Africa, covering approximately 6% of the world’s surface, is the second-largest continent. In terms of land area, Africa covers 20% of the total land area on earth. This continent is inhabited by 1.3 billion people as of 2018, making Africa rank second place as the continent is most population. The people in Africa compromise 16% of the overall world population. 30% of the world’s remaining mineral resources are believed to be found on this continent. The longest river which is the Nile River is in Africa, along with the largest desert, Sahara. Africa is composed of 54 countries with Algeria as the largest and Nigeria as the most populated country.
Smallest Countries in Africa
Seychelles is the smallest country in Africa with 452 square kilometers. This country is composed of two main islands inhabited by 97,700 people. The country’s population growth is very slow compared to the average rate globally. Most of the people in Seychelles are Roman Catholic. Seychelles is mountainous and the land is mostly composed of granite which makes the soil not possible for cultivation. Because of that, most products needed by the people are imported. Since agriculture is almost impossible, the fishing industry became the main source of income for the people.
The country is also attracting visitors because of various tourist spots. In Seychelles, tourists can experience scuba diving, surfing, fishing, swimming, and even boating. These are usually conducted at the rocky beaches which also have parks for preserving nature and marine life. The country is also home to unique plants like species of palm trees and also animals which includes the world’s oldest creatures.
2. São Tomé and Principe
The total land area of this country is 1,001 square kilometers, making São Tomé and Principe second smallest country in Africa. It also has volcanoes but there are no recorded volcanic activities recently. The country also has tropical rainforests which could be found in both Southern and Western parts of the country. There is also a well-known waterfall called the St. Nicholas waterfall that is visited by tourists who come to the country.
Around 205,700 people are living in São Tomé and Principe and most of these people live in the city. Only about 5% of the population live in the islands. The dominant religion in the country is Roman Catholic and Portuguese is widely spoken language. The country is has a small portion of land under cultivation because of rocky streams and steep slopes of terrains that could not be cultivated. The small size of the country makes it difficult to tend livestock. All these disadvantages are the reasons why there are not enough food products for citizens.
Mauritius is a country surrounded by coral reefs. The country has plains and plateaus surrounded by a series of mountains and also volcanoes. A large part of the 2,049.5 square kilometers of land is planted with locally grown products like tea, tobacco, and sugarcane. Sugarcane is the major export of the country. This is one of the main sources of the country’s income along with agriculture, tourism and livestock.
Also, Mauritius has a hydroelectric power provided by two major rivers of the country. However, this is not enough to provide enough energy for all the citizens that is why there is imported petroleum. The population here is about 1,265,800 people with Indo-Pakistani ethnic origin. These people are speaking different languages, but English is the official language. The country also has port facilities for exports and imports and well-constructed roads.
This country has volcanic islands caused by volcanic activities. Recent volcanic lava could still be found and identified in the coastal areas, these are dark and rough formations. The ancient formations from volcanic activities can be sorted from the recent ones because the older formations are already smooth. The spectacular beaches in the country have coconut trees as well as mangroves. The coral reefs here are acting as barriers to the island and also serve as a diving spot for tourists.
Of the 2,235 square kilometers of land, there are fertile valleys planted with corn, coffee, and vanilla. However, the harvest is still poor. There is a noticeable decline in the country’s GDP. It is way harder to supply enough for 963,000 population. Even the water supply only comes from the deposits from the rainy season. This country was once a territory of France but gained independence in 1975.
5. Cape Verde
Cape Verde measures 4,033 square kilometers and has a population of 550,990 people. which makes Cape Verde one of the smallest countries in Africa. The people occupied 9 islands and there is one uninhabited island, though there are also some smaller islands that are also part of the country that are uninhabited. The country has an active volcano which results in 25% of the country’s land has rocks that originated from volcanic activities. The terrains of the country are either flat or mountainous. The flat surfaces are due to heavy erosions and the mountainous and rocky parts are determined as geologically younger. Because of volcanic traces found in soil, only a small area could be used for agriculture.
There is also scarcity in water that is why agriculture is also difficult to initiate. The citizens are mixed European and African descent and the country’s official language is Portuguese. Majority of the population are Roman Catholic. The country is also identified to have low birth rates which limit population growth.
6. The Gambia
This is the smallest non-island country in Africa with a total area of 11,632 square kilometers. The land is a source of very few mineral resources and is largely used for peanut production. The whole country depends on the production and exports of peanuts. The locals also grow small quantities of cassava, eggplants, tomatoes, and rice. The vegetation is usually found in the uplands of the country. Stock farming is almost impossible because of droughts. The country also offers beaches along the Atlantic coastline or the tourists as one of its sources of income. Forest parks are also found in the country which preserves both nature and various species of animals like monkeys, crocodiles, warthogs and many species of birds. There is so much limitation in production that oil is imported for energy needs.
The people living in the Gambia are 2,253,000 people and most Gambians live in rural villages. The population is composed of groups of people who migrated to the country. These groups are Diola, Malinke, Wolof, Fulani, and Soninke. Among these people, a large percentage are Muslims and a small percentage of Christians.
Eswatini gained independence in 1968 but the country is stricken with severe poverty and a high rate of unemployment. This small country in Africa is surrounded by South Africa with a total land area of 17,204 square kilometers. The country is characterized by sloping plains, mountainous regions, hills, and forests. Mineral deposits are also found here like gold and diamond. Hydropower plants also provide a small amount of energy for the citizens.
Almost three-fourths of the land is used for agriculture and roughly one-fourth is covered with forest. Although agriculture gives people income and basic needs, water is scarce and also wildlife is decreasing because of excessive hunting. There are not enough products to supply over 1,104,479 population of the country. The economy of Eswatini is deteriorating also because of soil degradation.
The eighth smallest country in Africa is Djibouti, which is surrounded by the countries Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. The country measures 23,200 square kilometers and is home to 977,900 people. Djibouti is composed of mountainous regions in the northern part and in the southern part lies desert plains. The terrains have visible basalt which is from volcanic activity from an active volcano (Ardoukoba volcano). The mount Moussa is considered the highest point of the country.
The country also has two inland bodies of water Lake Assal and Lake Abbe. Tourists also visit Djibouti because of its marine life and scuba-diving. Djibouti is home to wildlife including birds, antelopes, cheetahs, hyenas, and monkeys. Two main groups of people are identified as Somali and Afar. The citizens speak Somali but French and Arabic are the official languages of the countries.
With almost 500 people every square kilometer, Rwanda is considered one of the countries with the highest densities of population. The total population is 12,374,000 and the land area is 26,379 square kilometers. The country experienced civil war and genocide during 1994 which led to the country’s devastation. The people of Rwanda took the following years to rebuild and reconstruct their country and resolved issues between ethnic groups. This small country in Africa has hills and mountains accompanied by steep surfaces and a few coverages of forests. Deforestation has been an issue but the government supports reforestation at present. There is also a park called Akagera National Park that preserves wildlife.
There are various animals found in the park, which are lions, baboons, zebra and rare animals like giant pangolins. The people in Rwanda are divided into ethnic groups like Hutu and Tutsi and most of them are Roman Catholic. The official languages of the country are Kinyarwanda, English, and French.
We end our list of smallest countries in Africa with Burundi, which has a land area of 27,834 square kilometers and once became a territory of Belgium. Burundi became independent in 1962. The colonial periods left buildings and infrastructures in Burundi. And also left the central market with a lot of booths used by vendors during colonial periods. There are even museums and schools in Gitega. The country is surrounded by other small countries like Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and also Tanzania.
Because of the frequent rainfalls, there have been extreme soil erosions that made agriculture difficult for the people. The estimated population of Burundi as of 2019 is 12,722,000. The population consists of Hutu and Tutsi people but there are more Hutu people than Tutsi. Because of the mountainous geography, people are rather dispersed than concentrated within one village. The official languages are Rundi, Bantu language and French.
Despite being the second-largest continent, Africa also consists of several small countries. Many of the smallest countries have trouble when it comes to providing enough basic needs of the citizens. It is because of the lands usually composed of volcanic origins which makes it unfit for cultivation. Most of the countries also preserved forests and wildlife despite the scarcity of resources. Citizens and governments also became wise about generating income through other ways aside from agriculture and tourism. Agriculture has been a challenge because of the countries’ mountainous and hilly geographies, extreme soil erosions, volcanic activities and lack of water source.
I hope that this article on smallest countries in Africa was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Rankings Page!