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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 originated 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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The Zambezi river basin

The Zambezi (also spelled Zambesi) is the fourth-longest river in Africa, and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean. The area of its basin is 1,390,000 km² (537,000 mi²), slightly less than half that of the Nile. The 2,574 km- (1,600 mi-) long river has its source in Zambia and flows through Angola, along the borders of Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, to Mozambique, where it empties into the Indian Ocean.

The Zambezi's most spectacular feature is Victoria Falls, the world's largest waterfalls. Other notable falls include the Chavuma Falls at the border between Zambia and Angola, and Ngonye Falls, near Sioma in Western Zambia. Over its entire course, the Zambezi is spanned by only six bridges: at Chinyingi, Katima Mulilo, Victoria Falls, Chirundu, Tete, and the Dona Ana Bridge in Mozambique. (Read more...)

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Ring-tailed Lemur holding twins born the previous night in Colchester Zoo, Essex, England
Photo credit: NASA

The Sahara (Arabic: الصحراء الكبرى‎, aṣ-ṣaḥrā´, "The Great Desert") is the world's largest hot desert at over 9,000,000 square kilometres (3,500,000 sq mi). The Sahara defines the borders of North Africa and has an intermittent history that may go back as much as 2.5 million years.

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Akan drum

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Pieter Kenyon Fleming-Voltelyn van der Byl (11 November 1923 – 15 November 1999) served as the Foreign Minister of Rhodesia from 1974 to 1979 as a member of the Rhodesian Front. He was a close associate of Prime Minister Ian Smith.

After a high-flying international education, van der Byl moved to the colony of Rhodesia to manage family farms. He went into politics in the early 1960s through his involvement with farming trade bodies, and became a government minister responsible for propaganda. One of the leading agitators for the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, van der Byl was afterwards responsible for introducing press censorship. He was unsuccessful in his attempt to persuade international opinion to recognise Rhodesia as a new nation, but was popular among the members of his own party. Promoted to the cabinet in 1968, van der Byl became a spokesman for the Rhodesian government and crafted a public image as a diehard supporter of continued White minority rule. In 1974 he was made Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence. (Read more...)

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