Key Takeaways

  1. Stunning astronaut and satellite photographs provide a unique view of Africa’s diverse landscapes.
  2. Africa’s vast expanse encompasses a rich variety of features, including cities, deserts, mountains, and rivers.
  3. The continent’s history and geological changes are observable from space, offering a unique perspective.
  4. This collection of images goes beyond typical stereotypes, showcasing Africa’s true complexity.
  5. Exploring Africa from above highlights its natural beauty and human achievements.

In an enchanting compilation of astronaut and satellite photography, Africa’s multifaceted essence comes to life through stunning aerial views. Beyond the conventional portrayal of giraffes and sunsets, this visual journey unveils Africa’s sheer enormity as the second-largest continent on the planet. Encompassing a sprawling 30 million square kilometers, Africa boasts an intricate tapestry of 55 countries, each contributing to the continent’s diverse allure. The striking contrast between bustling cities and expansive farmlands, arid deserts and lush rainforests, towering snow-clad peaks and the depths of salted basins, offers a glimpse into the astonishing variety held within this landmass.

What makes these images even more remarkable is their ability to encapsulate the history of both humanity and geology. Over countless millennia, Africa has been a canvas for the intricate dance between human civilization and the forces of the Earth. These high-altitude photographs unveil not only the grandeur of modern urbanization but also the imprints of ancient cultures and geological transformations that have shaped the continent. This cosmic perspective offers more than just a visual treat; it’s an opportunity to comprehend the rich narrative woven by human endeavor and natural processes.

Far from adhering to the limitations of stereotypes, this gallery paints Africa in its true colors, showcasing its intricate blend of magnificence and complexity. From the rhythmic flow of rivers that have witnessed the passage of time to the burgeoning skylines of metropolitan hubs, this collection embodies the heartbeat of a thriving continent. Ultimately, exploring Africa from above isn’t merely about admiring its breathtaking beauty; it’s about acknowledging the resilience, innovation, and interconnectedness that define Africa – an awe-inspiring spectacle best appreciated from the cosmos.

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The coast of North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea. ESA/NASA


North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea


Mediterranean Sea, the Nile River, the Nile River Delta, Gulf of Suez, the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt — was photographed by an International Space Station astronaut orbiting above Saudi Arabia (latitude 29.0, longitude 39.4) on 11 October 2007.


The Mediterranean Sea’s only connection to the world’s oceans is through a narrow strip of water between Europe and Africa known as the Strait of Gibraltar, as shown here in a image taken from the International Space Station. PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA


Dust in the Mediterranean


2019-06-22 – Picture of northern Africa, taken by CSA astronaut David Saint-Jacques during his space mission. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency/NASA)


The Etosha salt pan on the Ekuma River in the Kalahari Basin region of northern Namibia is a 120-kilometre (75-mile) dry lakebed in Etosha National Park. About 16,000 years ago, as the last ice age ended and ice sheets were melting across the northern hemisphere, a wetter climate in southern Africa filled Etosha Lake. Today the Kalahari is an arid desert and Etosha pan rarely covered with even a thin sheet of water. This image was captured by the International Space Station in June 2005. Click image for a larger view. (Nasa, CC BY-NC 2.0)


The Richat Structure near Ouadane in central Mauritania is known as the Eye of the Sahara. This magnificent 40-kilometre-wide dome is the result of deep and ancient erosion of a long-dead volcano. Click image for a larger view. (Axelspace Corporation, CC BY-SA 4.0)


Estuaries – where the waters of seas and rivers mix – on the northwestern coast of Madagascar, a large African island in the Indian Ocean. The Mozambique Channel (top) separates Madagascar from the southeastern coast of Africa. The Betsiboka River, which flows into Bombetoka Bay (upper left), leaves striking red floodplain sediments. Mahajamba Bay (right) is fed by several rivers including the Mahajamba and Sofia. Like the Betsiboka, the floodplains of these rivers contain reddish sediments eroded from their basins upstream. Click image for a larger view. (Nasa, CC BY-NC 2.0)


Glaciers and snow top Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. A dormant volcano with three cones, Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa. From the base to the top of the mountain is about about 4,900 metres (16,100 feet). The peak lies at 5,895 metres (19,341 feet) above sea level. This image was captured by an Expedition 14 crewmember on board the International Space Station in April 2007. Click image for a larger view. (Nasa, CC BY-NC 2.0)


A night view of northern Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean Sea captured by the International Space Station in September 2016. The lights of the city of Cairo and settlements southwards along the Nile River can be clearly seen. Click image for a larger view. (Nasa Johnson, CC BY-NC 2.0)


The Al-Jawf Oasis in eastern Libya photographed by the crew of the International Space Station in February 2017. The large circles in the desert sand are crops cultivated under center-pivot irrigation systems. Click image for a larger view. (Nasa Johnson, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Ceuta, a Spanish city in Morocco


The Red Sea coastline in Eritrea


Sunglint illuminates the great Okavango delta in the Kalahari Desert region of Botswana, in a photo taken from the International Space Station in June 2014. The bright line of the Okavango River shows the annual summer flood advancing from the well-watered Angolan Highlands (upper margin) to the delta. These floodwaters slowly seep across the 150 kilometres of the delta, feeding forests and wetlands until they reach its lower margin in the middle of winter. Most of the river’s water is used up by the forests, or evaporates in the dry air. Only two percent of the water finally exits the delta. Okavango delta wetland supports high biodiversity in the middle of the otherwise semiarid Kalahari Desert, and is now one of the most famous tourist sites in Africa. Click image for a larger view. (Nasa, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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