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Portal:Africa

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For a topic outline on this subject, see List of basic Africa topics.
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Location of Africa on the world map
Satellite map of Africa

Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent. At about 30.2 million km2 (11.7 million sq mi) including adjacent islands, it covers six percent of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4 percent of the total land area. With 1.1 billion people as of 2013, it accounts for about 15% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It has 54 fully recognized sovereign states ("countries"), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition.

Africa's population is the youngest among all the continents; 50% of Africans are 19 years old or younger.

Algeria is Africa's largest country by area, and Nigeria is the largest by population. Africa, particularly central Eastern Africa, is widely accepted as the place of origin of humans and the Hominidae clade (great apes), as evidenced by the discovery of the earliest hominids and their ancestors, as well as later ones that have been dated to around seven million years ago, including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster – with the earliest Homo sapiens (modern human) found in Ethiopia being dated to circa 200,000 years ago. Africa straddles the equator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones.

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Christian Nubia in the three states period.

Makuria (Arabic: مقرة; al-Mukurra or al-Muqurra) was a kingdom located in what is today Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt. It was one of a group of Nubian kingdoms that emerged in the centuries after the fall of the Kushite Kingdom, which had dominated the region from approximately 800 BC to AD 350. Makuria originally covered the area along the Nile River from the Third Cataract to somewhere between the Fifth and Sixth Cataracts. It also had control over the trade routes, mines, and oases to the east and west. Its capital was Dongola (or Dunqulah), and the kingdom is sometimes known by the name of its capital.

By the end of the 6th century it had converted to Christianity, but in the 7th century Egypt was conquered by the Islamic armies, and Nubia was cut off from the rest of Christendom. In 651 an Arab army invaded, but it was repulsed and a treaty known as the baqt was signed creating a relative peace between the two sides that lasted until the 13th century. Makuria expanded, annexing its northern neighbour Nobatia either at the time of the Arab invasion or during the reign of King Merkurios. The period from roughly 750 to 1150 saw the kingdom stable and prosperous, in what has been called the "Golden Age". Increased aggression from Egypt, and internal discord led to the state's collapse in the 14th century. (Read more...)

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Snake charmers
Credit: Tancrède Dumas

Snake charming is the practice of apparently hypnotising a snake by simply playing an instrument. A typical performance may also include handling the snakes or performing other seemingly dangerous acts. The practice is most common in India, though it is also practiced in the North African countries of Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia. This photo depicts snake charmers in late 19th-century Morocco.

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Akan drum

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Chinua Achebe speaking at Asbury Hall, Buffalo.

Chinua Achebe, born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe on November 16, 1930, is a Nigerian novelist, poet and critic. He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely-read book in modern African literature.

Raised by Christian parents in the Igbo village of Ogidi in south Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student. After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos. He gained worldwide attention for Things Fall Apart in the late 1950s; his later novels include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). Achebe wrote his novels in English and has defended the use of English, a language of colonisers, in African literature. In 1975 he was the focus of controversy when he delivered a lecture entitled An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". He criticised author Joseph Conrad for his unflattering depiction of African people, referring to him as "a thoroughgoing racist". (Read more...)

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