Africa, the second largest continent on Earth, encompasses approximately 6% of the planet’s total surface area and about 20% of its land mass. Following Asia, Africa boasts the highest population count, reaching approximately 1.2 billion people in 2016. Spanning from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere, Africa’s expansive land area gives rise to diverse climates, weather patterns, and seasons across its various countries. Furthermore, this continent serves as a melting pot for a multitude of ethnicities, cultures, traditions, and languages. Widely acknowledged as the birthplace of the first human species, Africa witnessed the emergence of the earliest hominids and their ancestors, including the earliest Homo sapiens, dating back around 200,000 years in Ethiopia. Throughout its history, Africa has endured European colonization, leaving lasting imprints on its lands and people. However, in the 20th century, the process of decolonization led to the establishment of present-day African states. The African Union now fosters cooperation among African nations, further promoting unity and progress across the continent.
Africa is home to approximately 54 countries, representing the most accurate count of globally-recognized states and territories on the continent. However, debates persist, suggesting that the number of countries falls within the range of 47 to 55. Algeria stands as the largest country in Africa, while Seychelles holds the title for the smallest. Spanning from the Northern to the Southern hemisphere, Africa experiences a diverse range of climates, encompassing tropical to subarctic regions. The northern part of the continent is characterized by arid deserts, while the southern area predominantly consists of savanna plains, jungles, and rainforests.
Africa possesses the largest populations of wild animals worldwide, exhibiting an overwhelming density and diversity of wildlife. Additionally, the continent boasts a wide variety of plant species. Vast numbers of carnivores and herbivores roam freely across its open plains. Africa places great importance on nature and wildlife conservation, evident through its extensive network of over 3,000 protected areas. These areas encompass biosphere reserves, wetland reserves, and marine protected areas, reflecting the continent’s commitment to preserving its natural treasures.