Well you are right, it certainly could be a country... just not exclusively. Think of the phrases "you are living in a fantasy land", "Moses spoke of the promised land", or the "Land of Oz". All of these are more like regions that share common traits.
I imagine that it is easier to associate 'Land' with a country because the larger the scope, the easier it is to focus on the differences. However, in the context of a Western/European viewpoint, these differences in Africa often may not stand out. http://www.acegeography.com/africa-a-land-of-contrast.html
Since 'land' is much more subjective in English than is German counterpart 'Land", I would that is why you were unable to translate Land into land.
I often find myself trying to put too much English in my Deutsch. Sometimes I think it would be easier if they weren't so similar.
This really begs the question how do you say land in German as in the distant/far-off land of Africa? Apparently land originally meant country, country still sometimes means countryside, earth originally meant land (which doesn't work in modern German?), and then starting in about 1400 came to mean the planet instead. Is there not a word eine Landmasse for a landmass (though that's rather too technical)? Would ein Teil der Erde for a part of the earth work? Or would that could include sea?