When in Sunday School class the instuctor was talking about the world and drew an earth in his explanation. What shouldn't have surprised me, but did, was that instead of drawing North and South America on his world, he drew the shape of Africa. I finally get all the references to "middle earth" and China's thinking of her position in the world throughout history. Where you live is the center of the universe for all of us.
Now, as Americans, we get pretty prideful as we print maps of the world using a Mercator projection of the earth. As a navigator that was critical to learn as there must be compensation every time you cross a longitude line or you will turn back to your departure site just using pure math. We do live on a ball. Navigators try to fly a "great circle route" or the line a string makes to connect two points. If you flatten the ball out to use as a map there will always be some sort of distortion. Choose your distortion and learn to live or navigate with it.
So the point is we are subconsciously taught that Africa is about the size of North America.
Take a look at the the area comparisons for much of the world against the outline of Africa.
Yes, that is the U.S.A., China, India, U.K., Japan, Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, and Eastern Europe all arranged in Africa's outline.
Little Zambia is slightly bigger than Texas.
Does Africa matter on a world stage? In the past it was the "dark continent" just beyond the southern horizon of Europe. However, with its growing population and untapped resources Africa will continue to grow in influence. It is only politics that will hold it back.