Posts Tagged ‘africa’

A Country Size Jigsaw; Mapping How Big Africa Really Is

By the time we leave school, most of us have a elementary knowledge of our planet’s geography. We know where the continents are and we know that they’re big. I touched on this in a previous post about the Greenland Problem where, despite Greenland having a size of 0.2 million square miles and Africa having a size of 11.6 million square miles, Africa and Greenland appear roughly the same size on most of today’s maps.

So we know that Africa is big; 11.6 million square miles of big. But that sort of bigness is difficult to get our heads around. As Douglas Adams once said

Bigger than the biggest thing ever and then some. Much bigger than that in fact, really amazingly immense, a totally stunning size, real ‘wow, that’s big’, time … just so big that by comparison, bigness itself looks really titchy. Gigantic multiplied by colossal multiplied by staggeringly huge is the sort of concept we’re trying to get across here.

And in the case of Africa, big means that, if you were playing jigsaw puzzles with other countries, you can fit the United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, most of Eastern Europe, India, China and Japan into Africa and still have some space left over.

True-size-of-Africa-954x696

It’s that sort of big. This map infographic from Kai Krause (yes, that Kai Krause) shows this sort of level of big-ness in a way that 11.6 million square miles just can’t convey. There’s more information on this map, together with an alternate version over at The Economist.

Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

Three Days. Three Cities. Three Continents

There’s a saying that travel broadens the mind. It’s a cliche but cliches generally come about because they’re true. This week my mind has been considerably broadened, visting the Tandale slum on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam and attending and judging the Sanitation Hackathon, but more about that in a later post.

The week started in Chicago, the Windy City, which lived up to its name, being cold, windy and with crystal clear skies. It’s a classic example of the American style of high rise architecture and the view from one of the meeting rooms in Nokia’s offices were spectacular.

Then I was at home for just under a day. Cold, clear skies and a typical suburban London street scene, surrounded by Victorian era terraced cottages.

Then I was under a blazing sun in the capital of Tanzania. The contrast between an American city, a British city and a Tanzanian one couldn’t have been more marked.


Three days, three cities, three continents and a well and truly broadened mind.

Written and posted from the Sanitation Hackathon, COSTECH, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (-6.77457, 39.24125)