Africa, the second largest continent with around 30 million km 2 and a good 1.2 billion residents. As seen from the equator, Africa extends roughly equally to the north and south.
The surface shape of the northern, trapezoidal part is relatively flat (Lower Africa). It includes the Mediterranean coastline, the Sahara and the Sahel. The southern, triangular part is significantly higher; the highest mountain is Kilimanjaro (5,895 m, remeasured in 1999). High Africa stretches from the mountain range of Ethiopia in the northeast over the volcanic and lake-rich East Africa to the southern tip of the continent. In addition to large basin landscapes without drainage, such as the Lake Chad and Kalahari Basins, there are large areas that are drained by powerful rivers: the Niger, Congo, Uganda and White Nile Basins.
Most of the continent lies between the tropics and therefore has a tropical climate. Towards the tropics, the contrast between rainy seasons and dry seasons becomes more and more pronounced. North of the 18th parallel, Africa is almost permanently under the influence of the dry northeast trade wind and is therefore a desert country there. In South Africa, on the other hand, the southeast trade wind brings constant rain for the east coast, but the inland areas are quite dry.
The vegetation reflects the climate belt : rainforests can be found in the central area. To the north and south, wet savannahs follow and, with decreasing rain, dry savannas. The thorn savannah ultimately forms the transition to the desert. Only in the extreme northwest and the extreme south does Africa have a share of the Mediterranean vegetation.
The animal world is characterized by the abundance of large game: In the forests there are many species of monkeys (including gorillas, chimpanzees), in the rivers hippos and crocodiles, in the steppes and savannas elephants, rhinos, giraffes, antelopes, gazelles, zebras, ostriches, Lions, leopards and hyenas.
The population of northern Africa consists of fair-skinned (Europid) people: Semites, like the Egyptians and Arabs, or Hamites, like the Berbers. Black Africa, the area of Africa predominantly inhabited by dark-skinned (Negro) peoples, does not begin until south of the Sahara. It consists of a large number of tribes and peoples, most of which are divided according to their languages. Pygmies live in the rainforest. Europeans and Asians have immigrated to the coastal areas; in East and South Africa one finds mostly Indians.
The basis for the economy is agriculture, whereby more is often produced for export than for domestic needs and an adequate food base cannot be created for the rapidly growing population. Coffee, peanuts, cocoa, millet, cotton, palm oil, sisal and rubber are the main products. Africa has rich natural resources, especially oil, iron ore, coal, diamonds, gold, cobalt, manganese, phosphate, bauxite and uranium. With the exception of South Africa and some North African countries, however, Africa is not very industrialized. There is tourism mainly in East Africa and the South African Republic. See countryaah for all countries in Africa.
History: Africa is one of the earliest human settlements on earth. The core centers of Paleolithic cultures are located in South Africa and East Africa. Here hunter- fisher -cultures ( Bushmen, Strandlooper) developed, which have persisted up to the present day. Neolithic cultures emerged in North Africa and spread to Europe. Paintings and rock art from the Neolithic Age can be found in the Sahara, East Africa and South Africa. An early high culture developed in Egypt.
In ancient times, Africa north of the Sahara was part of the Mediterranean culture. The Phoenicians founded since 12/11. Century BC BC trading colonies on the North African coast. During the migration period, the 429 n. Chr erected. From Spain set Vandals in North Africa their empire. In the 7th and 8th centuries, North Africa was conquered by the Islamic Arabs. By the 15th century, several empires emerged (Gana, Mali, Songhai, Congo), about which, however, since there are no written sources, little is known from travelogues and oral traditions.
Since the 15th century, Africa has been explored by Europeans, especially Portuguese sailors; At the end of the 15th century, Bartolomeu Diaz and Vasco da Gama sailed around the southern tip of Africa. The history of the continent since the 16th century has been mainly of the slave trade and colonization, i. H. the violent subjugation of entire areas, with the Arabs being decisive for West and South Africa and Europe and for East Africa. Parts of North Africa had been under Ottoman (Turkish) suzerainty since 1517 and came under British (Egypt) and French, e. Partly also Spanish (Morocco) rule. At a conference in Berlin in 1884/85, the European powers laid down the principles for the division of Africa.
After the First World War (Egypt), but especially after the Second World War, strong independence movements began in all colonies, which led to the emergence of numerous independent states. The main problems in Africa today, after the end of decolonization and the abolition of apartheid in South Africa, are the political instability in many countries and tribal conflicts that repeatedly lead to wars and civil wars, as well as the high illiteracy rate, high child mortality and low life expectancy, mostly caused by the poor economic and supply situation. Many African states therefore belong to the today developing countries.