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Africa, the second largest continent (after Asia), covering about one-fifth the the total land surface ar of Earth. The continent is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, ~ above the north by the Mediterranean Sea, on the east by the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, and on the southern by the mingling waters that the Atlantic and Indian oceans.


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Off the shores of Africa a variety of islands are connected with the continent. Of these Madagascar, among the biggest islands in the world, is the many significant. Other, smaller islands include the Seychelles, Socotra, and other islands to the east; the Comoros, Mauritius, Réunion, and other islands to the southeast; Ascension, St. Helena, and Tristan da Cunha come the southwest; Cape Verde, the Bijagós Islands, Bioko, and São Tomé and Príncipe come the west; and the Azores and also the Madeira and also Canary islands to the northwest.

The continent is cut nearly equally in two by the Equator, so that many of Africa lies in ~ the dry region, bounded top top the phibìc by the Tropic that Cancer and on the southern by the Tropic of Capricorn. Because of the bulge created by western Africa, the greater component of Africa’s region lies phibìc of the Equator. Africa is crossed from phibìc to southern by the element meridian (0° longitude), which passes a brief distance come the east of Accra, Ghana.

In antiquity the Greeks are stated to have called the continent Libya and the Romans come have referred to as it Africa, possibly from the Latin aprica (“sunny”) or the Greek aphrike (“without cold”). The name Africa, however, to be chiefly used to the northern shore of the continent, i beg your pardon was, in effect, pertained to as a southern extension of Europe. The Romans, who for a time rule the north African coast, are likewise said come have referred to as the area south of their negotiations Afriga, or the land of the Afrigs—the name of a Berber community south that Carthage.

The totality of Africa deserve to be considered as a huge plateau increasing steeply native narrow seaside strips and consisting of ancient crystalline rocks. The plateau’s surface is higher in the southeast and also tilts downward toward the northeast. In basic the plateau might be divided into a southeastern part and a northwestern portion. The northwestern part, which includes the Sahara (desert) and also that component of phibìc Africa recognized as the Maghrib, has two such as mountain regions—the Atlas mountains in northwestern Africa, i m sorry are believed to be component of a mechanism that extends right into southern Europe, and also the Ahaggar (Hoggar) hills in the Sahara. The southeastern component of the plateau includes the Ethiopian Plateau, the east African Plateau, and—in eastern south Africa, where the plateau edge drops downward in a scarp—the Drakensberg range. Among the many remarkable features in the geologic structure of Africa is the east African Rift System, i m sorry lies in between 30° and also 40° E. The rift itself starts northeast the the continent’s limits and extends southward from the Ethiopian Red Sea coast to the Zambezi flow basin.

Africa consists of an enormous wealth that mineral resources, consisting of some that the world’s biggest reserves of fossil fuels, metallic ores, and gems and also precious metals. This wealth is suitable by a good diversity of biological resources that includes the strongly lush equatorial rainforests of central Africa and also the world-famous populaces of wildlife the the eastern and also southern sections of the continent. Although agriculture (primarily subsistence) tho dominates the economic climates of countless African countries, the exploitation of these resources ended up being the most far-ranging economic activity in Africa in the 20th century.

Climatic and other factors have exerted substantial influence top top the patterns of person settlement in Africa. While some areas appear to have been inhabited more or much less continuously because the dawn that humanity, huge regions—notably the desert locations of northern and also southwestern Africa—have been mostly unoccupied for prolonged periods of time. Thus, although Africa is the 2nd largest continent, it consists of only about 10 percent of the world’s populace and can be claimed to it is in underpopulated. The greater component of the continent has long been occupied by black color peoples, however in historical times there additionally have occurred major immigrations from both Asia and also Europe. Of all international settlements in Africa, that of the Arabs has actually made the best impact. The Islamic religion, which the Arabs brought with them, spread from phibìc Africa into many locations south the the Sahara, therefore that countless western African peoples are now greatly Islamized.

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This write-up treats the physical and human geography of Africa, complied with by conversation of geographic features of unique interest. For discussion of individual nations of the continent, see such short articles as Egypt, Madagascar, and Sudan. African areas are cure under the titles central Africa, eastern Africa, phibìc Africa, southern Africa, and also western Africa; this articles likewise contain the principal treatment the African historical and social development. For conversation of major cities that the continent, see such write-ups as Alexandria, Cairo, Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Kinshasa. Connected topics are disputed in the short articles literature, African; literature, southern African; architecture, African; art, African; dance, African; music, African; theatre, African; art and architecture, Egyptian; Islam; arts, Islamic; and also Islamic world.