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Africa is a beautiful continent with 54 countries. It is the second largest continent with diversified culture and multiple languages. The country has more than 1000 languages spoken across the expanse of the continent. It spans 30,330,000 km2 approximately 22% of the world land area. Africa measures 5200 miles from its northern tip to the southern tip. The continent is surrounded by Indian and Atlantic oceans in three sides and Mediterranean Sea in the north. It is interesting to note that Prime meridian and the equator runs vertically and horizontally through Africa.

Africa is known for preserving the nativity of human origin with rich heritage and multifaceted economy. It has nature at its best with various geographical formations such as deserts, mountains and forests. It is outlined with water bodies that form the basis of its fertility and rich flora and fauna. It has the shortest coastline just falling short of being termed as an island. Africa has natural parks, tropical rainforests and a wide variety of wildlife preserved through exclusive wildlife preservation programs. Most of Africa is dominated by natural beauty that tourists visit the continent to enjoy a non commercialised vacation in the lap of nature. Africa has five major rivers, three of which are the Nile, the Congo and the Niger. Though Africa is encircled by water, there are very less natural harbours. Since natural harbours are less and high tides and ocean currents are frequent in the oceans, it is not advisable to reach the continent by boat.

Africa holds a predominant role in the ancient history of the world. Mesmerising music and ancient civilizations have always been the focus of nature enthusiasts and research scholars. Great Sahara, the world’s largest desert dominates the continent’s quarter portion of land. Sahara well known in the past for its trans-Saharan trade serves as a bridge between the black dominated South Africa and Arab dominated North Africa. Saharan climate dictates the continent’s rainfall even today. Saharan region has one of the lowest populations with its own tribes of people. Significant among the tribes are Tuaregs, Moors. Earlier, it was a pleasure to watch the Tuaregs with their salt caravans busy managing their cattle while the Moors followed the age old date palm farming for their sustenance. Today the population has changed with times and moved to Saharan cities for better lifestyle. Camels have been replaced by modern transports. Tuaregs have wide knowledge about the Great Saharan expanse. They use their knowledge to guide the international tourists and participate in oil and gas exploration. Internet revolution has gripped the region and many hotels and resorts have established their presence to cater to the needs of foreign tourists. Rissani in Morocco is a small oasis has introduced internet cafes for the convenience of the adventure seekers.

Sahel is one of the important and influential of the African countries. It is a small band of land located south of the Sahara. It attracted the Arabs and the Europeans for its gold and cheap labour. Culturally different Arabs and Europeans with the local tribes ruled the region rendering a complex cultural region. People speak French and follow Islam and use Arabic equally in their speech. Timbuktu, a part of Mali was once a part of Sahel. It was moved to Mali due to poor living and economic conditions prevailing in Sahel.

Ethiopia has always fascinated historians for its million years of civilization and human genealogy. It is well known as the cradle of humanity. Ethiopia is the ground for most of the mountains of Africa. In the middle of Ethiopia is the Ethiopian Highlands known for its ancient civilization and preserved culture. Ethiopia is the only country to have escaped the colonial influence. It has significant association with Christianity as its official religion. Aksum, a city with historical civilization is associated with the final moments of Ark of the Covenant. Many churches dating back to 13th century sculpted in rock are found in the city of Lalibela. Legend says that these rock churches are sculpted with angels help. Ethiopia is a place of natural scenic beauty with the Nile flowing through it. It has beautiful valleys and mountains significant being the Great Rift Valley and the Simien and Bale mountains.
Savannah is the place in Africa that attracts hordes of tourists all through the year. Savannah can be best described as the place bordered by sky at one end and greenery on the other. It has been an area of attraction for media people from all over the world. Serengeti is one of the prominent areas associated with Great Plains of Africa. It is sandwiched between Kenya and Tanzania known for its wildlife. It is believed that early man made his first appearance in this region a few million years back. A rich civilization dominates this region with varied cultures and customs. Maasai, a nomadic tribe co-exists with Kikuyu and Dorobo tribes. These tribes specialise in farming and hunting and continue to preserve their lifestyle and practices. This region is known for its wild beasts, zebras, impalas and giraffes. This region has been declared as a World heritage site to protect its natural habitat and eco-system. Number of wildlife preserves has been formed to protect the animals from hunters and poachers.

Swahili coast is located in the tip overlooking Indian Ocean and beautiful farmlands. It is a confluence of Indian, Arabic and African cultures. It is known for its trade and history spanning china to Europe. Its richness in spices and ivory drove Europeans to trade. Omani traders visited this region through ships and stayed for a considerable period of time in the coast among the Bantu population. Swahili spoken by the people is a mixture of Indian and Arabic language with substantial influence of Omani language. Most of the people in this region have Arabic traders in their paternal genealogy.

Best of the freshwater systems are found in the Great Lakes of Africa. There are fifteen lakes in total and some of the lakes are ecological havens with diverse systems allowing the best of nature to sustain. The lakes are situated across eastern and central African countries. Their presence is found in nine countries, eight of the lakes are considered to be great lakes pertaining to their size they occupy and their depth. Lake Victoria is ranked second among the freshwater lakes in the world. It is located in between Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. The deepest freshwater lake is Lake Taganayika bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. Each of the lakes is rich in its diverse ecosystem with rainwater as their source of water supply. Due to its diverse ecosystem the region surrounding the lake has a heavy population with farming and fishing as primary occupation. The population is mostly Bantu people near Lake Victoria and the region is marked as one of the heavily populated regions of Africa. Four lakes are present within the borders of Uganda giving the country the advantage of being the world’s largest producer and exporter of freshwater fish.

One of the important tourist Saharan destinations is Algeria. Algeria ranks the second among the countries in Africa. Atlas Mountains run in the middle separating the country into two halves. Algeria has Mediterranean coast with white sand beaches. It has Tunisia, Libya, Mauritius, Morocco and Mali as its neighbours. It is a popular destination because of its beaches and Saharan presence. Fifteen percent of land is along the Mediterranean coast which has most of the major towns. The majority of the population lives in these towns.

It has Hauts Plateaux filled with mountains and deciduous forests in the southern region. The other 85% of the land of Algeria is located in the Sahara region. People living in this Saharan area of Algeria are nomadic tribes living a traditional lifestyle. The majority of the people in this region follow Islam. French has a significant influence in this country though the official languages are Arabic and Berber. Most of the tourist centres have English speaking guides to facilitate international tourism. Since Algeria runs into Sahara, Tuaregs presence is seen in two important mountain ranges, the Hoggar massif and the Tassili M’Ajjer.

Nigeria is another country that challenges the first time tourists visiting Africa yet intriguing and fascinating as a country rooted in the Saharan traditions. It borders with Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. Its climate alternates between wet and dry seasons. It spans an area of 924,000  km2 with its capital as Abuja. Southern Nigeria still carries the presence and influence of old kingdoms with traditional customs and ancient practices. Artistic endeavours of brass sculpture creation and praying ancient gods through age old practices are found in equal presence besides modern traditions. Osun sacred forest is a place to visit to experience the Oshogbo’s holy sculpture park. It is dedicated to the ancient Yoruba Gods. This park is listed as a world heritage site for its rich greenery and serenity. This country has been the pioneer in an introduction of primate conservation in Calabar, an old colonial port. People in this region speak different languages including Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Edo, Efik and English. Kano is the city to visit to trace the links of this country to its Saharan influence and its role in the trans-Saharan trade.

Zambia is a plateau region scarcely populated with mountains. It borders Angola, Democratic republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Zambia is surrounded by land on all sides and the Zambezi River separates Zambia and Zimbabwe. It has numerable vernacular languages in addition to English. There are seventy indigenous local languages spoken by the tribes. Unlike many African countries, Christianity is followed by more than 50% of the people in this country.

At the southern part of the continent is the Kaapval craton. Kaapval craton is a billion  years old with the best of ores and minerals such as gold, diamonds and platinum. Geologists have identified the Kaapval Craton in South Africa as one of the plausible and formidable formations in the earth. This region has seen the best of diamonds and gold deposits from the 18th century when the deposits were first identified. This area has rich soil, normal rains and moderate climate. Bantu people have played a significant role in this region. Prominent tribes of this region include the Xhosa, Zulu and the San.

Since a million years ago, hunter tribes have made their homes out of tropical rainforests of Africa. The people were of short stature and lived along the natural eco system making the forest their home. The tribes exhibit similar characteristics but prefer to be isolated according to their tribal groups. Some of the tribal groups are Mbuti, Baka, Aka, Eke. There are about two hundred thousand tribes’ dominating the tropical rainforest regions of Africa across countries like Cameroon, Democratic republic of Congo, Uganda, Gabon and so forth. Every tribe has its own distinct culture, traditions and practices and speaks vernacular languages local to their group.

Original Authors: Prach
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
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