Africa ias pedia upsc world
  • 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.


  1. Britannica
  2. Wikipedia

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