Category: West Africa

Country Highlight: SIERRA LEONE

Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 15 0

Sierra Leone is Africa’s 15th smallest country and its capital was founded as a home for repatriated former slaves. Learn more fun facts about this beautiful country.

Fast Facts:

1. It’s located in West Africa and is the 15th smallest country on the continent.

2. Its capital and largest city is Freetown, which was founded in 1787 as a home for repatriated former slaves from England, Nova Scotia, and Jamaica.

3. Major languages: English, Krio, Mende, Temne, Limba, Bengali

4. Major ethnic groups: Temne (36%), Mende (33%), Limba (7%), Kono (5%), Fula (4%), Loko (3%), Koranko (3%)

5. Major religions: Islam (78%), Christianity (21%), Traditional and other religions (1%)

6. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1961.

7. The name Sierra Leone means Lion Mountains in Portuguese.

8. It is rich in minerals, especially diamonds, and is known for “blood diamonds” which were mined and sold for weapons during the country’s civil war from 1991 to 2002.

9. Tourism is steadily growing and the main attractions are the beaches, nature reserves, rain forests, mountains, islands, historical sites, and culture.

10. One of the most historic and well-known symbols of Freetown is the Cotton Tree, a massive kapok tree where the first freed slaves gathered, prayed, and sang to celebrate landing on the soil of liberty and freedom. Today, citizens still pray and make offerings to the ancestors under the tree.

11. The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary is located in the rain forest of the Western Area National Park and is home to 50+ orphaned or illegally captured chimpanzees.

12. It has several islands, including Tiwai Island, home to a wildlife sanctuary and the Gola Forest National Park; Bonthe Island, which is popular for sports fishing; Bunce Island, a former slave trading station; the Turtle Islands, a group of 8 islands known for its beaches and bamboo-built villages; and the Banana Islands, a group of 3 islands known for its tropical forests, beaches and colonial and slave trading monuments.

13.Things to see and do in Freetown include the Cotton Tree, De Ruyter Stone, Government Wharf and King’s Yard, King Jimmy’s Market, Victoria Park Market, Marcon’s Church, National Museum, Lumley Beach, and the Freetown Harbor.

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Country Highlight: SENEGAL

Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 29 0

Senegal is Africa’s 34th largest country and home to the continent’s largest statue. Learn more fun facts about this fascinating country.

Fast Facts:

1. It’s located in West Africa and is the 34th largest country on the continent.

2. Its capital and largest city is Dakar, the westernmost point of continental Africa.

3. Major languages: French (official), Wolof (most widely spoken), Serer, Pulaar, Diola, Arabic

4. Major ethnic groups: Wolof (41%), Fula (18%), Serer (16%), Mandinka (14%), Diola (4%)

5. Major religions: Islam (90%), Christianity (5%), Traditional and other religions (5%)

6. It gained independence from France in April 1960.

7. It is well known for its griots, storytellers who have kept West African history alive for thousands of years through words and music.

8. Its most popular sport is wrestling (La Lutte: French). But Senegalese wrestling includes gris-gris, in which veneration of traditional amulets, the use of magic potions, and hypnotic drumming, song and dance form an integral part of the wrestling match.

9. Its newest museum, the 40,000 sq ft (3,700 sq m) Museum of Black Civilizations, showcases art, history and culture from across the continent and the African diaspora.

10. It is home to Africa’s tallest statute, the African Renaissance Monument, which symbolizes the triumph of African liberation and the unity of the Black family

11. It has 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites: Goree Island, Niokolo-Koba National Reserve, the island of Saint-Louis, Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary, Stone Circles of the Senegambia, Saloum Delta and the Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes in southeastern Senegal.

12. Its annual religious pilgrimage, The Grand Magal, brings nearly 4 million Muslims to the holy city of Touba to celebrate the life and teachings of Cheikh Amadou Bamba.

13. Tourism is a vital part of Senegal’s economy and centers around beaches, nature, history, and culture. Popular places include the beaches of the Petite Coast, Sine-Saloum Delta, Lompoul Desert, Touba, Saint-Louis (the former French colonial capital), and Casamance.

14. Things to see in and around Dakar include: Goree Island and the House of Slaves, African Renaissance Monument, Museum of Black Civilizations, Village des Arts, IFAN Museum, Mosque of the Divinity, Our Lady of Victories Cathedral, Ngor Island, Pink Lake, markets and beaches.

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Video credit: Epic Senegalese Wrestling Channel

Country Highlight: NIGERIA

Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 44 0

Nigeria is Africa’s 14th largest and most populous country. Learn more fun facts about this rapidly growing country.

Fast Facts:

1. It’s located in West Africa and is the 14th largest country on the continent.

2. It is Africa’s most populous country, with more than 200 million inhabitants.

3. Its capital is Abuja. Its largest city, Lagos, is the most populous on the African continent, home to more than 14 million people. Lagos is one of three African megacities.

4. Major languages: English is the official language, while Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo are national languages. More than 500 distinct languages are spoken in the country.

5. Major ethnic groups: The three largest ethnic groups are the Hausa–Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo, together comprising over 60% of the total population. There are more than 250 ethnic groups in the country.

6. Major religions: Islam (53%), Christianity (46%) Traditional African and other religions (1%)

7. It is a former British colony and gained independence from the United Kingdom on October 1, 1960.

8. Its flag, adopted at independence, has three vertical bands of green, white and green. The two green stripes represent Nigeria’s natural wealth and the white represents peace and unity.

9. It is Africa’s largest oil producer and also home to the 2nd-largest proven oil reserves in Africa.

10. The town of Igbo-Ora has the world’s highest rate of twin births. Almost every house has at least one set of twins. It is believed to be caused by high consumption of yams.

11. Nigeria has been home to several indigenous pre-colonial states and kingdoms, including the Nok, Nri, Ife, Oyo and Benin, among others.

12. Tourism centers largely on festivals and events, arts and culture, history, national parks, beaches, rain forests, savannah, waterfalls, and other natural attractions.

13. There are numerous cities and attractions to explore across the country, including Aso Rock and the Presidential complex in Abuja, the palace in Kano, colonial and art deco architecture of Ibadan, Gashaka Game Reserve, the Slave History Museum and National Museum in Calabar, the palace and museum in Ife-Ife, Benin City, Olumirin Falls, Gurara Falls, the sacred Oshun shrine in Osogbo, Cross River National Park, and Yankari National Park.

14. Things to see and do in Lagos include: Victoria Island, Nike Art Gallery, Lekki Conservation Centre, Lekki Market, National Museum, Kalakuta Republic Museum and Tafawa Balewa Square.

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Country Highlight: NIGER

Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 65 0

Niger is Africa’s 6th largest country and its annual Gerewol is a must see cultural event. Learn more fun facts about this interesting country.

Fast Facts:

1. It’s a landlocked country in West Africa and the 6th largest country on the continent.

2. Its capital and largest city is Niamey.

3. Major languages: French (official), Arabic, Buduma, Fulfulde, Gourmanchéma, Hausa, Kanuri, Zarma & Songhai, Tamasheq, Tassawaq, Tebu

4. Major ethnic groups: Hausa (55%), Zarma-Songhai (21%), Tuareg (11%), Fula (7%), Kanuri Manga (6%)

5. Major religions: Islam (99%), Christianity and traditional beliefs (1%)

6. It was named after the Niger River.

7. Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara Desert and its climate is mostly very hot and dry.                                                        

8. Its people are called Nigeriens (as compared to the Nigerian people of Nigeria).

9. Humans have inhabited the territory of modern Niger for millennia; stone tools, some dating as far back as 280,000 BC, have been in the northern Agadez Region.

10. It gained independence from France in August 1960.

11. Its biggest cultural event is the annual Cure Salée Festival, in late September. The centerpiece is the Gerewol, where unmarried Tuareg and Wodaabe men adorn traditional face painting and fancy dress, and gather in line to dance and sing chants in the hopes of finding a wife.

12. There is a limited tourism industry, but it is opening up and centers around national parks and wildlife, desert landscapes, ancient cities, festivals and culture. Attractions include the W National Park, Termit & Tin Toumma National Nature and Cultural Reserve, the last West African giraffe herd in Koure, the ancient palace, central market and labyrinth alleyways of Agadez, and the markets, museum and palace in Zinder.

13. Things to see and do in Niamey include the small and grand markets, the National Museum, botanical gardens and zoo, the Great Mosque, the Hippodrome (where camel and hippo races are held), and sailing on the Niger River.

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Video credit: Top Tourist Places
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Country Highlight: MALI

Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 88 0

Mali is Africa’s 8th largest country and its 3rd largest gold producer. Learn more fun facts about this historically rich country.

Fast Facts:

1. It is a landlocked country in West Africa and is the 8th largest country in Africa.

2. Its capital and largest city is Bamako. It is one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa.

3. Present-day Mali was once part of three pre-colonial Sudanic empires that controlled trans-Saharan trade from the 7th to 16th Centuries: Songhai Empire, Ghana Empire and Mali Empire. The Mali Empire was the largest, renowned for the wealth of its rulers, especially Mansa Musa who was the wealthiest individual of the Middle Ages.

4. The name Mali is taken from the Mali Empire and means “the place where the king lives”.

5. French is the official language of Mali. It also has 13 national languages: Bambara, Bomu, Tieyaxo Bozo, Toro So Dogon, Maasina Fulfulde, Hassaniya Arabic, Mamara Senoufo, Kita Maninkakan, Soninke, Koyraboro Senni, Syenara Senoufo, Tamasheq and Xaasongaxango.

6. Major ethnic groups: Mande (50%), Fula (16%), Voltaic (Senufo / Bwa) (13%), Tuareg / Moor (10%), Songhai (6%)

6. Major religions: Islam (95%), Traditional religions (3%), Christianity (2%)

7. It gained independence from France in 1960, after 68 years of French colonial rule.

8. It is Africa’s 3rd largest gold producer. It has many other mineral deposits that are not commercially exploited, including iron, bauxite, manganese, lithium, uranium, tungsten, tin, lead, copper, and zinc.

9.   It is one of the poorest countries in Africa.

10. Mali is largely flat and arid, with the Niger River running through its interior and functioning as the main trading and transport artery.

11. It has 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites: Timbuktu, Bandiagara Escarpment, the Tomb of Askia and Djenné. The Great Mosque at Djenné is the largest mud brick building in the world.

12. Tourism is not well-developed due to infrastructure and security issues, but primarily focuses on its cultural, historical and nature sites. There are many interesting places to visit, including the Great Mosque of Djenné, Dogon Plateau, Mount Tenakourou, Djinguereber Mosque, Ahmed Baba House, Tanezrouft desert, Boucle du Baoule National Park, Adrar des Ifoghas desert, Gouina Falls, Mamelon de Sikasso, and Sidi Yahya Mosque.

13. The world famous Festival au Desert, an annual concert showcasing traditional Tuareg music and music from around the world, has been put on hold since 2013 due to security concerns.

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Country Highlight: LIBERIA

Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 105 0

Liberia is the 39th largest African country and its capital was named after a US president. Learn more fun facts about this unique country.

Fast Facts:

1. It is located in West Africa and is the 39th largest country on the continent.

2. Its capital and largest city is Monrovia. It was named after US president James Monroe.

3. It began as a settlement of the American Colonization Society, which believed freed Black slaves would face better chances for freedom and prosperity in Africa. From 1822 forward, more than 18,000 Afro-Caribbeans and Black Americans were relocated there.

4. Liberia self-proclaimed independence from the US in 1847 and is the only African republic to have gained independence without revolt from any other power. It is the world’s second oldest Black republic, after Haiti.

5. Liberia’s flag closely resembles the American flag, reflecting the historical ties of Liberia and the USA.

6. Major languages: English (official), Liberian English, and more than 30 indigenous languages

7. Major ethnic groups: Kpelle (20%), Bassa (13%), Grebo (10%), Gio (8%), Mano (8%), Kru (6%), Lorma (5%), Kissi (5%), Gola (4%), Krahn (4%), Vai (4%), Mandingo (3%), Gbandi (3%)

8. Major religions: Christian (86%), Muslim (12%), Traditional and other (1%), none (1%)

9. Mount Wuteve is the country’s highest point at 1,440 m (4,720 ft) and 3 countries can be seen from its summit (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea).

10. Much of the country is covered by rainforest and its Upper Guinea forests are one of the world’s priority biodiversity hotspots.

11. Sapo National Park is its largest protected reserve, home to 700 bird species and 125 mammal species, including the rare and endangered pygmy hippopotamus.

12. The Firestone Rubber Plantation, present in Liberia since 1826, is the world’s largest natural rubber operation. Though it has been dogged by controversy, unofficial tours are typically obliged.

13. Tourism is a small industry. Things to do include beaches, national parks, hiking, surfing, deep-sea fishing, Kpatawee Waterfalls, Lake Piso, Monkey Island, and urban attractions in the capital, including Waterside Market, Centennial Pavilion, Liberian National Museum, the defunct Hotel Ducor, JJ Roberts Monument, Providence Island, Rivoli Cinema, the Masonic Temple, the Executive Mansion, and great bars, clubs and restaurants.

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Country Highlight: GUINEA-BISSAU

Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 109 0

Guinea-Bissau is the 13th smallest country in Africa, with a group of 88 beautiful islands off its coast. Learn more fun facts about this country.

Fast Facts:

1. It is located in West Africa and is the 13th smallest county on the continent.

2. Its capital and largest city is Bissau.

3. Major languages: Portuguese (official), Creole (national), Fula, Balanta, Mandinka

4. Major ethnic groups:  Fula (29%), Balanta (23%), Mandinka (15%),  Papel (9%), Manjaca (8%)

5. Major religions: Islam (45%), Traditional religions (31%), Christianity (22%), No religion (2%)

6. Independence from Portugal was unilaterally declared on September 24, 1973. Since independence, Guinea-Bissau has experienced considerable political and military upheaval.

7. The people are called Bissau-Guineans.

8. Tourism is a small industry and tourists are few and far between. But for the adventurous, this tropical country offers vibrant culture, beaches, national parks and wildlife.

9. The Bijagos Archipelago is a beautiful group of 88 islands off the coast. This UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere reserve offers excellent swimming, diving and fishing, as well as opportunities to see pygmy hippos, sharks, manatees, turtles, and a myriad of migratory birds.

10. Things to see include: Forests of Jemberem, Cantanhez Natural Park, Orango National Park, Varela Beach, the Portuguese quarter, Cathedral, São José da Amura Fort, Presidential Palace, and Bandim Market in Bissau, and the ruins of Boloma, the former capital.

11. Carnival is celebrated annually in February or early March, with vibrant street processions with displays of traditional grab, dancing and drumming.

12. Gumbe, a primarily vocal and percussive song tradition using slit drums and calabashes, is the most popular form of music in Guinea-Bissau.

Video credit: Top Tourist Places

Video credit: Consulmar Bissau
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Country Highlight: GUINEA (aka GUINEA-CONAKRY)

Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 164 0

Guinea is the 31st largest country in Africa and 35% of its land is protected for wildlife and conservation. Learn more fun facts about this beautiful country.

Fast Facts:

1. It is located in West Africa and is the 31st largest country on the continent.

2. Its capital and largest city is Conakry.

3. Major languages: French (official), Pulaar (most widely spoken), Mandinka, Susu

4. Major ethnic groups: Fula (40%), Mandinka (25%), Susu (18%)

5. Major religions: Islam (85%), Christianity (8%), Indigenous and other religions (7%)

6. It became a sovereign and independent nation in October 1958, after a referendum and withdrawal by France.

7. It is the world’s second largest producer of bauxite and has rich deposits of diamonds and gold.

8. Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Guinea.

9. About 35% of the country is protected for conservation and wildlife. Protected areas include: Badiar National Park, National Park of Upper Niger, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, Nyalama Classified Forest, and Ziami Massif.

10. It is an off the beaten path location and tourism infrastructure is limited. But while it can be difficult to traverse, beautiful landscapes await nature lovers ready for the challenge.

11. Tourist attractions include the beaches at Îles de Los and Cape Verga, the source of the Niger River, hiking, rainforests, and wildlife in the Fouta Djalon highlands, Kakimbon Caves, and multiple waterfalls, including La Cascades de La Soumba, Le Voile de la Mariée, Kambadaga Falls, and Kinkon Falls.

12. Things to see and do in the capital include: Madina Market, Niger Market, Conakry Botanical Gardens, Sainte-Marie Cathedral, Conakry Grand Mosque, Camp Boiro, Sandervalia National Museum, Palais du Peuple, Presidential Palace, French cafes and patisseries, street performances, and a vibrant nightlife.

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Country Highlight: GHANA

Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 145 0

Ghana is Africa’s 32nd largest country and its biggest gold producer. Learn more fun facts about this interesting country.

Fast Facts:

1. It is located in West Africa and is the 32nd largest country on the continent.                                                                                                              

2. Its capital and largest city is Accra.

3. It has about 50 indigenous languages. Major languages: English (official), Twi, Ewe, Ga, Dagaare, Dagbani.

4. It has more than 100 ethnic groups and sub-groups. Major ethnic groups: Akans (48%), Mole-Dagbon (17%), Ewe (14%), Ga-Adangbe (7%), Gurma (6%)

5. Major religions: Christianity (69%), Islam (16%), Traditional and other religions (9%), None (6%)

6. On March 6, 1957, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African nation to become independent of European colonization (United Kingdom). This date is an official public holiday celebrated annually.

7. Ghana’s current flag, with red, gold, green stripes and a center black star, became the new flag at independence. The red represents the blood that was shed towards independence, the gold represents the mineral wealth, the green symbolizes the rich grasslands, and the black star symbolizes the Ghanaian people and African emancipation.

8.  During the transatlantic slave trade, Ghana was the center of trade with the British and it has about 40 coastal fortresses which housed captured African slaves before their transport to the Americas. The most well-known and visited are Elmina and Cape Coast Castles.

9. It is Africa’s biggest gold producer and 2nd largest cocoa producer.

10. It is known for its beautiful handmade textiles, including Kente, Adinkra, Batik and Ankara cloths.

11. Lake Volta, the world largest manmade lake, covers nearly 4% of Ghana’s total land area.

12. It is ranked as Africa’s 2nd most peaceful country by the Global Peace Index .

13. It has numerous tourist attractions, including Independence Square and Arch, the W.E.B. DuBois Center, the National Museum, the National Theater, Makola Market, Aburi Gardens, Manhiya Palace, Kumasi National Cultural Center, Wli Waterfalls, Kakum National Park, Mole National Park, Nzulezo stilt village, kente weaving villages, monkey sanctuaries, and beaches.

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Video credit: Visit Ghana
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Country Highlight: THE GAMBIA

Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 135 0

The Gambia is the smallest country on the African mainland, nicknamed the Smiling Coast due to its friendly people. Learn more fun facts about this country.

Fast Facts:

1. It is located in West Africa and is the smallest country on the African mainland.

2. Its capital is Banjul. Its largest city is Serekunda.

3. It is surrounded by the country of Senegal, except on its western coast. The peculiar shape and size is the result of territorial compromises made during colonization by Great Britain, which ruled the lower Gambia River, and France, which ruled Senegal.

4. Major languages: English (official), Mandinka, Fula, Wolof, Serer, Jola

5. Major ethnic groups: Mandinka (34%), Fula (24%), Wolof (15%), Jola (11%), Serahuli (8%)

6. Major religions: Islam (95%), Christianity (4%), Indigenous and other beliefs (1%)

7. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965.

8. The name “Gambia” is derived from the Mandinka term Kambra/Kambaa meaning Gambia river.

9. Its called the “Smiling Coast” due to the smiling faces and warm nature of the people.

10. The national and most popular sport is wrestling.          

11. It’s home to Jufureh, the reputed ancestral village of Kunta Kinte, the main character in Alex Haley’s well-known novel Roots.

12. The Stone Circles of Senegambia are a UNESCO World Heritage site, estimated to date between 3rd century BC and 16th century AD. The site consists of four large groups of stone circles that represent a concentration of over 1,000 monuments in a 62-mile wide long band along the River Gambia.

13. Tourist attractions include markets, beach resorts, Abuko Nature Reserve, James Island and the village of Jufureh, Kachikally Crocodile Pool, Makasutu Culture Forest, Gambia River National Park, Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project.

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