Fossils from East and South Africa show that modern humans, Homo sapiens , originated in Africa 100,000-150,000 years ago. Agriculture, with the cultivation of grain and animal husbandry, was run in Northeast Africa 10,000–12,000 years ago. Agriculture led to strong population growth and, together with the spread of iron smelting technology, became a driving force in settlement development until the beginning of our era.
Africa’s first state formation took place in Egypt around 3000 BC, in Kush in present-day Sudan around 1000 BCE. A little later, the Aksum kingdom emerged a little further south in present-day Ethiopia.
First Phoenicians, and later Greeks and Romans, founded colonies along the Mediterranean coast. Population growth also led to several groups migrating from Savannah areas south and east through tropical forests in the last centuries BCE.
The three Punic wars led the Romans to destroy the Phoenician naval power of Carthage in 146 BCE. Then they first created the province of “Africa” and later several provinces in North Africa. The colonies led to the spread of Christianity in the area during the first centuries of our era. Check African acronyms on AbbreviationFinder.org.
The Arabs conquered North Africa in the latter part of the 600s. Parts of the Berber population eventually converted to the religion of rulers Islam. Arabic language and culture gradually characterized North Africa.
|Country||Central government debt’s share of GDP (percent)||Assistance per person (US dollars)||Service sector’s share of GDP (percent)|
|Algeria||38.3 (2018)||5 (2017)||45.6 (2017)|
|Angola||89.0 (2018)||7 (2017)||46.8 (2017)|
|Benin||41.0 (2018)||60 (2017)||46.2 (2018)|
|Botswana||12.1 (2018)||45 (2017)||59.5 (2018)|
|Burkina Faso||42.9 (2018)||46 (2017)||43.2 (2018)|
|Burundi||58.4 (2018)||39 (2017)||49.1 (2016)|
|Central African Republic||49.9 (2018)||109 (2017)||28.2 (2017)|
|Comoros||21.0 (2018)||82 (2017)||53.0 (2017)|
|Djibouti||48.0 (2018)||140 (2017)||71.7 (2018)|
|Egypt||92.7 (2018)||– 1 (2017)||51.4 (2018)|
|Equatorial Guinea||43.3 (2018)||5 (2017)||40.5 (2018)|
|Ivory Coast||–||34 (2017)||32.6 (2018)|
|Eritrea||174.3 (2018)||30 (2011)||59.0 (2017)|
|Ethiopia||61.0 (2018)||39 (2017)||36.5 (2018)|
|Gabon||60.7 (2018)||53 (2017)||42.6 (2017)|
|Gambia||86.6 (2018)||128 (2017)||56.6 (2017)|
|Ghana||59.3 (2018)||44 (2017)||42.3 (2017)|
|Guinea||38.2 (2018)||36 (2017)||41.7 (2018)|
|Guinea-Bissau||64.3 (2018)||61 (2017)||34.8 (2018)|
|Cameroon||39.1 (2018)||50 (2017)||51.8 (2018)|
|Cape Verde||124.5 (2018)||225 (2017)||61.1 (2018)|
|Kenya||60.1 (2018)||50 (2017)||42.7 (2018)|
|Congo-Brazzaville||87.8 (2018)||21 (2017)||40.0 (2018)|
|Congo-Kinshasa||15.3 (2018)||28 (2017)||32.7 (2018)|
|Lesotho||44.5 (2018)||66 (2017)||52.5 (2017)|
|Liberia||39.9 (2018)||131 (2017)||50.0 (2018)|
|Madagascar||45.7 (2018)||30 (2017)||44.1 (2017)|
|Malawi||62.9 (2018)||81 (2017)||52.4 (2017)|
|Mali||37.3 (2018)||73 (2017)||37.5 (2018)|
|Morocco||65.0 (2018)||53 (2017)||50.5 (2018)|
|Mauritania||82.9 (2018)||64 (2017)||38.1 (2018)|
|Mauritius||66.2 (2018)||9 (2017)||67.4 (2018)|
|Mozambique||99.8 (2018)||60 (2017)||46.6 (2018)|
|Namibia||45.8 (2018)||74 (2017)||57.7 (2018)|
|Niger||53.8 (2018)||56 (2017)||38.3 (2017)|
|Nigeria||27.3 (2018)||18 (2017)||52.0 (2018)|
|Rwanda||40.7 (2018)||100 (2017)||47.8 (2018)|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||–||197 (2017)||71.8 (2018)|
|Senegal||61.6 (2018)||57 (2017)||50.4 (2018)|
|Seychelles||56.9 (2018)||197 (2017)||70.4 (2018)|
|Sierra Leone||63.0 (2018)||71 (2017)||32.4 (2017)|
|Sudan||212.1 (2018)||20 (2016)||49.5 (2018)|
|South Africa||56.7 (2018)||18 (2017)||61.0 (2018)|
|South Sudan||42.2 (2018)||174 (2017)||68.0 (2016)|
|Tanzania||37.3 (2018)||45 (2017)||37.9 (2017)|
|Chad||48.3 (2018)||43 (2017)||37.6 (2018)|
|Togo||76.2 (2018)||44 (2017)||29.1 (2018)|
|Tunisia||77.0 (2018)||67 (2017)||60.3 (2017)|
|Uganda||41.4 (2018)||47 (2017)||47.6 (2018)|
|Zambia||78.1 (2018)||60 (2017)||54.1 (2018)|
|Zimbabwe||37.1 (2018)||44 (2017)||45.7 (2018)|
Further south a number of larger kingdoms arose. Important state formation in western, central and southern Africa in the Middle Ages was Aksum, Benin, Ghana, Kanem-Bornu, Mali, Congo and Songhai. In southern Africa, several state formation arose from around the 8th century. Most famous is the Zimbabwe Empire, which left behind ruins of impressive dimensions in the current country of Zimbabwe.
In the 15th century, Portuguese seafarers and traders began to colonize the coast of West Africa and in 1488 Bartolomeu Dias Cape rounded up the good hope. At the same time, Arab advances took place in the Sahara and on the coast of East Africa. Slaves, gold, copper and ivory were the most important commodities; European states started the transatlantic slave trade from African ports in the early 16th century. The slave trade led to great unrest in the African hinterland and several kingdoms that had flourished in the Middle Ages were now falling.
The Cape land at the far south of Africa became the Dutch colony in 1652, and from the beginning of the 18th century, farmers invaded South Africa to conquer and colonize lands. From the north, explorers needed south toward Lake Chad, which was discovered by Europeans in 1819.
The colonization of Africa started with trade and mission, and was followed by political, military and economic control. Many areas were greatly weakened by the slave trade. Some areas were subject to European rule as a result of campaigns, others through negotiations and agreements. The latter included agreements on the protection of local rulers through the establishment of what were formally protectorates. By the end of the 19th century, there was a race for Africa, which ended with European powers dividing the continent at the Berlin Conference in 1884–85.
France conquered Algeria as early as 1830, and surrendered large parts of central and western Africa. Britain was the second great colonial power, with colonies in western, eastern and southern Africa. Portugal was the third great colonial power, and the one that held its longest. Other states also had possessions, including Belgium, Italy, Spain and Germany, while Denmark-Norway previously had trading stations on the Gold Coast, in today’s Ghana . The colonization took place at the same time as an intensive exploration of inner Africa. With the exception of Liberia and Ethiopia, the entire continent was colonized.
World War I did not change borders in Africa, but Germany had to abandon its colonies (Rwanda – Urundi, Togo, Cameroon, Tanganyika and South West Africa). Before the war, Italy conquered Libya from the Ottoman Empire.
The decolonization of Africa began after World War II. In 1957, the Gold Coast became the first independent sub-Saharan colony, such as Ghana. According to Countryaah.com, most African countries achieved independence around 1960. In most cases, this took place peacefully, elsewhere through liberation struggles, especially in Algeria (independent in 1962), the Portuguese colonies of Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique (1974/75), southern Rhodesia, later Zimbabwe (1980), and South West Africa, independent Namibia (1990). Eritrea tore loose from Ethiopia in 1993 after a long liberation war, and South Sudan erupted from Sudan in 2011. The only remaining colony, Western Sahara, is occupied by Morocco.
From the 1980s, the global HIV/AIDS epidemic hit sub-Saharan Africa more severely than any other region in the world, and several times much of Africa has been hit by drought and hunger – especially in the Sahel and in the Horn of Africa. Parts of Africa depend on foreign aid and have considerable foreign debt. In recent years, several African states have experienced significant economic growth.
Several countries have also been the scene of civil wars since independence; including Angola, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Congo, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria (Biafra War), Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Chad and Uganda. There have also been cases of war between African states, including Eritrea-Ethiopia, Somalia-Ethiopia and Tanzania-Uganda. In 1994, there was an extensive genocide in Rwanda after the civil war. In the wake of this, rebellion broke out Democratic Republic of Congo. The war in the eastern Congo has continued despite several agreements to end the last twenty years.
While in the 1970s and 1980s Africa was still characterized by military coups and military regimes, most African countries have introduced multi-party systems and gained democratic regimes. During the Arab Spring of 2011, this led to regime change in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia – after starting in Tunisia. The rebellion led to civil war in Libya, and a vacuum of power that has helped make the country an important starting point for the comprehensive migration to Europe. The collapse in Libya also led to a flare-up of civil war in Mali in 2013. In 2011, Africa’s youngest country was also created, South Sudan. Two years later, however, in 2013, a new civil war broke out.
Other turmoil has also characterized the continent in recent decades. Several terrorist groups have operated in Africa, al-Qaeda targeted its first attack on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and an al-Qaeda in Maghreb (AQIM) has backed operations in several countries. In Nigeria, the Boko Haram terrorist group has been behind a series of attacks against civilians; In Somalia, al-Shabaab has also attacked targets in Kenya, including a shopping mall in Nairobi in 2013. In North Africa, the Islamic State (IS) has gained a foothold especially in Libya.