- Africa is the second largest and second most populous continent on Earth.
- It consists of 50 countries and people are called Africans.
Geography of Africa
- It is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean.
- It is divided almost equally by the Equator.
- The continent’s hydrology is dominated by the Nile River in the north, the Niger River in the west, and the Congo River in central Africa.
- It is the oldest continent.
- Therefore most of its mountains are not as high as those on other continents.
- They have been worn down over millions of years by wind and water.
- The continent’s most striking feature is a series of great rifts, or troughs, in the east known as the Rift Valley system.
- These rifts span two continents, from western Asia through eastern Africa.
- In Africa they are deep, long, narrow valleys.
- Eastern Africa has a chain of lakes known as the great lakes.
- Africa as a whole is a developing region.
- Agriculture is the key sector of the economy in most countries.
- Diamond and gold mining are especially important in the south.
- petroleum and natural gas are produced particularly in the west.
- Most African governments are controlled by the military or a single party.
- Many legal systems combine laws introduced by European powers during the colonial era with traditional law
- North African countries derive many laws from Islam.
- African leaders have sought to develop a Pan-African approach to the continent’s political and military affairs through the Organization of African Unity and its successor, the African Union.
History of Africa
- Africa is widely recognized as the birthplace of humankind, more than 1 million years ago.
- Archaeological evidence indicates that the continent has been inhabited by humans and their hominid forebears for some 4,000,000 years or more.
- Anatomically modern humans are believed to have appeared about 100,000 years ago in the eastern region of sub-Saharan Africa.
- Africa’s first great historical kingdom is Egypt.
- It arose along the Nile during 3000 BC and flourished for nearly 3,000 years.
- The Phoenicians established a colony at Carthage and controlled the western Mediterranean for nearly 600 years.
- Northern Africa was dominated by the Romans for several centuries.
- The first known empire in western Africa was Ghana (5th–11th century AD).
- In eastern and central Africa the emphasis was on trade with Arabia.
- Several powerful city-states, including Mogadishu and Mombasa, were established.
- The Portuguese explored the western coast in the 15th century.
Africa in Data
- More than one-eighth of the world’s population lives there.
- More than one-fourth of the total land area is occupied by The Sahara – the world’s largest contiguous desert.
- Less than one-tenth of the land area is arable, while nearly one-fourth is forested or wooded.
Quick Facts about Africa
Area: 11,678,801 sq mi (30,247,722 sq km)
Population: (2008 estimate) 955,761,100
Largest Country by Area – Sudan: 966,757 sq mi (2,503,890 sq km)
Smallest Country by Area – Seychelles: 176 sq mi (455 sq km)
Largest Country by Population – Nigeria: (2008 estimate) 146,255,000
Smallest Country by Population – Seychelles: (2008 estimate) 85,500
Longest River – Nile River: 4,132 mi (6,650 km)
Largest Lake – Lake Victoria: 26,828 sq mi (69,785 sq km)
Highest Point: 19,340 ft (5,895 m) at Mount Kilimanjaro;
Lowest Point: 515 ft (157 m) below sea level at Lake ASSAL.
Longest Rivers – The Nile, The Congo, The Niger, and The Zambezi.
Major Deserts – The Sahara, The Kalahari, and The Namib.
Largest Cities – Cairo, Lagos, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Khartoum.
Languages – Arabic, Afro-Asiatic languages, Bantu languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Khoisan languages, etc.