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  Africa
 

Africa, with the utterance of the name thousands of images evoke in the mind, from the wilderness of the Kalahari, the tribal villages of the Pygmy to the pyramids of Cairo. An astounding abode of a wondrous array of people, diverse cultures, fascinating lifestyles and beautiful landscapes, this is Africa for you. This continent is home to an extraordinary concentration of archaeological spectre, cultural depictions, religious rituals, national parks, wildlife and gorgeous scenery. Traverse the enthralling Zanzibar, trek up the Mt. Kilimanjaro, cherish the Sahara trail, cycle through the visually surrealistic Kapsiki, take a boat trip down the Nile and Niger River, tour the highlands and coastal areas and explore the wild safari, treasure mines and hidden kingdoms. Celebrating diversity, Africa displays an amazing diaspora of cross-cultural contact and life-styles ranging from fascinatingly traditional villages to ultra modern cosmopolitans and magnificently scenic countryside. The originating place of human race, Africa is the oldest place on earth and has come a long way to establish itself as an environmentally friendly and economically and culturally responsible continent. Comprising of 61 political territories, inclusive of 50 independent countries, Africa provides an excellent opportunity to acquaint with their tribal lifestyle and traditions. Amidst blossoming romances and simmering tensions, a number of indigenous tribe mutually coexist to construct the multi-ethnic demography of the continent. From the Touareg settlements of the Sahara, through the Pygmy camps of the Congo, to the few remaining indigenous Khoisan or 'Bushmen' peoples in southern and central Africa, the land shelters different races. The Arabic-speaking Arab-Berber peoples predominate in north of Sahara while Niger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan people inhabit West and East Africa respectively. However, it is the Bantu-speaking people who dominate the major part of the African topography with little existence of the Semitic Phoenicians and descendents of invading the Europeans. Though Christianity and Islam are the most widespread religious faith among the African population, a large number of them adhere to and believe in indigenous tribal rituals and traditions like animism, spirit benediction and ancestor worship, ‘vodoo’ being the most prominent one. With so much diversity, Africa shelters more than 12% of the world's human population and thus ranks as the second most populous continent in the world, preceded by Asia.

 
 

The cultural cacophony of Africa is the most exotic feature of the continent that allures people in from all parts of the globe and spread its influence far and beyond. Apart from the unique architectural forms, ancient historic sites, chromatic markets, hued art forms and rustic villages, it is the African melody that will ring in your mind for the rest of the life. From modern blues, jazz, reggae, rap, hip hop and rock and roll to the rhythmic drum and Congo beats and conventional folk, this land has enough tunes in offering to compel you tap your feet.
Africa is the world's second largest landmass that sprawls over 5.9% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.3% of the total land area. Its frontiers are spread from the most northerly point of Ras ben Sakka in Morocco to the southern tip of Cape Agulhas in South Africa with distance approximately of 8,000 km (5,000 miles). On the east to west it is stretched across, approximately, 7,400 km (4,600 miles) that begins at Ras Hafun of Somalia in the east and continues till the western frontiers of Cape Verde. Within this perimeter, Africa possesses a land area of total 30,368,609 km2 (11,725,385 mi2), including adjacent islands, and has a coastline of 26,000 km (16,100 miles). The Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea separates Africa from the Europe and Asia respectively. However, the continent is attached with its Asian counterpart by the Isthmus of Suez. On the other side, though geographically a part of Asia, the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt is regarded as an African territory for political convenience.
Africa is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the north, the Atlantic Ocean on west and part of south side, the Indian Ocean on east and south and by Red Sea on the northeast. Madagascar is the largest offshore island of the continent. Other islands include St. Helena and Ascension in the S Atlantic Ocean, São Tomé, Príncipe, Annobón and Bioko in the Gulf of Guinea. The Cape Verde, Canary, and Madeira Islands are located in the North Atlantic Ocean and Mauritius, Réunion, Zanzibar, Pemba and the Comoros and Seychelles are situated over the Indian Ocean. As Africa takes away a significant amount of the planet’s land area, its topography covers many natural features. If we take an over view of African geography, it contains Nile River, the worlds longest and the massive Sahara Desert, the world's largest. The continent's highest point is Mt. Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania that stands at 19,341ft (5,895m), while the lowest point is at Lake Assal in the small country of Djibouti that dips at 512 ft (156m) below sea level.
The landscape of Africa, no matter how varied it is, maintains a bewildering symmetry all over. It is a series of stable, ancient plateau surfaces that are low in the north and west and go higher in the south and east, rising to more than 6,000 ft/1,830 m. These tabletop lands are dotted with numerous peaks, mountain ranges and ridges. This strange topography is result of erosion due to wind action and gets the special term of ‘Inselberg-landschaft’. Among the plateaus the most prominent one of them is the South African plateau, which with its vast highland seems like an inverted saucer over the central region of Africa. It is more arid that the other ones an home to the barren destinations of the Great Karoo and the Kalahari Desert. The East African plateau is marked by depressions over the earth crust that in turn has emerged as lakes and other water bodies. The Great Rift Valley is the most significant one such low-lying feature and nestles the Great Lakes of Tanganyika, Kivu, Lake Edward and Lake Albert. Interestingly, Lake Tanganyika is the longest freshwater lake in the world; spread over 400 miles (600 km). The Ethiopian Highlands to the east and the Futa Jallon highlands on the west are the other major highlands of this continent. The mountains of Africa are other prominent characteristics of the continent, the Atlas mountain ranges being the most dominating among them. While Atlas ranges are situated on the northern part of the country, the Ruwenzori Range lies east of the western trough. There are several other volcanic hillocks and peaks in Africa, especially, around the Gulf of Guinea along the western frontier.
Africa also has its share of coastal plains and fertile river basins. While coastal lowlands border the central highlands, the arable basins of Nile, Congo, Niger, Benue, Orange, Sobat, Blue Nile and Atbara rivers house most of the population and agriculture of Africa. Lake Nyasa, Lake Rukwa, Lake Chad, Lake Victoria and Lake Mai-Ndombe and Ntomba are other major natural and fresh water reservoirs of Africa.
Being located under tropical regions, the climate Africa is predominantly hot and most of the areas hardly experience rainfall. Mount Cameroon, a strip of coastland on the west, gets the maximum rainfall in Africa. However, weather conditions become moderate down south and except the aridness of Kalahari Desert, it is much cooler than the Saharan region.
Historically, Africa is the most veteran of all the continents on earth. Excavation works suggest that first form of human life appeared over this land some 7 million years ago. From the pre-historic tribes of the Khoi and San groups to the first great civilisation of Egypt beginning around 3300 B.C., Africa is a treasure trove of evolution stories. The civilisations and dynasties of Ethiopia, the Nubian kingdom, the kingdoms of the Sahel, Ghana, Mali, and Songhai and Great Zimbabwe are the brightest one amidst the vast historical timeline of the continent. The foreign invaders who barged in African territories in different periods of history include the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch British and French. With the establishment of foreign colonies, the slave trade in Africa became a predominant feature of world history and became a breeding ground for racial discrimination. After years of violent freedom struggle, bloody civil wars and devastation from natural disasters like famine, Africa has to day emerged as a conglomeration of 50 independent nations.
Though being the world's leading producer of both gold and diamonds and enriched with other natural resources and minerals, Africa has lagged behind economically. The annual growth rate and per capita income of the countries are low enough to enlist the continent as one of the poorest in the whole world. Corruption, internal political disturbance, low level of foreign trade and investment has contributed to this staggering condition of Africa. However, some individual nations like South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt and Libya are prosperous enough to compete with rest of the developed nations in the world and bring a ray of hope to the African economy.

 
 

Algeria - Angola - Benin - Botswana - Burkina Faso - Burundi - Cameroon - Cape Verde - Central African Republic

Chad - Comoros - Democratic Republic of the Congo - Djibouti - Egypt - Equatorial Guinea - Eritrea - Ethiopia - Gabon

Gambia - Ghana - Guinea - Guinea-Bissau - Ivory Coast - Kenya - Lesotho - Liberia - Libya - Madagascar - Malawi

Mali - Mauritania - Mauritius - Mayotte - Morocco - Mozambique - Namibia - Niger - Nigeria - Republic of the Congo - Reunion

Rwanda - Saint Helena - Sao Tome and Principe - Senegal - Seychelles - Sierra Leone - Somalia - South Africa - Sudan

Swaziland - Tanzania - Togo - Tunisia - Uganda - Western Sahara - Zambia - Zimbabwe

 
 
 
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