How Many Active Volcanoes Are in Africa?

Cai Tjeenk Willink (Caitjeenk)/CC-BY-SA 3.0

A known 157 active volcanoes exist in Africa. The vast majority of these volcanoes sit on the continent’s east coast, including the 59 active volcanoes found in Ethiopia. The volcanoes exist because of a splitting between the African Plate and the Arabian Plate, which is actually pulling the continent apart.

Africa is one of the most active volcanic sites in the world, with 85 percent of its 155 known eruptions occurring since 1870. Monitoring of eruptions only started after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.

As of 2013, the most active volcanoes in Africa, Nyamuragira, Nyiragongo, Mount Cameroon and Ol Doinyo Lengai, have erupted a combined 101 times. Ol Doinyo Lengai is significant because it is the only volcano to produce lava high in calcium carbonatitic in recorded history.