Africa is the third continent in the world by geographical extension. It is bordered to the north by the Mediterranean Sea , to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the east by the Red Sea , the Indian Ocean and Asia through the Suez Canal . Although it has a total area of ​​30,272,922 square kilometers (621,600 in island mass), which represents 22% of the total land area, the population is 910,844,133 inhabitants, less than 16%. The continent is organized in 53 countries, all of them being members of the African Union , with the exception of Morocco .


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  • 1 History
    • 1 Slavery
    • 2 Colonialism
  • 2 Geography
    • 1 Political Division
    • 2 Independent countries
    • 3 Main Ecosystems
    • 4 Main islands and archipelagos
    • 5 Main rivers
    • 6 Relief
    • 7 Deserts
  • 3 Economy
    • 1 Natural resources
    • 2 Strategic importance
  • 4 Characteristics of the population
    • 1 Population by sex or gender
  • 5 Traditions
    • 1 Dance
    • 2 Sports
  • 6 Languages
    • 1 Afro-Asian languages
  • 7 Environmental issues
  • 8 References
  • 9 Sources


It is believed that the south or east of Africa is the cradle of humanity and from there come the successive species of Hominids and Anthropoids that gave rise to human beings and that have been expanding throughout the rest of the continents, including Homo Sapiens about 190,000 years ago.

According to the latest paleontological and archaeological explorations, hominids already existed in Africa at least 5 million years ago. Their skull anatomy was similar to that of their close relatives, the African great apes, but they had adopted a bipedal form of locomotion, which gave them a crucial advantage, allowing them to live both in wooded areas and in the savannah in a it was where Africa was becoming arid, with savannas overlapping forests and jungles.

About 3 million years ago, several species of hominids of the genus Australopithecus had arisen throughout southern, eastern, and central Africa. The next great evolutionary step occurred about 2 million years ago with the arrival of Homo Habilis , which is believed to be the first hominid species capable of making tools.

1.8 million years ago, Homo Erectus first appeared in Africa and almost simultaneously in the Caucasus ( Eastern Europe ).

The fossil record shows that Homo sapiens may have lived in southern and eastern Africa at least 100,000 and possibly 150,000 years ago. About 40,000 years ago the colonization of our planet by modern humans began with their expansion out of Africa. Their migration is indicated by evidences ling

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Egyptian pyramids

Uistic, cultural and genetic.

By the end of the Ice Age (around 10,500 BC), the Sahara had once again become a fertile valley, and its African population returned from the interior of the continent and from the coastal mountains in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the increasingly drier and warmer climate caused the Sahara region to become increasingly arid by 5000 BC. The population moved out of the area towards the Nile Valley , where they created permanent or semi-permanent settlements. A major climate recession occurred, diminishing the heavy and persistent rains in central and eastern Africa; since then dry conditions have prevailed in East Africa.

According to the Greek historian Herodotus ( 484 BC ), a Phoenician expedition sponsored by the Pharaoh Necao ( 616 BC ) circumnavigated the African continent for the first time.

The origins of commercial traffic between West and Central Africa and the Mediterranean basin are lost in prehistory. The first historical accounts date back to ancient times and tell of the nomads who organized the trade between Leptis Magna and Chad. This trade experienced its first boom in the 1st century BC with the rise of the Roman Empire . Mostly gold, slaves, ivory, and exotic animals were traded for circus games in Rome in exchange for luxury goods from Rome. In fact, it is at this time that the very name of Africa was born. After the defeat of Carthage by Rome in the Third Punic War, the Roman province of Africa was established, which would approximately encompass Tunisiacurrent. It was a territorial generalization of the province that gave the entire continent its name. Of crucial importance was also the greater use of the camel from the 1st century in North Africa.

From the 7th century onwards, the Arabs invaded North Africa. The caravan trade and Islamic expansion fuel the establishment of new relations between the “two Africans.”

The Kanem-Bornu Empire existed in Africa between the 13th century and the 1840s . At its peak it encompassed the area of ​​what is now southern Libya , Chad , northeastern Nigeria , eastern Niger and northern Cameroon .

The Kingdom of the Congo was a state located in what is now the northern part of Angola , the Cabinda enclave , the Republic of the Congo and the western part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its sphere of influence also included neighboring states.


With the arrival and conquest of America by the Europeans, expansion plans were drawn up that required cheap labor. At first, the American indigenous peoples were enslaved but the diseases carried by the colonizers, the mistreatment to which they were subjected and the massacres during the colonization, soon diminished the number of natives.

Between 1400 and 1900 , the African continent experienced four simultaneous slave trade routes. The largest and best known was the transatlantic, by which at the beginning of the 15th century slaves from West, Central and Eastern Africa were shipped to the European colonies in the New World. The other three were the trans-Saharan, the Red Sea route and the Indian Ocean route .

In the first, slaves were taken from the southern Sahara desert to North Africa. In the second, slaves were driven inland to the Red Sea and transported by boat to the Middle East and India . In the third, slaves were taken from East Africa to the shores of the Indian Ocean and from there shipped to the Middle East, to India, or to work on plantations on the islands of the Indian Ocean.

According to the British historian Eric Hobsbawm, the number of African slaves transported to America would be one million in the sixteenth century , three million in the seventeenth, and during the eighteenth century it would reach 7 million, allowing an enormous accumulation of capital for the development of the European capitalism during the Industrial Revolution.

According to historical evidence, the slave trade is responsible for today’s alarming African underdevelopment. Recent research reflected by Nathan Nunn, assistant professor of economics at the Canadian University of British Columbia, until July 2007 , and from Harvard’s American since then, in his book ” Long-term Effects of the African Slave Trade, ” A recent emergence, it suggests that, had there been no slave trade, the gap that exists today between the average economic development of the currently called developing countries and those of Africa would practically not exist.

The 600 years of suffering left by the hunting and trade of human beings that generated the enormous wealth that the colonial powers appropriated at that time weigh heavily on the world conscience, leaving just underdevelopment and extreme misery to a martyred continent.

The slave trade has been for the African continent what today constitutes for all third world countries the evils of unequal exchange, the theft of brains , the collection of foreign debt and other neocolonial forms of capitalist slavery.


Main article: Colonization of Africa

During the 15th century Henry the Navigator , son of King Juan I of Portugal, planned to acquire African territory for Portugal . Under his inspiration and direction some Portuguese sailors undertook a series of voyages of exploration that resulted in the circumnavigation of Africa and the colonization of a large number of coastal areas.

The total colonial partition of Africa by the European powers, started in a disorderly manner from the seventeenth century, took place, approximately, in 1885 , with the Berlin Conference and the beginning of the First World War , time in which the colonial empires spread more faster in Africa than anywhere else in the world, although two countries, Liberia and Ethiopia , managed to maintain their independence.

The protagonists of this first phase of colonization were, in addition to the military, missionaries and merchants. A first cast was set up in 1914 . On the map, the French, English, German, Portuguese and Belgian territories seemed the fruit of a game of strategy. Despite their arbitrariness, a good part of the borders thus drawn have been preserved, even at the cost of intense conflicts.

The colonization of Africa was imposed by blood and fire, based on wars, exterminations and deportations. All local powers that dared to oppose and resist the Portuguese, British, French, German, Dutch or Spanish conquerors were crushed.

The colonial powers authoritatively established an economy founded on the

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African population

export of raw materials to the metropolis and in the consumption of manufactured products produced in Europe.

This region of the world, so often described by the mainstream media of the North as “underdeveloped, violent, chaotic” and “infernal”, would not have known such political instability – military coups d’état, insurrections, massacres, genocides, civil wars. if the rich countries of the North had offered real possibilities for development instead of continuing to exploit them to this day. Growing poverty has become a cause of political disorder, corruption, nepotism, and chronic instability.

The decolonization of Africa is a process of independence from the African nations that took place mainly after the Second World War. In some countries independence was achieved peacefully, while in others it was achieved through the use of arms. Among the latter, the Algerian War of Independence ( 1954 -62) and the Portuguese Colonial War were the most violent.


For the most part, Africa is a huge and ancient solid and compact continental shelf, elevated between 600 and 800 meters above sea level, crossed by large rivers (although few) and scarce in peninsulas. It stands out for its orographic regularity and considerable average altitude.

Three successive climatic bands are repeated north and south of the equator, encompassing the Mediterranean, desert, subtropical and rainy intertropical climates, the latter, in its two main types, both savanna and jungle. Africa is the continent with the highest annual index of insolation, which could have given rise to its name (Africa, from the Latin ‘without cold’).

The soils are exceptionally rich in minerals and very suitable for grazing where the tsetse fly does not proliferate. The main cultivated areas are in the eastern highlands and the Great Lakes area, some deltas and riverbanks, and even in the Sahel.

Political division

Africa is made up of 53 independent countries, 17 dependencies and 5 unrecognized territories.

Independent countries

Angola Algeria Benin Botswana
Burkina faso Burundi Cape Verde Cameroon
Chad Comoros Congo Ivory Coast
Djibouti Egypt Eritrea Ethiopia
Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea
Guinea-Bissau Equatorial Guinea Kenya Lesotho
Liberia Libya Madagascar Malawi
Mali Morocco Mauricio Mauritania
Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria
Central African Republic DR of the Congo Rwanda Sao Tome and Principe
Senegal Seychelles Sierra Leone Somalia
South Africa Sudan South Sudan Swaziland
Tanzania Togo Tunisia Uganda
Zambia Zimbabwe    

Main Ecosystems

  • Sahara desert
  • Sahel
  • bed sheet
  • Namibian desert

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Congo river basin

  • Kalahari desert
  • Okavango Delta
  • Great lakes
  • Ethiopian Massif
  • Kenyan highlands
  • Great Rift Valley
  • Jungle of the Congo Basin
  • Atlantic equatorial coastal rainforest .

Main islands and archipelagos

  • Cape Verde Archipelago
  • Canary Islands Archipelago
  • Madeira Archipelago

File: Beach of the island Madagascar.jpg

Madagascar island beach

  • Bioko
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Madagascar
  • Archipelago of the Mascareñas
  • Zanzibar
  • Pemba Island
  • Comoros Archipelago
  • Seychelles Archipelago
  • Socotora .

Major rivers

  • Congo River (the second largest in the world, after the Amazon River).


River Nile

  • Limpopo River .
  • Niger-Benue River .
  • Nile River (the second longest in the world).
  • Orange River .
  • Senegal River .
  • River Volta .
  • Zambezi River


The predominant relief is plateau, in which the remains of ancient volcanic elevations and mountains stand out. On this great plateau there are great desert extensions, like the Sahara, the great desert that covers more than a quarter of Africa. On the margins of the southern plateau there are several mountainous regions. To the northwest are the Atlas Mountains, a chain of rugged peaks linked by high plateaus, stretching from Morocco to Tunisia . The most outstanding and interesting feature of the African relief is the existence of the Valley of the Great Rift or the Rift Valley , which consists of a numerous group of long and deep faults with an approximate north-south direction, associated with large rift trenches.

The eastern mountains, the highest part of the continent, are near the eastern coast and stretch from the Red Sea to the Zambezi (or Zambezi) River. The region has an average altitude of more than 1,500 m, although in the Ethiopian massif it increases in a stepwise manner to 3,000 m; Ras Dashan (4,620 m), north of Ethiopia , is the highest peak on the plateau. To the south of this there are several elevated volcanic peaks, such as Kilimanjaro (5,895 m) is the highest peak on the continent and Kenya .


Africa has a larger arid or desert climate area than any other continent, with the exception of Australia . Each of these areas (the Sahara to the north, the Horn of Africa to the east and the Kalahari and Namibia deserts to the southwest) receives annual rainfall of less than 250 mm. In the Sahara , the daily and seasonal thermal oscillation is large; the average temperature in July exceeds 32.2 ° C and during the cold season the night temperature often drops below zero degrees.


There is a supranational organization, called the African Union, of which all the countries of the continent are part except Morocco, including the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic . Most of the African countries are underdeveloped or developing. More than 50% of the population or 350 million people live on less than a dollar every day. Africa pays close to $ 20 billion in debt payments each year, even despite the debt reliefs of the 1990s.

The most striking thing about the African economy is its disintegration. It does not respond to the needs of its population, it is produced for export to rich countries, so communications between countries are very poor.

In Africa, two types of economy coexist, one traditional and subsistence, and the other capitalist directed to international trade. The most developed enclaves are usually on the coast, around the large ports and in ecologically favorable regions for plantations, as well as in mining areas.

Natural resources

Africa is very rich in mineral resources. It has most of the known minerals, many of which are found in significant quantities, although their geographical distribution is irregular.

There are large deposits of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, and it has some of the world’s largest reserves of gold , diamonds , copper , bauxite , manganese , nickel , platinum , cobalt , radium , germanium , lithium , titanium, and phosphates.

Other important natural resources are iron ore, chromium, tin, zinc, lead, thorium, zirconium, vanadium, antimony, and beryllium. There are also exploitable amounts of clays, mica, sulfur , salt , natron, graphite, stone, limestone and gypsum .

The current situation in Africa is the result of a long history of external interference in a dynamic and complex internal framework. The main problem, with negative implications for the future, is the deterioration of the resource base, which can become irreversible: deforestation, destruction of ecosystems, overexploitation and contamination of water resources, loss of fertility and Soil erosion and widespread habitat destruction can lead to permanent situations. An important consequence of these processes is the decline in production in many rural areas.

Strategic importance

Africa is in the sights of the United States. Until then, Washington plans to carry its false crusade against terrorism to ensure the looting of the continent’s abundant resources, mainly oil and gas. The purpose is confirmed by the so-called White Book of the Air Mobility Command (AMC) of the US Armed Forces.

Some officials of the North American oil industry have affirmed that the United States will buy 25% of the oil it consumes in Africa by 2015. [1]

The strategic importance from an African National Security point of view to the United States lies essentially in oil, which considers the following factors:

  • Greater relative proximity to the West African coast than that from the Caspian Sea or the Middle East .
  • Impact of the North American vision that the African environment is very vulnerable to the establishment of terrorist groups and therefore a favorable scenario for the military presence of the United States.

Djibouti, Senegal, Mali, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana and Kenya, as well as Sao Tomé are names that have entered the analysis for extending the US military presence in Africa.

population characteristics

In Africa the characteristics of the population and its life expectancy vary according to conditions. In Africa

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Typical huts of an African tribe

of the North or Sahara, most of its inhabitants are adults and exceed the youth population, although there is no progressive aging either. In sub-Saharan Africa, most of its inhabitants are young, although in recent decades there has been a growth in the adult population and progressive aging. This occurs mainly in countries such as Ethiopia and Somalia , although South Africa also experiences an adult population growth but aging is not so common. The most worrying thing in this region of the continent is the persistence of periodic food crises.

Population by sex or gender

The population by sex or gender varies on the continent, south of the Sahara desert also known as black Africa, female people predominate except in countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti among others. By contrast, most North African countries are dominated by males except Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania and Chad.



Even taking into account the great musical diversity existing in Africa , it can be generalized that music and dance are

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Guinean Folk Ensemble

inseparable throughout the continent. Whenever one hears songs and clapping, or the rhythms of a drum, one can almost assure that someone nearby is dancing. One always attracts the other.

As in other cultures, in African cultures traditional dances are closely related to the phases of the earth (change of seasons, natural disasters, etc.) and to the phases of life (birth, initiation, marriage, death , …)

There is a great variety of rhythms and cadences according to the cultural differences of the very diverse African peoples.

Although many dances follow defined choreographies, in general the dancers perform their movements with a high degree of improvisation. Generally, the dancer uses, not only his feet, but plays with his hips, legs, head and shoulders, and in polyrhythmic music, where each drum marks a different rhythm, each part of the body can follow the different rhythms marked by the time.

There are many different types of dances, each done in a particular style and for a particular purpose. The dance serves a great variety of ritual and simple fun functions. Some dances are used to honor spiritual forces in religious ceremonies, while others are specific to specific initiation or passage ceremonies. There are numerous social dances, such as competition dances, military dances, or dances honoring important bosses.

African dances, internationally known today, such as “belly dance” that are exhibited in public shows all over the world, have very ancient cultural roots. The export and miscegenation of modern musical rhythms has allowed African dance movements to spread to other continents.


Many of the ethnic sports tend to have their origin in work activities, defense exercises, Africa is not very different in this field. However, except in the case of capoeira, the sports that are listed on this page all belong to the same type: that of fighting, in different modalities.
Capoeira, Laamb, Nuba, Sakalava, Xhosa-Zulú, Surma, Canarias.

Another of the most popular sports is soccer , with emphasis on Cameroon , Egypt and Nigeria and athletics , mainly long races, with Kenya , Morocco and Ethiopia standing out .


Afrikaner, Amharic, Arabic, Bambara, Bamwe, Bemba, Bubi, Denya, Ewe, Igbo, Kasem, Kikongo, Kriolu, Kwanyama, Lingala
Lozi, Luganda, Mandingo, Mbe, Nyanja, Sesotho, Shi, Shona, Swahili, Tamazight, Tonga , Tswana, Umbundu, Wolof, Xhoxa, Zulu

Afro-Asian languages

Aari , Afar , Agaw, Angas, Arbore, Awngi, Bambassi, Basketto, Bata, Bedawi, Bench, Bilen, Buduma, Dizi, Dorze, Gamo, Gawwada, Hamer, Hausa, Komso, Maasai, Mandara, Melo, Oyda, Oromo, Rendille, Somali , Tiger, Warji, Zayse


Environmental problems

The expansion of farmland and grazing land for domestic livestock in Africa, as well as the illegal trade in endangered species and animal products could spell the end of the large African mammals. The growing need for food and firewood has resulted in the deforestation and cultivation of steep slopes, which has produced severe erosion of the slopes. For the most part, African soils suffer from irregular drainage and do not have defined aquifers. Most are almost arid due to mineral leaching produced by heavy rains and high temperatures. Desertification and its dire consequences. Drinking water deficit. Poverty, undernourishment and famines. Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.


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