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 Earth's total surface area and 20.4 percent of its total land area.〔Sayre, April Pulley (1999), ''Africa'', Twenty-First Century Books. ISBN 0-7613-1367-2.〕 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 (or countries), nine territories and two ''de facto'' independent states with limited or no recognition.〔See List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Africa.〕
Africa's population is the youngest amongst all the continents; 50% of Africans were born in 1991 or later〔http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/08/17/5-ways-the-world-will-look-dramatically-different-in-2100/〕 Algeria is Africa's largest country by area, and Nigeria 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.〔(Homo sapiens: University of Utah News Release: Feb. 16, 2005 )〕 Africa straddles the equator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones.
Africa hosts a large diversity of ethnicities, cultures and languages. In the late 19th century European countries colonized most of Africa. Most modern states in Africa originate from a process of decolonization in the 20th century.
''Afri'' was a Latin name used to refer to the inhabitants of Africa, which in its widest sense referred to all lands south of the Mediterranean (Ancient Libya). This name seems to have originally referred to a native Libyan tribe; see Terence#Biography for discussion. The name is usually connected with Hebrew ''ʿafar'' "dust", but a 1981 hypothesis〔(Names of countries ), Decret and Fantar, 1981.〕 has asserted that it stems from the Berber ''ifri'' (plural ''ifran'') "cave", in reference to cave dwellers.〔(Geo. Babington Michell, "The Berbers" ), ''Journal of Royal African Society'', Vol. 2, No. 6 (January 1903), pp. 161-194.〕 The same word〔 may be found in the name of the Banu Ifran from Algeria and Tripolitania, a Berber tribe originally from Yafran (also known as ''Ifrane'') in northwestern Libya.〔(Edward Lipinski, ''Itineraria Phoenicia'' ), Peeters Publishers, 2004, p. 200. ISBN 90-429-1344-4.〕
Under Roman rule, Carthage became the capital of the province of Africa Proconsularis, which also included the coastal part of modern Libya. The Latin suffix "-ica" can sometimes be used to denote a land (e.g., in ''Celtica'' from ''Celtae'', as used by Julius Caesar). The later Muslim kingdom of Ifriqiya, modern-day Tunisia, also preserved a form of the name.
According to the ancient Romans, Africa lay to the west of Egypt, while "Asia" was used to refer to Anatolia and lands to the east. A definite line was drawn between the two continents by the geographer Ptolemy (85–165 AD), indicating Alexandria along the Prime Meridian and making the isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea the boundary between Asia and Africa. As Europeans came to understand the real extent of the continent, the idea of "Africa" expanded with their knowledge.
Other etymological hypotheses have been postulated for the ancient name "Africa":
* The 1st-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (''Ant. 1.15'') asserted that it was named for Epher, grandson of Abraham according to Gen. 25:4, whose descendants, he claimed, had invaded Libya.
* Isidore of Seville in ''Etymologiae'' XIV.5.2. suggests "Africa comes from the Latin ''aprica'', meaning "sunny".
* Massey, in 1881, states that Africa is derived from the Egyptian ''af-rui-ka'', meaning "to turn toward the opening of the Ka." The Ka is the energetic double of every person and the "opening of the Ka" refers to a womb or birthplace. Africa would be, for the Egyptians, "the birthplace."
* Yet another hypothesis was proposed by Michèle Fruyt,〔in ''Revue de Philologie'' 50, 1976: 221–238.〕 linking the Latin word with ''africus'' "south wind", which would be of Umbrian origin and mean originally "rainy wind".
* Robert R. Stieglitz of Rutgers University proposes that: "The name Africa, derived from the Latin
*Aphir-ic-a, is cognate to Hebrew Ophir."〔"Long-Distance Seafaring in the Ancient Near East." Robert R. Stieglitz. ''The Biblical Archaeologist'', Vol. 47, No. 3 (Sep., 1984).〕
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