Democratic Republic of the Congo
Africa is the third continent in
the world by territorial
extension and has more than one
billion inhabitants. Surrounded
by the Atlantic Ocean and the
Indian Ocean , in addition to
the Mediterranean Sea to the
north, Africa is a vast land
mass stretching 8,000 kilometers
from north to south and 7,500
from east to east. Despite
having more countries than any
other continent (54 today), this
number does not reflect the
enormous variety of peoples,
races, creeds and cultures that
inhabit these lands and that
explain, in part, the long
history of conflicts that have
affected the human development
of the continent.
Africa is a land of contrasts: the enormous desert of the Sahara is interrupted by the Nile River , which is born in the interior of the continent, covered by jungles and huge lakes such as Lake Victoria . Although the savannah is probably the image that most foreigners associate with Africa, there are hundreds of different ecosystems reaching even snow in the heights of Kilimanjaro and some mountains in South Africa.
The adventure opportunities in this continent are enormous: you can travel the desert in Tuaregs caravans, cross the jungles in search of gorillas, make a safari among lions, sail in canoes or rest in a paradise island of the Indian Ocean. However, not everything is nature. There are vestiges of rich ancient cultures (such as the Egyptian pyramids or Timbuktu ) and there are still communities of tribes that maintain their customs and traditions. Despite the generalization of Africa as a continent plagued by wars, poverty and corruption, there are also developing economies with cosmopolitan cities.
Morocco · Algeria · Tunisia · Libya · Egypt · Sudan · Western Sahara · Macaronesia
While the vast dunes of the Sahara cover most of its territory, the Mediterranean coast has a privileged climate that has allowed the development of great cultures. From the markets and Islamic architecture of Marrakech, one can jump to French influence in Tunisia and Algeria or to Roman ruins in Libya. Meanwhile, Egypt attracts millions of tourists who visit not only the mythical pyramids of Giza, but also the vibrant city of Cairo or the beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Mauritania · Mali · Niger · Chad
Although its aridity and ongoing armed conflict keep sub-Saharan Africa from tourist destinations, there are still some gems to know in the Sahel. Timbuktu, the ancient capital of the empire of Mali, and Agadez were important centers of medieval caravans that roamed Africa. Between the steppes and mirages, one can still recognize the nomadic cultures of the Sahel, such as Tuaregs.
Ethiopia · Eritrea · Djibouti · Somalia (Somaliland)
Ethiopia is considered the cradle of mankind and is one of the oldest and most unique civilizations on the planet. Surrounded by Muslims, Ethiopia maintains a primitive version of Christianity from which shrines such as Lalibela arose. The region, mountainous and arid, has beautiful inaccessible places. Unfortunately, violence and authoritarianism hinder tourism development in Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti.
Cape Verde, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Benin
The most densely populated region of Africa stands out for its symbolic and vibrant cities, where you can still feel the African culture, such as Dakar, Lagos or Abidjan. The region's rainforests are home to thousands of animal species, such as elephants, gazelles, hippos and monkeys. Cape Verde, meanwhile, is a good alternative for seeing spectacular little-known beaches.
Cameroon · Central African Republic · Gabon · Equatorial Guinea · Sao Tome and Principe · Congo · Democratic Congo · Angola
The heart of Africa is covered in impenetrable jungle, inhabited by gorillas, leopards, crocodiles and hundreds of unique species that managed to survive the threat of humanity thanks to beautiful national parks such as Garamba. The Congo River is the foundation of this region, rich in natural resources, but for many years immersed in violence and interethnic conflicts. The coastal regions, more politically stable, present beautiful beaches to enjoy.
South Sudan · Uganda · Kenya · Tanzania · Rwanda · Burundi · Malawi · Mozambique
Some of the continent's most iconic scenes are in the region. Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa, dominates the savannah. Animals such as lions, gazelles, elephants and rhinos roam the world famous parks such as the Serengeti and Masai Mara, and the volcano park in Rwanda is the best place to visit the mountain gorillas. While Nairobi is a modern city in full bloom, Mombasa and Zanzibar manage to blend historical charm and beautiful beaches.
South Africa · Namibia · Botswana · Zambia · Zimbabwe · Lesotho · Swaziland · St. Helena
Nature is amazing in every corner of the region. Unique landscapes such as the Okavango Delta, which runs into the Kalahari Desert, the huge Victoria Falls or the wildlife of the Kruger National Park, attract tourists from all over the world. After the end of apartheid, South Africa received a new impetus, becoming one of the most developed countries on the continent. Cape Town is probably one of the most attractive cities in Africa. Meanwhile, in the highlands there are traditional kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland, which still retain their traditions. Finally, Mozambique stands out for its beaches and historic island, which gives it its name.
Madagascar · Seychelles · Mauritius · Comoros · Mayotte · Meeting · Terr. British Indians French australia
Madagascar, a product of its isolation from the rest of Africa, is a place of unique natural beauty: 90% of its flora and fauna can only be found on this island. The Seychelles and Mauritius archipelago have become important tourist destinations thanks to their beautiful white sand beaches and clear water. In Comoros, you can find the same beaches, but they are much less popular and more inaccessible. Meanwhile, Reunion captivates with its mountainous and steep landscapes.
Initially, the inhabitants of
ancient Carthage called the word
"Afri" people who lived near the
city. This name is usually
attributed to the Phoenician
afar, which means "dust". After
the conquest of Carthage, the
Romans named the province Africa
(lat. Africa). Later, all known
regions of this continent began
to be called Africa, and then
the continent itself. Another
theory is that the name of the
people "Afri" comes from the
Berber ifri, "cave", referring
to the cave dwellers. The Muslim
province of Ifriqiya, which
arose later on this place, also
retained this root in its name.
There are other versions of the origin of the toponym.
Josephus, a Jewish historian of the 1st century, argued that this name comes from the name of Abraham's grandson Ether (Gen. 25:4), whose descendants settled Libya.
The Latin word aprica, meaning "sunny", is mentioned in Isidore of Seville's Elements, volume XIV, section 5.2 (VI century).
The version about the origin of the name from the Greek word αφρίκη, which means "without cold", was suggested by the historian Leo Africanus. He assumed that the word φρίκη ("cold" and "horror"), combined with the negative prefix α-, denotes a country where there is neither cold nor horror.
Gerald Massey, a self-taught poet and Egyptologist, in 1881 put forward a version about the origin of the word from the Egyptian af-rui-ka, "to turn to face the opening of the Ka." Ka is the energy counterpart of each person, and the "hole of Ka" means the womb or birthplace. Africa, therefore, for the Egyptians means "homeland".
According to the paleontologist and writer I. Efremov, the word "Africa" came from the language of Ancient Egypt (Ta-Kem) (ancient Greek "Afros" - a foamy country). This is due to the collision of several types of currents that form foam when approaching the continent in the Mediterranean Sea.
At the beginning of the Mesozoic era, when Africa was part of the single continent of Pangea, and until the end of the Triassic period, theropods and primitive ornithischians dominated this region. The excavations carried out at the end of the Triassic period testify to the greater population of the south of the mainland, and not the north.
Among the theories of anthropogenesis, since the 1980s. The most authoritative theory is the African origin of man, according to which the origin of man occurred in Africa. Here appeared the first upright primates - Australopithecus, from which the genus Homo emerged here, and Homo sapiens appeared 280-100 thousand years ago. Here they found the oldest remains of the probable ancestors of the species Homo sapiens, including sahelanthropes, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster. 120-100 thousand years ago, Homo sapiens in Africa became anatomically identical to modern man, and 90-70 thousand years ago they began to settle outside Africa - initially in Asia, and then on other continents, partially mixing with other species that had previously emerged from Africa genus Homo - Neanderthals and Denisovans.
Africa during the Stone Age
The oldest archaeological finds that testify to the processing of grain in Africa date back to the 13th millennium BC. e. Pastoralism in the Sahara (not yet a desert) began c. 7500 BC e., and organized agriculture in the Nile region appeared in the 6th millennium BC. e.
In the Sahara, which was then a fertile territory, groups of hunters-fishers lived, archaeological finds testify to this. Throughout the Sahara (present-day Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Chad, etc.), many petroglyphs and rock paintings dating from 6000 BC have been discovered. e. until the 7th century AD. e. The most famous monument of the primitive art of North Africa is the Tassilin-Adjer plateau.
In addition to the group of Saharan monuments, rock art is also found in Somalia and South Africa (the oldest drawings date back to the 25th millennium BC).
Linguistic data show that ethnic groups speaking Bantu languages (Xhosa, Zulu, etc.) migrated in a southwestern direction, displacing the Khoisan peoples from there (see Bushmen, Hottentots, etc.). Bantu settlements have found a characteristic array of crops suitable for tropical Africa, including cassava and yams.
A small number of ethnic groups, such as the Bushmen, continue to lead a primitive way of life, hunting, gathering, like their ancestors several millennia ago.
By the 6th-5th millennium BC agricultural cultures (Tasian culture, Fayum culture, Merimde) were formed in the Nile Valley, on the basis of which in the 4th millennium BC Ancient Egypt emerged. To the south of it, also on the Nile, under its influence, the Kerma-Kushite civilization was formed, which was replaced in the 2nd millennium BC. Nubian (state formation of Napata). On its ruins, Aloa, Mukurra, the Nabataean kingdom, and others were formed, which were under the cultural and political influence of Ethiopia, Coptic Egypt and Byzantium.
In the north of the Ethiopian highlands, under the influence of the South Arabian Sabaean kingdom, the Ethiopian civilization arose: in the 5th century BC immigrants from South Arabia formed the Ethiopian kingdom, in the II-XI centuries AD there was the Aksumite kingdom, on the basis of which Christian Ethiopia was formed (XII-XVI centuries). These centers of civilization were surrounded by the pastoral tribes of the Libyans, as well as the ancestors of the modern Cushite- and Nilotic-speaking peoples.
As a result of the development of horse breeding (which appeared in the first centuries AD), as well as camel breeding and oasis agriculture, the trading cities of Telgi, Debris, Garama appeared in the Sahara, and the Libyan script arose.
On the Mediterranean coast of Africa in the XII-II centuries BC the Phoenician-Carthaginian civilization flourished. The neighborhood of the Carthaginian slave-owning power had an impact on the Libyan population. By the 4th century BC large alliances of Libyan tribes were formed - the Mauretans (modern Morocco to the lower reaches of the Muluya River) and the Numidians (from the Muluya River to the Carthaginian possessions). By the III century BC there were conditions for the formation of states.
After the defeat of Carthage by Rome, its territory became the Roman province of Africa. Eastern Numidia in 46 BC was turned into the Roman province of New Africa, and in 27 BC both provinces were united into one, ruled by proconsuls. The Mauretanian kings became vassals of Rome, and in 42 the country was divided into two provinces: Mauretania Tingitana and Mauretania Caesarea.
The weakening of the Roman
Empire in the III century caused
a crisis in the provinces of
North Africa, which contributed
to the success of the invasions
of the barbarians (Berbers,
Goths, Vandals). With the
support of the local population,
the barbarians overthrew the
power of Rome and formed several
states in North Africa: the
kingdom of the Vandals, the
Berber kingdom of Jedar (between
Muluya and Ores) and a number of
smaller Berber principalities.
In the VI century, North Africa was conquered by Byzantium, but the position of the central government was fragile. The African provincial nobility often entered into allied relations with the barbarians and other external enemies of the empire. In 647, the Carthaginian exarch Gregory (cousin-nephew of Emperor Heraclius I), taking advantage of the weakening of imperial power due to the blows of the Arabs, broke away from Constantinople and proclaimed himself emperor of Africa. One of the manifestations of the dissatisfaction of the population with the policy of Byzantium was the widespread dissemination of heresies (Arianism, Donatism, Monophysitism). Muslim Arabs became an ally of heretical movements. In 647, the Arab troops defeated the army of Gregory in the battle of Sufetul, which led to the rejection of Egypt from Byzantium. In 665, the Arabs repeated the invasion of North Africa, and by 709, all the African provinces of Byzantium became part of the Arab Caliphate.
Africa south of the Sahara
In Africa south of the Sahara in the 1st millennium BC. e. iron metallurgy spread throughout the world. This contributed to the development of new territories, primarily tropical forests, and became one of the reasons for the settlement of most of Tropical and South Africa by Bantu-speaking peoples, who displaced representatives of the Ethiopian and capoid races to the north and south.
The centers of civilizations in Tropical Africa spread from north to south (in the eastern part of the continent) and partly from east to west (especially in the western part).
The Arabs, who penetrated North Africa in the 7th century, until the advent of Europeans, became the main intermediaries between Tropical Africa and the rest of the world, including through the Indian Ocean. The cultures of Western and Central Sudan formed a single West African, or Sudanese, cultural zone that stretched from Senegal to the modern Republic of Sudan. In the 2nd millennium, most of this zone was part of the large state formations of Ghana, Kanem-Borno, Mali (XIII-XV centuries), Songhai.
South of the Sudanese civilizations in the 7th-9th centuries AD the Ife state formation was formed, which became the cradle of the Yoruba and Bini civilization (Benin, Oyo); neighboring nations also experienced their influence. To the west of it, in the 2nd millennium, the Akano-Ashanti proto-civilization was formed, which flourished in the 17th-early 19th centuries.
In the region of Central Africa during the XV-XIX centuries. various state formations gradually arose - Buganda, Rwanda, Burundi, etc.
Since the 10th century, Swahili Muslim culture has flourished in East Africa (the city-states of Kilwa, Pate, Mombasa, Lamu, Malindi, Sofala, and others, the Zanzibar Sultanate).
In Southeast Africa, the Zimbabwean (Zimbabwe, Monomotapa) proto-civilization (X-XIX centuries), in Madagascar, the process of state formation ended at the beginning of the XIX century with the unification of all the early political formations of the island around Imerin.
Exploration of Africa by foreign travelers
In 1416-1433, a Chinese fleet under the command of Zheng He visited the east coast of Africa.
The search by the Portuguese for a way to India, the wealth of which was told by legends, expanded their acquaintance with the coast of Africa. In 1498, the Portuguese Vasco da Gama, completing the opening of the sea route to India, circled South Africa, passed along the eastern coast of the mainland, crossed the Indian Ocean for the first time among Europeans and reached the shores of Hindustan.
The arrival of Europeans in Africa
The penetration of Europeans into Africa began in the 15th-16th centuries; The greatest contribution to the development of the continent at the first stage was made by the Spaniards and the Portuguese after the completion of the Reconquista. Already at the end of the 15th century, the Portuguese actually controlled the western coast of Africa and launched an active slave trade in the 16th century. Following them, almost all Western European powers rushed to Africa: the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, France, England, and even little Courland.
The slave trade with Zanzibar gradually led to the colonization of East Africa; Morocco's attempts to seize the Sahel failed.
All of North Africa (except Morocco) became part of the Ottoman Empire by the beginning of the 17th century. With the final division of Africa between the European powers (1880s), the colonial period began, forcibly introducing Africans to industrial civilization.
The process of colonization took
on a large scale in the second
half of the 19th century,
especially after 1885 with the
start of the so-called race or
fight for Africa. Almost the
entire continent (except for
Ethiopia and Liberia, which
remained independent) by 1900
was divided between a number of
European states: Great Britain,
France, Germany, Belgium, Italy,
Spain and Portugal retained and
somewhat expanded their old
The most extensive and richest were the possessions of Great Britain. In the southern and central part of the continent:
Bechuanaland (now Botswana)
Swaziland (now Eswatini)
Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe),
Northern Rhodesia (Zambia).
In the north-east:
Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, formally considered a co-ownership of England and Egypt.
In the West:
In the Indian Ocean
The colonial empire of France was not inferior in size to the British, but the population of its colonies was several times smaller, and the natural resources were poorer. Most of the French possessions were located in West and Equatorial Africa, and a large part of their territory fell on the Sahara, the adjacent semi-desert Sahel region and tropical forests:
French Guinea (now the Republic of Guinea),
Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire),
Upper Volta (Burkina Faso),
French Sudan (Mali),
Middle Congo (Republic of the Congo),
Ubangi-Shari (Central African Republic),
French coast of Somalia (Djibouti),
Portugal owned Angola, Mozambique, Portuguese Guinea (Guinea-Bissau), which included the Cape Verde Islands (Republic of Cape Verde), Sao Tome and Principe.
Belgium owned the Belgian Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in 1971-1997 - Zaire), Italy - part of Libya, Eritrea and Italian Somalia, Spain - Spanish Sahara (Western Sahara), Northern Morocco, Equatorial Guinea, Canary Islands; Germany - German East Africa (now - the continental part of Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi), Cameroon, Togo and German South-West Africa (Namibia).
The main incentives that led to the heated battle between the European powers for Africa are considered to be economic ones. Indeed, the desire to exploit the natural wealth and population of Africa was of paramount importance. But it cannot be said that these hopes were immediately justified. The south of the continent, where the world's largest deposits of gold and diamonds were discovered, began to give huge profits. But before generating income, large investments were first needed to explore natural resources, create communications, adapt the local economy to the needs of the metropolis, to suppress the protests of the indigenous people and find effective ways to make them work for the colonial system. All this took time. Another argument of the ideologues of colonialism was not immediately justified either. They argued that the acquisition of colonies would create many jobs in the metropolitan countries themselves and eliminate unemployment, since Africa would become a capacious market for European products and huge construction of railways, ports, and industrial enterprises would unfold there. If these plans were implemented, then more slowly than expected, and on a smaller scale. The argument that the surplus population of Europe would move to Africa turned out to be untenable. The resettlement flows turned out to be less than expected, and were mainly limited to the south of the continent, Angola, Mozambique, Kenya - countries where the climate and other natural conditions were suitable for Europeans. The countries of the Gulf of Guinea, dubbed "the grave of the white man," seduced few.
World War I
The First World War was a struggle for the redivision of Africa, but it did not affect the lives of most African countries particularly strongly. Military operations covered the territories of the German colonies. They were conquered by the Entente troops and after the war, by decision of the League of Nations, they were transferred to the Entente countries as mandated territories: Togo and Cameroon were divided between Great Britain and France, German South-West Africa went to the Union of South Africa (South Africa), part of German East Africa - Rwanda and Burundi - was transferred to Belgium, the other - Tanganyika - to Great Britain.
With the acquisition of Tanganyika, an old dream of the British ruling circles came true: a continuous strip of British possessions arose from Cape Town to Cairo. After the end of the war, the process of colonial development of Africa accelerated. The colonies were increasingly turning into agricultural and raw material appendages of the metropolises. Agriculture is increasingly export-oriented.
In the interwar period, the composition of agricultural crops grown by Africans changed dramatically - the production of export crops increased sharply: coffee - 11 times, tea - 10, cocoa beans - 6, peanuts - more than 4, tobacco - 3 times, etc. e. An increasing number of colonies became countries of a monocultural economy. On the eve of the Second World War, in many countries from two-thirds to 98% of the value of all exports came from any one crop. In the Gambia and Senegal, the peanut has become such a crop, in Zanzibar - cloves, in Uganda - cotton, on the Gold Coast - cocoa beans, in French Guinea - bananas and pineapples, in Southern Rhodesia - tobacco. In some countries there were two export crops: on the Ivory Coast and in Togo - coffee and cocoa, in Kenya - coffee and tea, etc. In Gabon and some other countries, valuable forest species became a monoculture.
The emerging industry—mainly mining—was even more designed for export. She developed quickly. In the Belgian Congo, for example, copper mining increased more than 20 times between 1913 and 1937. By 1937, Africa occupied an impressive place in the capitalist world in the production of mineral raw materials. It accounted for 97% of all mined diamonds, 92% of cobalt, more than 40% of gold, chromites, lithium minerals, manganese ore, phosphorites and more than a third of all platinum production. In West Africa, as well as in most parts of East and Central Africa, export products were produced mainly on the farms of the Africans themselves. European plantation production did not take root there because of the difficult climatic conditions for Europeans. The main exploiters of the African manufacturer were foreign companies. Export agricultural products were produced on farms owned by Europeans located in the Union of South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, part of Northern Rhodesia, Kenya, South West Africa.
The Second World War
The fighting during the Second World War on the African continent is divided into two areas: the North African campaign, which affected Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and was an integral part of the most important Mediterranean theater of operations, as well as the autonomous African theater of operations, the fighting in which were of secondary importance.
During the Second World War, military operations in Tropical Africa were conducted only in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Italian Somalia. In 1941, British troops, together with Ethiopian partisans and with the active participation of the Somalis, occupied the territories of these countries. In other countries of Tropical and South Africa, military operations were not conducted (with the exception of Madagascar). But hundreds of thousands of Africans were mobilized in the armies of the mother countries. An even greater number of people had to serve the troops, work for military needs. Africans fought in North Africa, Western Europe, the Middle East, Burma, Malaya. On the territory of the French colonies, there was a struggle between the Vichy and supporters of the "Free France", which, as a rule, did not lead to military clashes.
Decolonization of Africa
After the Second World War, the process of decolonization of Africa quickly began. 1960 was declared the Year of Africa - the year of the liberation of the largest number of colonies. In this year, 17 states gained independence. Most of them are French colonies and UN trust territories administered by France: Cameroon, Togo, Malagasy Republic, Congo (former French Congo), Dahomey, Upper Volta, Ivory Coast, Chad, Central African Republic, Gabon, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Mali. The largest country in Africa in terms of population, Nigeria, which belonged to Great Britain, and the largest in terms of territory, the Belgian Congo, were proclaimed independent. British Somalia and the Italian-administered Trust Somalia were merged to become the Somali Democratic Republic.
1960 changed the whole situation on the African continent. The dismantling of the rest of the colonial regimes has already become inevitable. Sovereign states were proclaimed:
in 1961 the British possessions of Sierra Leone and Tanganyika;
in 1962 - Algeria, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda;
in 1963 - Kenya and Zanzibar;
in 1964 - Northern Rhodesia (which called itself the Republic of Zambia, after the name of the Zambezi River) and Nyasaland (Malawi); in the same year, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the Republic of Tanzania;
in 1965 - Gambia;
in 1966, Bechuanaland became the Republic of Botswana and Basutoland became the Kingdom of Lesotho;
in 1968 - Mauritius, Equatorial Guinea and Swaziland;
in 1973 - Guinea-Bissau;
in 1975 (after the revolution in Portugal) - Angola, Mozambique, the Cape Verde Islands and Sao Tome and Principe, as well as 3 of the 4 Comoros (Mayotte remained the possession of France);
in 1977 - the Seychelles, and French Somalia became the Republic of Djibouti;
in 1980 - Southern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zimbabwe;
in 1990 - Trust Territory of South West Africa - Republic of Namibia.
The declaration of independence
of Kenya, Zimbabwe, Angola,
Mozambique and Namibia was
preceded by wars, uprisings,
guerrilla struggle. But for most
African countries, the final
stage of the journey was passed
without major bloodshed, it was
the result of mass
demonstrations and strikes, the
negotiation process, and, in
relation to the trust
territories, the decisions of
the United Nations.
Due to the fact that the borders of African states during the "race for Africa" were drawn artificially, without taking into account the resettlement of various peoples and tribes, as well as the fact that the traditional African society was not ready for democracy, civil wars began in many African countries after gaining independence. war. Dictators came to power in many countries. The resulting regimes are characterized by disregard for human rights, bureaucracy, totalitarianism, which in turn leads to economic crisis and growing poverty.
Currently under the control of European countries are:
Spanish enclaves in Morocco Ceuta and Melilla, Canary Islands (Spain),
St. Helena, Ascension, Tristan da Cunha and Chagos Archipelago (UK),
Reunion, Eparce and Mayotte Islands (France),
Africa covers an area of 30.3 million km². The length from north to south is 8 thousand km, from west to east in the northern part - 7.5 thousand km.
For the most part - flat, in the north-west are the Atlas Mountains, in the Sahara - the highlands of Ahaggar and Tibesti. To the east is the Ethiopian Highlands, to the south of it is the East African Plateau, where the volcano Kilimanjaro (5895 m) is located - the highest point on the mainland. To the south are the Cape and Dragon Mountains. The lowest point (157 meters below sea level) is located in Djibouti, this is the salt lake Asal. The deepest cave is Anu Ifflis, located in the north of Algeria in the Tel Atlas mountains.
Africa is known primarily for
its richest deposits of diamonds
(South Africa, Zimbabwe) and
gold (South Africa, Ghana, Mali,
Republic of the Congo). There
are large oil fields in Nigeria
and Algeria. Bauxites are mined
in Guinea and Ghana. The
resources of phosphorites, as
well as manganese, iron and
lead-zinc ores are concentrated
in the zone of the northern
coast of Africa.
Africa is home to one of the longest rivers in the world, the Nile (6,852 km), flowing from south to north. Other major rivers are the Niger in the west, the Congo in central Africa, the Zambezi, the Limpopo and the Orange in the south.
The largest lake is Victoria (average depth 40 m, maximum 80 m). Other large lakes are Nyasa and Tanganyika, located in lithospheric faults. One of the largest salt lakes is Lake Chad, located on the territory of the state of the same name.
Africa is the hottest continent
on the planet. The reason for
this is the geographical
location of the mainland: the
entire territory of Africa is
located in hot climatic zones
(including subtropical ones) and
the mainland is crossed by the
equator line. It is in Africa
that the hottest place on Earth
is located - Dallol.
Central Africa and the coastal regions of the Gulf of Guinea belong to the equatorial zone, there is abundant rainfall throughout the year and there is no change of seasons. To the north and south of the equatorial belt are subequatorial belts. Here, humid equatorial air masses dominate in summer (rainy season), and in winter - dry air of tropical trade winds (dry season). To the north and south of the subequatorial belts are the northern and southern tropical belts. They are characterized by high temperatures with low rainfall, which leads to the formation of deserts.
In the north is the Sahara Desert, the largest on Earth, in the south - the Kalahari Desert, in the southwest - the Namib Desert. The northern and southern extremities of the mainland are included in the corresponding subtropical belts.
The flora of the tropical,
equatorial and subequatorial
zones is diverse. Ceiba,
isoberlinia, pandanus, tamarind,
sundew, pemphigus, palm trees
and many others grow everywhere.
The savannas are dominated by
low trees and thorny shrubs
(acacia, terminalia, bush).
Desert vegetation, on the other hand, is sparse, consisting of small communities of grasses, shrubs, and trees growing in oases, highlands, and along waters. Salt-resistant halophyte plants are found in the depressions. On the least watered plains and plateaus grow species of grasses, small shrubs and trees that are resistant to drought and heat. The flora of the desert regions is well adapted to the irregularity of rainfall. This is reflected in a wide variety of physiological adaptations, habitat preferences, the creation of dependent and related communities, and reproduction strategies. Perennial drought-resistant grasses and shrubs have an extensive and deep (up to 15–20 m) root system. Many of the herbaceous plants are ephemera, which can produce seeds in three days after sufficient moisture and sow them within 10-15 days after that.
In the mountainous regions of the Sahara desert, there is a relict Neogene flora, often related to the Mediterranean one, and many endemics. Among the relic woody plants growing in mountainous areas are some types of olive, cypress and mastic tree. There are also species of acacia, tamarisks and wormwood, doom palm, oleander, date palm, thyme, ephedra. Dates, figs, olive and fruit trees, some citrus fruits, and various vegetables are cultivated in the oases. Herbal plants that grow in many parts of the desert are represented by the genera triostnitsa, field grass and millet. Coastal grasses and other salt-tolerant grasses grow along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Various combinations of ephemera form seasonal pastures called ashebs. Algae are found in water bodies.
In many desert areas (rivers, hamads, partially accumulations of sand, etc.), there is no vegetation cover at all. The vegetation of almost all areas has been strongly affected by human activities (grazing, gathering useful plants, procuring fuel, etc.).
A remarkable plant of the Namib Desert is tumboa, or velvichia (Welwitschia mirabilis). It grows two giant leaves slowly growing all its life (over 1000 years), which can exceed 3 meters in length. The leaves are attached to a stem that resembles a huge cone-shaped radish with a diameter of 60 to 120 centimeters, and sticks out of the ground for 30 centimeters. Welwitschia roots go down to a depth of 3 m. Welwitschia is known for its ability to grow in extremely dry conditions, using dew and fog as the main source of moisture. Welwitschia - endemic to the northern Namib - is depicted on the state emblem of Namibia.
In slightly wetter areas of the desert, another well-known Namib plant is found - nara (Acanthosicyos horridus), (endemic), which grows on sand dunes. Its fruits constitute a food base and a source of moisture for many animals, African elephants, antelopes, porcupines, etc.
Since prehistoric times, Africa has preserved the largest number of representatives of megafauna. The tropical, equatorial and subequatorial belts are inhabited by a variety of mammals: okapi, antelopes (duikers, bongos), pygmy hippopotamus, bushy-eared pig, warthog, galago, monkeys, flying squirrels (needle-tailed), lemurs (on the island of Madagascar), viverras, chimpanzees, gorillas and etc. Nowhere in the world is there such an abundance of large animals as in the African savannah: elephants, hippos, rhinos, lions, giraffes, leopards, cheetahs, antelopes (cannes), zebras, hyenas, African ostrich. Some elephants, kaffir buffaloes and white rhinoceros live only in reserves.
Jaco, turaco, guinea fowl, hornbill (kalao), marabou predominate among the birds.
Reptiles and amphibians of the tropical equatorial and subequatorial zones - mamba (one of the most poisonous snakes in the world), crocodile, python, tree frogs, poison dart frogs and marble frogs.
In humid climates, the malarial mosquito and tsetse fly are common, causing sleeping sickness in mammals, including humans.
Urgent problems of African
The main environmental problems of Africa: desertification is a problem in the northern part, deforestation in the central part.
The peoples of Eurasia have known about the existence of Africa since ancient times. Especially a lot of historical and geographical information about the major states of the Mediterranean is found in the manuscripts and maps of ancient Greek and Roman scientists. The reason for the lack of knowledge of the interior of the mainland was the presence of huge impregnable deserts, which hindered researchers.
The first voyage around the continent was made by the Phoenicians around the 6th century BC.
In the 14th century, the Arab traveler Ibn Battuta explored the Somali Peninsula, traveled through the territory of Timbuktu and Mali.
Vasco da Gama
In 1497-1499, the Portuguese expedition led by Vasco da Gama circled Africa and headed from the Somali Peninsula to India.
David Livingston decided to study the rivers of South Africa and find natural passages deep into the mainland. He sailed the Zambezi, discovered the Victoria Falls, defined the watershed of Lake Nyasa, Tanganyika and the Lualaba River. In 1849, he was the first European to cross the Kalahari Desert and explore Lake Ngami. During his last journey, he tried to find the source of the Nile.
Heinrich Barth established that Lake Chad is drainless, was the first European to study the rock paintings of the ancient inhabitants of the Sahara and expressed his assumptions about climate change in North Africa.
Mining engineer, traveler Egor Petrovich Kovalevsky helped the Egyptians in search of gold deposits, studied the tributaries of the Blue Nile. Vasily Vasilyevich Junker explored the watershed of the main African rivers - the Nile, the Congo and the Niger. In 1926-1927, another Russian scientist N. I. Vavilov organized a trip to the Mediterranean countries of North Africa. He collected the largest - more than 6,000 samples - collection of seeds of cultivated plants and proved that Ethiopia is the birthplace of valuable durum wheat varieties.
There are 55 countries and 5 self-proclaimed and unrecognized states in Africa. Most of them were colonies of European states for a long time and gained independence only in the 50-60s of the XX century. Before that, only Egypt (since 1922), Ethiopia (since the Middle Ages), Liberia (since 1847) and South Africa (since 1910) were independent; in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), until the 80-90s of the XX century, the apartheid regime, which discriminated against the indigenous population, was maintained. Currently, many African countries are ruled by regimes that discriminate against the white population. According to the research organization Freedom House, in recent years in many African countries (for example, in Nigeria, Mauritania, Senegal, Congo (Kinshasa) and Equatorial Guinea) there has been a trend of retreat from democratic achievements towards authoritarianism.
General economic and
geographical characteristics of
A feature of the geographical position of many countries in the region is the lack of access to the sea. At the same time, in countries with access to the ocean, the coastline is slightly indented, which is unfavorable for the construction of large ports.
Africa is exceptionally rich in natural resources. The reserves of mineral raw materials—ores of manganese, chromites, bauxites, and others—are especially large. Fuel raw materials are available in depressions and coastal regions. Oil and gas are produced in North and West Africa (Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Libya). Enormous reserves of cobalt and copper ores are concentrated in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; manganese ores are mined in South Africa and Zimbabwe; platinum, iron ores and gold - in South Africa; diamonds - in both Congo (DRC and RK), Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Ghana; phosphorites - in Morocco, Tunisia; uranium - in Niger, Namibia.
In Africa, there are quite large land resources, but soil erosion has become catastrophic due to improper processing. Water resources across Africa are distributed extremely unevenly. Forests occupy about 10% of the territory, but as a result of predatory destruction, their area is rapidly declining.
Africa has the highest rate of natural population growth. The natural increase in many countries exceeds 30 persons per 1,000 inhabitants per year. A high proportion of children's ages (50%) and a small proportion of older people (about 5%) remain.
African countries have not yet succeeded in changing the colonial type of sectoral and territorial structure of the economy, although the pace of economic growth has somewhat accelerated. The colonial type of the sectoral structure of the economy is distinguished by the predominance of small-scale, consumer agriculture, the weak development of the manufacturing industry, and the lag in the development of transport. African countries have achieved the greatest success in the mining industry. In the extraction of many minerals, Africa holds a leading and sometimes monopoly place in the world (in the extraction of gold, diamonds, platinoids, etc.). The manufacturing industry is represented by light and food industries, other industries are absent, with the exception of a number of areas near the availability of raw materials and on the coast (Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
The second sector of the economy that determines Africa's place in the world economy is tropical and subtropical agriculture. Agricultural products account for 60-80% of GDP. The main cash crops are coffee, cocoa beans, peanuts, dates, tea, natural rubber, sorghum, spices. Recently, grain crops have been grown: corn, rice, wheat. Animal husbandry plays a subordinate role, with the exception of countries with arid climates. Extensive cattle breeding prevails, characterized by a huge number of livestock, but low productivity and low marketability. The continent does not provide itself with agricultural products.
Transportation also retains a colonial type: railways go from raw material extraction areas to the port, while the regions of one state are practically not connected. Relatively developed rail and sea modes of transport. In recent years, other types of transport have also been developed - automobile (a road has been laid across the Sahara), air, and pipeline.
All countries, with the exception of South Africa, are developing, most of them are the poorest in the world (70% of the population lives below the poverty line).
Swollen, unprofessional and
inefficient bureaucracies have
emerged in most African states.
Given the amorphous nature of
social structures, the army
remained the only organized
force. The result is endless
military coups. The dictators
who came to power appropriated
untold wealth. The capital of
Mobutu, the President of the
Congo, at the time of his
overthrow was $ 7 billion. The
economy functioned poorly, and
this gave room for a
"destructive" economy: the
production and distribution of
drugs, illegal mining of gold
and diamonds, even human
trafficking. Africa's share in
world GDP and its share in world
exports were declining, output
per capita was declining.
The formation of statehood was extremely complicated by the absolute artificiality of state borders. Africa inherited them from the colonial past. They were established during the division of the continent into spheres of influence and have little in common with ethnic boundaries. The Organization of African Unity, created in 1963, realizing that any attempt to correct this or that border could lead to unpredictable consequences, called for these borders to be considered unshakable, no matter how unfair they may be. But these borders have nevertheless become a source of ethnic conflict and the displacement of millions of refugees.
The main branch of the economy of most countries in Tropical Africa is agriculture, designed to provide food for the population and serve as a raw material base for the development of the manufacturing industry. It employs the predominant part of the region's able-bodied population and creates the bulk of the total national income. In many states of Tropical Africa, agriculture occupies a leading place in exports, providing a significant part of foreign exchange earnings. In the last decade, an alarming picture was observed with the growth rates of industrial production, which allows us to speak about the actual deindustrialization of the region. If in 1965-1980 they (on average per year) amounted to 7.5%, then in the 80s only 0.7%, a drop in growth rates took place in the 80s both in the extractive and manufacturing industries. For a number of reasons, a special role in ensuring the socio-economic development of the region belongs to the mining industry, but this production is also declining by 2% annually. A characteristic feature of the development of the countries of Tropical Africa is the weak development of the manufacturing industry. Only in a very small group of countries (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Senegal) does its share in GDP reach or exceed 20%.
A characteristic feature of the integration processes in Africa is the high degree of their institutionalization. At present, there are about 200 economic associations of various levels, scales and directions on the continent. But from the point of view of studying the problem of the formation of subregional identity and its relationship with national and ethnic identity, the functioning of such large organizations as the West African Economic Community (ECOWAS), the South African Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), etc. The extremely low effectiveness of their activities in previous decades and the advent of the era of globalization required a sharp acceleration of integration processes at a qualitatively different level. Economic cooperation is developing in new (compared to the 1970s) conditions of the contradictory interaction between the globalization of the world economy and the increasing marginalization of the positions of African states within its framework and, naturally, in a different system of coordinates. Integration is no longer seen as a tool and basis for the formation of a self-sufficient and self-developing economy, relying on its own forces and as opposed to the imperialist West. The approach is different, which, as mentioned above, presents integration as a way and means of including African countries in the globalizing world economy, as well as an impulse and indicator of economic growth and development in general.
The population of Africa is over
1 billion people. Population
growth on the continent is the
highest in the world: in 2004 it
was 2.3%. Over the past 50
years, life expectancy has
increased from 39 to 54 years.
According to the forecast of the
HSBC bank, the population of
African countries will double by
The population consists mainly of representatives of two races: the Negroid south of the Sahara, and the Caucasoid in northern Africa (Arabs) and South Africa (Boers and Anglo-South Africans). The most numerous people are the Arabs of North Africa.
During the colonial development of the mainland, many state borders were drawn without taking into account ethnic characteristics, which still leads to interethnic conflicts. The average population density in Africa is 30.5 people/km², which is significantly less than in Europe and Asia.
In terms of urbanization, Africa lags behind other regions - less than 30%, but the rate of urbanization here is the highest in the world, many African countries are characterized by false urbanization. The largest cities on the African continent are Cairo and Lagos.
The autochthonous languages of
Africa are divided into 32
families, of which 3 (Semitic,
Indo-European and Austronesian)
"penetrated" to the continent
from other regions.
There are also 7 isolated and 9 unclassified languages. The most popular native African languages are the Bantu languages (Swahili, Congo), Fula.
Indo-European languages became widespread due to the era of colonial rule: English, Portuguese, French are official in many countries. in Namibia since the beginning of the 20th century. there is a compact community that speaks German as the main language. The only language belonging to the Indo-European family that originated on the continent is Afrikaans, one of the 11 official languages of South Africa. Also, communities of Afrikaans speakers live in other countries of South Africa: Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia. After the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa, Afrikaans was replaced by other languages (English and local African). The number of its carriers and scope is declining.
The most common language of the Afroasian language macrofamily, Arabic, is used in North, West and East Africa as a first and second language. Many African languages (Hausa, Swahili) include a significant number of borrowings from Arabic (primarily in the layers of political, religious vocabulary, abstract concepts).
The Austronesian languages are represented by the Malagasy language, which is spoken by the population of Madagascar Malagasy - a people of Austronesian origin, who presumably came here in the 2nd-5th centuries of our era.
The inhabitants of the African continent are characterized by the knowledge of several languages at once, which are used in various everyday situations. For example, a representative of a small ethnic group that retains its own language can use the local language in the family circle and in communication with their fellow tribesmen, a regional interethnic language (Lingala in the DRC, Sango in the Central African Republic, Hausa in Nigeria, Bambara in Mali) in communication with representatives of other ethnic groups, and the state language (usually European) in communication with the authorities and other similar situations. At the same time, language proficiency can be limited only by the ability to speak (according to UNESCO, 38% of the adult population in Africa are illiterate, 2/3 of them are women).
Against the background of the
global demographic process of
the aging of the population of
the Earth (except for
sub-Saharan Africa) and the
demographic crisis already
caused by it in a number of
countries, both developed and
developing, Africa stands apart.
According to the 2019 UN
forecast, world population
growth will almost come to a
halt by the end of the 21st
century, in large part due to
falling global fertility rates
and an aging population. What
happens in Africa now and in the
coming decades will determine
the size and structure of the
world's population at the end of
the 21st century. Whether the
world's population rises to over
10 billion people will depend on
the speed at which Africa
develops, especially how quickly
women gain access to better
education, women's opportunities
in the labor market, and how
quickly improvements in areas of
children's health. Africa is the
only region in the world that is
projected to experience
significant population growth
before the end of this century.
Africa's population is expected
to increase from 1.3 billion to
4.3 billion between 2020 and
2100. Projections show that this
increase will be achieved mainly
in sub-Saharan Africa, whose
population is expected to more
than triple by 2100. Africa's
population growth is projected
to remain strong throughout this
century. This is also essential
for some specific countries: for
example, in Nigeria (for 2020
206 million people), the UN
predicts a population of 794
million at the end of the 21st
century. Currently, according to
the UN, the total fertility rate
in Africa is still 4.4 children
per woman. It took 42 years
(from 1972 to 2014) for the
global total fertility rate to
drop from 4.5 to 2.5 children.
The UN predicts that for Africa
it will take longer - 56 years
(from 2016 to 2072). There is
reason to be optimistic that
Africa could develop faster than
UN projections suggest.
By 2100, 5 of the 10 largest countries in the world by population are projected to be in Africa. Six countries are projected to account for more than half of the world's population growth by the end of this century, and five will be in Africa. The world population is expected to grow by about 3.1 billion between 2020 and 2100. More than half of this increase is expected in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Angola, as well as one non-African country (Pakistan). By 2100, five African countries are predicted to be in the top 10 countries in terms of population. Nigeria is predicted to surpass the US as the third most populous country in the world in 2047. By 2100, half of the children born worldwide are expected to be born in Africa. Africa will overtake Asia in the number of children born by 2060. Half of all children born in the world are expected to be in Africa by 2100, compared to three out of ten of all children born in the world in 2019. Between 2020 and 2100, 864 million children are expected to be born in Nigeria, the highest among African countries. By 2070, the number of births in Nigeria is projected to exceed the number of births in China. Meanwhile, for example, about a third of the world's children are projected to be born in Asia by the end of this century, compared to about half today and 65% in the period 1965-70.
Islam and Christianity predominate among world religions (the most common denominations are Catholicism, Protestantism, to a lesser extent Orthodoxy, Monophysitism). There are also Buddhists and Hindus living in East Africa (many of them are from India). There are also followers of Judaism and Bahaism living in Africa. Religions brought to Africa from outside are found both in pure form and syncretized with local traditional religions. Among the "major" traditional African religions are Ifa or Bwiti.
Traditional education in Africa
involved preparing children for
African realities and life in
African society. Education in
pre-colonial Africa included
games, dancing, singing,
painting, ceremonies and
rituals. Seniors were engaged in
training; Every member of
society contributes to the
education of the child. Girls
and boys were trained separately
in order to learn the system of
proper gender-role behavior. The
apogee of learning was the
rituals of passage, symbolizing
the end of childhood and the
beginning of adulthood.
With the beginning of the colonial period, the education system underwent changes towards the European one, so that Africans were able to compete with Europe and America. Africa tried to organize the training of its own specialists.
Right now, in terms of education, Africa is still lagging behind other parts of the world. In 2000, only 58% of children in sub-Saharan Africa were in school; these are the lowest rates in the world. There are 40 million children in Africa, half of them of school age, who are not in school. Two thirds of them are girls.
In the post-colonial period, African governments placed more emphasis on education; a large number of universities were established, although there was very little money for their development and support, and in some places it stopped altogether. However, universities are overcrowded, which often forces teachers to lecture in shifts, evenings and weekends. Due to low wages, there is a drain on staff. In addition to the lack of necessary funding, other problems of African universities are the unregulated system of degrees, as well as the inequity in the system of career advancement among teaching staff, which is not always based on professional merit. This often causes protests and teachers' strikes.
Africa has firmly established itself as the most conflicted place on the planet, and the level of stability over time here not only does not increase, but also tends to decrease. During the post-colonial period, 35 armed conflicts were recorded on the continent, during which about 10 million people died, most of which (92%) were civilians. Africa has almost 50% of the global number of refugees (more than 7 million people) and 60% of displaced persons (20 million people). For many of them, fate has prepared the tragic fate of the daily struggle for existence.
For historical reasons, Africa can be culturally divided into two broad regions: North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Africans themselves include both
written and oral literature in
the concept of African
literature. In the minds of
Africans, form and content are
inseparable from each other. The
beauty of presentation is used
not so much for its own sake,
but to build a more effective
dialogue with the listener, and
beauty is determined by the
degree of truthfulness of what
The oral literature of Africa exists in both verse and prose form. Poetry, often in song form, includes poems proper, epics, ritual, laudatory songs, love songs, etc. Prose is most often stories about the past, myths and legends, often with a trickster as a central character. The epic of Sundiata Keita, the founder of the ancient state of Mali, is an important piece of pre-colonial oral literature.
The first written literature of North Africa is recorded in Egyptian papyri, and was also written in Greek, Latin and Phoenician (there are very few sources in Phoenician). Apuleius and Saint Augustine wrote in Latin. The style of Ibn Khaldun, a philosopher from Tunisia, stands out prominently among the Arabic literature of that period.
During the colonial period, African literature mainly dealt with the problems of slavery. Joseph Ephrahim Caseley-Hayford's novel Free Ethiopia: Essays on Racial Emancipation, published in 1911, is considered the first English-language work. Although the novel balanced between fiction and political propaganda, it received positive reviews in Western publications.
The theme of freedom and independence was increasingly raised before the end of the colonial period. Since the independence of most countries, African literature has made a giant leap. Many writers appeared, whose works were widely recognized. The works were written both in European languages (mainly French, English and Portuguese) and in the autochthonous languages of Africa. The main themes of the work of the post-colonial period were conflicts: conflicts between the past and the present, tradition and modernity, socialism and capitalism, the individual and society, indigenous peoples and newcomers. Social problems such as corruption, the economic difficulties of countries with newfound independence, the rights and role of women in a new society were also widely covered. Women writers are now much more widely represented than during the colonial period.
Wole Shoyinka (1986) was the first post-colonial African writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Prior to this, only Albert Camus, who was born in Algeria, had been awarded this prize in 1957.
Since 1980, the Nome Award has been presented for outstanding literary works.
In general, African cinema is
poorly developed, with the only
exception being the film school
of North Africa, where many
films have been shot since the
1920s (cinemas of Algeria and
So Black Africa did not have its own cinema for a long time, and served only as a backdrop for films shot by Americans and Europeans. For example, in the French colonies, the indigenous population was forbidden to make films, and only in 1955 the Senegalese director Paulin Sumanu Vieira made the first francophone film L’Afrique sur Seine (“Africa on the Seine”), and then not at home, but in Paris. There were also a number of films with anti-colonial sentiment, which were banned until decolonization. Only in recent years, after gaining independence, did national schools begin to develop in these countries; first of all, these are South Africa, Burkina Faso and Nigeria (where a school of commercial cinema has already been formed, called "Nollywood"). The first film to receive international recognition was the film of the Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene "The Black Girl" about the difficult life of a black maid in France.
Since 1969 (enlisted the support of the state in 1972), Burkina Faso has hosted the largest African film festival FESPACO on the continent every two years. The North African alternative to this festival is the Tunisian "Carthage".
To a large extent, films made by African directors are aimed at destroying stereotypes about Africa and its people. Many ethnographic films from the colonial period received disapproval from Africans as distorting African realities. The desire to correct the world image of Black Africa is also characteristic of literature.
Also, the concept of "African cinema" includes films made by the diaspora outside the homeland.