Africa is the second-largest continent by geographic area and the second-most populous continent globally, with an area of approximately 30 million km2 and a population of 1.2 billion people. The continent has 54 countries, nine territories, and two independent states with limited or no recognition. However, given Africa's complicated political situation and the legacy of its colonial history, the exact makeup of the continent and the number of officially recognized countries is still a contentious issue.
Africa's population is the youngest of all the continents, with a median age of 19.7 (in comparison to the global median age of 30.4). Niger has the lowest median age globally of 15.3 years. In terms of GDP, Nigeria is also the wealthiest African country with a GDP of US$404.65 billion.
The northern country of Algeria is Africa's largest sovereign state and also among the most populous, with around 40 million residents. Nigeria is by far the largest country in terms of population, with over 200 million people as of 2020. Ethiopia follows with almost 115 million, while Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, South Africa, and Kenya all have populations over 50 million.
Even the smaller countries in Africa have relatively large populations. Rwanda and Burundi are relatively small in area (although both share borders with the much larger Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania), yet have 13 million and 11.9 million people, respectively. The tiny landlocked country of Lesotho, surrounded by vastly bigger South Africa, has more than 2.1 million. Technically, however, it is Seychelles – an Indian ocean archipelago made up of 115 islands – that is Africa's smallest country, with a total population of about 98,000.