For those who crave to know the cultural and historical aspects of the different parts of the world, Africa is certainly of great importance. The continent that stood as the cradle of human civilization has much to offer. We bring you some interesting facts about cities in Africa – from the land that housed the most diverse cultural heritages and long-lost empires.
Fun Facts About Cities in Africa For Kids
We will covering 15 interesting cities in Africa. Get ready to learn about their histories, stories and cultures.
1. Malindi, Kenya
- This historic town lies in the Malindi Bay of Kenya and has been mentioned in the artifacts of a medieval Kurdish geographer, Abu-al-Fida, as being inhabited by the Swahili people.
- Malindi is known as “Little Italy” from the late 1960s. Many Italian establishments can be found there, and most of its inhabitants are able to speak Italian.
- The city came into existence around the middle of the 8th and 9th centuries and developed into a full-fledged city around the 13th century.
- Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama rested here in 1498 before continuing his journey to India. While he was there, the Vasco da Gama Pillar was erected as a navigational aid.
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2. Lalibela, Ethiopia
- Lalibela is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ethiopia. People come here to get a glimpse of the rock-cut monolithic churches.
- In the 13th Century, Gebre Mesquel Lalibela was crowned emperor of Ethiopia. He was known for the commissioning of the monolithic churches.
- Many churches in Lalibela was built between the early 12th and 13th centuries; about 11 have been recognized by UNESCO. The monolithic and semi-monolithic churches have been carved out of diorite rock resembling a cross.
3. Moroni, Comoros
- Moroni is an island city that is the capital of the archipelago country of Comoros, situated to the east of the African continent in the Indian Ocean.
- The place is considered a part of the great Swalihi civilization, supported by significant ceramic finds from the 8th and 9th centuries.
- It is believed that Arab traders founded the city in the 11th century.
- The city has over ten mosques, including Comoros’s oldest mosque, which dates back to 1580.
4. Benin City, Nigeria
- One of the most amazing cities in Africa that was a flourishing center in medieval times, Benin is the actual center of the lost Benin Empire that included present-day southern Nigeria.
- The region was inhabited by the ethnic group Edoid for a very long time, who spoke the Edo language and were descendants of the Igodomigodo, the actual name of the Benin Empire.
- Benin is the birthplace of voodoo magic, and they commemorate National Voodoo Day yearly on the 10th of January.
- The Temple of Pythons, built by the King of Ouidah. It is built out of concrete and is covered by a clay roof. It is a sacred voodoo shrine that is home to dozen of python snakes known as the Royal Python.
5. Mombasa, Kenya
- The Kenyan city, situated along the coast of the Indian Ocean, was a major trading hub among the adjoining regions, which had trading relations with India, Persia, and the Arabian Peninsula.
- It was founded around 900 AD by the Mwana Mkisi dynasty, part of the Swahili language group.
- Mombasa is known for its giant aluminum elephant tusk display, built to commemorate Princess Margaret’s visit to Mombasa in 1956 when it was still a part of the British Empire.
- Music is an integral part of Mombasa’s history. It is known for Taarab music, and is famous for sounds like Bango, Chakacha and Mwanzele.
6. Timbuktu, Mali
- The city is one of the finest built and an important trading center of the Sahara Desert, located towards its southern edge. It is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- It is a significant part of the trans-Saharan route that flourished as an important center of trade and culture in the medieval era.
- Timbuktu came into existence in the 9th century and flourished as a trading hub after the visit of Mansa Mura in the 13th century.
- It is known as the “City of 333 Saints” as it was believed that 333 saints, who were Muslim Scholars and teachers, were buried in Timbuktu.
- The University of Sankoré, known as the Sankoré Mosque, is one of the world’s oldest universities since its inception in the early 14th century.
7. Zanzibar, Tanzania
- The capital of the formidable Zanzibar region of Tanzania, Zanzibar is an exotic city separated significantly by Creek Road from two port cities, Stone Town and Ng’ambo.
- The city provides a beautiful tourist setting for inland and offshore visitors. The former division, Stone Town, was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
- Zanzibar is home to various rare creatures, such as the red colobus monkey, Zanzibar servaline genet and Zanzibar leopard.
- Zanzibar is famous for spice farming, which forms a major part of their economy. Sometimes referred to as the “Spice Islands”, you can find cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper grown there.
8. Zeila, Somalia
- Zeila, a medieval city, was part of the historic Somali with trade relations with the Parthians, Ancient Greeks, Ptolemaic Egyptians, and Phoenicians.
- It was a historically significant port in Somalia, and it serves as a port that deals with sailing and motorized Arab dhows today.
9. Djenne, Mali
- Djenne, an important trading center of art and culture in medieval times situated across the trans-Saharan route, traces its origins back to about 200 BC, as suggested by the archaeologists.
- It is known as one of the oldest cities in Sub-Saharan Africa and, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
10. Alexandria, Egypt
- Alexandria, named after the great conqueror Alexander after its conquest in 331 BC, houses some of the most historic premises, including the Great Library of Alexandria and the Pharos Lighthouse.
- The city remained the capital of Egypt between the years 332 BC and 641 AD.
- The oldest tram system in Africa can be found in Alexandria from the 1860s, which is also one of the oldest in the world.
- Alexandria has a total of four harbours, which forms the largest port in the country.
11. Mendefera, Eritrea
- One of the oldest cities in Asia, founded by the D’mt kingdom around the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., flourished into an important center at the time of the Aksumite people.
- The city has lost its ancient glory and recognition to become the regional capital of the southern part of the Zoba Desert.
12. Benghazi, Libya
- Benghazi is the second-largest city in Libya and is located around the Mediterranean Sea, close to the Gulf of Sidra.
- It was established by the ancient Greeks around 500 B.C. The Ptolemaic Kingdom was renamed the city of Berenice, which inspired its present name.
- During its history, it came under the Roman Empire to become the center of Cyrenaica.
- Benghazi does not have a high percentage of green areas, but it is home to the famous Benghazi Zoo, which was built in 1956.
13. Constantine, Algeria
- Constantine, the capital of the homonymous province of Algeria, is one of the most important trading hubs in the region.
- Constantine was established during the time of the Phoenicians, who named it Sewa, which means royal city. It was renamed as Cirta after Syphax, the Numidian king conquered it. The city came under Roman control, and was renamed after Emperor Constantine the Great after the city was being rebuilt in 4th century AD.
- Constantine has a population of 450,000, making it the third largest city in Algeria.
- In 2015, Constantine was crowned with the title of Arab Capital of Culture.
14. Aswan, Egypt
- Aswan is the most important city in terms of historical and cultural findings.
- The city is named after the Egyptian goddess of fertility after its establishment by the ancient Egyptians.
- Aswan was also referred to as Swenett and Syene by the conquerors who ruled it at different times.
- Aswan has a rich source of granite, which was supplied to the construction of most of the shrines and monuments in Egypt.
- Measuring 11,811 ft in length and 364 ft in height, the Aswan Dam is built upon the Nile River, which is known to be the longest river in the world.
15. Cairo, Egypt
- Cairo is home to some of the most important archaeological artifacts and structures that define the very existence of the ancient Egyptians and their culture, including the Pharaonic tombs, pyramids, hieroglyphs and ancient treasures.
- Cairo is the largest city in Africa, with a population of over 21 million.
- The Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is situated in Cairo. It is over 4500 years old.
- The Great Sphinx is also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is located at the Giza plateau and measures to be 240 ft height and length wise.
- The world’s largest food court can be found in Cairo, named The Oasis Restaurants and Entertainment. It has a total floor area of 41,000 m².
Learn Interesting facts About Cities in Africa
The cultural and historical advance of the African continent is just as amazing and breathtaking as it takes. Before European settlers colonized, the continent flourished with civilizations and cultures. There is certainly a lot that this continent has to offer the visitors who come here to seek its long-lost glory and charisma.