When one talks of enjoying a holiday in any of the African countries, most will think of safari tours, trips to Marrakesh or Cape Town or visiting the Egyptian pyramids. However, in this very continent, there are various beautiful islands lying on the shores of both the Atlantic and Indian oceans with most of them located in the latter. One of these fantastic islands is Madagascar which is the fourth largest island in the world. There are some other smaller islands with unique living creatures, white sandy beaches, and fascinating history. Such locations are definitely worth a trip.
The “island life”, is a form of refreshment which has been romanticized in different romantic books and blockbuster movies. By the nature of islands, they have captured vicinity with unimaginable watchtowers that are accompanied by natural beauty. These places are also preferred due to the privacy they offer; they provide the peace that one may require to keep away from the everyday bustles of city life.
Islands are places where one can spend his days getting the suntan and preferably drinking some rum while enjoying the beauty of the surrounding environment.
There are different groups of islands in Africa; the Atlantic Ocean islands and the Indian Ocean islands.
Main islands in Africa
Islands are basically landmasses which are surrounded by water. As many would ask: how many countries in Africa have islands? Africa, being the second largest continent after Asia, it has 54 states that are recognized by the African Union. These countries include the island nations, which are sovereign countries like any other African country.
The main islands include:
The Republic of Madagascar initially referred to as the Malagasy Republic is the biggest island in Africa with a size of 587,041 km2 which doubles the size of Arizona. The big red island is ranked the fourth biggest island worldwide. It is found in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa, about 450 km from Mozambique.
Madagascar became isolated from the initial continent—Gondwana land 88 million years ago. The separation of this country has resulted in the evolution of plants and animals into relative isolation. This nation is relatively closer to Comoros, Reunion, South Africa and Mauritius, and it has a population of 22 million people.
In Madagascar, there are various ethnic communities which inhibit that particular area. The Malayo Indonesia first occupied this country in the first century A.D. They were followed by the Arabs who were establishing trade ports in the 6th century. Other communities like mixed Africans later came and inhibited the area. In October 1958, Madagascar was rendered as an independent state under the French and later became entirely independent in June 1960.
“Udzima Wa Komori “or the union of the Comoros is an independent country found in the northern parts of Mozambique on the African coast. Comoros is a self-governing state with three other Comoros islands which are substantially known by their French names. These islands include the Grande Comore (Ngazidja), Moheli (Mwali ) and Anjouan(Nzwani). C
omoros has a geographical area of 1,660 square kilometers with a population of 795,601 people excluding the island of Mayotte. With its capital city being at Moroni –the largest city, this nation is made of hamlet groups.
This archipelago is known for its diverse history and culture; it was first inhabited by East African Bantus who were supplemented by the Austronesian immigrants together with Arabs. Despite the uncertainty in the history of this land, the Shizari Persians are believed to be the people who have established the dominant religion- Sunni Islam.
The volcanic Comoro islands are referred to as the “perfumed islands” because of their fragrant plant life and their intrigue scenic beauty. It is also the third smallest among all the African countries.
The Republic of Seychelles is an autonomous nation found in the Indian Ocean. Seychelle is 1,600 kilometers (942 miles) eastwards of the main African continent. It has a population of roughly 96,000 people being the country with the smallest population among all African countries, and its capital is Victoria.
Historically, Seychelles’ culture and people living in that nation is a blend of Asians, Europeans and Africans who mostly were the freed slaves. This has resulted in a rich cultural heritage which is enjoyed by all these groups of people. Higher populations of people in this country are Catholics, other denominations such as Adventists, Jehovah witness and Anglicans are also present. Hindus and Islamic are also found on this island but in small numbers.
Seychelles is one of the English speaking islands in Africa; other languages like French and Seychellois Creole are widely used. English has become predominant because of various English visitors who frequently visit this area.
This island is located in the Indian Ocean, about 2000 kilometers from the southeastern coast of Africa. The country incorporates the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, which is 560 kilometers from the eastern side of Mauritius together with Agalega and Brandon that are on the outer side of the main island.
Mauritius has an area of 2,040 km2 (790 miles) with its capital located at Port Louis. This nation was a colony of the Dutch between 1638 and 1710; later they became a French colony between 1715 and 1810. The British became their colonizers from 1810 till 1968, and then they gained independence.
Mauritius is known to be a democratic state with more than one ethnic group that enjoys the political and economic freedom at equal measures. Being one of the countries in Africa with a small geographical area, Mauritius has a higher human development index. Together with the Mascarene Islands, Mauritius is famous for its different creatures that inhabit different characteristics to other Africans creatures, therefore making it one of the best islands in South Africa.
The Republic of Cabo Verde is a self-governing country. It is an island found in the central Atlantic ocean. This nation is an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands which were referred to as the “Fortunate Isles” or “The Islands of the Blessed”. It is one of the islands in West Africa located 570 kilometers (350 miles) from the west of Cape Verde peninsula. Cape Verde covers an area of over 4,033 km2 with a population of 525,000 individuals according to the 2015 census.
Its capital city is Praia, found in the Santiago Island. They have two official languages which are Portuguese and Kabuverdianu. This land was uninhabited until the 15th century when it was discovered by the Portuguese explorers. Later, it became fully occupied by Italian traders, Portuguese colonialists and some West African slaves.
Most beautiful islands in Africa
Africa as a continent has numerous beautiful sceneries which serve as tourist attractions. These islands have sandy beaches and excellent hotels where one can enjoy his holiday. They include:
This is the biggest island and the capital city of Sao Tome and Principle. Sao Tome is a Portuguese name meaning “Saint Thomas”. According to the 2018 census, this island has a population of 71,868 residents. The Portuguese-speaking nation is located in the western coast of central Africa. Sao Tome was founded in 1439 by the Portuguese who were looking for land to grow sugarcane. It is found on the right regions of the equator with wet climatic conditions.
This land remained uninhabited until 1470 until the first group of Portuguese discovered the area. Tourists travel to this island to inquire into the sleepy fisherman’s villages and to dive into the ocean waters. It is always about leisure in Sao Tome; people still have options for different activities whenever they visit this place. This area also has 130 bird species that are not found anywhere else in the African continent.
Moheli is one of the smallest islands that make up the country of Comoros. It is the only place in Comoros with a national park-Moheli Marine Park. This is one of the best islands in Africa to visit during a holiday, because various creatures exist there like dolphins, whales, sea turtles and fascinating coral reefs.
Nosy Be Island
This is an island located in the northern coast of Madagascar. It was called Assada in the seventh century during the colonial period. Nosy Be has a population of about 73,010 inhabitants with a geographical area of 320.02 square kilometers.
This small island is a tourist attraction, bringing thousands of visitors to Madagascar from all over the world. There are various refreshment points like seafood restaurants in Nosy Be which serve food on the sand.
Djerba is an island located in the in North Africa off the coast of Tunisia. It is the largest island in the northern part of Africa. It has a peaceful environment and beautiful sandy beaches which provide refreshments for honeymooners and other tourists as well.
It only remains the only place in Tunisia with Berber language speakers. According to a 2004 census, the island has a population of 139,544 people.
This is one of the largest islands in Seychelles; it is found 44 km from Mahe, having a population of 6,500 people. Praslin was anciently a hiding place for pirates and Arabs; currently, it is a scenery attracting various tourists with many resorts and hotels. Anse Georgette and Anse Lazio are some of the refreshment sites that sandy beaches, which attract many visitors from different parts of the planet.
This area has a sweep of the tropical forest with birds like Endemic Seychelles Bulbul. The Vallee de Mai is known for his unique, beautiful vanilla orchids, and coco de mer.
Zanzibar is one of the best eastern African islands which have a more significant geographical area with a larger population of people. It is found 35 kilometers from the mainland of Tanzania. The archipelago is made up of the much smaller island such as Mnemba and Chumbe.
Beaches in Zanzibar have beautiful white sands lapped by turtles which are some of the attractions to the tourists. The main attraction site in Zanzibar is the Stone Town which has courtyards, charming shops, bazaars, and coral rag houses. The island has been a trading centre for centuries.
Lamu Island is among the islands forming the Lamu archipelago in Kenya. The central town in the isle is Lamu old town; it was one of the cities which was a trading centre for the Arab merchants. This area has a preserved history on the way of life, culture and settlement for the Swahili people.
Most buildings in the land are made up of mangrove timber and stones. The island is made up of narrow streets with walls on both sides, and therefore there are few cars in this island making people use donkeys in most occasions.
This is a French territory located on the eastern side of Madagascar and south-west of Mauritius. It has a population of 800,000 people. It was a colony of France in 1665 and was often visited by the Arabs, the Swahili or the Portuguese sailors.
Reunion and Hawaii have a common factor as both are located above hotspots in the earth crust, with the Piton des Neiges being its tallest volcano with 3,070 meters above the sea level.
This is the most famous island in Cape Verde; a state made up of 10 islands in the central Atlantic Ocean. “The Island of Sal” meaning salt in Portuguese is popularly known for its sandy beaches. Its major town is Santa Maria where most bars and hotels are located.
Spanish islands in Africa
Africa is also home to several Spanish islands. They include:
Islas Canarias is a Spanish Island found on the southern parts of Spain in North Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. Its nearest island is located 108 kilometers off the northwest of the African continent. The Canary Islands comprise of Spanish provinces of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas together with the insular councils. These islands form the outer most regions of European Union, but they don’t belong to the EU.
Historically, the Canaries are among the eight regions with special consideration like that of the Spanish government. The indigent state was established on August 10, 1982, with its capital being at Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It has an area of 2,875 square miles with a population rise of 2,101,924 people from initial 2,082,655 people.
Man made islands in Africa
Kamfers dam is a large water mass covering an area of 400 ha, it has an S-shaped island which is an important breeding area for flamingoes. A local Ekapa mining company constructed this island; using tonnes of materials during its construction. The dam supports between 20,000 - 50,000 flamingos. This dam being private property, it makes the island one of the private islands in Africa.
Other artificial islands in Africa include the Eko Atlantic in Nigeria which was created like the Spiral Island in Mexico. The Spiral Island was made of synthetic floating materials by a British artist known as Richart Sowa. It was destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Emily and later replaced by Joyxee Island in 2008. The first spiral island was located in a Laguna next to the Puerto Aventuras on the coast of Mexico on the southern part of Cancun.