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about africa

Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent. At about 30.2 million km² (11.7 million sq mi) including adjacent islands, it covers six percent of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4 percent of the total land area.[2] With 1.0 billion people (as of 2009, see table), it accounts for about 15% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canaland the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the Africa's name is derived from an ancient area in modern day Tunisia known as Ifriqiya or sunny place, in Tamazight. Algeria is the largest African country by area, and Nigeria is the largest by population. Africa, particularly central Eastern Africa, is widely accepted as the 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 seven million years ago – including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilisand H. ergaster – with the earliest Homo sapiens (modern human) found in Ethiopia being dated to circa 200,000 years ago.[4] Africa straddles theequator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones.[5]

southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagoes. It has 54 fully recognized sovereign states ("countries"), 9 territories and two de facto independentstates with limited or no recognition.[3]


At about 3300 BC, the historical record opens in Northern Africa with the rise of literacy in the Pharaonic civilization ofAncient Egypt.[22] One of the world's earliest and longest-lasting civilizations, the Egyptian state continued, with varying levels of influence over other areas, until 343 BC.[23][24] Egyptian influence reached deep into modern-day Libya, north to Crete[25] and Canaan,[citation needed] and south to the kingdoms of Aksum[citation needed] and Nubia.[citation needed]

An independent center of civilization with trading links to Phoenicia was established by Phoenicians from Tyre on the north-west African coast at Carthage.[26][27][28]

European exploration of Africa began with Ancient Greeks and Romans. In 332 BC, Alexander the Great was welcomed as a liberator in Persian-occupied Egypt. He founded Alexandria in Egypt, which would become the prosperous capital of thePtolemaic dynasty after his death.[29] Following the conquest of North Africa's Mediterranean coastline by the Roman Empire, the area was integrated economically and culturally into the Roman system. Roman settlement occurred in modern Tunisia and elsewhere along the coast. Christianity spread across these areas at an early date, from Judaea via Egypt and beyond the borders of the Roman world into Nubia;[citation needed] by AD 340 at the latest, it had become the state religion of the Aksumite Empire thanks to Syro-Greek missionaries who arrived by way of the Red Sea.[30]