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Mapped: Africa’s Population Density Patterns

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See this visualization first on the Voronoi app.

A map of Africa’s population density, spotlighting the continent’s most populous countries and cities, and the fastest-growing regions.

Mapped: Africa’s Population Density Patterns

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Africa, the world’s second largest continent, spans over 30 million km2, home to the not only world’s biggest desert but also the second-largest tropical rainforest, and of course, approximately 1.4 billion people.

In this infographic, we map out the continent’s population density patterns. It’s a prime example of how humans congregate near fresh water and around the edges of natural obstacles.

This population density data comes from the Gridded Population of the World dataset created by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) hosted by NASA’s Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC).

Ranked: Most Populous African Countries

Africa’s second largest economy, Nigeria, is also its most populous: more than 220 million people live in this diverse West African country with 250 ethnic groups, speaking over 500 different languages.

And the nation is only growing. By 2100, it’s estimated that the Nigerian population could be more than three-fold its current size, at nearly 800 million residents, becoming the second-most populous country in the world.

RankCountryPopulation
1🇳🇬 Nigeria224M
2🇪🇹 Ethiopia127M
3🇪🇬 Egypt112M
4🇨🇩 DRC 102M
5🇹🇿 Tanzania67M
6🇿🇦 South Africa59M
7🇰🇪 Kenya55M
8🇺🇬 Uganda49M
9🇸🇩 Sudan48M
10🇩🇿 Algeria46M

Source: UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, World Population Prospects. (2022)

Across the continent, along its eastern side, Ethiopia, is the second-most populous country on the continent. Unlike Nigeria—which has nearly 20 cities with at least half a million residents—more than three-quarters of Ethiopia’s 127 million people live in rural communities.

Ranked third, Egypt (112 million) is the only North African country in the top five by population. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) comes in fourth (102 million), with Tanzania (67 million) rounding out the top five.

Ranked: Fastest Growing African Countries By Population

In the year 1900, Africa accounted for 9% of the world’s population. Currently its share stands close to 18%. By 2025, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects one in four people in the world to live in Africa, and says the continent’s demographic transition has the power to “transform the world.”

The most populous African countries (DRC, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Egypt) will contribute the lion’s share to this growth of course, but within the continent, other countries are also seeing relatively rapid population growth.

RankCountryGrowth Rate
1🇸🇸 South Sudan4.78%
2🇳🇪 Niger3.66%
3🇧🇮 Burundi3.59%
4🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea3.36%
5🇦🇴 Angola3.34%
6🇧🇯 Benin3.31%
7🇺🇬 Uganda3.22%
8🇨🇩 DRC3.13%
9🇹🇩 Chad3.05%
10🇲🇱 Mali2.93%

Source: CIA World Factbook.

In South Sudan, the world’s newest country, the population is growing at nearly 5% every year. The broader sub-Saharan population meanwhile is growing at half that rate. Aside from a higher fertility rate, the country is also seeing an influx of refugees from conflict areas in neighboring Sudan.

While no other African nation is quite matching South Sudan’s population growth, several of Africa’s poorer economies are also posting an annual population increase of more than 3% including Niger, Burundi, and Chad.

Ranked: Most Populous African Cities

About half of Africa lives in urban areas, which is less than the global average of 57%. The 10 most populous cities on the continent together account for about 115 million people, more than 1.5x the UK’s total population.

Egypt’s capital, Cairo, built along the banks of the Nile, is home to more than 22 million residents, and ranks as Africa’s largest city. This bustling metropolis has stood as an important trade juncture between continents for more than 1,400 years—and is still somehow one of Egypt’s younger cities.

RankCityCountryPopulation
1Cairo🇪🇬 Egypt22.2M
2Lagos🇳🇬 Nigeria21.4M
3Kinshasa🇨🇩 DRC 15.0M
4Johannesburg🇿🇦 South Africa14.8M
5Luanda🇦🇴 Angola9.0M
6Khartoum🇸🇩 Sudan6.9M
7Abidjan🇨🇮 Cote d'Ivoire6.6M
8Nairobi🇰🇪 Kenya6.6M
9Accra🇬🇭 Ghana6.4M
10Dar es Salaam🇹🇿 Tanzania6.0M

Source: Urban agglomerates (2023) Citypopulation.de.

Down south, across the Sahara desert, and near the shores of the Atlantic, Nigeria’s former capital Lagos has slightly more than 21 million people. The city’s name comes from the numerous surrounding lagoons, and its original name in Yoruba, “Eko”, also means “lake.” Population estimates for the city are often disputed because of several different administrative regions, but also because of how fast Lagos is growing: it’s estimated 2,000 new residents move in every day.

Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC ranks third with about 15 million residents, and is slated to become the fourth largest city in the world, with 35 million people, by 2050.

Johannesburg, South Africa (15 million), and Luanda, Angola (9 million) round out the top five most populous African cities.

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Economy

Visualizing the Top Trading Partners of MENA Countries

China holds the position of both the top importer and exporter with MENA countries by volume.

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In this graphic, we visualize the top trading partners of the MENA countries using data from the International Monetary Fund.

Visualizing the Top Trading Partners of MENA Countries

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Due to its strategic location, vast energy reserves, strong economies, and complex political dynamics, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region plays a critical role in global markets.

In this graphic, we visualize the top trading partners of the MENA countries based on data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as of October 2023.

China: The Top Import Partner of MENA

China dominates as the top import supplier to MENA countries. The Asian country sent over $171 billion in goods to the region in 2022.

CountryTop Import PartnerImports (Million USD)
🇩🇿 AlgeriaChina$6,994
🇩🇯 DjiboutiUAE$325
🇪🇬 EgyptChina$11,461
🇱🇾 LibyaTürkiye $2,842
🇲🇷 MauritaniaSpain$952
🇲🇦 MoroccoSpain$10,265
🇸🇴 SomaliaChina$1,111
🇸🇩 SudanChina$3,419
🇹🇳 TunisiaItaly$3,891
🇧🇭 BahrainChina$2,246
🇮🇷 IranChina$6,543
🇮🇶 IraqChina$14,889
🇯🇴 JordanChina$4,165
🇰🇼 KuwaitChina$8,122
🇱🇧 LebanonChina$2,689
🇴🇲 OmanUAE$10,944
🇵🇸 PalestineIsrael$4,380
🇶🇦 QatarChina$5,439
🇸🇦 Saudi ArabiaChina$39,083
🇸🇾 SyriaChina$843
🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates (UAE)China$68,125
🇾🇪 YemenUAE$1,151

Top MENA Export Partners

CountryTop Export PartnerExports (Million USD)
🇩🇿 AlgeriaItaly$17,879
🇩🇯 DjiboutiEthiopia$480
🇪🇬 EgyptTürkiye$3,803
🇱🇾 LibyaItaly$10,468
🇲🇷 MauritaniaChina$1,695
🇲🇦 MoroccoFrance$8,463
🇸🇴 SomaliaUAE$172
🇸🇩 SudanUAE$592
🇹🇳 TunisiaFrance$4,130
🇧🇭 BahrainSaudi Arabia$3,934
🇮🇷 IranChina$6,007
🇮🇶 IraqChina$37,058
🇯🇴 JordanUnited States$2,373
🇰🇼 KuwaitUAE$1,175
🇱🇧 LebanonUAE$909
🇴🇲 OmanUAE$3,128
🇵🇸 PalestineIsrael$1,292
🇶🇦 QatarChina$20,782
🇸🇦 Saudi ArabiaChina$66,183
🇸🇾 SyriaSaudi Arabia$828
🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates (UAE)India$50,757
🇾🇪 YemenTürkiye 43.54

India is another crucial trading partner in the region, importing goods worth over $50 billion from the United Arab Emirates, with over 40% of these imports comprising petroleum products.

Italy, the leading exporter to Tunisia, is another key player leading trade with Middle East and North Africa countries. In 2022, the country purchased over $28 billion from Algeria and Libya, primarily petroleum.

Trade in the region is expected to increase, with some countries recently deciding to join the BRICS. The addition of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, and the UAE to the bloc represents over one trillion dollars in exports.

Outlook for MENA Countries

According to the IMF, growth in many economies in the Middle East is slowing due to tighter policies, oil production cuts, geopolitical tensions, and other domestic challenges.

The organization recently lowered the real GDP growth forecast for the region to 2.0% for 2023, compared to the 3.3% projected in April 2023.

The IMF forecasts, however, that annual growth will accelerate to 3.4% in 2024 as some of these factors fade.

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