Most Incredible Maps of African Countries You've Ever Seen
Africa is the most misunderstood continent. Even in the age of information, a shocking amount of people continue to refer to it as a country or think of it as a monolith, ignoring the cultural, geographic and linguistic diversity of its 54 nations.
Of course, we know that you, dear reader, aren't one of those people. But there is always something new and exciting one can learn about the second-largest continent on the planet.
These incredible maps of African countries are a great start.
First, Let's Start With a Map of African Countries
Before getting into some surprising and interesting maps, let's do a refresher of the political map of African countries looks like as of 2022.
How Big Is Africa?
On the Mercator Map, which is the one most commonly used, Africa is shrunk and made to look much smaller than it actually is.
To give people an idea of its real size, you could fit the U.S., China, India and several European countries into this massive continent.
How Africa Compares to Other Continents
Another way to see the real size of Africa is to compare it to other continents. Asia is the only other continent that is bigger than it.
And How Russia Compares
On the flip side, if you want to know just how gigantic Russia is, look at how it compares to Africa. Russia boasts 6.60 million square miles of territory, while Africa has 11.73 million square miles. That's over half of the continent.
Map of African Empires and Kingdoms From ~500 B.C to 1500 A.D.
Most people know of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, whose most famous ruler is none other than Cleopatra. But there were many other kingdoms and empires in Africa before European colonization.
African Foods People Miss the Most
No one with working taste buds can deny that African food is delicious. This is why dishes like lamb tajine, potjiekos, bolof and chicken yassa are some of the African foods travelers miss the most.
A Tragic Map: The Regions From Which the Most Enslaved People Came
The Translatlantic Slave Trade will forever be one of the darkest blemishes in the history of the world. Most of the people who were trafficked from Africa to the Americas and Europe were from the west coast of Africa.
This map highlights the countries and regions from which the majority of people were torn from their homes.
Religions of Africa
Christianity and Islam are the most prevalent religions on the continent. The only country where Hinduism is the strongest faith is Mauritius, but there are parts of South Africa where it also has a strong hold.
As you can see, native religions are still widely practiced.
What Seventh-Century Europeans Thought Africa Looked Like
In the 600s, Europeans had yet to travel deep into the African continent. As a result, their perception of it was rather limited.
This map includes northern Africa, the Sahara and parts of the east coast like Ethiopia.
Africa in the 16th Century, According to Europeans
In 1508, about 900 years after the previous map was made, Europeans had not made much headway in understanding the shape or size of Africa.
Hey, they were doing everything by hand and without technology, so we'll give them a break.
A Colonial Map of Africa in 1800
Another blemish in recent world history is the Scramble for Africa. European colonization of its southern neighbor dates back thousands of years, perhaps to when Alexander the Great took over northern Africa, making way for the Greek-speaking Ptolemaic Empire, to which Cleopatra belonged.
But in the year 1800, the vast majority of the continent was still independent.
And What the Continent Looked Like Just 113 Years Later
Independence did not last long, however, as the Industrial Revolution spurred technological advances that made it possible to travel farther faster and gave Europe military dominance.
By 1913, most of Africa was under European rule. The only country that was never colonized is Ethiopia.
A Side-by-Side Comparison of African Colonization
And so you can visualize the difference: Here's a side-by-side comparison of the continent from 1880 and from 1913. In just 33 years, the entire geopolitical map of the continent completely changed.
But We Can Now Celebrate Their Independence
You can see the winds of independence slowly sweep over Africa in this cool interactive map.
A Map That Shows Travelers Don't Always Know Better
We get that sometimes famous attractions end up being overrated tourist traps that are not worth your time. That being said, some people clearly like to complain or lack trustworthy criteria.
Who would say Cape Town's incredible Table Mountain is not impressive? Or feel underwhelmed about spending the day with endangered animals in Kenya's Giraffe Center? Also, Victoria Fall's Devil's Pool is absolutely amazing and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the few places in the world where you can see mountain gorillas.
This map is certainly interesting, but we can't say we agree with the people whose review it's based on.
Light Pollution in Africa (and the Arabian Peninsula)
Light pollution is a health and environmental problem that is often overlooked. It can cause a myriad of issues like changes in migration and mating patterns in animals, and lack of proper sleep in humans. (Blame those under-eye bags on your ever-present screen.)
The African continent, however, has been relatively immune to light pollution. This is great for the numerous animals that live within its borders. On the flip side, this often comes at the cost of human development and education.
If You Love Animals, Don't Look at This Map of Cheetah Range
Want to feel sad? No? Then skip to the next map because this comparative map of cheetah range will have you in tears.
In the days of yore, you could find cheetahs roaming freely from South Africa all the way to India. Today, you'll be lucky (or unlucky, if they decide you look delicious) if you see one outside of eastern and southern Africa.
Or This Past and Present Hippo Range One
OK, actually, you may want to skip this map as well. Poor hippos have lost a staggering amount of their habitat. Where they once called most of Sub-Saharan Africa (plus the Nile) their home, they are not scattered into the sad green spaces of the map.
And If You're a Scaredy Cat, Don't Look at This Map of Nile Crocodile Ranges
On the bright side, you can find Nile crocodiles almost anywhere in Africa. On the bad side, you can find Nile crocodiles almost anywhere in Africa.
We're happy to see these crocs thriving, but given that they're one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, we also hope we only run into them from a distance.
UNESCO Sites That Every African Country Wants to Visit the Most
Seeing UNESCO World Heritage sites is every traveler's dream. Which sites are on the minds of African travelers?
According to Zitango Travel, Africans want to visit the historic city of Rio de Janeiro the most. This comes as no surprise because Rio is awesome. Victoria Falls and the Taj Mahal follow closely.
Africa in the 15th to 17th Centuries
This modern map is based on historical sources that detail where 15th- to 17th-century communities lived. Some, like Yoruba, you'll be able to easily recognize, as they still use their historic name.
Oldest Companies in Africa
When it comes to seniority in Africa, it looks like post offices, railroads and banks all win the game. Many of these businesses go back to the 19th century, providing important services to locals for hundreds of years.
For 20th-century businesses, airlines have managed to stay afloat for many decades.
A Simplified Map of African Language Families
There are an estimated one to two thousand languages and dialects in Africa. But many of these languages belong to a family, the main seven of which are shown on this map.
Bantu and Afroasiatic languages dominate most of the territory.
The Most Popular Books Set in Africa
Books help you expand your mind, so it's always good to look for ones that are outside of where you live. It's important to note that this map is of books set in each country and not necessarily books that are written by authors from that country.
Still, if you're looking to escape your reality, you can let your imagination take you to Africa with these titles.
Map of African Countries by GDP
While we won't deny that poverty is an issue that assails many countries in Africa, it is simply inaccurate to say that the entire continent is poor. Instead, this is a consequence of the myth of homogeneity that has so stubbornly held to perceptions about Africa.
Seychelles, for instance, has a GDP per capita that is close to that of Costa Rica, a favored destination in the Americas. The island of Mauritius follows with the second-highest GDP per capita on the continent. Other countries like South Africa, Algeria and Egypt also fare relatively well.
Driving Across Africa Is Definitely Possible
We can't guarantee that every road will be great, but we can guarantee that there will be a road that takes you from South Africa to Egypt, or from Senegal to Somalia.
If you love a good ol' road trip, this is a unique adventure that guarantees some stories.
Population Density in Africa
You've probably heard that Cairo is full of people. Just how full? Take a look at this map and mentally prepare for when you go visit the pyramids.
Type of Businesses Africans Want to Start
Entrepreneurs in Africa set their sights on businesses that meet consumers' needs. Some are geared toward the international market, as can be seen in Ghana and Ethiopia, which have booming real estate businesses.
In other countries, people are starting recycling businesses. This is particularly interesting in Madagascar, an island country that is grappling with climate change and plastic pollution in a limited land.
People in other countries are dreaming of making a profit from photography, interior design and software.
But according to this map, the business the most countries want to start is cleaning.
Africa's Amazing Biodiversity
After South America, Africa has the most concentrated biodiversity out of all continents. This is not surprising, of course, given that people visit it specifically for its incredible opportunities to see endemic wildlife and have adventures in nature.
Still, it's mind-blowing to see it visualized like this.
Just for Laughs: This Delicious and Accurate Map of Africa
We have many questions. The first one is, who has enough time to do an accurate political map of Africa with orange peels? The second one is, can we be their friend?
And Finally, A Map That Shows You How Dumb Stereotypes About Africa Are
We're into the second decade of the 21st century, and people are still holding onto silly stereotypes. Perhaps, no continent is as much a victim of this as Africa.
In the global imagination, every African country is rife with political conflict. People think as soon as you step out of the plane, you'll be robbed, kidnapped or killed. But using the U.S. Department of State's travel advisories, we've made a map to visualize just how untrue this idea is.
For those who don't know, level one is considered the safest level, with places like Austria and Iceland (notorious for their safety) earning the rank. As you can see, 16 African countries — like Botswana, Senegal and Zambia — also land on it.
Level two includes countries like France, Germany and Spain. It also includes 20 African countries like South Africa, Tanzania and Ghana. Overall, 36 out of 54 countries are considered safe for travel. That's around 67 percent of the continent.