Africa is the world’s second largest and second most-populous continent. It is a vast land of many of the worlds greatest sites to see and is so rich in culture if one were to visit it would indeed be an unforgettable journey. Almost 3,000 native languages can be heard throughout the land, and all have a story to tell. So much throughout history has occurred on its soil and many events have helped shape the world to what it is today. While many of the wondrous things this magnificent place has to offer there are still many things most people don’t know about the continent that covers 6% of the planet’s surface area and accounts for an estimated 16% of the Earth’s population.
It doesn’t matter where you go in the world; chances are a person is bound to learn something new no matter which part of the new land they find themselves in. Every street has its whispers, every city has its secrets, and every country has its mysteries, so a continent must have all that and more. And when you are the second biggest one on the planet, there are going to be some hidden gems and interesting facts that the rest of the world need to know about. These are ten unknown facts about Africa that everyone needs to be educated on right away.
1. The Walls of Benin Were Once the Largest Man-made Structure in the World
One of those unknown magnificent facts is located in Benin City, the capital of present-day Edo State of Nigeria. At one point it was home to the largest human-made structure on Earth. These huge walls towered to over 160 kilometers. This all came from a series of banks and ditches called lya. The Walls of Benin are not the kind of thing people are clawing at to see, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. While it is not a household name or significant tourist attraction like The Great all of China, these pillars of history have literally stood the test of time.
The Walls of Benin were constructed over a long period of almost 600 years. This impressive piece of construction was located at the southern border of the now-defunct Benin Kingdom, one of the oldest and most developed states in all of West Africa. In 1987 the British mounted their Punitive Expedition and ravaged the Benin Walls. The scattered pieces that remained afterward still stand throughout Edo, with most of them are being used for building purposes by the locals.
2. The University of Al Quaraouiyine Is One of the Oldest Universities in the World
Timbuktu, Mali is home to many rich cultures and vibrant history with many interesting people walking its streets. It is also home to one of the world’s greatest achievements in the world of education. Learning has been a staple of human advancement and symbol for the potential of what humanity can accomplish. So when one can defy the odds and survive through the course of so many years, it is definitely something to be admired. The oldest existing and educational institution in the world that continues to operate to this day is the University of Al Quaraouiyine, founded in 859 AD in Fez, Morocco. This institution’s long-lasting tenure has earned it a spot in the coveted Guinness Book of World Records and will most likely never lose that crown.
3. The World’s Biggest Frog Hails From Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea
There are a lot of different species of wildlife running around the giant African continent. Some are beautiful and graceful while others are very dangerous predators. If Hollywood was to ever make a movie about a dangerous predator or maybe one about killer frogs, then the Goliath frog is the most menacing amphibian on the block that that would be its star. It is a massive specimen of “ribbeting” proportions and is considered quite large by all the experts in regards to other tadpole dwellers. Some of these bad boys can grow up to 32 centimeters in length and up to almost 3.5 kilos in weight. That is one large and in charge frog.
This thing is so big it doesn’t go for puny flies when it is time to eat. It goes for a nice juicy mouth to satisfy its appetite. They have deltoids that are described to feel like sharp glass. This very predatory creature will get its prey in its mouth which it will die from suffocation or shock before it even reaches digestion. What else is crazy is its long lifespan. This guy can live for 15 years in the wild and 21 if its in captivity. The goliath frog is the stuff nightmares are made of and is one thing most people don’t realize is hopping around only in Africa.
4. Fairy Circles or Circles of Life and Death
One of Africa’s unknown facts is even unknown in origin as to how it came to be. This mystery that has plagued scientists for decades are Fairy Circles or Circles of life and death. They are found in the sandy soil on the Atlantic side of southern Africa. They occur along a thin strip that runs a thousand miles from the Richtersveld Mountains that flows into the southern part of Angola. The smallest of these Fairy Circles are around five feet in diameter. But the further up north you go the bigger these mysterious phenomena can get. Angola contains the largest of these Fairy Circles which can end up being 130 feet in diameter. The things also have a very long shelf life that can last up to 75 years, and some have been said to even last centuries.
Theories have been circulating in the scientific community since the ‘70s, and so far nothing concrete about the Fairy Circle’s origin has been discovered. They could be caused by chemical compounds emitted by a toxic bush called Euphorbia
5. Hippos Kill an Estimated 3,000 People in Africa a Year
People think they know which of all the dangerous predators to roam on African land is the most dangerous to run into at any time. But they may be mistaken. Hungry Hungry Hippos was a fun game that many families enjoyed playing on there game nights. Even in cartoons and movies, hippos are portrayed as lovable, goofy characters that are always regarded as a giant teddy bear. But in Africa, this is not the case. Hippos are very high on the food chain, much higher than humans at least.
Crocodiles and Lions are what most people are scared of when they go on safari, but that is the least of their worries if a person was to run into an actual hungry hippo. These waterlogged beasts kill more people than both crocs and the king of the jungle himself. Three thousand people in Africa bite the dust when going toe-tote with a hippo every year. So if a hippo is getting close or they happen to get the idea that an unwanted guest is in the area its best to leave these creatures be and admire them from a safe distance.
6. It’s Legal to Mount Flamethrowers on Your Vehicle in South Africa
Africa is known for many things, but one that many people are not aware of is that the second largest continent is a big flamethrower enthusiast. In South Africa, it is legal to mount a flamethrower to a vehicle in meats to deter theft. The Blast, the name of the flame-wielding defense mechanism was invented by Charlie Fourie when he realized that crime was occurring at very high rate back in 1998. At that time things like murder, rape, assault, and carjacking rates per capita were among the highest in all the world. It was reported a few 100 of these flamethrowers were sold and there are still some cars that are still able to breathe fire on the streets of South Africa literally.
7. Sudan Has Double the Amount of Pyramids Egypt Has
Everyone thinks that when it comes to pyramids that no one on Earth can beat Egypt. That country has been considered the frontrunner in large triangular shaped structures. But those that believe that Egypt is the heavyweight pyramid champion and has more of these significant buildings than anyone else are definitely in for a rude awakening. There is a place in Africa called Sudan, and not many people know about its pyramid situation. This place has a lot more than that of Egypt, like a whole lot more. In fact, it has double the amount that Egypt has. There are more than 200 pyramids (the number is around 255 to be exact) in Sudan compared to the 120 that set up in Egypt.
8. Almost Half of All Gold Ever Mined Comes From South Africa
Africa is known for having many different exports — many of which are unknown to people that live outside the continent. Gold is always in demand, and you could mine a ton of it if you make your way to South Africa. Now it is no secret that Africa contains a lot of gold. But what most of us do not realize is that half of all the gold mined in the entire world happens there. Gold was first excavated in 1886 by the Europeans near Johannesburg which led to it soon becoming the most important sector in the whole mining industry. South Africa also has almost one-half of the world’s known gold reserves, which are located primarily in the Rand.
9. Graca Machel Is the Only Women to Have Ever Been the First Lady of Two Different Countries
Africa has made the Guinness book of world records several times, but one time they made the pages of the historical record book is something that everybody needs to know. This unknown fact centers on one Graca Machel. She is of great significance because she is the only woman to have ever been the first lady of two different countries. Grace Machel was first married to the first president of Independent Mozambique. She met the leader in 1973. After she trained to become guerrilla warfighter, she and Samora Machel fell in love during the revolutionary war and got married. Two months later Samora Machel became president until his death in a plane crash in1986. She then went on to marry Nelson Mandela after his release from prison in 1990. In 1998 the two got hitched making her the first lady of South Africa. A truly phenomenal woman that was a true companion to two iconic leaders.
10. Lake Malawi Has More Fish Species Than Any Other Known Freshwater System
Not a lot of people throughout this world see all the wonders it has to offer. Some of the most beautiful sites will not only go unwitnessed by most of its inhabitants, but most of them won’t even know the things they are missing. One unknown African fact is that of the amazing Lake Malawi. The is the fourth most extensive body of freshwater in the world by volume and the ninth largest by area. But what really sets this oversized puddle apart from all the rest are the little guys swimming around in it. Malawi contains more species of fish in its depths than any other known freshwater systems in the entire world. This includes about 700 species of cichlids. The Mozambique portion of the lake was declared a reserve officially by Mozambique’s Government in 2011, and a part of the lake is included in Lake Malawi National Park.