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Simplified climatic map of Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa consists of the arid Sahel and the Horn of Africa in the north (yellow), the tropical savannas (...
Simplified climatic map of Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa consists of the arid Sahel and the Horn of Africa in the north (yellow), the tropical savannas (light green) and the tropical rainforests (dark green) of Equatorial Africa, and the arid Kalahari Basin (yellow) and the "Mediterranean" south coast (olive) of Southern Africa. The numbers shown correspond to the dates of alliron artifacts associated with the Bantu expansion.Sub-Saharan Africa is a geographical term used to describe the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara, or those African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara.It contrasts with North Africa, which is considered a part of the Arab world.
The Sahel is the transitional zone between the Sahara and the tropical savanna (the Sudan region) and forest-savanna mosaic to the south. The Horn of Africa and large areas of Sudan are geographically part of sub-Saharan Africa, but nevertheless show strong Middle Eastern influence and, with the exception of Ethiopia, are also part of the Arab world.
The Sub-Saharan region is also known as Black Africa,in reference to its many black populations. Notably, commentators in Arabic in the medieval period used a similar term, bilād as-sūdān, which literally translates to "land of the blacks" in contrast with populations of the classic Islamic world.
Since around 5,400 years ago,the Saharan and sub-Saharan regions of Africa have been separated by the extremely harsh climate of the sparsely populated Sahara, forming an effective barrier interrupted by only the Nile River in Sudan, though the Nile was blocked by the river's cataracts. The Sahara Pump Theory explains how flora and fauna (including Homo sapiens) left Africa to penetrate the Middle East and beyond to Europe and Asia. African pluvial periods are associated with a "wet Sahara" phase during which larger lakes and more rivers exist.
Climate zones and ecoregions
Further information: Afrotropic ecozone, Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands, and List of tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests ecoregions
Climate zones of Africa, showing the ecological break between the desert climate of the Sahara and the Horn of Africa (red), the semi-arid Sahel (orange) and the tropical climate of Central and Western Africa (blue). Southern Africa has a transition to semi-tropical or temperate climates (green), and more desert or semi-arid regions, centered on Namibia and Botswana.Sub-Saharan Africa has a wide variety of climate zones or biomes. South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in particular are considered Megadiverse countries.
The Sahel cuts across all of Africa at a latitude of about 10° to 15° N. Countries that include parts of the Sahara proper in their northern territories and parts of the Sahel in their southern region include Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan.
South of the Sahel, there is a belt of savanna, (Guinean forest-savanna mosaic, Northern Congolian forest-savanna mosaic) widening to include most of Southern Sudan and Ethiopia in the east (East Sudanian savanna).
The Horn of Africa includes arid semi-desert along its coast, contrasting with savannah and moist broadleaf forests in the interior of Ethiopia.
Africa's tropical rainforest stretches along the southern coast of West Africa and dominates Central Africa (the Congo) west of the African Great Lakes
The Eastern Miombo woodlands are an ecoregion of Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique.
The Serengeti ecosystem is located in north-western Tanzania and extends to south-western Kenya.
The Kalahari Basin includes the Kalahari Desert surrounded by a belt of semi-desert
The Bushveld is a tropical savanna ecoregion of Southern Africa.
The Karoo is a semi-desert in western South Africa.
Main article: History of Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa is historically known as "Ethiopia" or "Aethiopia".
The East African Rift region is the presumed area of human origins. Homo sapiens appeared some 250,000 years ago, and spread within Africa, to Southern Africa (L1) and West Africa (L2), before also migrating out of Africa some 70,000 years ago (L3).
After the Sahara became a desert, it did not present a totally impenetrable barrier for travelers between North and South due to the application of animal husbandry towards carrying water, food, and supplies across the desert. Prior to the introduction of the camel, the use of oxen for desert crossing was common, and trade routes followed chains of oases that were strung across the desert. It is thought that the camel was first brought to Egypt after the Persian Empire conquered Egypt in 525 BC, although large herds did not become common enough in North Africa to establish the trans-Saharan trade until the eighth century AD.
Historical African states and empiresMain article: History of East Africa
Further information: History of Ethiopia
Sphinx of Nubian Emperor TuharqaThe distribution of the Nilo-Saharan linguistic phylum is evidence of a certain coherence of the central Sahara, the Sahel and East Africa in prehistoric times. Much of Ancient Egypt's culture came from sub-Saharan Africa including her religion, agriculture, and language via the Red Sea Hills.Ancient Nubia appears to have acted as a link connecting Ancient Egypt to sub-Saharan Africa, based on traces of prehistoric south-to-north gene flow.Kush, Nubia at her greatest phase is considered sub-saharan Africa's oldest urban civialization. Nubia was a major source of gold for the ancient world. Nubians built famous structures like the Deffufa, mud brick temples similiar to the ziggurats of Mesopotamia in material and function.They built numberous pyramids. Sudan site of ancient Nubia has more pyramids than anywhere in the world.
Accordingly, the Old Nubian language is itself a member of the Nilo-Saharan phylum. Old Nubian (arguably besides Meroitic) represents the oldest attested African language outside the Afro-Asiatic group.
The Axumite Empire spanned the southern Sahara and the Sahel along the western shore of the Red Sea. Located in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, Aksum was deeply involved in the trade network between India and the Mediterranean. Emerging from ca. the 4th century BC, it rose to prominence by the 1st century AD. It was succeeded by the Zagwe dynasty in the 10th century.
Parts of northwestern Somalia came under the control of Ethiopian Empire in the 14th century, until in 1527 a revolt under Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi led to an invasion of Ethiopia. The Ajuran dynasty ruled parts of East Africa from the 16th to 20th centuries.
Further south in East Africa, during the first millennium AD, Nilotic and Bantu-speaking peoples moved into the region, and the latter now comprise three-quarters of Kenya's population. Increased trade (namely with Arab merchants) and the development of ports saw the birth of Swahili culture. Developed from an outgrowth of indigenous Bantu settlements, the Swahili Coast of Kenya, Tanzania and northern Mozambique was part of the east African region which traded with the Arab world and India especially for ivory and slaves. Swahili, a Bantu language with many Arabic, Persian and other Middle Eastern and South Asian loan words, developed as a lingua franca for trade between the different peoples.
In 1498, Vasco da Gama became the first European to reach the East African coast, and by 1525 the Portuguese had subdued the entire coast. Portuguese control lasted until the early 18th century, when Arabs from Oman established a foothold in the region. Assisted by Omani Arabs, the indigenous coastal dwellers succeeded in driving the Portuguese from the area north of the Ruvuma River by the early 18th century.
Nok sculpture, terracotta, LouvreMain article: History of West Africa
Further information: Sahelian kingdom
Fortifications were significant in West Africa, the Wall of Benin was the second largest man made structure in the worldThe Bantu expansion is a major migration movement originating in West Africa around 2500 BC, reaching East and Central Africa by 1000 BC and Southern Africa by the early centuries AD.
The Nok culture is known from a type of terracotta figure found in Nigeria, dating to between 500 BC and AD 200.
There were a number of medieval empires of the southern Sahara and the Sahel, based on trans-Saharan trade, including the Ghana Empire and the Mali Empire, Songhai Empire, the Kanem Empire and the subsequent Bornu Empire.
In the forrest zone, several states and empires emerge. The Ashante Empire arose in the sixteenth century, in modern day Ghana and Ivory Coast. Other major states included, the kingdoms of If? and Oyo in the western block of Nigeria became prominent about 700900 and 1400 respectively, and center of Yoruba culture. The Yoruba's built massive mud walls around their cities, the most famous Sungbo's Eredo, the largest man made structure in all of Africa. Another prominent kingdom in south western Nigeria was the Kingdom of Benin(14401897), whose power lasted between the 15th and 19th century. Their dominance reached as far as the well known city of Eko which was named Lagos by the Portuguese traders and other early European settlers. The Edo speaking people of Benin are known for the Walls of Benin, which was the largest man-made structure(lengthwise) in the world, second only to the Great Wall of China, according to the Guinnes Book of World Records.
In the 18th century, the Oyo and the Aro confederacy were responsible for most of the slaves exported from Nigeria, with Britain shipping 2/5 of the slave and France and Portugal 2/3 of all slaves.Following the Napoleonic wars, the British expanded trade with the Nigerian interior. In 1885, British claims to a West African sphere of influence received international recognition and in the following year the Royal Niger Company was chartered under the leadership of Sir George Taubman Goldie. In 1900, the company's territory came under the control of the British Government, which moved to consolidate its hold over the area of modern Nigeria. On January 1, 1901, Nigeria became a British protectorate, part of the British Empire, the foremost world power at the time.
By 1960, most of the region received independence from colonial rule.
Nzinga Mbande, queen of the Ndongo and Matamba.Main article: History of Central Africa
Further information: Lunda Empire
At Urewe, in the first half of the 1st millennium BC. There follow a series of southwards advances, establishing a Congo nucleus by the end of the 1st millennium BC. In a final movement, the Bantu expansion reaches Southern Africa in the 1st millennium AD.
During the 1300, the Luba Kingdom in Southeast Congo near Lake Kisale came about under a king, whose political authority came from religious spiritual legitimacy and is seen as a spiritual guardian. The kingdom controlled agriculture and trade in the region of salt and iron from the north, copper from the Zambian/Congo copper belt.
Rival kingship factions who split from the Luba Kingdom later moved among the Lunda people, marrying into its elite and laying the foundation of the Lunda Empire in the 1500s. The ruling dynasty centralised authority among the Lunda, under the Mwata Yamyo or Mwaant Yaav. The Mwata Yamyo's legitimacy, like the Luba king, came from being viewed as a spiritual religious guardian. This system of religious spiritual kings was spread to most of central Africa by rivals in kingship migrating and forming new states. Many new states kings received legitimacy by claiming descent from the Lunda dynasties.
Another significant kingdom in west central Africa was the Kingdom of Kongo, which existed from the Atlantic west to the Kwango river to the east. During the 1400s, the Bakongo farming community was united with the capital at Mbanza Kongo, under the king title , Manikongo.
Other significant states and peoples included the Kuba Kingdom, producers of the famous raffia cloth, the Eastern Lunda, Bemba, Burundi, Rwanda, and the Kingdom of Ndongo.
Main article: History of Southern Africa
Further information: Kingdom of Mutapa
Great Zimbabwe: Tower in the Great Enclosure.Settlements of Bantu-speaking peoples, who were iron-using agriculturists and herdsmen, were already present south of the Limpopo River by the 4th or 5th century (see Bantu expansion) displacing and absorbing the original Khoi-San speakers. They slowly moved south and the earliest ironworks in modern-day KwaZulu-Natal Province are believed to date from around 1050. The southernmost group was the Xhosa people, whose language incorporates certain linguistic traits from the earlier Khoi-San people, reaching the Fish River, in today's Eastern Cape Province.
Monomotapa was a medieval kingdom (c. 12501629) which used to stretch between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers of Southern Africa in the modern states of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It enjoys great fame for the ruins at its old capital of Great Zimbabwe.
In 1487, Bartolomeu Dias became the first European to reach the southernmost tip of Africa. In 1652, a victualling station was established at the Cape of Good Hope by Jan van Riebeeck on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. For most of the 17th and 18th centuries, the slowly-expanding settlement was a Dutch possession.
Great Britain seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1795, ostensibly to stop it falling into the hands of the French but also seeking to use Cape Town in particular as a stop on the route to Australia and India. It was later returned to the Dutch in 1803, but soon afterwards the Dutch East India Company declared bankruptcy, and the British annexed the Cape Colony in 1806.
The Zulu Kingdom (181779) was a Southern African tribal state in what is now Kwa-Zulu Natal in south-eastern South Africa. The small kingdom gained world fame during and after the Anglo-Zulu War.
During the 1950s and early 1960s, most sub-saharan African nations achieved independence from imperialist rule.
Demographics and economy
Main articles: Demographics of Africa and Economy of Africa
Life expectancy has fallen drastically in Southern Africa since the 1990s as a result of HIV.Sub-Saharan Africa is the poorest region in the world, suffering from the effects of economic mismanagement, corruption in local government, and inter-ethnic conflict. The region contains most of the least developed countries in the world. The sub-Saharan African countries form the bulk of the ACP countries. Malaria is a chronic impediment to economic development. The disease slows growth by about 1.3% per year through lost time due to illness and the cost of treatment and prevention measures. According to the World Bank, the region's GDP would have been 32% higher in 2003 had the disease been eradicated in 1960.
The population of sub-Saharan Africa was 800 million in 2007.The current growth rate is 2.3%. The UN predicts for the region a population of nearly 1.5 billion in 2050.
Sub-Saharan African countries top the list of countries and territories by fertility rate with 40 of the highest 50, all with TFR greater than 4 in 2008. All are above the world average except South Africa. Figures for life expectancy, malnourishment, infant mortality and HIV/AIDS infections are also dramatic. More than 40% of the population in sub-Saharan countries is younger than 15 years old, as well as in the Sudan with the exception of South Africa.
Sub-Saharan Africa has a very high child mortality rate. While in 2002, one in six (17%) children died before the age of five,by 2007 this rate had declined to one in seven (15%).The leading cause of death was malaria infection.
Besides bad news in Zimbabwe, Congo, Sudan, and Kenya, most African governments have become more transparent and democratic. Most African governments were elected by the people and enjoys the support of the populace. Last year 54 million Africans voted in 19 peaceful presidential and parliamentary elections.
Foreign direct investment in Africa has grown at an average of 146 per cent a year over the last 22 years to reach US$36 billion in 2007, while trade between Africa and the rest of the world particularly Asia has been steadily increasing. Most notable, bilateral trade between China and Africa jumped 45 per cent in 2008 to reach US$107 billion, the bulk of which went to sub-saharan Africa.
Real economic growth in 2 out of 5 sub-Saharan countries was triple that of the US economy last year, on a pace that rivals that of Southeast Asia in 1980. African economies from Senegal to Benin to the Democratic Republic of Congo are more diversified. Growth in the region is expected to hit 6.5 percent.
Sub-Saharan Africas economy will probably expand 1.3 percent this year, down from 5.5 percent in 2008, and compared with a forecast of 1.5 percent made by the IMF in July. Growth will rebound to 4.1 percent in 2010 as global trade improves.
Map of Africa indicating Human Development Index (2004). All 22 countries ranking below 0.5 in the report on 2005 were in Sub-Saharan Africa. The highest value is that of Gabon at 0.677.In 1987, the Bamako Initiative conference organized by the World Health Organization was held in Bamako, and helped reshape the health policy of sub-Saharan Africa.The new strategy dramatically increased accessibility through community-based healthcare reform, resulting in more efficient and equitable provision of services. A comprehensive approach strategy was extended to all areas of health care, with subsequent improvement in the health care indicators and improvement in health care efficiency and cost.
As of October 2006, many governments face difficulties in implementing policies aimed at tackling the effects of the AIDS pandemic due to lack of technical support despite a number of mitigating measures.
Oil and Minerals
Sub-Saharan Africa is rich in minerals. The region is a major exporter to the world of gold, uranium, chrome, vanadium, antimony, coltan, bauxite, iron ore, copper, and manganese. South Africa is a major exporter of manganese. South Africa is also a major supplier of chrome. About 42% of world reserves and about 75% of the world reserve are located in South Africa.In addition, South Africa is the largest producer of platnum. 80% of the total world's annual mine production is from South Africa. 88% of the world's platinum reserve is in South Africa.Sub-saharan Africa produces 33% of the world's bauxite with Guinea as the major supplier. Zambia is a major producer of copper. Democratic Republic of Congo is a major source of coltan. Production from Congo is very small but has 80% of proven reserves.Sub-saharan Africa is a major producer of gold, producing up to 30% of global production. Major suppliers are South Africa, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Guinea, and Mali. South Africa had been first in the world in terms of gold production since 1905 but in 2007 it moved to second place, according to GFMS, the precious metals consultancy. Uranium is major commodity from the region. Significant suppliers are Niger, Namibia, and South Africa. Namibia was the number one supplier from Sub-saharan Africa in 2008.
Sub-saharan Africa produces 49% of the world's diamonds.
By 2015, it is estimated that 25% of North American oil will be from Sub-saharan africa ,way ahead of the Middle East. Sub-saharan Africa has been the focus of an intense race for oil by the West and China, India, and other emerging economies, even having only 10% of proven oil reserves, less than the Middle East. This race has been referred to as the second Scramble for Africa. The reasons are all economic. Most of Sub-Saharan oil is off the coast of host countries. Transportation cost is reduce. No pipelines has to be laid as in Central Asia. No Suez Canals to pass through as in the Middle East. Ships can come load up and hit the ocean to North America, Europe, or Asia. If political turmoil hits host country, production never stops since operation is off-shore. Second, Sub-saharan oil is viscous and has very low sulfur content. This requires less refining, thereby less costly and within environmental regulations. Plus more frequent sources of oil are being located in Sub-saharan Africa than anywhere else. Of all new sources of oil, 1/3 are in Sub-saharan africa.
Agriculture has always been an integral activity in Sub-saharan Africa. Sub-saharan Africa has more variety of grains than anywhere in the world. Between 13,000 and 11,0000 BCE wild grains began to be collected as a source of food in the cataract region of the nile, south of Egypt. The collecting of wild grains as source of food spread to Syria, parts of Turkey and Iran by the eleventh millennium BCE. By the tenth and ninth millennia southwest Asians domesticated their wild grains, wheat and barley after the notion of collecting wild grains was spread from the Nile.
Numerous crops have been domesticated in the region and spread to world. These crops included sorghum, castor beans, coffee, cotton okra, black-eyed peas, watermelon, gourd, and pearl millet. Other domesticated crops included teff, enset, African rice, yams, kola nuts, oil palm, and raffia palm..
Domesticated animals included the guinea fowl and the donkey.
Agriculture represent 20% to 30% of GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa. Agriculture represent 50% of exports. In some cases, 60% to 90% of the labor force are employed in Agriculture .
Most agricultural activity in Sub-Saharan Africa is subsistence farming. This has made agricultural activity vulnerable to climate change and global warming. Biotechnology has been advocated to create high yield, pest and environmentally resistant crops in the hands of small farmers. The Bill and Malinda Gates foundation are strong advocates and donors to this cause. Biotechnology and GM crops have met resistance both by Sub-Saharan Africans and Environmental groups.
Cash crops include cotton, coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, and tobacco.
The OECD says Africa has the potential to become an agricultural superbloc, if it can unlock the wealth of the savannahs by allowing farmers to use their land as collateral for credit. Recently, there have been a trend to purchase large tracts of land in Sub-sahara for agricultural use by developing countries. Earlier in 2009, legendary hedge fund speculator George Soros highlighted a new farmland buying frenzy caused by growing population, scarce water supplies and climate change. Chinese interests bought up large swathes of Senegal to supply it with sesame. Aggressive moves by China, South Korea and Gulf states to buy vast tracts of agricultural land in Sub-Saharan Africa could soon be limited by a new global international protocol.
Languages and ethnic groups
Linguistically, sub-Saharan Africa is dominated by the Niger-Congo phylum (distribution shown in yellow), with pockets of Khoi-San in Southern Africa, Nilo-Saharan in Central and East Africa, and Afro-Asiatic in the Horn of AfricaFurther information: Languages of Africa, African people, List of African ethnic groups, and Ethnic groups of the Middle East
Sub-saharan Africa displays more diversity than anywhere in the world. This is more apparent in the number of languages spoken. The region speaks 2000 languages, which is 1/3 of the world's total.The Niger-Congo language family covers much of Sub-Saharan Africa and is probably the largest language family in the world in terms of different languages.
Speakers of Bantu languages (part of the Niger-Congo family) are the majority in southern, central and east Africa proper. But there are also several Nilotic groups in East Africa, and a few remaining indigenous Khoisan ('San' or 'Bushmen') and Pygmy peoples in southern and central Africa, respectively. Bantu-speaking Africans also predominate in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, and are found in parts of southern Cameroon and southern Somalia. In the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa, the distinct people known as the Bushmen (also "San", closely related to, but distinct from "Hottentots") have long been present. The San are physically distinct from other Africans and are the indigenous people of southern Africa. Pygmies are the pre-Bantu indigenous peoples of central Africa.
South Africa has the largest populations of whites, Indians and Coloureds in Africa. The term "Coloured" is used to describe persons of mixed race in South Africa and Namibia. People of European descent in South Africa include the Afrikaner and a sizeable populations of Anglo-Africans and Portuguese Africans. Madagascar's population is predominantly of mixed Austronesian (Pacific Islander) and African origin. The area of southern Sudan is inhabited by Nilotic people.
List of major languages of Sub-Saharan Africa by region, family and total number of native speakers in millions: