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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 (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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Location of Cameroon

Cameroon, formally the Republic of Cameroon, is a unitary republic of central and western Africa. It borders Nigeria to the west, Chad to the northeast, the Central African Republic to the east, and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the Bight of Bonny, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. The highest point is Mount Cameroon in the southwest, and the largest cities are Douala, Yaoundé, and Garoua. Cameroon is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. The country is well known for its native styles of music, particularly makossa and bikutsi, and for its successful national football team. English and French are the official languages.

Compared with other African countries, Cameroon enjoys relative political and social stability. This has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, railways, and large petroleum and timber industries. Nevertheless, large numbers of Cameroonians live in poverty as subsistence farmers. Power lies firmly in the hands of the president, Paul Biya, and his Cameroon People's Democratic Movement party, and corruption is widespread. The Anglophone community has grown increasingly alienated from the government, and Anglophone politicians have called for greater decentralisation and even the secession of the former British-governed territories. (Read more...)

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Map of the Senufo language area
Image credit: Mark Dingemanse

The Senufo languages comprise approximately 15 languages spoken by the Senufo in West Africa. They are generally considered a branch of the Gur sub-family of Niger-Congo languages.

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Akan drum

Featured biography

Charles Atangana (c. 1880 – 1 September 1943), also known by his birth name, Ntsama, and his German name, Karl, was the paramount chief of the Ewondo and Bane ethnic groups during much of the colonial period in Cameroon. Although from an unremarkable background, Atangana's loyalty and friendship with colonial priests and administrators secured him successively more prominent posts in the colonial government. He proved himself an intelligent and diplomatic administrator and was eventually named paramount chief of the Ewondo and Bane peoples. His loyalty to the German Empire was unquestioning, and he even accompanied the Germans on their escape from Africa in World War I.

After a brief stay in Europe, Atangana returned to his homeland in Cameroon, which by then was a League of Nations mandate territory under the administration of the French Third Republic. The French doubted his loyalties at first, but Atangana served satisfactorily and regained his post as paramount chief. During the remainder of his life, he oversaw the Westernisation of his subjects and the improvement of his domains despite the erosion of his powers due to French policies and native unrest. He never advocated resistance to the European powers, preferring to embrace European civilisation and technology in the service of African interests. (Read more...)

In the news

22 June 2018 – European migrant crisis
Malta refuses to accept 234 African immigrants from the ship Lifeline. (Reuters)
2 June 2018 – Asteroid close approaches to Earth in 2018
A 2–5-metre (6 ft 7 in–16 ft 5 in) wide asteroid named 2018 LA was estimated (before impact) to have an 82% chance of having impacted Earth today, with several corroborating reports from Botswana. An OFM media report from near Klerksdorp, North West province, South Africa, describes "'a light' falling from the sky" at 18:49 (UTC+02:00) Saturday night. (NASA) (Minor Planet Mailing List) (Project Pluto) (OFM)

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Topics in Africa

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