Africa is the world’s second-largest continent after Asia. It covers about one-fifth of the earth’s total land area.
Africa is geographically bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and by the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean to the east. There is the South Atlantic Ocean to the south. The continent of Europe lies to the north and Asia lies to the east of Africa. The Suez Canal connects it to the vast landmass of Europe and Asia.
The fertile Mediterranean coast of Africa gives way to the ranges of the Atlas mountains in the north-west and to the west the scorching wilderness of the Sahara, the world’s biggest desert. The river Nile, carrying water from central Africa, has provided a lifeline through the deserts of Egypt for thousands of years.
To the south of the Sahara desert, thin pasture and scrub give way to Savannah, the wide grassland with scattered trees and shrubs. East Africa is dominated by a series of cracks in the earth’s crust. The Great Rift Valley runs from north to south and it has formed a series of long, deep lakes. There are mountain ranges too, from the Ethiopian plateau to Mount Kenya, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the snow-capped Ruwenzori Range.
Southern Africa also has its Savannah regions and the sandy deserts of the Kalahari and Narnia. The southern high plateau grasslands, known as Veld, end in the sheer cliffs of the Drakensberg mountains. Further mountain ranges descend in the south-west to Cape Agulhas, the southern tip of the continent.
Africa has a wide variety of flora and fauna including dense forest, African elephants, leopards and gorillas, etc. Ostrich farming in South Africa is popular for more than 100 years for its plume and meat value. The humid region around the equator and the vast basin of the Congo river are covered in one of the world’s great rain-forests. And the climate around Africa is rather hot. The native culture of African countries is one of the most ancient cultures of the world.
Just fifty years ago, more than fifty countries, large and small, were ruled by powerful European nations, who exploited their natural resources. From the 1960s onwards African people once again began to rule their own countries and dreamed of bringing about the new shape of the nations. However, the mission to unite nations where people spoke in many different languages and dialects, and followed different types of religions, was a politically difficult job. And in 1994, their hope was somewhat fulfilled when Nelson Mandella became South Africa’s first black President.