Africa is the second-largest continent by geographic area and the second-most populous continent globally, with an area of approximately 30 million km² (11.6 million mi²) and a population of 1.2 billion people. Africa has 54 countries fully recognized by the United Nations, two independent states with limited or no recognition (Western Sahara and Somaliland), and several territories (mostly islands) controlled by non-African countries. For example, the Canary Islands are ruled by Spain. That said, given Africa's complicated political situation, history of colonialism, and ongoing insurrections in many countries, the exact number of officially recognized countries on the continent remains 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 in the world at 15.3 years. Africa is also the poorest continent (excluding Antarctica) by a wide margin. The northern country of Algeria is Africa's largest sovereign state and also among its most populous, with around 44 million residents. Nigeria is by far the largest country in terms of population, with more than 211 million people as of 2021. Ethiopia follows with almost 118 million, while Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, South Africa, and Kenya all have populations ranging from 92 million to 54 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 13.2 million and 12.2 million people, respectively. The tiny landlocked country of Lesotho, surrounded by vastly bigger South Africa, has more than 2.1 million. Seychelles—an Indian ocean archipelago made up of 115 islands—is Africa's smallest country, with a total population of about 98,000. For the full list of all 54 countries in Africa, see the table below.