Africa


Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent. At about 30.2 million km² (11.7 million sq mi) including adjacent islands, it covers six percent of theEarth‘s total surface area and 20.4 percent of the total land area.[2] With 1.0 billion people (as of 2009, see table), it accounts for about 15% of the world’s human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagoes. It has 54 fully recognized sovereign states (“countries“), 9 territoriesand three de facto states with limited recognition.[3]

Africa, particularly central Eastern Africa, is widely accepted as the origin of humans and the Hominidae clade (great apes), as evidenced by the discovery of the earliest hominidsand their ancestors, as well as later ones that have been dated to around seven million years ago – including Sahelanthropus tchadensisAustralopithecus africanusA. afarensisHomo erectusH. habilis and H. ergaster – with the earliest Homo sapiens(modern human) found in Ethiopia being dated to circa 200,000 years ago.[4] Africa straddles the equator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones.[5]

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