What is Africa?

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What Does Africa Mean

We explain everything about Africa, its flora, fauna, climate and other characteristics. In addition, its political division and forms of government.

Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains.

What is Africa?

Africa is the third largest continent (after Asia and America ). It bounded on the north by the Mediterranean Sea, south to the ocean Indian and Atlantic, east to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, and west by the Atlantic Ocean. It has a total area of ​​30,272,922 square kilometers, which represents 20% of the total land area on the planet .



The Romans were the first Europeans to have contact with the inhabitants of the African continent, who lived west of the Nile River. The Romans called them "afri" which derives from the Phoenician language, afar which means "dusty", and ifri which means " cave ”, something like“ cave dwellers ”.

The strongest theories hold that Africa is the continent from which H omo sapiens (the human being ) comes , after successive species of primates (hominids and anthropoids) evolved over millions of years and subsequently migrated from the continent.

It can help you: Animals of the African savannah

Characteristics of Africa

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Madagascar, where baobabs grow, is the fourth largest island in the world.

The geography of Africa is highlighted by three great deserts : the Sahara (the largest in the world), the Namib and the Kalahari . It presents a long mountainous system in the eastern region of the continent, the Atlas Mountains, whose highest peak is Kilimanjaro (in Tanzania) at 5,895 meters and which is formed by 3 inactive volcanoes (Shira, Mawenzi and Kibo).

Africa is also highlighted by the Nile River, the largest on the continent and one of the longest in the world . The rest of the rivers have a fairly low flow or are not very navigable. Among its great lakes, the most important are Victoria, Tanganyika, Malawi, Alberto (or Mobutu), Eduardo (Rutanzige) and Kyoga.

Africa has many islands (some are independent nations and others are colonies). The best known is Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, located in the southeast on the Indian Ocean and separated from the mainland by the Mozambique Channel.

Formerly most of the African countries were European colonies. At present, despite having become independent, they maintain close economic relations with the European Union . African countries are underdeveloped and around 350 million people (36% of the population ) live on less than US $ 1 a day.

After the United States and the European Union, China is the third most important partner in the continent, with industrial investments destined to the construction of roads, exploitation of hydrocarbons and minerals , reservoirs, homes and hospitals.

Flora and fauna of Africa

The fauna of Africa includes many wild animals such as leopards and antelopes.

The fauna is characterized by wild animals such as lions , zebras, antelopes, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, buffaloes and hyenas that live in the savannah , the biome that predominates in the African continent. For their exotic beauty they are coveted by smugglers and that is why there are numerous organizations and laws to counter their trafficking and illegal hunting.

The flora of the savannah is made up of the combination of low- density grasslands, shrubs and trees , and palm trees in the surroundings of the oases. The Baobabs tree (typical of the island of Madagascar) stands out, whose leaves, fruits and seeds are used as food , for health and for the production of cosmetic products .

Africa climate

The African continent is crossed by the line of the equator that divides it almost into two equidistant halves, so the predominant climate is tropical .

Libya (a country in North Africa) is the hottest region on the planet , whose temperature has reached 58º C. At the extremes furthest from the equator, the climate is sub-arctic with arid or desert areas. In the southern region the climate is temperate, warmer and more humid.

Forms of government in Africa

Countries like Botswana are democratic and citizens choose their government.

More than half of the African states are characterized by being authoritarian (only a small part is democratic). According to the form of government , countries can be classified into:

  • Authoritarian governments. There are 28 authoritarian countries: Angola, Algeria, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Somalia, Swaziland, Sudan, South Sudan, Togo, Djibouti and Zimbabwe.
  • Hybrid governments. There are 15 hybrid countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Iberia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
  • Democratic governments. There are 11 democratic countries: Botswana, Cape Verde, Ghana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa and Tunisia.

Africa population

There are more than 3,000 ethnic groups and tribes, such as the Masai.

Africa's population is 1.2 billion (equivalent to 15% of the total human population) and is made up of various ethnic groups and tribes such as the Bushmen, the Maasai, the Pygmies and the Hottentots. Nigeria is the most populous and poorest African country on the continent (and the planet).

The city of Luanda (the capital of Angola) is one of the most expensive cities in the world, even more than Tokyo (Japan) or Geneva (Switzerland). However, 2/3 of the African population lives below the poverty line and, of the total out-of-school children in the world, 43% are African.

Culture of africa

Although Islam predominates in the north, Christianity is also important.

Africans practice a wide variety of traditional religions . Islam predominates in the northern regions and, from the 20th century on, Catholicism and Protestantism acquired great prominence. Religious rituals are characterized by being accompanied by music with drums , to invoke the different deities (the rhythm varies according to the god they are directed to).

There are more than 3,000 tribes or native peoples that continue to maintain ancestral customs , even today rituals of ablation of female intimate parts are practiced, despite being considered a violation of human rights by the UN (United Nations Organization) .

Political division, countries and capitals of Africa

Africa is divided into 54 sovereign states (51 constituted as a republic and 3 constituted as a monarchy), 2 states with limited recognition and 2 independent territories:

The sovereign countries of Africa are:

  • Angola. Capital: Luanda
  • Algeria. Capital: Algiers
  • Benin. Capital: New Porto and Cotonou
  • Botswana. Capital: Gaborone
  • Burkina Faso. Capital Ouagadougou
  • Burundi. Capital: Gitega
  • Cape Green. Capital: Beach
  • Cameroon. Capital: Yaoundé
  • Chad. Capital: N'Djamena
  • Comoros. Capital: Moroni
  • Ivory Coast. Capital: Yamoussoukro
  • Egypt. Capital: Cairo
  • Ethiopia. Capital: Addis Ababa
  • Gabon. Capital: Libreville
  • Gambia. Capital: Banjul
  • Ghana. Capital: Acra
  • Guinea. Capital: Conakri
  • Guinea-Bissau. Capital: Bissau
  • Equatorial Guinea. Capital: Malabo
  • Kenya. Capital: Nairobi
  • Lesotho. Capital: Maseru
  • Liberia. Capital: Monrovia (monarchy)
  • Libya. Capital: Tripoli
  • Madagascar. Capital: Antananative
  • Malawi. Capital: Lilongwe
  • Mali. Capital: Bamako
  • Morocco. Capital: Rabat (monarchy)
  • Mauricio. Capital: Port Louis
  • Mauritania. Capital: Nouakchott
  • Mozambique. Capital: Maputo
  • Namibia. Capital: Windhoek
  • Niger. Capital: Niamey
  • Nigeria. Capital: Abuja
  • Central African Republic. Capital: Bangui
  • Republic of Congo. Capital: Brazaville
  • Democratic Republic of Congo. Capital: Kinsasa
  • Rwanda. Capital: Kigali
  • Sao Tome and Principe. Capital: São Tomé
  • Senegal. Capital: Dakar
  • Seychelles. Capital: Victoria
  • Sierra Leona. Capital: Freetown
  • Somalia. Capital: Mogadishu
  • Swaziland. Capital: Babane and Lobamba (monarchy)
  • South Africa. Capitals: Bloemfontein (judicial capital), Cape Town (legislative city) and Pretoria (administrative capital).
  • Sudan. Capital: Khartoum
  • South Sudan. Capital: Yuba
  • Tanzania. Capital: Dodoma
  • Togo. Capital: Lomé
  • Tunisia. Capital: Tunis
  • Uganda. Capital: Kampala
  • Djibouti. Capital: Djibouti
  • Zambia. Capital: Lusaka
  • Zimbabwe. Capital: Harare

The Limited Recognition States of Africa are:

  • Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Capital: Laayoune
  • Somaliland. Capital: Hargeisa

The independent states of Africa are:

  • Santa Elena, Ascensión and Tristán de Acuña (depends on the United Kingdom). Capital: Jamestown
  • French Southern and Antarctic Lands (dependent on France). Capital: Saint-Pierre

Africa's map

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The other continents

There are 6 continents on the planet in total: Africa, America , Europe , Asia , Oceania and Antarctica (the southernmost, with an approximate population of 4,000 inhabitants in summer and 1,000 in winter).

Africa is the third largest continent, after Asia and America. It borders to the north with the European continent (from which the Mediterranean Sea separates it) and to the east with the Asian continent (from which it is separated by the Suez Canal, through which the Red Sea passes).

More in: Continent

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