May 25 – Africa Day

Posted May 25, 2015

Today marks the birthday of the Organization of African Unity, which was eventually replaced by the African Union. It is a celebration of African unity.

Although Africa Day is only celebrated as a public holiday in five African countries, there are 54 countries, plus two disputed countries. The continent is the world's second largest in area and also second most populous. (Do you know which continent is even larger and more populous?)

Of all the Earth's land area, Africa is about 20%, and it holds about 15% of the human population. Africa's population is the youngest of all the continents – with about half of the population being age 19 or younger!

Africans are more genetically diverse than the rest of humanity put together; this can be explained by the fact that all non-Africans descended from one or two bands of humans who traveled across the Red Sea on rafts about 50,000 years ago!

Of course, if you go back far enough, one could say that there are no non-Africans. After all, Africa is the birthplace of humans as a species. Because of that, some people have created T-shirts that say “We are all Africans.”

Aside from the genetic diversity of humans in Africa, Africa may have the largest diversity of wild animal populations that range freely on non-private plains, and a huge variety of “jungle” animals as well. It definitely has the largest number of “megafauna” species – which means animals larger than 100 pounds (45 kg). (The word “jungle” is roughly equivalent to tropical rainforest.)

Here is a list of the 54 nations in African countries, in alphabetical order – but with the names missing. Can you come up with any of the names, given the hints and the fact that the list is in alphabetical order?

  1. The largest nation in Africa
  1. A nation with a substantial coastline and this beautiful canyon: Miradouro da Lua
  1. Once part of the Kingdom of Dahomey and, later, a French colony
  1. Since becoming independent from Britain, has had uninterrupted democratic elections
  1. A tiny landlocked nation just north of Togo and Ghana
  1. A really tiny landlocked nation on the shores of Lake Tanganyika
  1. Called “Africa in miniature” because it has beaches, deserts, mountains, rainforests, and savannas
  1. A chain of 10 volcanic islands
  1. Its name hints at its location – it's one of the poorest nations in the world
  1. Its name is a fairly common boy's name as well
  2. Islands in the Indian Ocean, north of Madagascar
  3. Formerly called Zaire
  4. Its name could be mixed up with #12 above
  5. A tiny nation on the “Horn of Africa” and the Red Sea
  6. Famous for being a cradle of civilization and amazing ancient structures
  1. Its economy is almost entirely dependent on large oil reserves
    Most nations have "economy trees" that are filled with
    rectangles of many different sizes and colors,
    because they have many different resources and industries!
  2. Used to be the Kingdom of Aksum, a trading empire
  3. The most populous landlocked nation in the world, home of the oldest evidence of anatomically modern humans
  4. A nation where megafauna meets coastline

  5. This nation is surrounded by Senegal and basically just consists of the strips of land along the course of a river
  6. The site of the Kingdom of Ashanti and the first sub-saharan African nation to become independent from European colonization
  1. This nation is at the center of the Ebola outbreak
  1. This nation's name is apt to be confused with that of #22
  1. Its name refers to one of the precious commodities it used to trade
  1. This nation has a mountain with a permanent snowcap and the largest tropical freshwater lake in the world
  1. This tiny nation is entirely surrounded by South Africa – and, yes, that means it is landlocked
  1. A nation founded by former American enslaved persons
  1. Home of the famous cities Tripoli and Benghazi
  1. An island, a biodiversity hotspot, and a series of computer-animated movies
  1. A very small, very poor country with about one third of its area covered by a lake
  1. Enjoyed a “golden age” around 1300 A.D. (or C.E.) - a time when mathematics, astronomy, literature, and art flourished
  1. About 90% of its land is in the Sahara Desert, but it also has a bit of Atlantic coastline
  1. A nation made up of several islands that are farther out in the Indian Ocean than most of the island nations
  1. With rugged mountains, swaths of desert, and coastlines on the Atlantic Ocean AND the Mediterranean Sea, this nation has a lot of diversity
  1. Mostly populated by Bantu people who practice Christianity and speak Swahili and Portuguese
  1. Famous for amazing red sand dunes
  1. Faces huge challenges with desertification (when non-desert land becomes desert)
  1. The “Giant of Africa,” it is the most populous nation in Africa and it has the largest economy
  1. Famous for a 1994 genocide, the entire nation is at high elevation, in the African Great Lakes region
  1. Two main islands whose names make the nation's name
  2. The Westernmost nation in the Old World (mainland), it is a strange shape because it seems to have a cut-out where the Gambia River flows

  3. Another island nation, found far flung out in the Indian Ocean
  4. A West African nation that is known for being one of the most religiously tolerant nations in the world (Muslims and Christians, for the most part)
  5. Famous for ancient trading empires and modern pirates, mostly due to a strategic position along the Gulf of Aden
  6. A nation once divided by racial segregation called apartheid, but now famous as a “Rainbow Nation” thanks to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu
  7. One of the most recent nations – having gained independence from Sudan in 2011
  8. A nation torn apart by civil wars, including the war in Darfur
  9. A tiny nation famous for its kingship dance

  10. Its name reflects the two former nations of Tanganyika and Zanzibar
  11. One of the really skinny nations of Western Africa, on what used to be called the “Slave Coast”
  12. One of the smallest Arabic nations of northern Africa
  13. A landlocked nation that borders on Lake Victoria
  14. Formerly the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia
  15. Its name comes from a great ancient city, now in ruins

ANSWERS: (1) Algeria (2) Angola (3) Benin (4) Botswana (5) Burkina Faso (6) Burundi (7) Cameroon
(8) Cape Verde (9) Central African Republic (10) Chad (11) Comoros (12) Congo - Democratic Republic of the Congo (13) Congo - Republic of the Congo (14) Djibouti (15) Egypt (16) Equatorial Guinea (17) Eritrea
(18) Ethiopia (19) Gabon (20) Gambia (21) Ghana (22) Guinea (23) Guinea-Bissau (24) Ivory Coast (25) Kenya (26) Lesotho (27) Liberia (28) Libya (29) Madagascar (30) Malawi (31) Mali (32) Mauritania (33) Mauritius 
(34) Morocco (35) Mozambique (36) Namibia (37) Niger (38) Nigeria (39) Rwanda (40) Sao Tome and Principe (41) Senegal (42) Seychelles (43) Sierra Leone (44) Somalia (45) South Africa (46) South Sudan (47) Sudan 
(48) Swaziland (49) Tanzania (50) Togo (51) Tunisia (52) Uganda (53) Zambia (54) Zimbabwe

Check out the many holidays featured about these African nations here at Every Day Is Special.

Also on this date:

Memorial Day in the USA

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