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The Largest Countries in Africa By Land Area

Algeria is the biggest country in Africa by land area.

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Africa is the second-largest continent in the world and covers 6% of the earth’s total surface area. Africa covers about 11.7 million square miles. By 2016, Africa had a population of 1.2 billion people which is about 16% of the world’s population. The Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea are located to the southeast, west, and north of Africa respectively. Africa has coastlines on the Red Sea and the Suez Canal to the northeast. The five largest countries in Africa by land area are Algeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Libya, and Chad. 

The Top 5 Largest Countries in Africa

1. Algeria

Algeria is the largest country in Africa and the 10th largest country in the world. Algeria gained its independence from France in 1962. Algeria exports large quantities of natural gas to Europe due to its massive reservoirs of gas and oil. The export of energy is the country’s backbone. Algeria is a member of the African Union, United Nations, and the Arab Leagues. The capital city of Algeria is Algiers. Islam is the most common religion. The Sahara Desert covers the southern part of Algeria making the country a semi-desert with very hot middays and chilly nights. Algeria experienced civil war from 1991 to 1997 when a cease-fire was declared. The 1999 elections saw Abdelaziz Bouteflika emerge as the president.

2. The Democratic Republic Of The Congo (DRC)

The DRC is found in Central Africa. The first people to settle in the present-day DRC were the Bantu. Congo gained independence in 1960, by then it was known as the Republic of Congo. The DRC has a population of 78 million people which ranks as the fourth most populous nation in Africa. The capital city of DRC is Kinshasa. The DRC suffers from political instability and poor infrastructure. The total area of the DRC is 905,355 square miles. The country is larger than the combined area of Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, and Spain. The DRC presently has 25 provinces and the city province of Kinshasa. The provinces, in turn, are divided into districts and further subdivided into territories. The DRC is the largest producer of cobalt ore in the world and the second-biggest producer of diamonds in the world. The country is also a major producer of copper. At the time of independence, the country was the second most industrialized country in Africa following South Africa. Later, a civil war raged through the country. It drastically reduced the national output of the country and significantly increased the external debt. More than 5 million people died from war and the resulting diseases and famine. Approximately two-thirds of the country are affected by malnutrition.

3. Sudan

Sudan covers a total area of 728,215 square miles. Sudan is the 3rd largest country in Africa with an estimated population of 39,578,828. Sudan is rich in mineral deposits such as chromite, gold copper, granite, iron lead, magnesium, petroleum, and nickel among others. The central and northern parts of Sudan hardly experience any rainfall. The southern part of Sudan receives enough rainfall to last up to six months. Sudan is mainly an Islamic state and is governed by Sharia Law. Khartoum is the capital city of Sudan.

4. Libya

Libya, home to 6 million people, is Africa's fourth-biggest city. Libya’s capital city is Tripoli. Libya has an area of 700,000 square miles. It is the fourth-largest country in Africa and sixteenth most extensive in the world. Libya gained its independence in 1951 and was declared as the United Kingdom of Libya. The Libyan Desert covers most of the country where hardly any rainfall occurs. Libya imports 90% of its cereals and wheat to be able to feed its people. Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa with revenue from the oil sector accounting for 80% of the country’s GDP. Libya suffers from acute unemployment levels, weak governance, and poor institutions. The official language in Libya is Arabic though different communities speak their languages. Most of the country’s population practice Islam.

5. Chad

Chad is a country in Central Africa. It is a landlocked country occupying a total area of 496,000 square miles and houses an estimated population of 13,670,084 people. Chad is often referred to as the “Dead Heart of Africa." N’Djamena is Chad's capital city. Chad has three climatic zones, namely the Sudanian savanna, Sahara Desert, and the Sahelian belt. Plants which grow in the country correspond to the three climatic conditions. Even though poaching is diminishing the presence of wild animals, the Food and Agricultural Organization is making efforts to improve relations between pastoralists, Zakouma National Park, and farmers. Chad has over 200 different ethnic communities with different religious and cultural practices. French Civil Law forms Chad’s legal system although the nation has Chadian Customary Law which does not affect public order.

The 10 Largest Countries in Africa By Land Area

RankCountryArea in Square Miles
1Algeria919,595
2Democratic Republic of the Congo905,355
3Sudan728,215
4Libya700,000
5Chad496,000
6Niger489,200
7Angola481,321
8Mali478,800
9South Africa470,900
10Ethiopia426,400

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