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Wikipedia: Africa
Africa
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Africa is the world's second-largest continent. At c. 30,244,050 km2 (11,677,240 mi2) including the islands, it covers 20.3% of the total land area on Earth, and with over 800 million human inhabitants it accounts for around one seventh of Earth's human population.

The ancient Romans used the name Africa terra — "land of the Afri" (plural, or "Afer" singular) — for the northern part of the continent, corresponding to modern-day Tunisia. The origin of Afer may be the Arabic afer, dust; the Afridi tribe, who dwelt in Northern Africa around the area of Carthage; Greek aphrike, without cold; or Latin aprica, sunny.

Map

See also: World map
.

Geography

Main Article: Geography of Africa

History

Main Article: History of Africa

Africa is home to the oldest inhabited territory on earth, and it is believed the human race originated from what is now this continent.

For most of humanity's history, Africa had no nation states, and was instead inhabited by many small, loosely associated tribal groups, kingdomss, and families. In the 14th century European explorers arrived in Africa. By bargaining with some local tribal leaders, Europeans were able to capture millions of Africans, and export them for labour around the world in what became known as the global slave trade. In the early 19th century the European imperial powers staged a massive "scramble for Africa" and occupied most of the continent, creating many colonial states. This occupation continued until the conclusion of the Second World War, after which all colonial states were gradually granted formal independence. Today, Africa is home to over 30 independent countries, many of which still have borders drawn during the era of European colonialism.


Map showing European claimants to the African continent

Politics

Since independence, African states have frequently been hampered by instability, violence, and authoritarianism. Until recently, few nations in Africa were able to sustain democratic governments, instead cycling through a series of brutal coups and military dictatorships.

During the Cold War, the struggle for power between the USA and the Soviet Union was a major factor in supporting these frequent coups, but France has also continued to play a strong military and economic role. All of three of these countries often contributed to supporting dictatorships in Africa and in encouraging coups against elected governments.

Apart from geopolitical strategy, the major motivation for intervention in Africa by the USA, the Soviet Union and France is (was for the Soviet Union) access to the massive mineral resources such as diamonds, rare metals such as uranium and some common metals such as copper.

Border and territorial disputes have also been common, with the European-imposed borders of many nations being widely contested through armed conflicts.

Failed government policies have also resulted in many widespread famines, and significant portions of Africa remain with distribution systems unable to distribute enough food or water for the population to survive. The spread of dangerous diseases is also rampant, especially the deadly AIDS virus.

Despite numerous hardships, there have been some signs the continent has hope for the future.

Democratic governments seem to be spreading, though are not yet the majority.

On the other hand, under pressure from international financial institutions like the IMF, many African governments have been able to turn their economies around, so that they have started to show positive growth according to conventional economic measurements after decades of negative or zero growth. However, the IMF's catastrophic failures in Argentina, the Philippines and elsewhere make it unclear whether this is the type of economic development which Africans really need.

There are clear signs of increased networking among African organisations and states. In the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire), rather than rich, non-African countries intervening, about half-a-dozen neighbouring African countries got involved. The death toll, estimated by some to 3.5 million over five years, is very high. This might play a role similar to that of World War II for Europe, after which the people in the neighbouring countries decide to integrate their societies in such a way that war between them becomes as unthinkable as a war between, say, France and Germany would be today.

Political associations such as the African Union are also offering hope for greater co-operation and peace between the continent's many countries.

Demographics

The species homo sapiens sapiens is now believed to have spread from Africa around 80,000 years ago. Not enough isolated evolution in different geographical areas was possible for the species to become polytypic.

On the other hand, cultural evolution and evolution of group identities clearly happened, and as is explained in the articles on race and racism, the belief that people can be meaningfully classified by a few superficial physical characteristics such as skin colour remains widespread, and can function as a self-fulfilling prophecy in terms of folklore sociology.

For example, it is a fact that the human population of sub-saharan Africa (south of the Sahara desert) in its vast majority has black skin. Even though groups of people in other parts of the world would each be classified as African if an attempt were made to find genetic sub-groupings of our species, their paler skin colour misleadingly suggests that they are not African.

Since colonisation, the nations of Zimbabwe and South Africa maintain small, but significant groups, returned to Africa after a few ten thousand years absence, identifying themselves as white and Asian. Similiarly, many people in Madagascar are descended from people who returned from Indonesia.

Culture

Most northern countries, from Egypt to Morocco, have people who largely associate themselves as part of the Arabic culture.

Religion

Africa is home to a wide variety of different religious groups. Christianity and Islam have a significant presence in many countries, while others retain regionally unique tribal beliefs and customs.

Countries

Central Africa

Eastern Africa Northern Africa (see also North Africa) Southern Africa Western Africa African Languages

Ecology of Africa

List of countries/dependencies by population density

in inhabitants/km2.

Saint Helena, being closest to Africa, has been included.

Unlike the figures in the country articles, the figures in this table are based on areas including inland water bodies (lakes, reservoirs, rivers) and may therefore be lower here.

 
country pop. dens. area population
  (/km²) (km²) (2002-07-01 est.)
Mauritius 588 2,040 1,200,206
Mayotte (Fr.) 457 374 170,879
Reunion (Fr.) 296 2,512 743,981
Comoros 283 2,170 614,382
Rwanda 281 26,338 7,398,074
Burundi 229 27,830 6,373,002
Seychelles 176 455 80,098
São Tomé and Príncipe 170 1,001 170,372
Nigeria 141 923,768 129,934,911
Gambia 129 11,300 1,455,842
Uganda 105 236,040 24,699,073
Cape Verde 101 4,033 408,760
Togo 93 56,785 5,285,501
Malawi 90 118,480 10,701,824
Ghana 85 239,460 20,244,154
Sierra Leone 78 71,740 5,614,743
Lesotho 73 30,355 2,207,954
Egypt 71 1,001,450 70,712,345
Morocco (excluding Western Sahara) 70 446,550 31,167,783
Swaziland 65 17,363 1,123,605
Benin 60 112,620 6,787,625
Ethiopia 60 1,127,127 67,673,031
Tunisia 60 163,610 9815,644
Senegal 54 196,190 10,589,571
Kenya 53 582,650 31,138,735
Côte d'Ivoire 52 322,460 16,804,784
Burkina Faso 46 274,200 12,603,185
Tanzania 39 945,087 37,187,939
Guinea-Bissau 37 36,120 1,345,479
Eritrea 37 121,320 4,465,651
South Africa 36 1,219,912 43,647,658
Cameroon 34 475,440 16,184,748
Guinea 32 245,857 7,775,065
Liberia 30 111,370 3,288,198
Zimbabwe 29 390,580 11,376,676
Madagascar 28 587,040 16,473,477
Mozambique 24 801,590 19,607,519
Democratic Republic of the Congo 24 2,345,410 55,225,478
Djibouti 21 23,000 472,810
Equatorial Guinea 18 28,051 498,144
Saint Helena (UK) 18 410 7,317
Sudan 15 2,505,810 37,090,298
Algeria 14 2,381,740 32,277,942
Zambia 13 752,614 9,959,037
Somalia 12 637,657 7,753,310
Mali 9.1 1,240,000 11,340,480
Republic of the Congo 8.7 342,000 2,958,448
Angola 8.5 1,246,700

10,593,171
Niger 8.4 1,267,000 10,639,744
Chad 7.0 1,284,000 8,997,237
Central African Republic 5.8 622,984 3,642,739
Gabon 4.6 267,667 1,233,353
Libya 3.1 1,759,540 5,368,585
Mauritania 2.7 1,030,700 2,828,858
Botswana 2.7 600,370 1,591,232
Namibia 2.2 825,418 1,820,916
Western Sahara (Morocco) 1.0 266,000 256,177

See also

External link

nds:Afrika simple:Africa

  

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
Modified by Geona