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Wikipedia portal Africa logo.png
For a topic outline on this subject, see List of basic Africa topics.
Main page   African countries   Tasks, WikiProjects & related portals  
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 30.2 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. With 1.1 billion people as of 2013, 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 Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It has 54 fully recognized sovereign states ("countries"), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition.

Africa's population is the youngest among all the continents; 50% of Africans are 19 years old or younger.

Algeria is Africa's largest country by area, and Nigeria is the 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 seven million years ago, including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster – with the earliest Homo sapiens (modern human) found in Ethiopia being dated 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.

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Location of the three villages

Laal is a still-unclassified language spoken by 749 people (as of 2000) in three villages in the Moyen-Chari prefecture of Chad on opposite banks of the Chari River, called Gori (), Damtar (ɓual), and Mailao. It may be a language isolate, in which case it would represent an isolated survival of an earlier language group of central Africa. It is unwritten (except in transcription by linguists). According to SIL-Chad member David Faris, it is in danger of extinction, with most people under 25 shifting to the locally more widespread Baguirmi language.

This language first came to the attention of academic linguists in 1977, through Pascal Boyeldieu's fieldwork in 1975 and 1978. His fieldwork was based for the most part on a single speaker, M. Djouam Kadi of Damtar. (Read more...)

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Snake charmers
Credit: Tancrède Dumas

Snake charming is the practice of apparently hypnotising a snake by simply playing an instrument. A typical performance may also include handling the snakes or performing other seemingly dangerous acts. The practice is most common in India, though it is also practiced in the North African countries of Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia. This photo depicts snake charmers in late 19th-century Morocco.

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Akan drum

Featured biography

Major Frederick Russell Burnham, DSO

Frederick Russell Burnham, DSO (May 11, 1861 – September 1, 1947), was an American scout and world traveling adventurer known for his service to the British Army in colonial Africa and for teaching woodcraft to Robert Baden-Powell, thus becoming one of the inspirations for the founding of the international Scouting Movement.

Burnham had little formal education, attending but never graduating high school. He began his career at 14 in the American Southwest as a scout and tracker. Burnham then went to Africa where this background proved useful. He soon became an officer in the British Army, serving in several battles there. During this time, Burnham became friends with Baden-Powell, and passed on to him both his outdoor skills and his spirit for what would later become known as Scouting.

Burnham eventually moved on to become involved in espionage, oil, conservation, writing and business. His descendants are still active in Scouting. (Read more...)

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