Africa is way bigger than we think –


If you look at the map of Africa, you will see all the other countries that can be fitted into it. South Africa, where I live, is located on the southern tip of Africa.

South Africa comprises only 4% of the continent’s total landmass. Cape Town, looking at the map, is on the left, down towards the bottom, with the Atlantic ocean on it’s left. Durban is further up on the right hand side, with the Indian Ocean bordering it.

Johannesburg, where I live, is about 1400 km (approx 950 miles) away from Cape Town, travelling in a SW direction – a two hour flight. Johannesburg to Durban in SE direction is about 600 km – just under an hour flight.

There are 53 or so countries within Africa, most of which are members of the Africa Union (AU) but not all are members of the UN. Nigeria is the most populated with 173.6 million people; Ethiopia: 95.045 million; Egypt: 82,196 million; Dem. Rep of the Congo: 67.36 million (the equator runs through Gabon; Congo; Dem. Rep. of Congo; Uganda; Kenya); South Africa: 52.9 million. Total population of Africa approx 1,138 billion.

South Africa is home to asylum seekers – best guess of 3 million Zimbabweans (we border Zimbabwe), Nigerians, Ethiopians, Somalians, Rwandans, Burundians, those from the Democratic Republic of Congo –

    Within South Africa there are 9 clearly recognised provinces, each with its own legislature, premier and executive council; each has their own distinctive landscape, population, economy and climate. The Cape is the largest in size – Cape Town is in the Western Cape, Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape (which takes up nearly a third of South Africa’s land area) borders onto Namibia and Botswana.

Johannesburg, where I live up on the highveld at 6000ft (2000 mts) is actually the smallest province – Gauteng:City of Gold – with the greatest population of 12.2 million.

Within this beautiful country of ours live amazing people of good will. We have a few first class cities, a fine banking system (what banking system is ‘fine’ though I have to ask myself), beautiful landscapes, home to amazing wildlife within our borders. We have poor education for the masses, corruption, murder, rape –  and much of the time we live in despair with our backs against the wall.

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the farthest north I’ve been in Africa – it’s the highest mountain in Africa (Tanzania) standing at 5895m and Tanzania, bordering on Kenya is a few degrees south of the equator.

I MAY write more about South Africa at some stage or the other – I just really wanted to illustrate the size of this huge continent on which I live – and to place South Africa –

I wish you all  in the US a blessed Thanksgiving …

30 Comments on Africa is bigger than we think

  1. Hi,

    I find this article so cool because it opens our eyes and makes us look outside of our own plate. One of the things that I found interesting when visiting the United States was that many people don’t know the world outside of their own borders.

    I would welcome learning more about the African continent.

    Thank you for an interesting article.


    • Thank you so much Patricia. Interesting that you say about borders … we do not even know our own inner borders, those that keep us locked in …

  2. In my research for our Effectively Human Food Drive, I came across a lot of statistics on Africa’s hungry – those living in very poor conditions, often with polluted water and negative resources. By all accounts, Africa is a beautiful continent with lovely people. There is this one priest, Fr. Victor, who lives in Sierra Leone. He would visit when I was young and tell us stories about Africa and how lovely it was. I don’t even know if he’s still there. I simply have fond memories and will always treasure his friendship with our family.

    • M.J. Hope the Effectively Human Food Drive is going well .. I think it’s today or tomorrow that it all comes together? Here in SA we have The Lions, Rotary and so many more on continual drives to feed the poor. I honestly believe that this is a political matter and that if our blooming people in power didn’t abuse their positions, we’d be in a far better space…

      Fr. Victor sounds like an angel …thank you for saying about him and for commenting.

      Have a lovely weekend!

  3. One of my fiction WIP is based in Africa, up around Mt. Kilimanjaro before it became an extinct volcano. What a wonderful area this is!

    • It is indeed Jacqui, and I can feel the vibe of your WIP!

      I climbed the mountain some years back – and summitted – just saying!

  4. Thanks for sharing. It’s humbling, such a huge continent, with 53 countries. I made friends as a student and over the years who grew up in South Africa or Zimbabwe. They hold strong political views, and a deep love for the people and the landscape that formed their psyche.

    I appreciate the sheer size of the landmass, since my own experience is limited – a few weeks travelling with a friend through a part of beautiful Marocco in winter 07/08 -via Marrakesh, Agadir, Tafraoute in the small Atlas, down the coast, Sidni Ifni, inland to Guelmin and back to the Atlantic again, down to Tantan, then up all the way to Essaouria and Marrakesh once more. Must share about the journey some time.

    • Thanks for saying it’s humbling Ashen, that is such an apt word, as is the whole of your first para in response. We’re not quiet in expressing political views or care for the rhino or elephant or wildlife in general .. we so want to preserve South Africa …

      How wonderful that you’ve seen some of the northern parts, a place I would dearly love to travel and experience. There’s such history there – varied from ours to be sure …

  5. Awesome post. I would love to visit South Africa. I once spent a month in Zambia and Zimbabwe, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

    I love Africa–the beauty, the wildlife, the warmth of the people, the weather. I was greatly moved by my time there, however short.

    • Thanks Holli for coming by … glad to hear you’ve had some experience of southern Africa .. I lived for 6 years in Zimbabwe, many years ago – when Moses was a boy –

      You’re spot on – the people, the weather, the landscape, wildlife – all magnificent gifts with which we’re blessed. (Not without it’s downside tho … politically ..)

  6. Susan, I knew Africa is a large country, but looking at this map, with all the countries/continents squeezed in there, gives the word ‘large’ a whole new meaning. Goes to show you how uninformed some of us are, referring to Africa, the continent, when we should refer to a given country. Thank you for this. I enjoyed reading the post and learning, or re-learning about the beauty of the continent.

  7. Interesting blog Sues, and a good and timely reminder especially for those of us living within the continent. Good to ‘stand back’ and assess.

  8. Susan, your post about South Africa and Africa is quite interesting. I too would be curious to hear more, from your perspective, versus the news we receive here in the states. From some of the comments I hear, I would wonder why you stayed in Africa versus moving else where in the world. I assume your ancestors were from the U.K.? Have you ever investigated moving else where?

    • I wonder about the news you receive in the States Gwynn. No doubt bleak. Most of the white population has distant ancestry from elsewhere. 3 of my grandparents were Norwegian, English, Scots. 40 years I left this country because of the iniquitous government at the time denying its black citizens the right to vote inter alia … Many currently leave for further lands, Australia, U.S. Canada, UK. Many of our finest scientists (Elon Musk), doctors, economists etc are abroad. The U.S. has MANY ex South Africans in the highest positions!

      But there is something about Africa .. about South Africa. We live on the edge much of the time. We debate vociferously about any and everything, especially politics. We do what we can to help the less fortunate and decry our government when justified, VERY loudly. This LAND is in our blood …

  9. Susan – think you SO much for this information and the visually stunning map! Ever since I met you, i have so many curious thoughts about the country and continent you call home. It is difficult to know where to begin to ask questions or seek answers, and you actually touched on a few already! I do hope you write MUCH more about every aspect of your home. There’s nothing quite like a personal perspective.

    • Thanks so much Sammy D. There is much to learn about this continent .. like Korea e.g. with its South and North, Sudan in Africa has north Sudan and south Sudan – there are several countries within Africa that have their conflicting north and south areas. Like the US also historically, the north and south .. Vietnam with its warring north and south, though ‘reconciled’ not that long ago ..

  10. I always knew Africa was big – gargantuan, even. But your fascinating map puts its size in even greater perspective. Keep sending geography lessons; they are both educational and inspiring. Thank you, Susan.

  11. A wonderful graphic to demonstrate your point! And I thank you for the Thanksgiving wishes — looking forward to spending with family and 8 inches of snow…yikes!

    • Thanks Beth. It is a graphic that was largely unbeknown to me .. until recently.
      Enjoy the holidays notwithstanding the snow!

  12. A very judicious post. Timely reminder of how myopic and egoic we all of us are, and how necessary to get up high enough to see our perspective. It does not make us smaller, just aware. You might call this the personal Apollo 7 photograph- taken from 4% South Africa. Its called good thinking Susan!

    • Thanks Philippa. SA is so small in the scheme off Africa yet is one of the majot economic hubs though we could lose this status as Nigeria and even Rwanda are powering along..and soooo much money is diverted into dubious deep pockets here in S.A
      By none other than our civil servants
      I love the Apollo analogy..

  13. Hi Susan .. I knew Africa was huge … I see both USSR the largest, and Canada half of USSR’s size are not depicted … both are larger than China. Some friends and I were discussing the size of Norway and the UK … not quite the same – but not that much difference.

    Africa is such an interesting country … love it! I always like comparing stats … not all the time mind you!!! Happy Thanksgiving .. hope the Highveld has dried up .. I gather it was a little wet earlier in the week …

    Hope you’ll give us some posts on SA – I’d be very happy!! Perhaps for the A-Z too …

    Cheers Hilary

    • Thanks so much Hillary. Yes, USSR and Canada are not depicted.
      I’ll give some thought to A-Z on Africa for next would be a huge learning experience for me
      Thank you for the suggestion!

  14. Quite correct and so good to have the specifications made clear to us. I, for one, am against the wholesale exploitation of South Africa’s geological resources such as Fracking for upper crust gas in the delicate and billion year old earth seams of the Karroo. Power and money in South Africa speak to one ear only with golden gifted hands. All of us should remember that we are but 4% of the vast African continent which is being overtaken with desert sands due to deforestation of the equatorial green belt on the signature of some President or other. It won’t take long to lose this great treasure the world’s last precious garden.

    • Thank you for commenting Gillian and making these extremely valid though distressing
      points. Nevertheless, in spite of all our troubles, there is a sense of awakening of the masses to just how they’ve been hoodwinked by the powers that be ..

      I wish they would call our government the ‘serving party’ and NOT the ‘ruling party’ ..

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