Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.3 billion people as of 2018, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. Africa's population is the youngest amongst all the continents; the median age in 2012 was 19.7, when the worldwide median age was 30.4. Despite a wide range of natural resources, Africa is the least wealthy continent per capita, in part due to geographic impediments, legacies of European colonization in Africa and the Cold War, undemocratic rule and deleterious policies. Despite this low concentration of wealth, recent economic expansion and the large and young population make Africa an important economic market in the broader global context.
Africa straddles the Equator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere. Africa is home to much biodiversity; it is the continent with the largest number of megafauna species, as it was least affected by the extinction of the Pleistocene megafauna. However, Africa also is heavily affected by a wide range of environmental issues, including desertification, deforestation, water scarcity, and other issues. These entrenched environmental concerns are expected to worsen as climate change impacts Africa. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified Africa as the continent most vulnerable to climate change.
Africa, particularly Eastern Africa, is widely accepted as the place of origin of humans and the Hominidae clade (great apes), meaning that Africa has a long and complex history. The earliest hominids and their ancestors have been dated to around 7 million years ago, including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster— the earliest Homo sapiens (modern human) remains, found in Ethiopia, South Africa, and Morocco, date to circa 200,000, 259,000, and 300,000 years ago respectively, and Homo sapiens is believed to have originated in Africa around 350,000–260,000 years ago.
Early human civilizations, such as Ancient Egypt and Phoenicia emerged in North Africa. Following a subsequent long and complex history of civilizations, migration and trade, Africa hosts a large diversity of ethnicities, cultures and languages. The last 400 years have witnessed an increasing European influence on the continent. Starting in the 16th century, this was driven by trade, including the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, which created large African diaspora populations in the Americas. In the late 19th century, European countries colonized almost all of Africa, extracting resources from the continent and exploiting local communities; most present states in Africa emerged from a process of decolonisation in the 20th century. (Full article...)
Selected article –
Naqa Lion Temple: Three-headed Apedemak with four arms
Apedemak or Apademak was a lion-headed warrior god worshiped by the Meroitic peoples inhabiting Nubia. In the temple of Naqa built by the rulers of Meroe, Apedemak was depicted as a three-headed leonine god with four arms and as a snake with a lion head. However, he is usually depicted as a man with a lion head.
Apedemak was considered the war god of Kush. The Kushites believed that Apedemak brought victories to their armies and defeated their enemies. When Kushite pharaohs carried out military campaigns, they often claimed the support and companionship of Apedemak. (Full article...
Featured pictures –
Photo credit: User:Alvesgaspar
Plagues of the desert locust
( the scientific name being Schistocerca gregaria
) have threatened agricultural
production in Africa
, the Middle East
for centuries. The livelihood of at least one-tenth of the world’s human population can be affected by this hungry insect. The desert locust is potentially the most dangerous of the locust
pests because of the ability of swarms to fly rapidly across great distances. The 2004 desert locust outbreak has caused significant crop
losses in West Africa
and had a negative impact on food security
in the region.
Photo credit: schani
) is an endangered member of the cat family (Felidae
), a poor climber that hunts by speed and stealth. It is the fastest of all land animals and can reach speeds of more than 105 kilometres per hour (65 mph) in short bursts up to 460 metres (500 yd), as well as being able to accelerate from 0 to 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph) in three seconds. The word "cheetah" is derived from the Sanskrit
चित्रकायः meaning "variegated body", via the Hindi
Credit: Muhammad Mahdi Karim
Dar es Salaam
is the largest city in Tanzania
. It is also the country's richest city and a regionally important economic centre. Dar es Salaam is actually an administrative province within Tanzania, and consists of three local government areas or administrative districts: Kinondoni
to the north, Ilala
in the center of the region, and Temeke
to the south. The Dar es Salaam Region had a population of 2,497,940 as of the official 2002 census. Though Dar es Salaam lost its official status as capital city to Dodoma
in 1974, it remains the center of the permanent central government bureaucracy and continues to serve as the capital for the Dar es Salaam Region.
Photo credit: NASA
: الصحراء الكبرى
, "The Great Desert") is the world's largest hot desert
at over 9,000,000 square kilometres (3,500,000 sq mi). The Sahara defines the borders of North Africa
and has an intermittent history that may go back as much as 2.5 million years.
Credit: Ferdinand Reus
is a Bedouin
village and rural commune in the Trarza
region of south-western Mauritania
. As of 2000 it had a population of 14,987. This photo is a view of the village just minutes before rain started.
Did you know –
- ...that Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, a Nigerian Senator from the People's Democratic Party, is the daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo?
- ...that the 2007 South Africa miners' strike, which impacted over 240,000 workers, was the first ever industry-wide miners' strike in the history of South Africa?
- ...that Seleh Leha, a town in Tigray Region in northern Ethiopia, was the site of a leprosarium built during the Italian occupation of East Africa and abandoned in 1941?
- ...that Sarir field, an oil field in Cyrenaica operated by the Arabian Gulf Oil Company (AGOCO), is considered to be the largest in Libya, with estimated oil reserves of 12 Gbbl (1.9×109 m3)?
Selected biography –
(born 1932) is a Malian studio photographer
among the region's pioneers in the craft during the postcolonial period. His work was largely unknown in the West prior to his discovery and display in the early 2010s. Maiga's early outdoor portraits from the Niger River
region in the late 1950s reflect Mali's period of societal transition from colony to sovereignty. He has exhibited in solo shows in London and Lima, Peru. (Full article...
Selected country –
Mauritania (Arabic: موريتانيا Mūrītāniyā), officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a country in northwest Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, by Senegal on the southwest, by Mali on the east and southeast, by Algeria on the northeast, and by the Moroccan-annexed territory of Western Sahara on the northwest. It is named after the ancient Berber kingdom of Mauretania. The capital and largest city is Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast.
Approximately three-fourths of Mauritania is desert or semidesert. As a result of extended, severe drought, the desert has been expanding since the mid-1960s. A majority of the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for almost 50% of total exports. The nation's coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue.
Selected city –
The following are images from various Africa-related articles on Wikipedia.
Areas controlled by European colonial powers on the African continent in 1914; modern-day borders are shown
The Kanem and Bornu Empires in 1810
Political map of Southern Africa in 1885
Northern Africa under Roman rule
A terra-cotta head sculpture (1100-1500) of the Yoruba, showing extraordinary naturalism. This head represents the oni, or king of Ife.
Nok sculpture, terracotta, Louvre
1 = 3000 – 1500 BC origin
2 = c. 1500 BC first migrations
2.a = Eastern Bantu,
2.b = Western Bantu
3 = 1000 – 500 BC Urewe nucleus of Eastern Bantu
4 – 7 = southward advance
9 = 500 BC – 0 Congo nucleus
10 = 0 – 1000 CE last phase
Map of Ancient Egypt and nomes
Comparison of Africa in the years 1880 and 1913
Abéché, capital of Wadai, in 1918 after the French had taken over
Maasai wearing traditional clothes named Matavuvale while performing Adumu, a traditional dance
The Great Mosque of Kairouan (also known as the Mosque of Uqba), first built in 670 by the Umayyad general Uqba Ibn Nafi, is the oldest and most prestigious mosque in the Maghreb and North Africa, located in the city of Kairouan, Tunisia
1916 political map of Africa
Kenyan boys and girls performing a traditional folklore dance
Contemporary political map of Africa (Includes Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa)
Oyo Empire and surrounding states, c. 1625
9th-century bronze staff head in form of a coiled snake, Igbo-Ukwu, Nigeria
Sudan basket-tray, tabar of weaved natural plant fiber, in different colors
Reconstruction of the Oikumene (inhabited world) as described by Herodotus in the 5th century BC.
African biface artifact (spear point) dated in Late Stone Age period
Pre-colonial African states from different time periods
Mali Empire at its greatest extent
Dates of independence of African countries
Herero and Nama territories
Areas controlled by European powers in 1939. British (red) and Belgian (Orange) colonies fought with the Allies. Italian (green) with the Axis. French colonies (dark blue) fought alongside the Allies until the Fall of France in June 1940. Vichy was in control until the Free French prevailed in late 1942. Portuguese (brown) and Spanish (teal) colonies remained neutral.
A Yombe sculpture (Louvre, Paris)
The Songhai Empire, c. 1500
Almnara Tower, Mogadishu.
1895 .303 tripod mounted Maxim machine gun
Major states of Middle Africa in 1750
South African ethnic groups
The Almohad minaret in Safi
Ghana at its greatest extent
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