Africa the black giant; an ancient land of rich history that goes back several millions of years. Africa is widely claimed to be the cradle of mankind. Additionally, latest DNA research has purportedly traced the true location of the Garden of Eden to modern-day Botswana. And the ancients of the continent named it Alkebulan (Mother of mankind); and Cush in biblical texts.
Africa: Brief Statistics
The African continent is the second largest landmass on the Earth in terms of size and population. The black continent at a whooping 11.7 million square miles of surface area had over 1.4 billion people as at 2021. Africa is almost entirely surrounded by water. It is bordered by the Atlantic ocean to the west and the Indian ocean to the southeast. The Mediterranean to the north, and the Red sea to the northeast. The great continent has a vast array of human and natural resources.
However we must admit that the histories of most of Africa’s 54 autonomous nations are strongly influenced by colonialism, tribalism, corruption and poor governance.
Africa: Weather and Vegetation
What’s more fascinating about the black continent is that its vast landscape is roughly distributed equally around the Earth’s equator. Which makes most of Africa strategically positioned to enjoy sunny, tropical weather. Except at the northernmost and southern tips where there are subarctic and mediterranean weathers. From the North to the South of Africa, the vegetation varies from desert lands at the extremities, to savannas and rainforests at the center. All these are interspersed by highlands, plateaus, and mountains here and there.
Africa is blessed with long rivers, notable lakes and water bodies, though much of its landscape is quite dry. The coastline of Africa is fairly long at 26,000 square kilometers, such that there are lovely beaches and cliffs dotting its length.
Most Beautiful Countries in Africa: A Brief Tour
We bring you a glimpse of some of the best sights and sounds you can find in Africa. These 10 countries are arguably the most beautiful countries in Africa by our estimation. We believe so, due to the notable heritage sites, natural wonders, rich and diverse cultures, biodiversity, welcoming cities and towns, and tourist centers.
The north African country of Morocco has the Atlantic ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea along its coast to the northwest. While the Western Sahara and Algeria are along its borders towards the south and east respectively. The lovely coastline is separated from the Sahara lands by the Atlas mountains. Morocco is known to have been inhabited for more than 300,000 years.
Conquerors passed through Morocco in ancient times by accessing the same coastal region. The Almoravids, Romans, Portuguese, French, and Spanish ruled the nation one after the other until the people revolted and obtained their independence in 1956.
Many of the country’s beautiful cities, souks (marketplaces) and medinas are located along the coastline. Morocco has long become a choice destination for tourists due to its coastline, history and culture. Morocco has a good number of heritage sites that date back to ancient Berber, Islamic, and Roman times. Some of the country’s popular tourist destinations include:
– Casablanca cruise port,
– Majorelle botanical garden in Marrakech
– Agadir coastal resort
– the cities of Essaouira and Fez
– the Atlas and Rif mountains
– Sahara desert
– Djemaa El Fna
– Mountain city of Chefchaouen
Kenya, located in East Africa, is the home of safari – the age-old wildlife tourism industry. The country is bordered to the southeast by the Indian ocean. South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and Tanzania surround the country in anticlockwise direction from the Indian ocean. Kenya was inhabited millions of years ago by the ancestors of modern man, as fossil findings have revealed.
The country is an amazing scenery of snow-tipped mountains, huge forests, deserts, dry lands, semi-dry lands, rich arable lands and rivers. Kenyan climate moves from tropical (on the coast) to temperate, to extremely dry up north.and northeast.
Kenya is also notable for its vast diversity of both plant and animal life. The savannah and desert regions provide a home for teeming animal wildlife. Especially animals like lions, giraffes, elephants, antelopes, rhino, buffalo and several birds. The area provides an opportunity to see the seasonal migration of zebras, wildebeest and other animals between June and September every year. These animals are allowed to thrive in the 60 game reserves and wildlife parks around the country.
Kenya thrives heavily on tourism. Apart from the game reserves and wildlife parks, some of its other famous tourist destinations include:
– Coffee plantations of Thika
– Tea plantations at Kericho
– Colonial-era forts located in Malindi, Lamu and Mombasa
– Mount Kenya and the Great Rift Valley
– Beaches along the Indian ocean and Swahili coast
Mauritius is an island in the Indian ocean, positioned about 2,000 kilometers to the southeast of Africa. All around, it is naturally surrounded by captivating white sand beaches, lagoons and coral reefs. The lagoons are protected from the open ocean by the third-largest coral reef in the world. Mauritius is the largest island of a group of islands that form the Mascarene Islands (the other islands being Rodrigues, Agaléga, St. Brandon and Reunion).
There are about 49 uninhabited islands and islets belonging to Mauritius, most of them already declared as natural reserves for endangered species. Mauritius has an interesting array of plant and animal life unique to the island, including the pink pigeon, echo parakeet and Mauritius kestrel.
As you go into the innermost regions, you would encounter mountains, waterfalls, and rain forests. The tourism industry in Mauritius is also well developed. Some of its other notable tourist destinations include:
– Eureka plantation house
– Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens (from way back in 18th-century)
– Black River Gorges National Park
– Champs de Mars horse track
The island country has been conquered so far by the Portuguese, Dutch, French and British until its independence in 1968. One would observe an interesting mix of architectural designs in buildings that point to the influence of all its conquerors on Mauritius’ culture and history till this day. East Africa and India also contributed immensely to that history.
Towards the southern coast of West Africa is the country named Ivory Coast (or Cote D’Ivoire). The countries of Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Fassso and Ghana surround the nation in clockwise fashion; while the Atlantic ocean is located towards its south. The country is blessed with beaches and lagoons off the coast. Ivory Coast had been dominated by a number of kingdoms in the past – including the Kong, Gyaaman, Baoule, and French. It eventually attained independence in 1960.
The country has vast agricultural and arable lands – it is the world’s largest exporter of cocoa. Several cocoa and plantain plantations are located towards the east region. Ivory Coast also has the largest diversity of plant and animal species in West Africa. The vegetation ranges from Guinea savannas, to forests, to even mangrove swamps. There are 9 national parks in Ivory Coast.
Even though tourism is not a major sector for foreign earnings in Ivory Coast, it nevertheless has some beautiful tourist spots you should be eager to see. Remains of French-style buildings from the colonial era can be found around town. Some of the tourist attractions include:
– The Basilica of Saint Paul in Abidjan
– Grand-Bassam: the former French capital
– National Museum of Abidjan
– Town of Man: Tonkoui and Toura peaks, Cascades waterfall, and the bamboo forests
– Tai National Park
– Harbors of San Pedro
– Basilica of our Lady of Peace, Yamoussoukro
– Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve
Tanzania is an East African country located within the Great Lakes region. In clockwise order, it is surrounded by Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, and DR Congo. Tanzania was colonized by Arabs, Germans, and the British.
Also, Tanzania has a vast diversity of animal wildlife, and the world’s largest population of lions. Naturally the economy of the country thrives on wildlife tourism, and is a famous safari destination.
Some of the notable tourist centers of Tanzania include:
– 22 national parks
– 33 game reserves
– 3 marine parks
– 1 conservation area
– 43 game-controlled wildlife corridors
– Mount Kilimanjaro
– Pemba Island
– Olduvai Gorge
– The beaches of Zanzibar
– The coral waters of Pemba and Islands
– Stone Town
– Lakes Tanganyika, Nyasa and Victoria
Tunisia has remained attractive to conquerors and visitors for centuries due to its coastline – right beside the Mediterranean Sea. The North African country is positioned in-between Libya and Algeria; and it has direct access to the Sahara desert. The Atlas mountains are partly found in Tunisia, passing through Morocco and Algeria as well.
Tunisia has a long history of being subdued by Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Ottomans, and the French. Despite the Arabs converting the Berber population of the 7th Century to Islam, Its population has been intermixed with Jews and Christians for a long time.
Tunisians are known to be as warm and hospitable as their Mediterranean weather and beautiful beaches. Also, the notable cities of Tunisia are dotted with an interesting mix of architecture that bear clear evidence of each of its conquerors. Arab mosques stand side by side with modern buildings in the city of Tunis. Some of the interesting heritage sites include:
– The ruins of Carthage
– The Roman amphitheater in El Jem
– Al Zaytunah mosque in Tunis
– The greater mosque in Kairouan
– The National Library in Tunis
– The ancient Library of Carthage
– The Rashidiyya music conservatory
– Several other museums
– Sahara desert
Tunisia also proudly celebrates music and theater cultural festivals regularly. These include:
- the Carthage International Festival,
- the Testour Maalouf Festival of traditional Andalusian music,
- the Sousse International Cultural Festival, and
- the International Jazz Festival of Tabarka.
There is no doubt the nation invests heavily in, and profits from tourism.
Nigeria is located in West Africa. Its southern and southwest regions form a long coastline that runs parallel to the Atlantic ocean. At over 230 million inhabitants, the country has the largest population in Africa. Nigeria shares borders with Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin in anticlockwise fashion from the east to the west.
Nigeria was a British colony up until 1960 when it gained independence. It was subdued in a protracted period of military rule and intermittent civilian governments which lasted from the 1960s till 1999 when the first stable democratic government was elected.
The country’s two major rivers, Benue and Niger, meet at Lokoja and empty into the Atlantic ocean towards the south through a vast delta.
From the coastline down south towards the north, Nigerian vegetation moves from mangrove swamps through rainforests, to savanna lands interspersed with mountains and plateaus all the way to the dry, desert-encroached extremes of the north. And to the northeast, the country shares Lake Chad with its neighbors – Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The land is interspersed with a good number of rivers.
Nigeria is blessed with enormous crude oil reserves particularly in the Niger Delta region. However, environmental pollution from crude oil has damaged many lands and affected people in the area.
Nevertheless, the country has an array of notable tourist sites you need to visit at least once in a lifetime. They include:
– Osun Osogbo heritage site
– National Art’s Theatre
– Cross driver National Park
– Erin Ijesha waterfalls
– Kainji National Park
– Obudu Cattle Ranch & Plateau
– Olumo Rock
– Tinapa Resort
– Yankari National Park
– National War Museum Umuahia,
amongst several others.
At the southernmost part of Africa lies the Republic of South Africa. This unique country with three capital cities (Pretoria, Cape Town, Bloemfontein) has an extensive coastline spanning 2,978 kilometers and directly facing the Indian and South Atlantic oceans. The country shares borders with Nàmíbíà, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Eswatini to the north and northeast respectively, in clockwise order.
South Africa was historically colonized by Dutch and British settlers, who struggled against each other and against native tribes for control of the land in a series of wars. These occurred between 1652 and 1902. The wars became particularly intense following the discovery of diamonds and gold deposits in 1867 and 1884 respectively. Eventually the British forces won the battle.
The apartheid period which began in 1948 also had a significant impact on the rights and livelihood of the marginalized black indigenes. A struggle against the apartheid regime by several black activists resulted in the gradual removal of the oppressive apartheid laws in the mid 1980s. And today, every racial group is adequately represented in government.
The indigenes are a collection of pure whites, coloured whites, black natives and a mix of Asian people. They also speak up to 11 official languages. South Africa is also home to some of the oldest human fossils ever found on the Earth, some as old as 3 million years.
The interior parts of South Africa consist of a huge plateau. Much of the surrounding vegetation consists of shrubs and dry grassland, leading into the Kalahari desert in the northwest. But the mid-eastern regions of the South African plateau have good supply of natural water and have been used for agriculture.
The Cape Fold mountains run parallel along the coast – a natural barrier between the ocean and the inland plateau. The climate is a mix of sub-tropical climate, temperate climate, Mediterranean and dry desert. The country is occupied by several mammal species, about 5,000 species of fungi, and over 22,000 vascular plants.
Subsequently, the government of South Africa has put a lot of effort into promoting tourism by preserving its remaining plant and animal life (after years of heavy poaching by settlers). In spite of all this, there are still notable tourist sites one needs to visit in South Africa, such as:
-beautiful beaches and coral reefs
– 19 national parks and 42 game reserves
– Cape Town
– Kirstenbosch botanical gardens
– Victoria and Alfred waterfront
– The Gardens Route
– Stellenbosch Village Museum
– University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden
– The Drakensberg
– Robben Island,
amongst several other breathtaking natural and man-made tourist sites.
Seychelles is a group of 115 islands (archipelago) located to the east of Africa, in the Indian ocean. It was left unoccupied until the French and British governments colonized the archipelago in the 16th century. However, reports have it that pirates visited the area before the French government took over. It finally attained independence in 1976.
It is a largely agricultural society but has a high-income economy. The culture of Seychelles is strongly influenced by its past colonial masters, as well as Indian, Chinese and African infusions. Many of its islands are not inhabited by humans, but set apart as nature reserves. The vegetation is typical of a tropical rain forest. Seychelles is also host to the largest seabird colonies in the world and over 1,000 species of fish. Roughly 75 plant species are unique to the region.
Some of the notable tourist attractions of the Seychelles are listed below:
– Beautiful beaches lined with boulders
– Amazing coral reefs
– Several nature reserves
– 5-star resorts of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue
– Fishing lodges of Alphonse Island and Farquhar Atoll
– International airport and seaport of Mahe
– Morne Seychellois national park
– Valee de Mai
– Baie Lazare village
The county of Egypt is an important route and link between the Middle East and northeast Africa. The Red sea is located to the east and the Mediterranean sea to the north. Israel and Palestine are located to the northeast.
Egypt has a very ancient history. The country has contributed significantly to early developments in agriculture, writing, centralized government, urbanization and organized religion globally. It was conquered at various times in the past by Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks, the French and the British up until 1922. All these events impacted on the country, as it became a mix of African, Mediterranean and Arab cultures.
The largely muslim nation also has a significant minority of christians and other faithfuls. Most of its people live on, and practice agriculture close to the Nile river, as the rest of Egypt has been taken over by the Sahara desert.
Notable ancient sites and tourist attractions of Egypt include:
– The Great Sphinx
– The Pyramids of Giza
– Sakkara Pyramids
– Valley of the Kings
– The Ruins of Thebe, Memphis and Karnak
– The Grand Egyptian Museum
– The High Dam of Aswan
– Several temples at Hatshepsut, Luxor, Edfu, Abu Simbel, Karnak, and Philae
– Mosque of Mohamed Ali
– Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
– Ras Mohammed National Park
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