Every year on May 5th, African World Heritage Day offers an opportunity for people around the world to celebrate Africa.

Africa is the world’s second-largest continent. Some of the biggest threats facing Africa include climate change, uncontrolled development, disease, civil unrest, and poaching. Unfortunately, many of Africa’s cultural and natural wonders are at risk of losing universal value. Because of the threats facing this diverse continent, it’s more important than ever to protect and preserve their heritage.

In honor of this day, explore some interesting facts about Africa:

  • The continent consists of 54 countries and one non-self-governing country.
  • Ancient Egypt’s Pharaonic civilization is one of the world’s oldest civilizations.
  • There are over 2,000 recognized languages on the continent.
  • The most spoken language is Arabic, followed by English, Swahili, and French.
  • Africa has 1.1 billion people, and over half of them are under the age of 25.
  • By 2050, Africa’s population is expected to double.
  • About 90% of malaria cases in the world take place in Africa.

The continent is home to the largest reserves of precious metals in the world. One more amazing fact about Africa is that it contains the world’s largest hot desert, the Sahara. This desert is 3.6 million square miles, which is comparable to China or the continental United States.

HOW TO OBSERVE #AfricanWorldHeritageDay

People around the world, especially those in Africa, celebrate this day in various ways. Events include the African World Heritage Youth Forum, cultural presentations, and an Instagram photo contest.

To participate:

  • Read about famous historic sites in Africa, including the Isimila Stone Age Site in Tanzania, Robben Island in South Africa, Luxor Temple in Egypt, and Elmina Castle in Ghana.
  • Learn about African heroes, including Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Chinua Achebe.
  • Commit to taking a trip to Africa someday.
  • Watch a movie set in Africa, such as Hotel Rwanda, Out of Africa, Goodbye Bafana, and Beat the Drum.

Share this day on social media with #AfricanWorldHeritageDay.


In November 2015, The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed May 5th as African World Heritage Day. They chose May 5th as it marked the anniversary of the African World Heritage Fund. This initiative was launched in 2006 to support the conservation and protection of Africa’s natural and cultural heritage.

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