Just how BIG is West Africa?

Just how BIG is West Africa?

I often talk a little about West African geography when sharing about the djembe drum with my students.  It goes something like this:

“The djembe drum originated in Mali, West Africa.  Texas is slightly bigger than France, but Mali is two times the size of Texas!  The djembes that we are playing today were made in Senegal and Ghana.  Africa is a BIG CONTINENT with many people, places, animals, and cultures.  The West part of Africa is about the size of the contiguous USA.”

Unfortunately I do not carry a large globe with me to every event and it is hard to see a big picture of what I am explaining to the students.  Most of the time the teachers understand just how big Texas is and can comprehend the comparison.  The teachers then are able to go back to their classroom and show their students using a smart board or globe.

Using the CIA World Factbook at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/  and this wonderful site called True Size (www.thetruesize.com)  we can have a better understanding of just how BIG West Africa is!

Let’s start with a comparison of  the contiguous USA with the continent of Africa.  The map below makes the US look small!

FACTS: (from CIA World Factbook)

Africa is 30.37 million sq km

USA

total: 9,833,517 sq km (includes AK and HI, but not shown on map above)
note: includes only the 50 states and District of Columbia, no overseas territories (2010)
country comparison to the world: 3
Area – comparative:
about half the size of Russia; about three-tenths the size of Africa; about half the size of South America (or slightly larger than Brazil); slightly larger than China; more than twice the size of the European Union
Here’s another map of the contiguous USA compared to Europe.  Notice how the Northeast USA is stretched on this flat map representation.
Now let’s look at the contiguous USA compared to the West part of Africa.
Texas is only a little bit bigger than France.
FACTS:
France:
total: 643,801 sq km; 551,500 sq km (metropolitan France)
note: the first numbers include the overseas regions of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion
country comparison to the world: 43
Area – comparative:
slightly more than four times the size of Georgia; slightly less than the size of Texas
Texas: (from https://www.census.gov/geo/reference/state-area.html)
total 695,662 sq km
The country of Mali is two times the size of Texas!  It’s just one country in the West part of Africa.
FACTS: Mali
total: 1,240,192 sq km
country comparison to the world: 24
Area – comparative:
slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Just for fun, here is Texas compared to Australia.  Just a small part of the outback!
Here is a comparison of Texas and Ghana.
FACTS: GHANA
238,533 sq km
country comparison to the world: 82
Area – comparative:
slightly smaller than Oregon
And here is Senegal compared to Texas.
FACTS: Senegal
total: 196,722 sq km
country comparison to the world: 88
Area – comparative:
slightly smaller than South Dakota
I hope these maps have given you a much clearer picture of just how BIG the continent of Africa is.