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Africa

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Africa

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frica lies south of Europe and southwest of Asia. Geographically it is about three times the size of the United States, excluding Alaska and Hawaii. At its northeast corner is Egypt, which is connected to the Sinai Peninsula—and hence to the Asian continent by a very narrow strip of land. This is the only spot where Africa touches another continent; otherwise, it is surrounded by water. The Mediterranean Sea separates it from Europe in the north; the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden lie between it and the Arabian Peninsula to the east. Two vast bodies of water—the Indian Ocean on the eastern side, and the even larger Atlantic on the west—surround the remainder of Africa.

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Why Africa is important
One of the greatest civilizations of all time, Egypt, was in Africa. Perhaps the only ancient civilizations that can be compared with it are those of Greece and Rome, which were influenced by it. Egypt, of course, has had its own chapter in this series; and Carthage, in North Africa, is also covered elsewhere. The focus of this chapter is entirely on Africa south of the Sahara
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Map of Africa. XNR Productions. The Gale Group.

Desert—that is, sub-Saharan Africa—as well as on the desert itself. That desert would have an impact on African history right up to the modern day; so, too, would the African civilizations of ancient times. There was the kingdom of Kush, which developed its own form of writing and briefly ruled Egypt; the kingdom of Aksum, an important trading center; and the Bantu peoples, who developed ironworking and spread it, along with their languages, throughout the southern part of the African continent.

The origins of humankind
Though there is much dispute regarding how humankind began, paleoanthropologists (pay-lee-oh-an-throhPAHL-uh-jistz; scientists who study human origins) generally agree that humanity originated in Africa...

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