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Location of Africa on the world map
Satellite map of Africa

Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent. 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. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. 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's average population is the youngest amongst all the continents; the median age in 2012 was 19.7, when the worldwide median age was 30.4. Algeria is Africa's largest country by area, and Nigeria is its largest by population. Africa, particularly central Eastern Africa, is widely accepted as the place of origin of humans and the Hominidae clade (great apes), as evidenced by the discovery of the earliest hominids and their ancestors as well as later ones that 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), found in Ethiopia, date to circa 200,000 years ago. Africa straddles the equator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones.

Africa hosts a large diversity of ethnicities, cultures and languages. In the late 19th century, European countries colonised almost all of Africa; most present states in Africa emerged from a process of decolonisation in the 20th century. African nations cooperate through the establishment of the African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa.

For a topic outline on this subject, see List of basic Africa topics.

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The Zambezi river basin

The Zambezi (also spelled Zambesi) is the fourth-longest river in Africa, and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean. The area of its basin is 1,390,000 km² (537,000 mi²), slightly less than half that of the Nile. The 2,574 km- (1,600 mi-) long river has its source in Zambia and flows through Angola, along the borders of Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, to Mozambique, where it empties into the Indian Ocean.

The Zambezi's most spectacular feature is Victoria Falls, the world's largest waterfalls. Other notable falls include the Chavuma Falls at the border between Zambia and Angola, and Ngonye Falls, near Sioma in Western Zambia. Over its entire course, the Zambezi is spanned by only six bridges: at Chinyingi, Katima Mulilo, Victoria Falls, Chirundu, Tete, and the Dona Ana Bridge in Mozambique. (Read more...)

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Ring-tailed Lemur holding twins born the previous night in Colchester Zoo, Essex, England
Photo credit: NASA

The Sahara (Arabic: الصحراء الكبرى‎, aṣ-ṣaḥrā´, "The Great Desert") is the world's largest hot desert at over 9,000,000 square kilometres (3,500,000 sq mi). The Sahara defines the borders of North Africa and has an intermittent history that may go back as much as 2.5 million years.

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Akan drum

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Sir Roy Welensky

Sir Raphael (Roy) Welensky, KCMG, (January 20, 1907 – December 5, 1991) was a white African politician and the second and final prime minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) to parents of Jewish and Afrikaner ancestry, he moved to Northern Rhodesia, became involved with the trade unions, and entered the colonial legislative council in 1938. There, he campaigned for the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia (the latter under white self-government, the former under the colonial office). Although unsuccessful, he succeeded in the formation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, a state within the British Empire that reflected aspects of the newly independent black nations to the north and Apartheid South Africa to the south.

Becoming Prime Minister of the Federation in 1957, Welensky opposed British moves towards African majority rule, and used force to suppress politically motivated violence in the territories. After the advent of African rule in two of the Federation's three territories, it collapsed in 1963. Welensky retired to Salisbury, where he re-entered politics and attempted to stop Rhodesia (formerly Southern Rhodesia) from declaring itself unilaterally independent. With the end of white rule in 1979, and the independence of Rhodesia as Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe in 1980, Welensky moved to England, where he died in 1991. (Read more...)

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