Discover the Largest Country in Africa

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: March 28, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/titoOnz
Share this post on:

Africa is the second-largest continent in the world, only behind Asia in terms of area. This continent is home to 54 countries at the time this article was written, and it is possible that this number could change soon. With so many countries, it’s easy to wonder which is the largest country in Africa.

Fortunately, this is an easy query to satisfy, but we’re also going to plumb the depths of answers to this question. We will compare the top 15 largest countries in Africa and show you how they measure up to one another.

The 15 Largest Countries in Africa by Area

Africa is the world’s second largest continent in the world

wael alreweie/Shutterstock.com

The countries in Africa vary in size, location, and climate. Although some people think that Africa is all savannah and desert, that doesn’t nearly capture the vast differences that are present in this continent. Take a look at the 15 largest countries in Africa by area and see how they measure up to one another.  

15. Namibia

Namibia means “vast place” and is the 15th largest country in Africa.

Nate Hovee/Shutterstock.com

Area km2Population
835,4202,550,000

Namibia is a large country that is named after the Namib Desert which is famous for being the most famous desert in the world. Interestingly, the name itself refers to a “vast place”, and that makes perfect sense for this nation. It’s not the largest country, but it’s still sizeable. This country is located in the southwestern section of Africa.  

14. Nigeria

Nigeria is the country with the highest population in all of Africa. Its is ranked 14th in total land.

MOdAMO/Shutterstock.com

Area km2Population
923,768211,499,700

Named for the Niger River, Nigeria is the country with the highest population in all of Africa. Even though the country is somewhat large, it’s still densely populated with almost 211 million people living within its borders. The country is famous for founding the African Union and being one of the largest oil and rare mineral producers in the world.  

13. Tanzania

Tanzania is home to some of the largest lakes in the world and is the 13th largest country in Africa.

MOIZ HUSEIN STORYTELLER/Shutterstock.com

Area km2Population
945,20361,190,000

The country of Tanzania gets its name from the two countries that fused to form the nation: Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Together, they created Tanzania. The country is located on the east coast of Africa, and that has made it an important location for travel and commerce. Another interesting fact about this country is that it is home to some of the African Great Lakes, including the deepest lake called Lake Tanganyika.

12. Egypt

While Egypt is the 12th largest country in Africa, most its population lives along the Nile.

AlexAnton/Shutterstock.com

Area km2Population
1,001,449102,674,000

People know Egypt because of its prehistoric and ancient past, including the pharaohs and pyramids. This country has been at the center of politics and economic power for centuries in the modern age. The culture of Egypt is very interesting because it combines influences from Africa as well as the Arab world. The country is rich in terms of its culture, politics, and history.  

11. Mauritania

Mauritania is the 11th largest country in Africa, but is mostly desert.

Homo Cosmicos/Shutterstock.com

Area km2Population
1,030,7004, 400,000

The country of Mauritania is officially named the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and it’s located on the western coast of Africa. About 75% of the country is covered by the Sahara Desert or is covered by a type of ecological zone called semidesert. Unfortunately, desertification is increasing in this area, so more of the country will be covered by the desert in the future unless drastic steps are taken. The country is known for its diverse cultural influences as well as recent political upheavals.

10. Ethiopia

Ethiopia is Africa’s 10th largest country and home to more than 100 million people.

Dereje/Shutterstock.com

Area km2Population
1,104,300117,876,000

The country was formerly known as Abyssinia, and it’s home today to over 100 million people, making it one of the most populous countries in Africa as well as the 10th largest. Ethiopia is a multiethnic state that has undergone vast political changes in the last few centuries. The country’s economy is based largely on agriculture, and it’s well-known for its paleontological discoveries that give insights into the past.  

9. South Africa

Although South Africa has undergone severe tribulations, the country is on the rise. Its the 9th largest country in Africa.

Arnold.Petersen/Shutterstock.com

Area km2Population
1,221,03760,142,000

The nation of South Africa is located at the very southern tip of Africa. The country is famous for many reasons, from its human fossil discoveries as well as the Cape of Good Hope. However, the nation is famous for its policy of apartheid in recent times as well as the leadership of Nelson Mandela. The country has struggled to find peace within itself but consistently pushes towards reform, better laws, and fairer treatment.

8. Mali

Largest African Countries - Mali
Mali is landlocked and mostly in the Sahara desert. Its the 8th largest country in Africa.

iStock.com/Elfenpfote

Area km2Population
1,240,19020,250,830

The name Mali refers to “the place where the king lives” and was taken for the Mali Empire that spanned the 13th-17th centuries. The country is located in the western section of northern Africa, but it does not have a coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. The country was once under French colonial rule. Although it had periods of peace, Mali has unfortunately been the site of numerous coups and violence in recent years including in 2021. As of 2022, the country has closed off its borders.

7. Angola

Angola has large amount of oil that fuel its economy.

Fabian Plock/Shutterstock.com

Area km2Population
1,246,70031,127,600

The country of Angola is in the southwestern portion of Africa, and the country has a border on the Atlantic Ocean. The country is known for being a major oil producer as a member of OPEC and sometimes called the Kuwait of Africa. This is a country that is modernizing at different rates from one part to another. Nevertheless, the country has a rich history and modern culture.  

6. Niger

Niger is the 6th largest country in Africa, but most its land is arid.

Homo Cosmicos/Shutterstock.com

Area km2Population
1,267,00024,112,753

The country of Niger is named for the Niger River that flows through the nation. Humans have lived in Niger for over 280,000 years. As such, this country has plenty of archaeological sites that show the past of human history.

The country has been part of empires as well as a colonial outpost and the host of many modern coups. Currently, the country is struggling with its democratic processes as peaceful transitions of power are rare. In fact, the first democratic transition of power since 1960 took place in 2021.  

5. Chad

Chad is a large country – the 5th largest in Africa – but suffers from extremely low standards of living.

iStock.com/HomoCosmicos

Area km2Population
1,284,00016,243,000

The Republic of Chad is in the middle of northern Africa, with much of the nation being desert and part of it being savannah. The nation is home to many different cultures, ethnicities, and languages. It’s also one of the poorest countries in the world and faces many challenges with human rights and governments. Recent years have seen the nation turn to oil production to increase its GDP.  

4. Libya

Libya has undergone serious transformations in the last decade

Hussein Eddeb/Shutterstock.com

Area km2Population
1,759,5406,992,000

The nation of Libya is located in the central northern portion of Africa, and it has a border on the Mediterranean Sea. The country earns a great deal of money from its vast oil reserves. Much of the country is covered by the Libyan Desert, a section of the Sahara. This area can go decades without rain in some spots. That is why most people live in coastal areas. The country was home to the Arab Spring uprisings beginning in 2010.

3. Sudan

Sudan used to be the largest country in Africa, today it is the third largest.

Feroze Edassery/Shutterstock.com

Area km2Population
1,861,48444,910,000

Sudan used to be the largest country in Africa until it split with South Sudan in 2011. The country still maintains a very large population. The country is located in the northeastern part of Africa, sharing a border with Egypt to the north and the Red Sea to the east. The nation uses oil production for most of its earnings, and it has recently become a secular nation instead of a religious one.

2. The Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is Africa’s second largest country. It is covered in dense forests and has little infrastructure.

LMIMAGES/Shutterstock.com

Area km2Population
2,344,858105,044,409

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was once called Zaire. The large country is located in the middle of Africa, and it has many different ecological zones. The country is known for its high production of raw minerals and materials for processing. However, this nation has suffered from political problems as well as humanitarian issues.

1. Algeria

Algeria is the largest country in Africa, but it’s mostly desert

mehdi33300/Shutterstock.com

Area km2Population
2,381,74144,700,000

Algeria is the biggest country in Africa, and it is located in the northwestern part of Africa, with a border on the Mediterranean Sea as well as with many other nations. The country has large oil reserves and natural gas. However, the country has recently undergone political unrest, mass protests, and other issues that threaten to destabilize the nation. The country has a rich culture but also has human rights problems. Over 90% of the country’s land is covered by the Algerian Desert, another piece of the Sahara Desert.

What Is the Largest Country in Africa?

Largest Countries in Africa -African Continent

iStock.com/titoOnz

Algeria is the largest country in Africa. Worldwide, it’s the 10th largest country. While Africa may look smaller on many maps (the popular Mercator projection map makes land near the poles look larger), it’s a vast continent. There are 54 countries in Africa and you could fit all of the United State, Europe, China, India, and Japan within its boundaries!

What is the East African Federation?

The East African Federation is a proposed union of six countries that would include Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania. These countries could become the largest of all countries in Africa and have a population that ranks 8th in the world and 2nd in Africa behind Nigeria.

Whether or not this merger actually happens remains to be seen. The draft constitution is being derived and is supposed to be implemented by 2023. However, this idea has been floating around since the 1960s, and nothing has come of it since.

This could be a major change for people living in these parts of Africa, allowing this Federation to become a large economic power in the future.

Share this post on:
About the Author

I am a freelancer specializing in SEO content writing. I write in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I've been writing full-time since 2018, so I've been doing remote work before it was cool. When I'm not working, I can be found reading, trying to catch up on my tv show backlog, playing video games, and starting stories that I'll never finish.

More from A-Z Animals