The Lion King II: Simba's Pride
The Lion King 1½
The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar
The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa
The Lion Guard
It seems as if everything about Africa, from its one-of-a-kind animals to its breathtaking scenery, is larger than life. Now turn the Disney artists loose with all of Africa to inspire them, and what you're going to get is an explosion of color and characters unlike any you've ever experienced in a Disney film. You can see and hear Africa in every frame of The Lion King, as if the continent itself is a character in the story.
Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent. It is also the central location in The Lion King universe.
The second-largest continent in the world, Africa is known for its arid deserts, dense jungles, and sprawling savannas. While the northern part of the continent is primarily desert, the central and southern regions contain both jungle and savanna territories. As diverse as its terrain, Africa's climate ranges from tropical to subarctic on its highest peaks. It is the hottest continent on Earth, and 60% of the entire land surface consists of deserts and drylands. Within the continent, there are over 50 recognized countries. Africa's largest country is Algeria, and its smallest country is the Seychelles, an archipelago off the east coast.
In the Real World
One of the hugest landmasses in existence, Africa accounts for six percent of the Earth's total surface area and about twenty percent of the total land area. Just as populous as it is big, Africa holds about 15% of the world's human population and sports the youngest population of the seven continents, with 50% of Africans being 19 years old or younger. The continent itself is broken up into 54 different countries (or sovereign states), nine territories, and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition.
To the north, the continent is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, while both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula serve as the northeastern border. The Indian Ocean borders Africa's southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean forms the continent's western border.
Being so large a continent, Africa is able to host a multitude of different animal species and boasts one of the most diverse range of indigenous populations in the world. This is in part due to the wide span of habitats the continent has to offer, from sweltering desert wastelands to humid jungle paradises. Wild animal populations range from herbivores, such as buffalo, elephants, and giraffes, to carnivores, such as cheetahs, hyenas, and lions. In the jungle regions, other animals, such as crocodiles and snakes, can be found.
In the Universe
Throughout the film series, the many different attributes of the continent, from its physical wonders to its savanna residents, are displayed.
The first film kicks off with a musical number that showcases the geographical wonder of the African continent, including a glimpse of its highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. The animal residents dub their savanna paradise "the Pride Lands," which is a fictional depiction of the Serengeti. Mirroring the arid climate and sprawling composition of Africa, the Pride Lands are a lush savanna territory controlled by a sole pride of lions. The territory includes mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and fantastical rock structures, such as its main centerpiece, Pride Rock. This centerpiece as well as others, such as the Elephant Graveyard, are purely fictional, though based off similar realities observed on the African continent.
Abounding in the Pride Lands are plant species observed on the real African savanna. The most prominent plant in the film is Rafiki's tree, a baobab tree, which is a common tree type in Africa. Other plants, such as acacia trees, make appearances throughout the film.
The main splendor in the film, its fantastic range of animal species, reflects the true fauna of Africa. The lion is the primary species portrayed in the film, though other species, such as meerkats, red-billed hornbills, and warthogs, are also heavily featured.
The music of the film also reflects its African roots. With the help of Lebo M and his South African choir, Hans Zimmer composed an underscore that showcased many of Africa's traditional chants and sounds. The most prominent song in the film is "Circle of Life," which opens with an iconic African chant sung by Lebo M himself. An entire album inspired by the film, called Rhythm of the Pride Lands, is solely designated to African-inspired styles.
- According to the back cover of the VHS tape for The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, the film series takes place in the Serengeti, a region in northern Tanzania.
- The Pridelanders only acknowledge the African continent once in the entire film series, when Zazu says, "Out of service, out of Africa," during "I Just Can't Wait to be King."
- In an early version of the film, called King of the Kalahari, Africa was dubbed "the Dark Continent."
- In preparation for the film, a group of Disney artists traveled to East Africa to study the landscape of the continent.
The Lion King Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Africa.