Africa is Not a Country

The other night, instead of studying, my friends and I were making travel plans for our future selves when we were fabulously wealthy and could binge shop at Louis Vuitton. You, know, a typical Thursday night. My friend excitedly said, “I would love to visit Africa.”

After this, I paused. “Where in Africa?” I asked.

“What do you mean? What’s the difference?”

It wasn’t the first time I’d heard this statement or been asked a version of these questions, but it was the first time I truly wondered why Africa is blobbed together as a unanimous country instead of 56 diverse countries all making up this continent. I mean, last time I checked, Russia is the biggest country in the world, not Africa. Maybe it’s because in the media, Africa is only relevant when it’s regarding the poverty that ravages it. All of the countries, even those that are working to develop themselves, are bunched together into this third-world desert.

But it’s not.

There are so many differences among African countries, and among them, African cultures. In Nigeria alone, there are over 500 different tribes. So, to dispel some of these broad misconceptions, I thought I would compile a list of the major differences between African countries.

  • LanguageAfrican Languages

No, I do not speak “African” because “African” is not a language. The continent houses a quarter of the world’s languages, which accounts to over 2,000 different languages and about 8,000 dialects. I personally speak Kiswahili, and don’t know a word of Sesotho because I’m from Kenya, not Africa.

  • Appearances

Appearances across the continent vary drastically as you move from the north, south, east, and west. Someone from Algeria, in the north does not look the same as someone from Sudan, just two countries to the east.

African Collage
An Algerian woman and a Sudanese girl
  • Climate and Landscape

Africa, though certifiably hot, has vastly different climates. The north is mainly desert while Central Africa has miles of lush rainforests. The east and south is made up mostly of grasslands and steppes.

Central African RainforestAfrican SavannaSahara Desert

  •  Defining Attractions

Africa has so many different sides to it and different countries will show you its many faces. If you want to see pyramids, visit Egypt or Zambia, where the ancient Nubians left over 200 pyramids. If it’s wildlife you seek, Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa are your destinations. Beautiful beaches and delicious seafood awaits you in Morocco or Tunisia. If you want an adventure filled, white-water rafting dream, Zambia, with its infamous Victoria Falls, is the place for you.

There is so much variance in African identity that it’s ridiculous. The acknowledgement of this diversity and this richness is severely absent in today’s media and we should choose to celebrate it in our daily interactions. Diversity is, after all, one of Western’s best traits.


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