The African Continent / Map, History, Facts

The African continent is the second largest continent in the world in terms of area and population density. With an area of 30.8 million km², it covers 6% of the world’s surface area and 24.4% of the lands on earth. With a population of 1,256,268,025, it contains 15% of the world population.

A world map highlighting the continent of Africa in a distinct color from the rest of the continents.
Africa World Map

Africa is surrounded by the Mediterranean in the north, the Indian Ocean in the south, the Atlantic Ocean in the west, the Sinai Peninsula, the Red Sea, and the Suez Canal in the east. It contains Madagascar and various archipelagos. There are 54 diplomatic recognized independent states in the continent and nine regions on the continent.

Among the continents, the youngest population is in Africa. 50% of Africans are under 19 years old. While Algeria is the largest country in Africain terms of area, Nigeria is the largest country in terms of population.

Africa is the only continent on both sides of the equator and on both climatic zones in the world with a wide range of climatic zones.

Africa hosts a great diversity as ethnic, cultural and language. In the late 19th century, it was colonialized by European countries. The modern states of Africa emerged after the decolonization process in the 20th century. The African countries were formed in part during the Pillage of Africa in 1881-1914.

A map of Africa in brown and white shows country borders but no names or additional elements.

The List of Countries in Africa Continent

Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Central African Republic
Cote d’Ivoire
Democratic Republic of Congo
Equatorial Guinea
Guinea Bissau
Republic of Congo
Sao Tome and Principe
Sierra Leone
South Africa
South Sudan

Geography of Africa Continent

Africa continent, separated from Europe by the Mediterranean, is separated from Asia by the Sinai Peninsula. However, in Geopolitics, part of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula is considered to be included in Africa. The continent is adjacent to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean in the east. Bab-el Mendeb Strait approaches 18 km to the Arabian Peninsula. The south of the continent is surrounded by the Indian Ocean and the west by the Atlantic Ocean. The continental part is separated by a 14 km wide Gibraltar Strait from Europe in the northwest.

The largest country in terms of the area covered by Africa is Algeria, and the smallest country is the Seychelles archipelago in the east of the continent. On the mainland, Gambia is the country with the smallest surface area.

Geologically, the African Plateau collides with Eurasia, triggering each other by the Arabian Peninsula, the Zagros Mountains, and the Anatolian plateau. The highest point is Mount Kilimanjaro (5.895 m), but the lowest point is the Assal Lake (-156 m). The Sahara Desert is the largest desert in the whole of Africa and the whole world. It still continues to expand.

The History of Africa Continent

Historical photo depicts African men seated in blankets with a European soldier pointing a rifle at them, flags and soldiers behind.

More than 10,000 different states and policies in Africa before the colonization period were characterized by many institutions and rules. These include small hunter-gathering groups such as Conflicts, larger and structured family clans speaking Bantu languages, clans in the much larger African Horn, and autonomous city-states or kingdoms such as Akans, Yoruba, and Ibo. There are many different forms.

In the 9th century, a number of dynastic states, such as the Kingdom of Hausa from West Africa, crossed the savanna in the sub-Saharan region and arrived in the midst of present-day Sudan. Ghana, Gao and the Kingdom of Kanem were the strongest. Although Ghana returned in the 11th century, the Mali Kingdom kept the east of Sudan until the 13th century. The Kingdom of Kanem accepted Islam in the 11th century.

The Rise of the Slave Trade

Slavery was applied in Africa for a long time. Between the 7th and 20th centuries, Arab slave traders sold approximately 18 million slaves from Africa to the Sahara and from there to the Atlantic Ocean. From the 15th century to the 19th century, 7-12 million people were sold to the new world by following this path.

In West Africa, in the 1820s, there were major economic problems after the rejection of this trade. With the rise of the British Royal Navy’s presence in West Africa, the states in this region were forced to join the new economic system. This has led to an increase in anti-slavery movements in Europe and America, and to a large drop in the slave trade. British troops in West Africa confiscated some 1600 slaves between 1808 and 1860 and released 150,000 Africans who had been kidnapped.

These actions are also the result of the British’s efforts to prevent illegal slave trade, which is why the King of Lagos was overthrown by the British in 1851. Thus, anti-slavery conventions were adopted with the signature of more than 50 African countries. The great powers of West Africa have tried different ways to adapt to this change.

Colonial Period

After the 19th century, the imperial powers of Europe struggled to establish colonies in a great race on the continent. In this process, only two fully independent states remained in the African continent, Ethiopia and Liberia. Egypt and Sudan had never officially colonized during this period but were occupied by the British occupation of 1882 until 1922.

Berlin Conference

Historical photo of men in early 20th-century attire on steps of a classical building.

The Berlin Conference, which was held in 1884-85, was an important turning point for African ethnic groups. It was convened by the call of the Belgian King Leopland II and with the participation of Europe’s sovereign powers over Africa. As a result of this meeting, Africa’s political regions and areas of influence were accepted by putting an end to the struggle over the African continent.

Independence Struggles

Independence struggles continued until the end of World War II and almost all colonies at the end of this struggle gained their independence. But after the Second World War, it gained great momentum. Particularly, the fact that the great European states do not have enough inclination to the post-destructive war region is the most important factor to accelerate this process.

In 1951, Libya gained its independence from Italy. In 1956, Tunisia and Morocco gained independence from France. In 1957, it became the first state in Ghana to gain independence in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the next decade, other states gained their independence respectively.

Especially Portugal‘s withdrawal from Sub-Saharan Africa lasted from the 16th to the 1975th. In 1965, Rhodesia unilaterally gained independence from Britain. But Rhodesia was recognized as Zimbabwe until 1980, when the black nationalists overwhelmed the white minority leadership of the guerrilla war. The apartheid regime in the Republic of South Africa lasted until 1994.

After Colonization the African Continent

Today, there are 54 independent states in the African Continent, but many of these states are struggling with instability, corruption, authoritarian regimes and violence. Many of these countries are governed by the presidential system. However, the democratization processes of many countries are interrupted by military coups, jets, and military dictatorships.

Especially in Ethiopia, there is a great hunger. Some think that this situation has been worsened by Soviet policies. One of the most destructive wars occurred during the Second Civil War in the Congo. In 2008, 5.4 million people lost their lives in this war. The war in Darfur, which has been taking place since 2003, includes major crimes against humanity. The genocide in Rwanda in 1994 resulted in the murder of 800,000 people. Especially in this process, AIDS is one of the biggest problems of the region.

Despite all this, the conflicts in the 21st century have a great tendency to decrease. The civil war in Angola ended in 2002, after 30 years. This decrease in many places accelerates the transition from the economic structure in communist order to open market economies. Especially the stability in the region increases the foreign investments made to African countries. Especially the People’s Republic of China is leading the investments. In 2011, some African economies have been some of the fastest growing economies. With the intensification of the communication revolution in the region, Africa is increasing its connection with the world day by day.


African climate varies from region to region. The highest peaks have a semi-Arctic climate. Most of the northern part of the continent is desert and arid, while the central and southern regions contain savannas and rain forests. In the transition zones, vegetation is in different forms such as Sahel and steppe. Africa is the hottest continent in the world, covering up to 60% of the arid areas and deserts. The highest temperature measured to date was measured in Libya in 1922 (58 ° C).


A young elephant standing by a waterhole with tall green grass in the background.

The African Continent has the largest and most intense wild animal combination population in the world. All these animals live in their wildlife and in a free way. Cats, herbivores, reptiles and hundreds of species in the rainforests live in completely wild nature.


According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), Africa is the second most affected continent in forest damage. According to the Center for African Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, 31% of Africa’s meadows and 19% of forest areas are classified as degraded. In addition, Africa loses four million hectares each year. Compared to the rest of the world, this ratio is twice as high as the average deforestation rate.

Some sources suggest that deforestation destroys 90% of virgin forests in West Africa. Madagascar has lost 90% of its original forests since the beginning of human beings, that is to say 2000 years. 65% of Africa’s agricultural land is subject to erosion.


In addition to more than 3,000 protected areas in Africa, there are 198 marine protected areas, 50 biosphere reserves and 80 wetlands. Significant habitat destruction, population growth and poaching reduce Africa’s biodiversity. Human harms, social disturbances and the introduction of non-indigenous species on the continent threaten the biodiversity in Africa. This situation is exacerbated due to insufficient personnel besides administrative and financial problems.