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Portal:Africa

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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 30.3 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.

For a topic outline on this subject, see List of basic Africa topics.

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Map of ancient Egypt, showing major cities and sites of the Dynastic period (c. 3150 BC to 30 BC)

Ancient Egypt was a civilization in eastern North Africa concentrated along the middle to lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern nation of Egypt. The civilization began around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh, and it developed over the next three millennia. Its history occurred in a series of stable periods, known as kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods. After the end of the last kingdom, known as the New Kingdom, the civilization of ancient Egypt entered a period of slow, steady decline, during which Egypt was conquered by a succession of foreign powers. The rule of the pharaohs officially ended in 31 BC when the early Roman Empire conquered Egypt and made it a province.

The civilization of ancient Egypt thrived from its adaptation to the conditions of the Nile River Valley. Controlled irrigation of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which fueled social development and culture. With resources to spare, the administration sponsored mineral exploitation of the valley and surrounding desert regions, the early development of an independent writing system, the organization of collective construction and agricultural projects, trade with surrounding regions, and a military that defeated foreign enemies and asserted Egyptian dominance. Motivating and organizing these activities was a bureaucracy of elite scribes, religious leaders, and administrators under the control of a divine pharaoh who ensured the cooperation and unity of the Egyptian people through an elaborate system of religious beliefs. (Read more...)

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Cheetah
Photo credit: schani

The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is an endangered member of the cat family (Felidae), a poor climber that hunts by speed and stealth. It is the fastest of all land animals and can reach speeds of more than 105 kilometres per hour (65 mph) in short bursts up to 460 metres (500 yd), as well as being able to accelerate from 0 to 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph) in three seconds. The word "cheetah" is derived from the Sanskrit word citrakāyaḥ चित्रकायः meaning "variegated body", via the Hindi cītā चीता.

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Akan drum

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Sir Roy Welensky

Sir Raphael (Roy) Welensky, KCMG, (January 20, 1907 – December 5, 1991) was a white African politician and the second and final prime minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) to parents of Jewish and Afrikaner ancestry, he moved to Northern Rhodesia, became involved with the trade unions, and entered the colonial legislative council in 1938. There, he campaigned for the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia (the latter under white self-government, the former under the colonial office). Although unsuccessful, he succeeded in the formation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, a state within the British Empire that reflected aspects of the newly independent black nations to the north and Apartheid South Africa to the south.

Becoming Prime Minister of the Federation in 1957, Welensky opposed British moves towards African majority rule, and used force to suppress politically motivated violence in the territories. After the advent of African rule in two of the Federation's three territories, it collapsed in 1963. Welensky retired to Salisbury, where he re-entered politics and attempted to stop Rhodesia (formerly Southern Rhodesia) from declaring itself unilaterally independent. With the end of white rule in 1979, and the independence of Rhodesia as Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe in 1980, Welensky moved to England, where he died in 1991. (Read more...)

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