Africa is the second largest continent in the world. It makes up about a fifth of the world's land. It is surrounded by large areas of water. There are 54 fully recognised and independent countries in Africa, and 14.7% (1.216 billion) of the world's population lives there. It is thought to be the continent where the first humans evolved.
|Area||30,370,000 km2 (11,730,000 sq mi) (2nd)|
|Population||1,225,080,510 (2016; 2nd)|
|Population density||36.4/km2 (94/sq mi)|
|GDP (nominal)||$2.45 trillion (2019; 5th)|
|GDP (PPP)||$7.16 trillion (2019; 5th)|
|GDP per capita||$1,930 (2019; 6th)|
|Countries||54 (and 2 disputed)|
|Languages||1250–3000 native languages|
|Time zones||UTC-1 to UTC+4|
|Largest cities||Largest urban areas:|
Africa's ancient historic period includes the rise of Egyptian civilization. It also includes the development of other societies outside the Nile River Valley, and the interaction between these societies and civilizations outside of Africa. In the late 7th century, North and East Africa were heavily influenced by the spread of Islam. That led to the appearance of new cultures, like the Swahili people and the Mali Empire, whose king, Musa Keita I, became one of the richest and most influential people of the early 14th century. This also led to an increase in the slave trade, which had a very bad influence on Africa’s development until the 19th century.
Between the 7th and 20th centuries, the Arab slave trade took 18 million slaves from Africa via trans-Saharan routes and the Indian Ocean. Between the 15th and 20th centuries (a period of 500 years), the Atlantic slave trade took an estimated 7–12 million slaves to the Americas. While some Africans collaborated with European and Asian slave traders, many were strongly opposed to slavery and avoided, protested, or fought it violently.
Africans who had been captured and sent to the French colony of Saint Domingue on slave ships played an important role in ending the Atlantic slave trade. They began the Haitian Revolution, which created Haiti, the first country to permanently ban slavery. After this revolution, European empires began to reduce slave trading and abolitionism became more popular. Between 1808 and 1860, the British Navy captured approximately 1,600 slave ships and freed 150,000 Africans who were aboard.
In the late 19th century, the European powers occupied much of the continent, creating many colonial and dependent territories. They left only two fully independent states: Liberia and Ethiopia (which the Europeans called “Abyssinia").
African independence movements had their first success in 1951, when Libya became the first former colony to become independent. Modern African history is full of revolutions and wars, as well as the growth of modern African economies and democratization across the continent.
A civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) began in 1998. Neighbouring African countries have become involved. Since the conflict began, it has killed an estimated 5.5 million people.
Political associations such as the African Union offer hope for greater co-operation and peace between the continent's many countries.
From north to south, Africa has most types of climate. In sequence from the north:
- Alpine and mediterranean climate
- Dry sandy desert
- Fairly dry savannah (grassland)
- Rain forest
- More grassland
- More deserts
- Table Mountain
In fact, Africa has examples of most of the Earth's climate types.
Much of North Africa is dry and hot: it is dominated by the Sahara Desert and does not receive much rain. In Saharan Africa, there are few rivers or other water sources. Underground water sources are very important in the desert. These often form oases. An oasis is an area of vegetation (plant life) surrounded by desert.
In that part of the world, the wind comes mostly from the east. That does bring rain, but the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau block the monsoon rain and prevent it from getting to North Africa. Also, the Atlas Mountains near the north coast of Africa prevent rain from coming in from the north. That is another rain shadow.
These two rain shadows are mainly responsible for the Sahara desert.
Conditions and winds are different further south, where huge amounts of rainfall near the equator. The equator runs across the middle of Africa (see red line drawn on map). That means much of Africa is between the two tropics:
Plants and animalsEdit
Africa has a lot of wildlife. There are many types of animals there. In particular, it is now the only continent that has many native species of large mammals. Some of them occur in very large numbers. There are antelope, buffalo, zebra, cheetah, elephant, lion, giraffe, rhinoceros, apes, hyaena, and a lot more. Over 2,000 types of fish live in African lakes and rivers.
The African Union (AU) is an international organisation. It aims to transform the African Economic Community, a federated commonwealth, into a state under established international conventions. The African Union has a parliamentary government, known as the African Union Government, consisting of legislative, judicial, and executive organs. It is led by the African Union President and Head of State, who is also the President of the Pan African Parliament. A person becomes President of the AU by being elected to the PAP and then gaining majority support in the PAP.
Extensive human rights abuses still occur in several parts of Africa, often under the oversight of the state. Most of such violations occur for political reasons, often as a side effect of civil war. Countries where major human rights violations have been reported in recent times include Uganda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Côte d'Ivoire. There are 54 UN member states in Africa.
Africa was the homeland for the first people. People who come from Africa are called Africans. People in the north are called North Africans and people in the south are called South Africans. Languages in eastern Africa include Swahili, Oromo and Amharic. Languages in western Africa include Lingala, Igbo, Hausa and Fulani. The most popular language in Northern Africa is Arabic. The most populated country in Africa is Nigeria.
|Canary Islands (Spain)||7,492||2,118,519||2010||226||Las Palmas de Gran Canaria,|
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
|Western Sahara||266,000||405,210||2009||2||El Aaiún|
|Horn of Africa|
|Central African Republic||622,984||4,511,488||2009||7||Bangui|
|Republic of the Congo||342,000||4,012,809||2009||12||Brazzaville|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||2,345,410||69,575,000||2012||30||Kinshasa|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||1,001||212,679||2009||212||São Tomé|
|South Africa||1,219,912||51,770,560||2011||42||Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Pretoria|
|Côte d'Ivoire||322,460||20,617,068||2009||64||Abidjan, Yamoussoukro|
|Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (United Kingdom)||420||7,728||2012||13||Jamestown|
Countries with significant African descendents outside Africa:
- Haiti: 98%
- Saint Kitts and Nevis: 96.9%
- Anguilla: 91.4%
- Bahamas: 86.1%
- Barbados: 81.1%
- Jamaica: 76.3%
- Dominican Republic: 71.1%
- Cayman Islands: 60.0%
- Trinidad and Tobago: 39.5%
- Cuba: 34.9%
- Turks and Caicos: 34.0%
- Belize: 29.8%
- Venezuela: 24.0%
- Panama: 22.0%
- Colombia: 21.0%
- Brazil: 13-19%
- United States: 12.9%
- Puerto Rico: 6.9%
- Argentina: less than 2%
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