Africa is the second largest continent in the world. It makes up about a fifth of the world's land. It is surrounded by large areas of water. There are 54 fully recognised and independent countries in Africa, and 14.7% (1.216 billion) of the world's population lives there. It is thought to be the continent where the first humansevolved.
History[change | change source]
The history of Africa begins from the first modern human beings and leads to its present difficult state as a politically developing continent.
Africa's ancient historic period includes the rise of Egyptian civilization, the further development of societies outside the Nile River Valley and the interaction between them and civilizations outside of Africa. In the late 7th century North and East Africa were heavily influenced by the spread of Islam. That led to the appearance of new cultures such as those of the Swahili people, and the Mali Empire, whose king, Musa Keita I, became one of the richest and most influential people of the early 14th century. This also led to an increase in the slave trade that had a very bad influence for the development of the whole continent until the 19th century.
Slavery[change | change source]
For more details, see African slave trade and Arab slave trade
Slavery has long been practised in Africa. Between the seventh and twentieth centuries, the Arab slave trade took 18 million slaves from Africa via trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean routes.
Between the fifteenth and the nineteenth centuries (500 years), the Atlantic slave trade took an estimated 7–12 million slaves to the New World.
Between 1808 and 1860, the British Navy captured approximately 1,600 slave ships and freed 150,000 Africans who were aboard.
Colonialism[change | change source]
In the late nineteenth century, the European powers occupied much of the continent, creating many colonial and dependent territories. They left only two fully independent states: Ethiopia (known to Europeans as "Abyssinia"), and Liberia.
Egypt and Sudan were never formally incorporated into any European colonial empire. However, after the British occupation of 1882, Egypt was effectively under British administration until 1922.
Modern history[change | change source]
African independence movements had their first success in 1951 when Libya became the first former colony to become independent. Modern African history has been full of revolutions and wars as well as the growth of modern African economies and democratization across the continent.
A civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) began in 1998. Neighbouring African countries have become involved. Since the conflict began, 5,5 million are estimated to have died because of it.
Political associations such as the African Union offer hope for greater co-operation and peace between the continent's many countries.
Climate[change | change source]
From north to south, Africa has most types of climate. In sequence from the north:
Running north-east to the south is the East AfricanGreat Rift Valley. This has mountains, volcanoes, deep rifts and valleys, rivers and lakes.
In fact Africa has examples of most of the Earth's climate types.
Rainfall[change | change source]
Much of North Africa is dry and hot: it is dominated by the Sahara Desert and does not receive much rain. In Saharan Africa there are few rivers or other water sources. Underground water sources, such as springs are very important in the desert. These often form oases. An oasis is an area of vegetation (plant life) surrounded by desert.
In that part of the world the wind comes mostly from the east. That does bring rain, but the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau blocks the monsoon rain and prevents it getting to North Africa. Also, the Atlas Mountains near the north coast of Africa prevent rain from coming in from the north. That is another rain shadow.
These two rain shadows are mainly responsible for the Sahara desert.
Conditions and winds are different further south, where huge amounts of rain falls near the equator. The equator runs across the middle of Africa (see red line drawn on map). That means much of Africa is between the two tropics:
Plants and animals[change | change source]
Africa has a lot of wildlife. There are many types of animals there. In particular, it is now the only continent that has many native species of large mammals. Some of them occur in very large numbers. There are antelope, buffalo, zebra, cheetah, elephant, lion, giraffe, rhinoceros, apes, hyaena, and a lot more. Over 2,000 types of fish live in African lakes and rivers.
Politics[change | change source]
The African Union (AU) is an international organisation. It aims to transform the African Economic Community, a federated commonwealth, into a state under established international conventions. The African Union has a parliamentary government, known as the African Union Government, consisting of legislative, judicial and executive organs. It is led by the African Union President and Head of State, who is also the President of the Pan African Parliament. A person becomes President of the AU by being elected to the PAP, and then gaining majority support in the PAP.
Extensive human rights abuses still occur in several parts of Africa, often under the oversight of the state. Most of such violations occur for political reasons, often as a side effect of civil war. Countries where major human rights violations have been reported in recent times include Uganda,Sierra Leone,Liberia, Sudan,Zimbabwe, and Côte d'Ivoire.
People[change | change source]
People who come from Africa are called Africans. People north of the Sahara are called Maghrebis and people on the south are called Subsaharans. Languages in eastern Africa include Swahili, Oromo and Amharic. Languages in western Africa include Lingala, Igbo and Fulani. The most populated country in Africa is Nigeria.
Countries[change | change source]
|Canary Islands (Spain)||7,492||2,118,519||2010||226||Las Palmas de Gran Canaria,|
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
|Western Sahara||266,000||405,210||2009||2||El Aaiún|
|Horn of Africa|
|Central African Republic||622,984||4,511,488||2009||7||Bangui|
|Republic of the Congo||342,000||4,012,809||2009||12||Brazzaville|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||2,345,410||69,575,000||2012||30||Kinshasa|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||1,001||212,679||2009||212||São Tomé|
|South Africa||1,219,912||51,770,560||2011||42||Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Pretoria|
|Côte d'Ivoire||322,460||20,617,068||2009||64||Abidjan, Yamoussoukro|
|Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (United Kingdom)||420||7,728||2012||13||Jamestown|
African diaspora[change | change source]
Countries with significant African descendents outside Africa:
References[change | change source]
- ↑ 1.01.1Sayre, April Pulley (1999). Africa. Twenty-First Century Books. ISBN 978-0-7613-1367-0.
- ↑Historical survey > Slave societies, Encyclopædia Britannica
- ↑Swahili Coast, National Geographic
- ↑Welcome to Encyclopædia Britannica's Guide to Black History, Encyclopædia Britannica
- ↑Focus on the slave trade, BBC
- ↑Lovejoy, Paul E. (2000). Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa. Cambridge University Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-521-78430-6.
- ↑Sailing against slavery. By Jo Loosemore BBC
- ↑Rayner, Gordon (27 September 2011). "Is your mobile phone helping fund war in Congo?". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- ↑J.Hofman and S.Colbert 2009. The ultimate guide to African mammals. Libeal House, New Jersey.
- ↑J.Dorst and P.Dandelot 1983. A field guide to the larger mammals of Africa. Collins, London.
- ↑N.Myers 1997. The rich diversity of biodiversity issues. (In:Biodiversity II, ed. E.O. Wilson et al, National Academy Press.
- ↑Uganda Human Rights
- ↑Genocide in Darfur | The Nation
- ↑African leaders break silence over Mugabe's human rights abuses | World news | The Guardian
Other websites[change | change source]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Africa.|
African Diasporic Short Fiction
Fictional literature that is influenced by the diasporic or migratory experiences of displaced black communities, typically as a result of forced slavery.
At the time of their forced migration, African diasporic storytellers relied on oral narratives to relate stories of their native lands—its traditions, folklore, mythology—as well as music and other forms of storytelling. Later emerging as a popular Western literary form, slave narratives were the first widely published example of African diasporic literature. As firsthand accounts of slave life, these narratives exposed the brutality of the chattel system and demonstrated the dignity of black men and women at a time when their humanity was often questioned by whites. As African diasporic peoples struggled for freedom and equality under the law in their new lands, African diasporic literature developed through the years to reflect changing social, political, and cultural realities while retaining a connection to a common cultural heritage.
The era of the transatlantic slave trade began in the early 1500s by the Portuguese and Spanish when the first shiploads of African slaves were brought to Latin America. By the seventeenth century, numerous European countries had also entered the trade in order to meet the labor demands of their commercial interests in the Americas and the Caribbean. Even after winning its independence from England, the United States took part in the trade until Congress barred the importation of slaves in 1808.
The infamous “Middle Passage” was the second leg of this three-part slave voyage that served to underdevelop Africa and brought between ten and thirty million Africans to North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Fully loaded with its human cargo, European and American ships set sail for the Americas, where the slaves—those that had survived the inhumane conditions of the voyage—were exchanged for sugar, tobacco, and other raw materials. In the New World, enslaved Africans were forced to work on sugar, coffee, cocoa, and cotton plantations, gold and silver mines, rice fields, and as house servants.
In 1823 Chile became the first Spanish American republic to emancipate enslaved Africans. The Central American Federation, from which the countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua were eventually formed, ended servitude within its territories the following year. In 1829 Mexico abolished slavery in all of its states, with the exception Texas as a way to pacify the United States. In the United States, slavery as an institution was not outlawed until President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect on January 1, 1863. Cuba abolished slavery in 1880, but replaced it with patronato, a system under which former enslaved Africans were apprenticed to their owners for a period of eight years. In 1886, however, the patronato was ended prematurely, bringing freedom to all Cubans. Ironically, the former Portuguese (and from 1580 to 1640, Spanish-controlled) colony of Brazil was the one of the last strongholds of slavery, abolishing the institution in 1888. Even after slavery was outlawed in each of these countries, however, migrated blacks continued to be victimized by institutionalized discrimination in political, economic, social, and cultural arenas.
While continuing the African tradition of oral and written literature, African diasporic writers over time began assimilating many cultural and intellectual practices of their adopted countries into novels, short stories, drama, and poetry. Yet, a resonating theme in many of their works was the transition of their ancestors from the homeland by means of the Middle Passage. Literary critics assert that this forced and, oftentimes, violent dispersal had a tangible effect on the culture and aesthetics of migratory African populations and became a unifying theme in many writings of the African diaspora. People that were hitherto diverse, ethnically and geographically, were now perceived as belonging to one common land and viewed collectively as Africans, be it African Americans or Afro-Brazilians. In addition to the oppression that resulted from enslavement, racial discrimination was another powerful uniting factor among the displaced people of Africa, and it continued to be a strong thematic element of many diasporic stories. Scholars also point to other common elements within this body of literature, including kinship, family, and spirituality. Despite these similarities, other literary critics counter that it is difficult to find a common thread among African diasporic writings.
As a result, much of the discussion surrounding the African diaspora concentrates on the United States, with little effort put into examining the development of diasporic literature in Canada, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Many commentators propose that in order to define a collective black identity, it is crucial that other descendants of the Middle Passage besides those settled in the United States are studied. It is only then that an increased level of understanding can be reached regarding both the past and present state of African diasporic literature.