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Afrika Asien Antarktika Europa Nordamerika Ozeanien SüdamerikaLocation of Africa on a world map
About this picture
area 30,221,532 km²
population about 1.3 billion
Population density approx. 43 inhabitants / km²
countries 55
Time zones UTC − 1 ( Cape Verde ) to UTC + 4 ( Mauritius and Seychelles )

Africa is one of the continents on earth . Its area of ​​30.2 million km² corresponds to about 22% of the total land area of ​​the planet , it has a population of about 1.3 billion people (2017). This makes it the second largest continent after Asia in terms of both extent and population . Almost all African states are members of the United Nations and the African Union . The continent is predominantly rural and characterized by high birth rates , which are falling due to modernization. Due to the sharp increase in urbanization since around 1950More and more Africans live in urban areas. Some African cities are among the world's largest metropolitan areas , including Cairo , Lagos , Kinshasa , Johannesburg , Luanda and Alexandria .

According to the “ out-of-Africa theory ”, Africa is considered the “ cradle of humanity ”, where in the course of hominization the development to the anatomically modern human being Homo sapiens took place. One of the earliest advanced civilizations of mankind was formed in ancient Egypt . Over the millennia, various “ great empires ” such as the Abyssinian Empire emerged on the continent . The slave trade with the African empires since the 16th century and the later colonization by European states (" Race for Africa ") led to a sometimes drawing board-like division of territory. In the course of decolonization from the middle of the 20th century, this was adopted by many newly formed African states. The heterogeneous peoples of Africa traditionally had other settlement areas, which contributes to various conflicts and wars over territorial, raw material and power claims.

While most of Africa's countries were governed by autocracy for a long time , democratic movements became more prevalent from the late 20th century onwards , with the Africa region performing worst since the beginning of democracy measurements. Poverty, famine, child mortality and health problems have been reduced significantly over the past few decades through education, economic , medical and infrastructural advances. With a few exceptions such as South Africa , Nigeria , Egypt , Algeria , Angola and Morocco , the importance of the African states in the world economy is still low in terms of GDP . However, several African countries have been among the world's fastest growing economies since the beginning of the 21st century . The continent's raw materials and the agriculturally usable areas are of increasing importance for the African countries as well as the industrialized and emerging countries that trade with them .

The geography and nature of Africa are diverse, there are a large number of nature-protected national parks . The African UNESCO World Heritage is extensive.


In ancient times , the Latin name Africa only referred to the area of ​​the Roman province of the same name in what is now Tunisia around Carthage . The continent (initially only North Africa west of the Nile) was often called Libya in ancient times . The name Africa was first used by the Roman senator and general Scipio Africanus and is derived from the Latin word Afer (plural: Afri ), which means something like "Africans, Punic " and could in turn be derived from a local tribe. Other interpretations of the popular name Afer related to the Hebrew ʿafar ("dust"), the Greek aphrike ("cold") or the Latin aprica ("sunny").


Südamerika Nordamerika Ozeanien Antarktika Europa Afrika Ozeanien Asien Nordamerika
Location of Africa in the world

Africa is surrounded in the north by the Mediterranean Sea , in the west by the Atlantic Ocean , in the east by the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea . The coastline is 30,490 km, which is relatively little compared to the large area. The only land connection to other mainland masses is to Eurasia at the point of the Sinai Peninsula , which lies between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula . Europe is closest to Africa on the Strait of Gibraltar and the Strait of Sicily . The southernmost point of Africa is Cape Agulhas at 34 ° 50 'south. The African continent is only slightly divided; it has fewer islands and peninsulas than any other continent.

Due to its location on both sides of the equator and its compact shape, Africa has the largest contiguous land mass in the tropics . 75% of the area of ​​Africa lies within the tropics , which form the mathematical tropical limit. A large part of Central and West Africa is covered by tropical rainforest ; the Congo Basin is the second largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon. Large deserts have arisen around the tropics, which are spreading through desertification ; the Sahara in the north is only interrupted by the river oasis of the Nile , in the south there is the Namib as a foggy desert and the Kalahari as a dry savannah . South of the Sahara ( Sahel zone ) and in East Africa down to South Africa there are huge savannah areas . The dry forests and fire ecosystems , for example Mopane , Miombo or Chipya vegetation, spread out in the area of ​​two annual precipitation maxima. Southeast Africa is more fertile due to the influence of the monsoons and the great valleys of the Zambezi and Limpopo .

The smallest country on the mainland, Gambia , is about the size of Cyprus and the largest, Algeria , about seven times the size of Germany. The largest island is Madagascar , which is located off the southeast coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean.

Regions of Africa:
██ North Africa ██ West Africa
██ Central Africa ██ East Africa
██ Southern Africa


The following subdivision of Africa into regions is used, among others, by the UN statistical agency UNSD :


Catchment areas of the great water systems of Africa

Still waters

There are two basic types of lakes. On the one hand there are the basin lakes, which stretch out flat and wide and change their size very strongly due to evaporation. One example of this is Lake Chad . On the other hand, the grave lakes, which are located in the East and Central African Graben, are very deep, long and narrow. Examples are Lake Malawi or Lake Tanganyika .

Flowing waters

There are also two types of rivers in Africa that feed basin lakes, they do not have a great gradient and a low flow velocity, e.g. B. the Shari , which feeds Lake Chad , or the Okavango , which seeps into the Okavango Delta and evaporates. On the other hand, there are the rivers that flow into the sea, they have a high gradient and therefore have a high flow speed, examples are the Nile , which flows into the Mediterranean, Niger , Congo and Orange , which flows into the South Atlantic Ocean flow, or the Zambezi which flows into the Indian Ocean .

  • The longest river in Africa and at the same time the longest or second longest river on earth , since the length of the Amazon - depending on the definition - is between 6500 kilometers and 6800 kilometers, the Nile is 6671 km. It flows into the Mediterranean.
  • The second longest river in Africa and the most water-rich on the continent is the Congo with 4374 km. It flows into the South Atlantic .
    • A right tributary of the Congo is the 350 km long Lukuga , the only outflow of the East African Lake Tanganyika. At 1470 m, this is the second deepest lake on earth after Lake Baikal .
  • After the Nile and the Congo, the Niger is the third longest river or stream in Africa with a length of 4184 km. After leaving the Kainji reservoir , the Niger flows into the South Atlantic. Its catchment area is 2,261,763 km².
  • At 2,736 km, the Zambezi is the fourth longest river in Africa and the largest African river that flows into the Indian Ocean . The catchment area covers 1,332,574 km², which corresponds to about half of the Nile catchment area.
    • Lake Malawi with 29,600 km² is one of the deepest lakes in Africa at 706 m. Its outflow is the Shire River , which flows into the Zambezi after 402 km.


The groundwater map of Africa published by the British Geological Survey (BGS) shows that in most of the inhabited areas the water could even be raised to the surface with hand pumps.

Mountains and mountains

Landscape of the Virunga volcanoes

In the north-west of Africa, the geologically young Atlas and Maghreb Mountains stretch through the states of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia , which arose together with the Alps as the African and Eurasian plates approach .

The Great Rift Valley , which is the continuation of the rift valley under the Red Sea and indicates a separation of the Horn of Africa and Arabia from the rest of Africa, runs through the east of Africa . The resulting volcanism has created , among other things, the Kilimanjaro massif , the highest mountain massif in Africa, the Ruwenzori mountains and the Mount Kenya massif . In the further course of the rift valley lie Lake Turkana , Lake Kiwu , Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi as well as the lower reaches of the Zambezi.

The five highest mountains or mountain massifs with their respective highest mountain
Mountains mountain height Country
Kilimanjaro massif Kibo (Uhuru Peak) 5895  m Tanzania
Mount Kenya massif Batian 5199  m Kenya
Ruwenzori Mountains Margherita Peak 5109  m DR Congo and Uganda
Abyssinia highlands  Ras Dashan 4533  m Ethiopia
Virunga volcanoes Karisimbi 4507  m Rwanda , DR Congo and Uganda

In addition, the Atlas with the Toubkal ( 4165  m ) in Morocco, Mount Meru ( 4562.13  m ), an island mountain in Tanzania and the Cameroon Mountain ( 4095  m ), an island mountain in Cameroon , are among the highest mountains, mountain ranges or mountains of the continent.


Precipitation map of Africa

The climates of Africa range from the ever-humid and hot tropical climate to the cold Afro-Alpine altitude on the highest peaks. The northern half of Africa and the extreme southwest consist mainly of deserts with an arid climate , while it becomes more and more humid towards the equator . Africa is the hottest continent on earth, the land area of ​​which is the only part of the world that encompasses the entire northern and southern tropical zone. Almost 60% of the total land surface consists of arid areas and deserts. The record for the highest temperature ever recorded, in Libya in 1922 (58 ° C), was discredited in 2013.


Most of Africa consists of very old ( Precambrian ) platforms that are mostly covered by younger sediments of the Karoo supergroup .

Geologically, the Arabian Plate belongs to Africa, with which Africa is bounded in the northeast by the Taurus Mountains in southern Turkey and the Zāgros Mountains in western Iran .

Vegetation and wildlife

Vegetation areas of Africa: dark green tropical rainforests; reddish: deserts and semi-deserts, lighter green tones: savannas; purple: Mediterranean vegetation (for legend see vegetation map )

The most important vegetation areas of the African continent are on the one hand the rainforests of West and Central Africa, on the other hand the three large desert areas and thirdly the savannah and dry forest areas in between. The Central African rainforest block in the area of ​​the Congo Basin is isolated from the rainforests on the south coast of West Africa. The three most important deserts or semi-deserts are the Namib in the south, the Sahara in the north and the semi-desert areas in the Horn of Africa , which are, however, connected to the Sahara. Within the savannas, a distinction is usually made between wet savannah forest mosaics and dry savannas , which in turn are separated from each other by extensive forest savannas . These forest savannahs are called Miombo in the southeast and Doka in the northwest. In addition, there are also Mediterranean forms of vegetation north of the Sahara . Typical high mountain vegetation can be found in North Africa in the Atlas Mountains , in the Ethiopian mountainous country and above all in numerous, partially isolated mountain massifs in East Africa, such as Kilimanjaro , Mount Kenya and Ruwenzori Mountains . The cape area is a specialty, which is noticeable for its special biodiversity and its own flora . Another special form of vegetation are the South African Karoo steppes.

Africa is known for its large herds of wild animals, here wildebeest

Africa is home to two zoogeographical regions . Most of it is covered by the Afrotropic region , which includes the entire continent south of the Sahara, while the parts north of the Sahara are included in the Palearctic region . This is due to numerous species from North Africa, which also occur in Europe and North Asia or have close relatives there. These include the Berber deer (a subspecies of the red deer) and the now extinct atlas bear . The fauna of Africa, especially south of the Sahara, is characterized above all by a large variety of large mammals. The largest terrestrial mammal species on the continent are the African elephant and forest elephant , hippos and rhinos . Other typical large animals are Cape buffalo , giraffes , zebras , numerous antelope and duiker species as well as various pigs . In the area of ​​the Danakil desert there are also remnants of the African wild ass , in the mountains of North Africa ibex and mane sheep . Large carnivores are also well represented by lions , leopards , cheetahs , hyenas and wild dogs . Smaller predators are represented by the aardwolf , various crawling cats , mongooses , cats , foxes , jackals and some martens such as the honey badger . The Central African forest areas in particular are home to a large variety of different primate species. These include gorillas , chimpanzees , monkeys , galagos and pottos . Typical African mammal orders represent aardvarks , hyraxes , elephant shrews , potamogalinae and golden moles is that all the group of Afrotheria come. This group of animals also includes the elephants and manatees such as the African manatee and the dugong and has its origins in Africa. Widespread orders of mammals that are also found in Africa are bats, insectivores, rodents and hares. The pangolins are found in South Asia as well as in Africa. The largest reptile on the continent is the Nile crocodile , the largest bird the African ostrich .

The large animal fauna of the African savannah is increasingly limited to individual protected areas. The most famous of these, such as the Serengeti , the Chobe National Park or the Kruger National Park, are located in the eastern and southern parts of the continent. The habitats of the rainforest inhabitants are also disappearing.


Ethnolinguistic Groups of Africa (1959 data)
Population density in Africa (2005)

Development of the population of Africa (in millions)

Africa has around 1.257 billion inhabitants (as of 2017), most of which live south of the largely unpopulated Sahara desert in sub-Saharan Africa . In North Africa , where mainly Berbers and Arabs live, there are around 210 million inhabitants. For 2050 the UN expects 2.5 billion and for 2100 approx. 4.4 billion inhabitants.

The most populous state is Nigeria with almost 180 million inhabitants. The country with the poorest population is the Seychelles with 80,000 inhabitants.

The largest city in Africa is Cairo ( Egypt ) with about 15.7 million inhabitants, followed by Lagos ( Nigeria ) with 11.2 million inhabitants; the third largest city on the continent is Kinshasa ( Democratic Republic of the Congo ) with 8.1 million inhabitants.


In North Africa for millennia before the arrival of lived Arabs around the 7th century around Berber peoples. Since then, these have mainly lived in the mountainous regions of the Maghreb , where they found refuge from the Arab invaders, but in the course of the following centuries they clearly mixed with them and created their own Maghreb culture, which has some differences from the rest of the Arab world , for example in the language . The peoples of Northeast Africa, such as B. the Amhars are Semitic peoples. The Sahara is inhabited by nomadic Tuaregs .

In West Africa the Mande and Gur peoples should be mentioned. Hausa and Yoruba live in eastern West Africa, Wolof and Fulbe in the western part.

In Central - and East Africa are Bantu home, one consisting of many peoples group. The Khoisan peoples in southern Africa are indigenous peoples , as are the Berbers and Tuaregs in the Sahara and the Maasai in East Africa. The largest group of people who immigrated in the course of colonization are the Boers in South Africa . Modern migration movements have brought Lebanese to West Africa and Indians and Chinese to East Africa.


In total there are over 2000 independent African languages, of which around 50 are considered major languages, each spoken by over a million people. Some of the major African languages ​​are Swahili , Igbo , Hausa, and Fulfulde . English , French and Portuguese are widespread official and working languages in many African countries, as they greatly simplify the communication with the many small languages. In Namibia also is German spoken in South Africa it enjoys special status.

The Afro-Asian languages include Arabic , Hausa , Amharic and Oromic , while the Niger-Congo languages include Bambara , Swahili , Wolof , Yoruba and Zulu . The Khoisan languages are spoken by the peoples of the same name in southern Africa; they are characterized by clicks. In Madagascar, Austronesian languages such as Malagasy , Howa (dialect of Merina ) and other Merina dialects are spoken.


Islam is widespread in North Africa, East Africa and West Africa . According to the Foreign Office, 44.2% of all Africans (including Arabs and Berbers in North Africa) belong to Islam, according to the CIA World Factbook 43.4%. In addition, there are a large number of people who practice traditional religions , especially in West and Southeast Africa . It is estimated that this is 13 to 20% of Africans. The remaining 38 to 43% belong to Christian denominations . The majority of African Christians live in southern Africa. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church plays a special role , as the Kingdom of Aksum made Christianity the state religion in Ethiopia . Baha'i , Judaism and Hinduism are also common among the non-African minorities .

Health and healthcare

The average life expectancy of an African woman is 61.9 years, the average life expectancy of an African man 58.6 years. It is thus far lower than on other continents (period 2010–2015). Africa is also the continent hardest hit by HIV / AIDS . About 4% of the population are HIV positive (see also: HIV / AIDS in Africa ). Since around 2005, however, progress has been made in the fight against the epidemic, which is why average life expectancy is rising again in almost all African countries.

Development of life expectancy in Africa (source: UN)
Period Life expectancy
Period Life expectancy
1950-1955 37.5 1985-1990 51.7
1955-1960 40.0 1990-1995 51.7
1960-1965 42.3 1995-2000 52.3
1965-1970 44.4 2000-2005 53.7
1970-1975 46.6 2005-2010 57.0
1975-1980 48.7 2010-2015 60.2
1980-1985 50.5 2015-2020 62.4

The African countries have reacted in 2020 initially in different ways and intensity on the spread of the coronavirus. Egypt , Algeria, Morocco and South Africa are particularly hard hit in the first quarter of the year . The African Union supports with its substructure Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - CDC Africa member countries in their activities against the risk of infection with COVID-19 . Centers for Regional Cooperation ( Regional Collaborating Center , RCC) is available for North Africa ( Cairo , Egypt), East Africa ( Nairobi , Kenya), Southern Africa ( Lusaka , Zambia), West Africa ( Abuja , Nigeria) and Central Africa ( Libreville , Gabon) .


"Lucy", the skeleton of an Australopithecus afarensis

The oldest known human traces of life were found in Africa. It is considered certain that from here first Homo erectus and later - the anatomically modern man (Homo sapiens) , who emerged from the populations of Homo erectus that remained in Africa, spread to Asia and Europe. Accordingly, the oldest stone tools were discovered in Africa: the simple Oldowan tools of the " Early Stone Age ", which in Europe is known as the Old Paleolithic .

Egypt was one of the first advanced civilizations in the Nile Valley in North Africa . There were other kingdoms in West Africa such as the Ashanti and the Haussa , but these came about much later. There were also some important cultures in East and South Africa, as well as in the area of ​​today's Sudan, then called Nubia or Kush. Nubian pharaohs also ruled all of Egypt for a dynasty. Important cultures in southern Africa were, for example, the inhabitants of Greater Zimbabwe . This stone castle was architecturally a masterpiece for the time and important for trade between the peoples of the south and the east. The Swahili were known in East Africa .

North Africa was connected rather than separated from Europe and the Middle East by the Mediterranean Sea. Carthage , a foundation of the Phoenicians in what is now Tunisia , was founded around the middle of the 1st millennium BC. Chr. The dominant superpower in the western Mediterranean until the Punic Wars of Rome replaced was. This prevailed from 30 BC. BC (conquest of Egypt) over all of North Africa.

Even the ancient Egyptians (Queen Hatshepsut ) made trips to Punt , probably in what is now Somalia . The kingdom of the Queen of Sheba , which probably had its center in southern Arabia, is said to have extended over parts of the Horn of Africa to northern Ethiopia . The rulers of Ethiopia traced their descent to the Queen of Sheba. Herodotus reports that around 600 BC BC. Phoenician sailors commissioned by Pharaoh Necho had in three years Africa from the Red Sea to bypass the mouth of the Nile. Since he reports that they claimed to have seen the sun "on their right hand", that is, in the north, this report is considered credible. The journey of the Carthaginian admiral Hanno around 500 BC is certain . BC , who came from southern Spain at least to Sierra Leone .

During the Great Migration , the Vandals conquered Roman North Africa from Morocco to Libya . Even before the Hijra , Arab tribes immigrated to North Africa. With the triumph of Islam , Egypt was conquered in 641 and Morocco in 670. In the centuries that followed, North Africa was almost completely Islamized, the Sahel , West and East Africa at least partially.

Africa from a European perspective, around 1570
Africa from a European perspective, around 1812

In 1250 the Sixth Crusade was directed against Egypt (the other Crusades were directed against Palestine ). Between the 9th and 16th centuries, several powerful, independent kingdoms developed in what is now Mali . In the 15th century , the west coast of Africa was explored from Portugal . Portugal and Spain established their first bases on the north coast in the 15th and 16th centuries.

After the discovery of America , Africa was mainly of interest to the Europeans as a source of slaves . A significant proportion of the population of Brazil , Haiti and other islands in the Caribbean , but also the USA, are of African descent. For the purpose of the slave trade , forts were built on the coasts, and transport from the inland was mostly carried out by native kingdoms. In the East African slave trade were to the 17th century Arab traders predominate. The interior of the continent was largely unknown to the Europeans. The first research trips were undertaken at the end of the 18th century by men of various nationalities sent by the Association for Promotion the Discovery of the Interieur of Africa (Africa Association, London).

After the industrial revolution and the ban on the slave trade in 1807, Africa became rather uninteresting. Only with the advent of imperialism grew the interest of the European great powers at the dark continent and the scramble for Africa led within less than 20 years to fill almost the entire continent. At the Congo Conference in Berlin in 1884/85 most of inner Africa was divided up between the European powers, until 1912 most of the African peoples lost their freedom. Only Liberia , a settlement colony of freed North American slaves, and the old Abyssinia Empire (now Ethiopia ) remained independent , which, however, was attacked by fascist Italy in 1935 and annexed by them from 1936 to 1941. In the First World War , the German colonies were the theater of war, and many Africans fought in Europe. During the Second World War, fighting took place mainly in North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Colonization of Africa around 1914

In the course of the decolonization of Africa , several states became independent in the 1950s. 1960 is considered the year of African independence as most of the French colonies gained independence in that year. Djibouti was the last state to break away from European rule in 1977. In South Africa , the black majority has only been in government since 1994. The South African occupation of Namibia ended four years earlier. Some islands and the areas around the cities of Ceuta and Melilla belong to different European states to this day.

The development of a national feeling in most African states was made more difficult by the arbitrary and the historical and ethnic-cultural factors that were disregarded in the colonial era. This and the one-sided orientation of the economies on export articles led u. a. to the fact that the political situation in most states is unstable and authoritarian regimes prevail. As a result, a large part of the continent's natural wealth falls victim to corruption or is skimmed off by international corporations. Combined with underdeveloped infrastructure, climatic problems, high population growth and, more recently, very high AIDS rates, this means that almost all of Africa belongs to the Third World . With Agenda 2063 , the African Union agreed in the 2010s on the implementation of specific goals in order to remove major obstacles to development and thus to have created prosperity for the African population by 2063. China's development finance for Africa began the decade before that .

African States and Dependent Territories

Ägypten Tunesien Libyen Algerien Marokko Mauretanien Senegal Gambia Guinea-Bissau Guinea Sierra Leone Liberia Elfenbeinküste Ghana Togo Benin Nigeria Äquatorialguinea Kamerun Gabun Republik Kongo Angola Demokratische Republik Kongo Namibia Südafrika Lesotho Eswatini Mosambik Tansania Kenia Somalia Dschibuti Eritrea Sudan Ruanda Uganda Burundi Sambia Malawi Simbabwe Botswana Äthiopien Südsudan Zentralafrikanische Republik Tschad Niger Mali Burkina Faso Jemen Oman Vereinigte Arabische Emirate Saudi-Arabien Irak Iran Kuwait Katar Bahrain Israel Syrien Libanon Jordanien Zypern Türkei Afghanistan Turkmenistan Pakistan Griechenland Italien Malta Frankreich Portugal Madeira Spanien Kanarische Inseln Kap Verde St. Helena, Ascension und Tristan da Cunha St. Helena, Ascension und Tristan da Cunha Mauritius Réunion Mauritius Mayotte Komoren Seychellen Îles Éparses Îles Éparses Madagaskar São Tomé und Príncipe
States of Africa

The political organization " African Union " originally comprised 52 states on the continent; South Sudan joined in 2011 and Morocco in 2017. However, while the Democratic Arab Republic of the Sahara in fact does not exist (the Western Sahara area is occupied by Morocco), but has been recognized as a full member by the AU, a continuous and de facto independent Somaliland Republic has existed since 1991, although it is not formally recognized .

55 African states (all African UN member states, plus Western Sahara) have recognized status, one is controversial (Somaliland) and eight smaller coastal sections and island groups are under European government sovereignty, but are in some cases also claimed by African governments.

Algeria , the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan are the largest countries in terms of area; Nigeria with around 214 million, Ethiopia with 108 million and Egypt with 104 million inhabitants are the most populous countries (as of 2020).

Economy and Infrastructure


Average annual growth rates of the African countries from 2001 to 2012
Share of economic sectors in GDP of African countries in 2004 and 2011

Large parts of the economy in central and southern Africa are on the export oriented (eg banana n plantations , tropical wood , gold - and diamond enminen, cocoa plantations ). In addition, there are larger industrial and smaller craft businesses in the cities that produce, among other things, for their own use. Subsistence farming often predominates in the country , for example the cultivation of cassava and potato , fishing and animal husbandry. In addition, tourism is an important source of income in some areas ( e.g. safari ).

In the states of North Africa , the extraction of oil and natural gas is the main source of income. There is also agriculture on the Nile and in some fertile areas . The Nile dams are used to generate electricity . Several initiatives have been running for several years (“Africa Renewable Energy Initiative” (AREI), “Energy pour l'Afrique”, “Power Africa” and others) to electrify Africa.

Export item
  • Cocoa : about 70% world market share
  • Diamonds : about 50% world market share
  • Gold : about 25% world market share
  • Petroleum : about 10% world market share


Road traffic

The density of the road network is 6.84 km per 100 km².

Rail transport

The railway lines in Africa are only poorly networked, especially in West and Central Africa. The countries Burundi, Cape Verde, Comoros, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Mauritius, Niger, Central African Republic, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Chad have no rail network at all.

air traffic

Only three of the airports in Africa are ranked among the 150 most important worldwide in terms of passenger volume.


African ships are around 80% older than 15 years.


Most of the food production for the population is done through subsistence farming . As a rule, biodiversity is conserved or even promoted, as it occurs on a very small scale and there is no money for chemical fertilizers and plant protection. In contrast, industrial agriculture has been promoted by foreign corporations in recent years . This buy or lease large areas of land to grow high use of irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides either food for the needs in their own country (especially the Gulf countries) - or there are plants such as sugar cane or oil palms grown in order biofuel for Europe to produce . This development is also known as land grabbing . The heads of state in many African countries are definitely interested in these foreign investments, as part of them also flows into the state coffers. The fact that the large fertile land areas are no longer available for the self-sufficiency of the population is not taken into account. The following is a list of the land purchases and leases known at the beginning of 2010:

  • 00,600,000 hectares leased in Ethiopia , the Ethiopian government is looking for tenants for a further 3 million hectares
  • 00,100,000 hectares leased by Libya in Mali
  • 00,400,000 acres leased by a New York mutual fund in Sudan
  • 02,800,000 hectares leased by China in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • 10,000,000 hectares were offered to large farmers in South Africa in the Republic of the Congo

For the further development of agriculture in Africa, an African Green Revolution is proposed on the one hand: with high-yielding varieties and high use of pesticides and fertilizers, foreign know-how and modern information and financial technology to minimize risk. On the other hand, Hans-Heinrich Bass argues for a green renaissance "that takes the know-how of African farmers seriously - and brings it together with today's knowledge."


movie theater

Films have been made in Africa since the invention of cinema, including ethnographic films and colonialist propaganda films. A separate film industry developed particularly in Egypt.

In the countries south of the Sahara, independent production could only develop after the Second World War. Ousmane Sembène is considered the "father" of cinema on the continent . Authors' cinema has a hard time reaching African audiences, as commercial cinemas buy films according to the block system and mainly show Hollywood films and Indian productions. However, where the audience has the opportunity to see African films, like the Pan-African Film Festival FESPACO in Ouagadougou ( Burkina Faso ), it shows keen interest. In many cases, African filmmakers are still dependent on European institutions for funding and production. A commercially viable video production and also the third largest in the world has developed in Nigeria . Other well-known directors include Souleymane Cissé , Safi Faye , Anne-Laure Folly , Med Hondo , Djibril Diop Mambéty .


Among the most important African authors include Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade excellent Chinua Achebe , the "father" of African literature.

Other important authors are: Mobolaji Adenubi (Nigeria), Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana), Amadou Hampâté Bâ , Francis Bebey (Cameroon), Mongo Beti (Cameroon), Steve Chimombo (Malawi), Mia Couto (Mozambique), Amma Darko (Ghana ), EB Dongala (People's Republic of the Congo), Nuruddin Farah (Somalia), Nadine Gordimer (South Africa, Nobel Prize for Literature 1991), Bessie Head (South Africa / Botswana), Lília Momplé (Mozambique), Grace Ogot (Kenya), Ben Okri (Nigeria ), Ousmane Sembène (Senegal), Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o (Kenya), Yvonne Vera (Zimbabwe), Nagib Mahfuz (Egypt, Nobel Prize in Literature 1988), At-Tayyib Salih (Sudan), JM Coetzee (South Africa, Nobel Prize in Literature 2003), Waris Dirie (Somalia) and Damon Galgut (South Africa).


African art: Nok terracotta sculpture, 6th century BC Chr.
African Art: White Lady of Auahouret


Music plays an important role for many Africans. Many African cultures have tonal languages , that is, languages ​​in which pitch is used to distinguish meaning; in some cases this has considerable consequences. For example, by using notes played on instruments to play a meaningful text that the audience can understand. But also that tone sequences in vocal music can be subject to the spoken tone. One cannot talk about African music without including dance. Many African languages ​​have a common word for the two concepts that are mostly different in “Western” culture. Historical research has shown that African musical cultures were never static, but on the contrary, extremely dynamic.

Different sound systems , music in connection with cult, representation, village festivals, urban entertainment, since the beginning of the 20th century a commercial music industry (shellac records) each exist under locally different conditions and thus ensure a great diversity of African music; Under the influence of North and Latin American popular music, African popular music developed in many varieties.

A rough division into style areas distinguishes the Khoisan south from Bantu- speaking Central Africa and the more or less Islamic-influenced regions of East and West Africa.


Philosophical content is still largely conveyed through non-written media, such as oral transmission, since most African peoples did not develop a written form. Dealing with Africa's philosophical heritage is correspondingly difficult. Amadou Hampâté Bâ once put it this way: When an old man dies, an entire library is always burned. Poets like Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o also write in their own language, for which there was often no written form, as a protest against what they consider to be the Eurocentric view of local science and because of their target audience. Written forms have only been developed in the last few decades, often with the help of European mission societies. Philosophers and theorists are mostly known to a European audience from the context of attempts at cultural liberation.



Political Organizations

Economic organizations


  • CAF African Football Association

See also

Portal: Africa  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Africa


Introductions and manuals

  • Thomas Bierschenk / Eva Spies (eds.): 50 Years of Independence in Africa (=  Africa Spectrum . Vol. 45, No. 3). GIGA , 2010, ISSN  0002-0397 , DNB  1024414175 (English, [PDF; 208 kB ; accessed on September 29, 2016] Online edition ISSN 1868-6869).
  • Thomas Bierschenk / Eva Spies (eds.): 50 years of independence in Africa . Continuities, breaks, perspectives (=  Mainzer Contributions to Africa Research . Volume 29 ). Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Cologne 2012, ISBN 978-3-89645-829-2 .
  • Bartholomäus Grill : Oh, Africa . Reports from inside a continent. Goldmann Verlag, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-442-15337-9 .
  • Jacob Emmanuel Mabe (Ed.): The Africa Lexicon . A continent in 1000 keywords. Verlag JB Metzler, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-476-02046-0 (first edition: Peter Hammer Verlag GmbH, Wuppertal 2001, ISBN 3-87294-885-7 and ISBN 3-7795-0020-5 ).
  • Jacob Emmanuel Mabe (Ed.): The small Africa Lexicon . Politics, economy, society (= publication series of the Federal Agency  for Civic Education . Volume 437 ). bpb, Bonn 2004, ISBN 3-89331-538-1 ( bpb online version [PDF; 715 kB ; accessed on September 29, 2016], abbreviated from: Das Afrika-Lexikon ).
  • Christoph Plate / Theo Sommer (ed.): The colorful continent. A new look at Africa . Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt (DVA), Stuttgart / Munich 2001, ISBN 3-421-05463-0 .
  • Walter Schicho: Handbook Africa . 3 volumes. Brandes & Apsel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1999, ISBN 978-3-86099-120-6 .
  • Heinrich Schiffers [employee]: Africa (=  Harms geography in a developing, descriptive representation . Volume 5 ). Rework 9th edition Verlag Paul List, Munich / Frankfurt / Berlin / Hamburg / Essen 1973, ISBN 978-3-471-18853-8 .

Overall representations

Special aspects

Web links

Commons : Africa  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Africa  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikimedia Atlas: Africa  - geographical and historical maps
Wikisource: Africa  - Sources and Full Texts
Wikivoyage: Africa  Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. with the only partially recognized Western Sahara
  2. Country database ,
  3. Regional breakdowns
  4. Axel Bojanowski : Dry continent: Atlas reveals gigantic water reserves under Africa. In: Spiegel Online . April 20, 2012, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  5. Download groundwater maps of Africa - Groundwater resilience to climate change in Africa. In: November 12, 2016, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  6. Africa: Environmental Atlas, 06/17/08. ( January 5, 2012 memento on the Internet Archive ) Center for African Studies, University of Pennsylvania. Accessed June 2011.
  7. AI El Fadli: World Meteorological Organization Assessment of the Purported World Record 58 ° C Temperature extremes at El Azizia, Libya (13 September 1922) . In: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society . 94, No. 2, September 2012, p. 199. bibcode : 2013BAMS ... 94..199E . doi : 10.1175 / BAMS-D-12-00093.1 . (The 57.8 ° C (136 ° F) claimed on September 13, 1922 by Aziziya, Libya, has been officially invalidated by the World Meteorological Organization.)
  8. ^ World Meteorological Organization World Weather / Climate Extremes Archive . Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  9. a b c Jonathan Kingdon: The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals . A&C Black Publishers, London 2003, ISBN 978-0-7136-6513-0 (English, 476 pages, first edition: 1997).
  10. World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision. In: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, archived from the original on July 1, 2014 ; accessed on January 6, 2017 (English).
  11. ^ World Population Reports, 2017 Revision
  12. UN's World Population 2015. (No longer available online.) In: United Nations Publication. United Nations, December 30, 2015, formerly in the original ; accessed on October 29, 2016 (English).  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  13. Chapter 1, Article 6 of the South African Constitution (English)
  14. ^ A b World Population Prospects - Population Division - United Nations. Retrieved November 12, 2017 .
  15. ↑ Region database of the German Foundation for World Population : "Africa". DSW country database .
  16. Africanews: African countries applying lockdowns over COVID-19 spread . Posted March 30, 2020 on (English)
  17. ^ African Union , CDC: About Us . at
  18. ^ African Union, CDC: Our Work . on (English)
  19. ^ African Union, CDC: Northern Africa RCC . on (English)
  20. ^ African Union, CDC: Eastern Africa RCC . on (English)
  21. ^ African Union, CDC: Southern Africa RCC . on (English)
  22. ^ African Union, CDC: Western Africa RCC . on (English)
  23. ^ African Union, CDC: Central Africa RCC . on (English)
  24. S. Semaw et al .: 2.5-million-year-old stone tools from Gona, Ethiopia. In: Nature . Volume 385, 1997, pp. 333-336, doi : 10.1038 / 385333a0
  25. CIA: The World Factbook. , accessed on May 23, 2020
  26. ^ Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). Climate-friendly energy for Africa. In: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2017, archived from the original on June 2, 2017 ; accessed on February 11, 2018 .
  27. ENERGIES POUR L'AFRIQUE. In: Archived from the original on November 2, 2015 ; accessed on February 11, 2018 .
  28. ^ Power Africa. In: Archived from the original on July 26, 2013 ; accessed on February 11, 2018 .
  29. ^ Aurelien Bernier: Electricity for Africa. With the support of the IMF, World Bank and Co, western and Asian corporations are trying to profit from the liberalization of the African markets. LE MONDE diplomatique, February 8, 2018, accessed February 11, 2018 .
  30. ^ Transport: Strengthening cooperation between Europe and Africa ,, June 24, 2009.
  31. Activists, researchers raise alarm on Africa's "land grab". Food Crisis and the Global Land Grab, January 28, 2010.
  32. Like gold, only better. Le Monde diplomatique, January 2010.
  33. Thierry Tanoh: Means in the fight against hunger. Africa's farmers need access to innovative financial models. This is the only way to expand the agricultural sector. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung of September 26, 2011.
  34. Hans-Heinrich Bass: Africa needs a rural industry - hunger can only be fought with sustainable agriculture and solid food processing. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung of November 21, 2011 (PDF; 38 kB)

Coordinates: 7 °  N , 21 °  E