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Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.3 billion people as of 2018, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. Africa's population is the youngest amongst all the continents; the median age in 2012 was 19.7, when the worldwide median age was 30.4. Despite a wide range of natural resources, Africa is the least wealthy continent per capita, in part due to geographic impediments, legacies of European colonization in Africa and the Cold War, undemocratic rule and deleterious policies. Despite this low concentration of wealth, recent economic expansion and the large and young population make Africa an important economic market in the broader global context.

The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), eight territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. Algeria is Africa's largest country by area, and Nigeria is its largest by population. African nations cooperate through the establishment of the African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa.

Africa straddles the Equator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere. Africa is home to much biodiversity; it is the continent with the largest number of megafauna species, as it was least affected by the extinction of the Pleistocene megafauna. However, Africa also is heavily affected by a wide range of environmental issues, including desertification, deforestation, water scarcity, and other issues. These entrenched environmental concerns are expected to worsen as climate change impacts Africa. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified Africa as the continent most vulnerable to climate change.

Africa, particularly Eastern Africa, is widely accepted as the place of origin of humans and the Hominidae clade (great apes), meaning that Africa has a long and complex history. The earliest hominids and their ancestors have been dated to around 7 million years ago, including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster— the earliest Homo sapiens (modern human) remains, found in Ethiopia, South Africa, and Morocco, date to circa 200,000, 259,000, and 300,000 years ago respectively, and Homo sapiens is believed to have originated in Africa around 350,000–260,000 years ago.

Early human civilizations, such as Ancient Egypt and Phoenicia emerged in North Africa. Following a subsequent long and complex history of civilizations, migration and trade, Africa hosts a large diversity of ethnicities, cultures and languages. The last 400 years have witnessed an increasing European influence on the continent. Starting in the 16th century, this was driven by trade, including the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, which created large African diaspora populations in the Americas. In the late 19th century, European countries colonized almost all of Africa, extracting resources from the continent and exploiting local communities; most present states in Africa emerged from a process of decolonisation in the 20th century.

Africa Media

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Inlay fragments (12), Egypt, Ptolemaic Period (332–30 BCE)
Inlay, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

Inlay, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Nespekashuty (TT 312, MMA 509), MMA excavations, 1922–23 Late Period, Saite

Palette for painting of Vizier Amenemopet
Jar, Predynastic Egypt, 6000 - 3150 BC

Jar, Predynastic Egypt, 6000 - 3150 BC

From Egypt Predynastic Period

Raised relief fragment, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

Raised relief fragment, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Nespekashuty (TT 312, MMA 509), 1st chamber E. wall; 8th register (middle), MMA excavations, 1922–23 Late Period, Saite

Ostracon, Egypt

Ostracon, Egypt

From Egypt Late Period or later

Ostracon, Egypt, Late Period (525-332 BCE)

Ostracon, Egypt, Late Period (525-332 BCE)

From Egypt, Western Desert; Kharga Oasis, Hibis, MMA excavations, 1908–10 Late Period–Ptolemaic Period

Sealing, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Sealing, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht South, Pyramid complex of Senwosret I, north temple gateway, MMA excavations, 1913–14 Middle Kingdom

Oxyrhynchus fish, Egypt, Late Period (525-332 BCE)

Oxyrhynchus fish, Egypt, Late Period (525-332 BCE)

From Egypt Late Period–Ptolemaic Period

Worker Shabti of Nany, Upper Egypt

Worker Shabti of Nany, Upper Egypt

Shabti dolls were funerary figures in ancient Egypt that accompanied the deceased to the after-life. Shabti's name is derived from the Egyptian swb for stick but also corresponds to the word for `answer' (wsb) ... More

Worker Shabti of Henettawy (C), Daughter of Isetemkheb

Worker Shabti of Henettawy (C), Daughter of Isetemkheb

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb MMA 60, Chamber B, Burial of Henettawy C (4), MMA excavations, 1923–24 Third Intermediate Period

Model Fire-stick, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Model Fire-stick, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Priests' Cemetery, Tomb of Senwosretankh (MMA 211), MMA excavations, 1921–22 Middle Kingdom

Funerary Cone of High Priest of Amun Djehuty

Funerary Cone of High Priest of Amun Djehuty

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Asasif, 17-18th Dynasty Cemetery, near tomb 2, MMA excavations, 1912–13 New Kingdom

Funerary Cone of the Chief of the Medjay Didu

Funerary Cone of the Chief of the Medjay Didu

See 15.10.6 Found Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Khokha, Tomb MMA 828 (MMA H 4), courtyard rubbish, MMA excavations, 1915 New Kingdom

Game peg, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Game peg, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, Cemetery, MMA excavations, 1906–07 Middle Kingdom

Mat, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mat, Metropolitan Museum of Art

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Asasif, Temple of Hatshepsut, Carnarvon/Carter excavations New Kingdom

Menat fragment, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Menat fragment, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Hatshepsut Hole, Hathor Shrine, MMA excavations, 1922–23 New Kingdom

Menat fragment, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Menat fragment, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Hatshepsut Hole, MMA excavations, 1922–23 New Kingdom

Leopard-Head Girdle of Sithathoryunet

Leopard-Head Girdle of Sithathoryunet

From Egypt, Fayum Entrance Area, Lahun, Tomb of Sithathoryunet (BSA Tomb 8), Chamber E, box 1, BSAE excavations 1914 Middle Kingdom

Floral plaque, Egypt, Ptolemaic Period (332–30 BCE)

Floral plaque, Egypt, Ptolemaic Period (332–30 BCE)

From Egypt Ptolemaic Period–Roman Period

Tool, Predynastic Egypt, 6000 - 3150 BC

Tool, Predynastic Egypt, 6000 - 3150 BC

From Egypt, Fayum, camp II (CII), Petrie excavations, 1926 Predynastic Period

Unattached Spacers from a Bracelet or Anklet of Sithathoryunet

Unattached Spacers from a Bracelet or Anklet of Sithathoryunet

From Egypt, Fayum Entrance Area, Lahun, Tomb of Sithathoryunet (BSA Tomb 8), Chamber E, box 1, BSAE excavations 1914 Middle Kingdom

Scarab Inscribed for the Female Horus Wosretkau (Hatshepsut)

Scarab Inscribed for the Female Horus Wosretkau (Hatshepsut)

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Hatshepsut, Foundation Deposit 7 (G), MMA excavations, 1926–27 New Kingdom

Scarab, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Scarab, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, cemetery south of pyramid, between Houses A1.2 & A2.4, Pit 334, MMA excavations, 1913–14 Middle Kingdom

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Asasif, Tomb CC 37, Hall (C), burial 36, inside coffin, Carnarvon/Carter excavations, 1911 New Kingdom

Sealing, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Sealing, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht South, Pyramid complex of Senwosret I, north temple gateway, MMA excavations, 1913–14 Middle Kingdom

Sealing, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Sealing, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht South, Pyramid complex of Senwosret I, north temple gateway, MMA excavations, 1913–14 Middle Kingdom

Sealing, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Sealing, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht South, Pyramid complex of Senwosret I, north temple gateway, MMA excavations, 1913–14 Middle Kingdom

Seals (3) from net, Egypt, Greco-Roman Period, 332 BCE – 642 CE

Seals (3) from net, Egypt, Greco-Roman Period, 332 BCE – 642 CE

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Priests' houses, near, Roman burial XXI, MMA excavations, 1923–24 Roman Period

Worker Shabti of Nany, Upper Egypt

Worker Shabti of Nany, Upper Egypt

Shabti dolls were funerary figures in ancient Egypt that accompanied the deceased to the after-life. Shabti's name is derived from the Egyptian swb for stick but also corresponds to the word for `answer' (wsb) ... More

White cross-lined ware beaker with hippos

White cross-lined ware beaker with hippos

From Egypt Predynastic, Naqada II

Votive Menat fragments, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Votive Menat fragments, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Hatshepsut Hole, Hathor Shrine, MMA excavations, 1922–23 New Kingdom

Shabti of Hor, Egypt, Third Intermediate Period (1070–664 BC)

Shabti of Hor, Egypt, Third Intermediate Period (1070–664 BC)

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Hatshepsut, southeast lower court in rubbish, MMA excavations, 1923–24 Third Intermediate Period

Linen Mark Recording the Name Wabetamun

Linen Mark Recording the Name Wabetamun

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, below the Tomb of Senenmut (TT 71), burial 1, on mummy, MMA excavations, 1935–36 New Kingdom

Raised relief fragment, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

Raised relief fragment, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Nespekashuty (TT 312, MMA 509), Undetermined, MMA excavations, 1922–23 Late Period, Saite

Relief fragment probably from the tomb of Khety

Relief fragment probably from the tomb of Khety

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Neferu or Khety (TT 319/311, MMA 31/508), MMA excavations, 1923–24 Middle Kingdom

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Hatshepsut Hole, Hathor Shrine, MMA excavations, 1922–23 New Kingdom

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Scarab, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt New Kingdom, Ramesside

Scarab of an Official, Egypt, Second Intermediate Period (1782 - 1570 BCE)

Scarab of an Official, Egypt, Second Intermediate Period (1782 - 1570 ...

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, Cemetery, Radim, MMA excavations Middle Kingdom–Second Intermediate Period

Model Funerary Boat of Imhotep

Model Funerary Boat of Imhotep

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht South, Mastaba of Imhotep, south of south wall, MMA excavations, 1913–14 Middle Kingdom

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