World Facts

Is Africa A Country or a Continent?

Africa is not a country. Africa is a continent composed of 54 recognized countries and several other territories and partially-recognized states.

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Contrary to common belief, Africa is not a country. It is the second largest continent in the world and is composed of 54 countries and two disputed states of Western Sahara and Somaliland.

What is a Continent?

A continent is a large, continuous landmass separated by a large expanse of water. Geologically, a continent is an area of continental crust found on the continental plate. The areas of continental crust in the regions covered by water is not considered as a continent. There are seven conventionally recognized continents, namely Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, North America, and Antarctica. However, many geographers now suggest that there are six continents where Asia and Europe are combined to form Eurasia because they are one solid landmass. Continents are divided into several countries or administrative units.

What is a Country?

In political geography, a country is an area identified as a district national entity. The term “country” refers to the physical dimensions and boundaries of a particular geographical area. While "country" focuses on a geographical area, the term “nation” emphasizes on the people or community with a shared history and culture. The term “state” has to do with the governing of an area. Therefore, a nonphysical juridical entity represented by a centralized government which exercises authority over a geographical area is referred to as a sovereign state. While there is no universal agreement on the number of countries in the world, there are 206 sovereign states of which 193 are members of the UN while two are observers.

Africa is a Continent

Africa is the second largest continent in the world both by population and land size after Asia. It covers 11.7 square miles or 6% of the Earth and has a population of approximately 1.2 billion people or 16% of the world’s population. Africa borders the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean. The continent also includes the island of Madagascar and several other archipelagos. Africa is joined to the continent of Asia by the Isthmus of Suez which is approximately 101 miles wide and transected by the Suez Canal.

Countries and Territories of Africa

The continent of Africa has 54 sovereign states or countries with own governments, 9 territories, and two de facto independent states that are not officially recognized. The northernmost country in Africa in Tunisia while the southernmost country is South Africa. Cape Verde and Mauritius are the westernmost and easternmost countries respectively. The largest country on the continent is Algeria while Seychelles is the smallest. The smallest country on the mainland is The Gambia. The two states with limited recognition are Somaliland and the Sahrawi Republic. The nine territories are non-sovereign and are either islands or located on Africa’s coast.

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