Area: About 30244000 km2 (11700000 mi2) including its adjacent islands it covers about 20 percent of Earth's total land area.
Population: 1,072 million human inhabitants, about 14 percent of the world's population.
Highest Point: Mount Kilimanjaro - Uhuru Peak on the volcano Kibo, 5895 m (19340 ft) in Tanzania.
Largest Lake: Lake Victoria or Victoria Nyanza; 68870 sq. km.
Longest River: Nile (6695 km)
Languages of Africa: About thousand languages classified in four major language families: Afro-Asiatic (e.g. Berber language), Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congo (Bantu), and Khoi-San.
Africa is the second largest and the second most populous continent of the world. This is the continent of wonder and the place for evolution of human history. Africa is a continent with diverse culture, uncountable languages and immense natural resources. Considered as the oldest inhabited territory on the earth, Africa had no nation states for a long time. This Saharan-Nile complex has always been the center of interest for the world as the slave trade was the major occupation of this region.
Later on, the slave trade was replaced with commerce trade that opened a new chapter in the history of this continent. Africa is not only important due to its geographical location but also for its extensive natural resources which are playing an important role in the development of this continent. Its eye catching places and magnificent sights along with climatic diversity have made it premium spot for the tourists.
Africa is considered by most paleoanthropologists to be the oldest inhabited territory on Earth, with the human species originating from the continent. During the middle of the 20th century, anthropologists discovered many fossils and evidence of human occupation perhaps as early as 7 million years ago. Fossil remains of several species of early apelike humans thought to have evolved into modern man, such as Australopithecus afarensis (radiometrically dated to approximately 3.9 – 3.0 million years BC), Paranthropus boisei (c. 2.3 – 1.4 million years BC) and Homo ergaster (c. 1.9 million – 600,000 years BC) have been discovered.
After the evolution of Homo sapiens approximately 150,000 to 100,000 years ago in Africa, the continent was mainly populated by groups of hunter-gatherers. These first modern humans left Africa and populated the rest of the globe during the out of Africa migration dated to approximately 50,000 years ago, exiting the continent either across Bab-el-Mandeb over the Red Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar in Morocco, or the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt.
Other migrations of these modern humans within the African continent have been dated to that time, with evidence of early human settlement found in Southern Africa, Southeast Africa, North Africa and the Sahara.
The size of the Sahara has historically been extremely variable, with its area rapidly fluctuating and at times disappearing depending on global climatic conditions. At the end of the Ice ages, estimated to have been around 10,500 BC, the Sahara had again become a green fertile valley, and its African populations returned from the interior and coastal highlands in Sub-Saharan Africa, with rock art paintings depicting a fertile Sahara and large populations discovered in Tassili n'Ajjer dating back perhaps 10 millennia. However, the warming and drying climate meant that by 5000 BC, the Sahara region was becoming increasingly dry and hostile. Around 3500 B.C., due to a tilt in the earth's orbit, the Sahara experienced a period of rapid desertification. The population trekked out of the Sahara region towards the Nile Valley below the Second Cataract where they made permanent or semi-permanent settlements. A major climatic recession occurred, lessening the heavy and persistent rains in Central and Eastern Africa. Since this time, dry conditions have prevailed in Eastern Africa and, increasingly during the last 200 years, in Ethiopia.
The domestication of cattle in Africa preceded agriculture and seems to have existed alongside hunter-gatherer cultures. It is speculated that by 6000 BC, cattle were already domesticated in North Africa. In the Sahara-Nile complex, people domesticated many animals, including the donkey and a small screw-horned goat which was common from Algeria to Nubia. In the year 4000 BC, the climate of the Sahara started to become drier at an exceedingly fast pace. This climate change caused lakes and rivers to shrink significantly and caused increasing desertification. This, in turn, decreased the amount of land conducive to settlements and helped to cause migrations of farming communities to the more tropical climate of West Africa.
By the first millennium BC, ironworking had been introduced in Northern Africa and quickly spread across the Sahara into the northern parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and by 500 BC, metalworking began to become commonplace in West Africa. Ironworking was fully established by roughly 500 BC in many areas of East and West Africa, although other regions didn't begin ironworking until the early centuries AD. Copper objects from Egypt, North Africa, Nubia and Ethiopia dating from around 500 BC have been excavated in West Africa, suggesting that Trans- Saharan trade networks had been established by this date.
Geographically, Africa has occupied the southward landmass of the earth. It separates from Europe through Mediterranean Sea and Asia through Red sea. Isthmus of Suez connects Africa from Asia. It also includes Arabian Peninsula and the Zagros mountains of Iran.
Top Economies of Africa
Africa has occupied distinct place in the world's economy. Its natural resources, youth power and its geographical position have quadrupled its charm in the world. Despite its financial crunch, Africa continues to maintain its growth. Many international agencies are gaining interest in investing in the emerging economies of Africa. Most progressing economy of Africa is South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia. These countries are rich in mineral resources and fossil fuel.
Major Rivers of Africa
Rivers have been of fundamental importance for human being throughout the human history. Rivers are immensely important geologically, biologically and historically. They provide settlement, food and means of transport. Major rivers of Africa are the Nile, The Congo, The Niger and Zambezi. Rivers in Africa are the blood for irrigation and fulfill the needs of human consumption.
The Nile is 600km long and the oldest of historical rivers. It is the longest river of Africa as well as the longest river of the world. It flows in Ethiopia, Egypt, and Rwanda and in Sudan. This river is historically important which had given the birth of civilized nation of the world. The second longest river of Africa is The Congo which flows westward through Central Africa. It has the largest basin delta which covers 4.1million sq.km. of the land. The Niger River flows through four countries of Africa (Zambia, Angola, Namibia and Botswana) and empty into Mozambique Channel.
Africa is not only blessed with rivers but also with lakes too. There is a group of big lakes in central Africa that might be called the "Great Lakes" of this continent. The largest of these lakes is Lake Victoria that also holds the reputation of being the 2nd fresh water lake in the world. Another among many famous lakes in Africa is Lake Tanganyika which is the 7th largest freshwater lake in the world. Other lakes which carry equal importance for Africa are Lake Malawi, Lake Turkana, Lake Albert, Lake Kivu and Lake Edward.
Natural wonders of Africa are spectacular, spell bound, mesmerizing and enthralling. The amazing wonders of nature are found throughout the continent of Africa. Namibia Desert is one of the natural wonders found in Africa that stretches 1,000 miles from North to South and is known for being the oldest desert on the earth.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in the entire world. It has a height of 19,341 feet with its peak covered with snow year around.
Ecologically significant and extremely beautiful Congo caves stand among the most mysterious natural wonders of the world. They present a majestic display of limestone formation with an extensive range of natural colors. Situated between the limestone hills, this wonder attracts flocks of people every year.
Education plays fundamental role in the development of society. After a long period of ignorance, education in Africa began as a tool to prepare the youth to take their place in the respective societies. Africa has a numerous universities famous worldwide.
University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria, University of Johannesburg and Stellenbosch University are among the highly ranked universities in Africa whereas University of Cairo has crept on to 5th ranking. American university in Cairo and Mansoura university of Egypt are among the most important universities of Africa.
Sport is the emblem of peace and relation in the world. Africa can use this card well. Every country in Africa has its own sporting preferences but largely Soccer is the most common. Olympic Games and cricket are popular in some African countries. 53 countries have football teams in the Confederation of African football. According to FIFA ranking, Egypt currently has the best soccer team in Africa. Their team has won the 7 African Cups. South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe cricket teams have played internationally. Rugby is also popular sport in South Africa and in Namibia. Africa is rising as an emerging star in the sports of the world.
Why Africa is called the Dark Continent
Africa was formerly known as Dark Continent. It was previously believed that it was primarily due to the black skin of its inhabitants and the absence of lights. This old notion has lost its significance now. It is actually known as the Dark Continent because of its stricken masses who were suffered badly in the hand of colonialism. Furthermore, it is the last of the continents to be influenced by the western civilization. This can be stated as another reason for Africa's underdevelopment.