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Portal:Africa

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For a topic outline on this subject, see List of basic Africa topics.
Location of Africa on the world map
Satellite map of Africa

Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent, being behind Asia in both categories. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Africa's average population is the youngest amongst all the continents; the median age in 2012 was 19.7, when the worldwide median age was 30.4. Algeria is Africa's largest country by area, and Nigeria is its 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 7 million years ago, including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster—the earliest Homo sapiens (modern human), found in Ethiopia, date 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.

Africa hosts a large diversity of ethnicities, cultures and languages. In the late 19th century, European countries colonised almost all of Africa; most present states in Africa emerged from a process of decolonisation in the 20th century. African nations cooperate through the establishment of the African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa.

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Map showing the distribution of the major Gbe dialect areas

The Gbe languages (pronounced [ɡ͡be]) form a cluster of about twenty related languages stretching across the area between eastern Ghana and western Nigeria. The total number of speakers of Gbe languages is between four and eight million. The most widely spoken Gbe language is Ewe (3 million speakers in Ghana and Togo), followed by Fon (1.7 million, mainly in Benin). The Gbe languages belong to the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo languages, and break up into five major dialect clusters: Ewe, Fon, Aja, Gen, and Phla-Pherá.

Around 1840, German missionaries started linguistic research into the Gbe languages. In the first half of the twentieth century, the Africanist Diedrich Hermann Westermann was one of the most prolific contributors to the study of Gbe. The first internal classification of the Gbe languages was published in 1988 by H.B. Capo, followed by a comparative phonology in 1991. The Gbe languages are tonal, isolating languages and the basic word order is Subject Verb Object. (Read more...)

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Idi Amin
Credit: Edmund S. Valtman

Idi Amin (c. 1925 – 16 August 2003) was President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. While President, Amin committed acts of violence against the people of his country; an estimated 300,000, possibly 500,000 civilians may have been killed under his regime. In this caricature by Edmund S. Valtman, Amin is depicted as a bloated, powerful figure in military dress covered with medals and insignia, holding a scepter, and crowned by a small head with heavy features.

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The mummified head of Ahmose I

Ahmose I (sometimes written Amosis I and meaning The Moon is Born) was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt and the founder of the Eighteenth dynasty. He was a member of the Theban royal house, the son of pharaoh Tao II Seqenenre and brother of the last pharaoh of the Seventeenth dynasty, King Kamose. When he was seven his father was killed, and when he was about ten his brother died of unknown causes, after reigning only three years. Ahmose I assumed the throne after the death of his brother, and upon coronation became known as Neb-pehty-re (The Lord of Strength is Re).

During his reign he completed the conquest and expulsion of the Hyksos from the delta region, restored Theban rule over the whole of Egypt and successfully reasserted Egyptian power in its formerly subject territories of Nubia and Canaan. Ahmose's reign, usually dated to about 1550–1525 BC, laid the foundations for the New Kingdom, under which Egyptian power reached its peak. (Read more...)

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