- For a topic outline on this subject, see List of basic Africa topics.
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.
The music of Nigeria includes many kinds of folk and popular music, some of which are known worldwide. Styles of folk music are related to the multitudes of ethnic groups in the country, each with their own techniques, instruments, and songs. Little is known about the country's music history prior to European contact, although bronze carvings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries have been found depicting musicians and their instruments.
Nigeria has been called "the heart of African music" because of its role in the development of West African highlife and palm-wine music, which fuses native rhythms with techniques imported from the Congo for the development of several popular styles that were unique to Nigeria, like apala, fuji, jùjú, and Yo-pop. Subsequently, Nigerian musicians created their own styles of United States hip-hop and Jamaican reggae.
Nigeria has some of the most advanced recording studio technology in Africa, and provides robust commercial opportunities for music performers. However, political corruption and rampant music piracy in Nigeria has hampered the industry's growth. (Read more...)
Photo credit: Portuguse National Archives of Torre do Tombo, Lisbon
A pre-Mercator nautical chart of 1571, from Portuguese cartographer Fernão Vaz Dourado (c. 1520 – c.1580). It belongs to the so-called plane chart model, where observed latitudes and magnetic directions are plotted directly into the plane, with a constant scale, as if the Earth were plane. The Moors from Spain had maps of the known world, and had been traveling to and from Mecca, Arabia for many years. In 1492, Christopher Columbus had possession of the Maps of the Moors, which had been confiscated from Andalusia and were now in service to Portuguese and Spanish Explorers. The African Moors already knew at that time, well into the 1500's, that the world was round.
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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