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 -
The lion (Panthera leo) is a species in the family Felidae and a member of the genus Panthera. It has a muscular, deep-chested body, short, rounded head, round ears, and a hairy tuft at the end of its tail. It is sexually dimorphic; adult male lions have a prominent mane. With a typical head-to-body length of 184 to 208 cm (72 to 82 in) they are larger than females at 160 to 184 cm (63 to 72 in). It is a social species, forming groups called prides. A lion pride consists of a few adult males, related females and cubs. Groups of female lions usually hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates. The lion is an apex and keystone predator; although some lions scavenge when opportunities occur and have been known to hunt humans, the species typically does not.
Typically, the lion inhabits grasslands
, but is absent in dense forests
. It is usually more diurnal
than other wild cats, but when persecuted, it adapts to being active at night
and at twilight
. During the Neolithic
period, the lion ranged throughout Africa
, Southeast Europe
, and Western
and South Asia
, but it has been reduced to fragmented populations in sub-Saharan Africa
and one population in western India
. It has been listed as Vulnerable
on the IUCN Red List
since 1996 because populations in African countries have declined by about 43% since the early 1990s. Lion populations are untenable outside designated protected areas. Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss
and conflicts with humans are the greatest causes for concern. (Full article...
Featured pictures -
Photo credit: Portuguse National Archives of Torre do Tombo, Lisbon
A pre-Mercator nautical chart
of 1571, from Portuguese
cartographer Fernão Vaz Dourado
(c. 1520 - c.1580). It belongs to the so-called plane chart
model, where observed latitudes
and magnetic directions are plotted directly into the plane
, with a constant scale, as if the Earth were plane. The Moors from Spain had maps of the known world, and had been traveling to and from Mecca, Arabia for many years. In 1492, Christopher Columbus had possession of the Maps of the Moors, which had been confiscated from Andalusia and were now in service to Portuguese and Spanish Explorers. The African Moors already knew at that time, well into the 1500's, that the world was round.
Credit: David Roberts RA and Louis Hahge
is a vast conglomeration of ruined temples, chapels, pylons and other buildings near Luxor
. This was ancient Egyptian Ipet-isut
("The Most Selected of Places"), the main place of worship of the Theban
Triad with Amun
as its head, in the monumental city of Thebes
. This tinted lithograph depicts the hypostyle hall of the Precinct of Amun-Re, as it appeared in 1838.
Credit: Muhammad Mahdi Karim
Mikumi National Park
is a national park
, near Morogoro
. The park was established in 1964, currently covers an area of 3230 km² and is the fourth largest in the country. The landscape of Mikumi is often compared to that of the Serengeti. The road that crosses the park divides it into two areas with partially distinct environments. The area north-west is characterized by the alluvial plain of the river basin Mkata. The vegetation of this area consists of savannah
dotted with acacia
, and some rare palm
. In this area, at the furthest from the road, there are spectacular rock formations of the mountains Rubeho and Uluguru. The southeast part of the park is less rich in wildlife, and not very accessible.
Did you know -
- ...that Rukwanzi Island, an island in Lake Albert, one of the African Great Lakes, is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda?
- ...that Oumarou Sidikou, vice-governor of the Central Bank of West African States from 1988 to 1993, was a minister in the government of Nigerien Prime Minister Hama Amadou, which was ousted by a military coup in 1996?
- ...that Jason Dunford, an All-Africa Games gold medalist and runner-up for the 2006 Kenyan Sportsman of the Year award, has a younger brother who was selected "most promising sportsman" at the same awards?
- ...that Sam Mbakwe, governor of Imo State from 1979 to 1983, served in the army of the Republic of Biafra, an Igbo secessionist state in southeastern Nigeria, during the Nigerian Civil War?
Selected biography -
Pieter Kenyon Fleming-Voltelyn van der Byl (11 November 1923 - 15 November 1999) was a Rhodesian politician who served as his country's Foreign Minister from 1974 to 1979 as a member of the Rhodesian Front (RF). A close associate of Prime Minister Ian Smith, Van der Byl opposed attempts to compromise with the British government and domestic black nationalist opposition on the issue of majority rule throughout most his time in government. However, in the late 1970s he supported the moves which led to majority rule and internationally recognised independence for Zimbabwe.
Van der Byl was born and raised in Cape Town
, the son of the South African politician P V van der Byl
, and served in the Middle East and Europe during the Second World War. After a high-flying international education, he moved to the self-governing
British colony of Southern Rhodesia
in 1950 to manage family farms. He went into politics in the early 1960s through his involvement with farming trade bodies, and became a government minister responsible for propaganda. One of the leading agitators for Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence
in 1965, Van der Byl was afterwards responsible for introducing press censorship. He was unsuccessful in his attempt to persuade international opinion to recognise Rhodesia, but was popular among members of his own party. (Full article...
Selected country -
Senegal (French: le Sénégal), officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country south of the Sénégal River in western Africa. Senegal is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east, and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south. The Republic of The Gambia lies almost entirely within Senegal, surrounded on the north, east and south; from its western coast, Gambia's territory follows the Gambia River more than 300 kilometers (190 mi) inland.
The Senegalese landscape consists mainly of the rolling sandy plains of the western Sahel which rise to foothills in the southeast. Here is also found Senegal's highest point, an otherwise unnamed feature near Nepen Diakha at 581 m (1906 ft). The northern border is formed by the Senegal River; other rivers include the Gambia and Casamance Rivers. The capital Dakar lies on the Cap-Vert peninsula, the westernmost point of continental Africa. The local climate is tropical with well-defined dry and humid seasons that result from northeast winter winds and southwest summer winds.
Selected city -
In the news
The following are images from various Africa-related articles on Wikipedia.
Political map of Southern Africa in 1885
Mali Empire at its greatest extent
The Songhai Empire, c. 1500
South African ethnic groups
Kenyan boys and girls performing a traditional folklore dance
The Almohad minaret in Safi
Abéché, capital of Wadai, in 1918 after the French had taken over
Contemporary political map of Africa (Includes Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa)
Matavuvale while performing Adumu, a traditional dance
Maasai wearing traditional clothes named
Dates of independence of African countries
1895 .303 tripod mounted Maxim machine gun
Northern Africa under Roman rule
Pre-colonial African states from different time periods
Major states of Middle Africa in 1750
Areas controlled by European colonial powers on the African continent in 1914; modern-day borders are shown
Oyo Empire and surrounding states, c. 1625
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
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
The Kanem and Bornu Empires in 1810
Yoruba, showing extraordinary naturalism. This head represents the oni or king of Ife.
A terra-cotta head sculpture (1100-1500) of the
Map of Ancient Egypt and nomes
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.
Comparison of Africa in the years 1880 and 1913
Oikumene (inhabited world) as described by Herodotus in the 5th century BC.
Reconstruction of the
9th-century bronze staff head in form of a coiled snake,
Yombe sculpture (Louvre, Paris)
African biface artifact (spear point) dated in Late Stone Age period
Nok sculpture, terracotta,
Sudan basket-tray, tabar of weaved natural plant fiber, in different colors
Almnara Tower, Mogadishu.
1916 political map of Africa
Herero and Nama territories