand; SHOP; Housed in National Museum of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Photo Donation: ©2001 David L. Brill,; SHOP

Africa is indeed the cradle of humankind. From becoming home to communities of hunter-gatherers to the domestication of animals, agriculture to ironworking which facilitated the settlement of communities in various parts of the continent; with a diverse biosphere and wetland reserves and more than 3,000 protected area and 198 marine, this vast geography is worth knowing. Not to mention, harboring most of the world’s wildlife population and species that are endemic to the region. Although there have been conservation and poaching issues in recent years and the least talked about issue, war that is endangering the wildlife population in the continent. “War tore through more than 70 percent of African parks and frequency of conflict – how often wars occurred was the single most crucial predictor of wildlife population trend,” according to Josh Daskin and his team in an interview with PBS news hour. However, the conservationists, scientific and local communities in most parts of the continent are working together in a collective effort for ecological restoration and protection.

Female impala sniff the rainy air in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. Photo by Robert Pringle

As an African, I am hopeful. Due to the vast nature of the continent, it pays to have discussions and bring awareness so we can try to figure out how best to tackle certain issues that seems to persist.

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