The True Size of Africa – Why Africa’s Map Is Drawn Wrong Relative To Its Size

In many African civilizations and some part of the west, the common notion that Africa is the second largest continent in the world is established in all levels of education, yet very little information was shared based on the map and size of the African continent.

Our African ancestry passed down what we know about Africa to subsequent generations but historically the map of Africa although having been drawn several times and in several models, had never been drafted by an African.

Some people believe the continent of Africa was wrongly credited, and rather has a larger stature than what was previously established as facts.

Recent scientific studies suggest that Africa is indeed larger than is show on maps. So a question lingers, what truly is the real size of Africa, and have you ever considered the possibilities that the African map you have been used to may have been wrongly drawn relative to Africa’s actual size?

You see Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. What that means essentially is that in every continent at least a decent minority are of purely African descent.

At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, Africa covers 6% of Earth’s total surface area and 20% of its land area. Over 1.3 billion people live in Africa as of 2018 stats, accounting for about 16% of the world’s human population.

Even so, Africa’s population is the youngest amongst all the continents; as the median age in 2012 was 19.7, when the worldwide median age was 30.4. The combined nominal GDP of the African continent as of 2022 amounts to a whopping $2.92 trillion.

Africa is equally the continent most blessed with abundant flora and fauna and natural
resources; little wonder why it was the center for uncensored invasions during the slave trade era.

With all this acclaim, am afraid it doesn’t get better hereafter. Despite a wide range of natural resources, Africa is consistently credited as the least wealthy continent per capita, although in part due to geographic impediments, legacies of European colonization in Africa and, well you guessed it right, the Cold War.

Predatory neo- colonialist activities by Western nations and China, and undemocratic rule and deleterious policies all had its toll on diminishing the continent’s accolades. However there’s much to be cheerful for, despite low concentration of wealth, recent economic expansion and the large and young population make Africa an important economic market in the
broader global context.

Now the map of Africa has been subject to several attempts to draw, in fact the African continent had been presented to the world, through about 11 different map drawings. The very earliest map of African was drawn in the year 1554 by a certain German; Münster, Sebastian. He was a Hebrew Scholar who depicted Africa on the world map as a one-eyed Giant sited amidst other vast territories.

He did well represent some countries in it such as Nigeria, Cameroon and Central Africa. Needless to say the map was flawed and over three decades another more enthusiastic scholar drew the map in 1584.

Ortelius Abraham indeed came up with the second map which was a more accurate representation of mother Africa. In his map Africa assumes a more recognizable shape, with a more pointed southern cape. Ortelius used the Ptolemaic sources of the Nile, two large lakes, but placed them farther south.

The Niger now emptied into the Atlantic Ocean. The “Zanzibar” coastland featured on the west side. On this map Madagascar appears separate from the mainland Africa, as do the place-names of numerous towns along the coasts and in the interior, although large empty spaces begin to dominate there. No animal or plant life was indicated on the map, but the oceans contained swordfish and a whale.

This map was widely regarded more accurate and was thus adopted through the 16th century as the real map of the African continent. Over the course of several scores of decades, 9 other maps have been drawn from this initial map with the emergence of new territories, landmarks and countries. The drafting, drawing and modification of these maps as time grew by gradually trimmed off portions of the initial borders of Ortelius and Sebastian’s’ maps.

Of the 9 remaining maps, last two maps that were drawn were the most accurate of all but at the same time the most trimmed in terms of surface area and total distance round the continent. Andriveau-Goujon was a French Historian who came up with two of the last maps in 1856 and 1880 respectively.

In modern times there are several Map Projections which have been used to depict the continents of the world; the Mercator Map projection and the Equal Earth map Projection are the most popular.

In the Mercator Map Projection which is one of the best known and commonly used world maps, Africa is depicted as being roughly the same size as Goujon’s map, that’s about 30 million square km. But in reality, Africa is 14 times larger.

As explained by the authors of the Equal Earth Map projection, Africa considered the “Mother Continent”, for the face that in it was birth ancient civilization is more extensive than Europe, the U.S., China, India, and Japan combined.

In fact based on this projection, the true size of Africa is 30.37 million square kilometers, meaning the vast continent could easily carry several major world nations.

Given the fact that the map of Africa had been subject to several explorers, historians and geographers drawing up somewhat arbitrary demarcations to define the continent, the actual size of the continent has been modified on the map on several occasions.

Although it goes without saying that the map of Africa we have today is still the most accurate and relevant of all the maps ever drawn before. Yet it is not a true depiction for what the size of the continent really is.


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