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Africa is the world's second-largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30 million km² including its adjacent islands, it covers 5.9% of the Earth's total surface area, and 20.3% of the total land area. With over 840 million people in 61 territories, it accounts for more than 12% of the world's human population.

Around 3300 BC, the historical record opens in Africa with the rise of literacy in Egypt, which continued with varying levels of influence over other areas until 343 BC. Other prominent civilizations include Ethiopia, the Nubian kingdom, the kingdoms of the Sahel (Ghana, Mali, and Songhai) and Great Zimbabwe.

In 1482, the Portuguese established the first of many trading stations along the Guinea coast at Elmina. The chief commodities dealt in were slaves, gold, ivory and spices. The European discovery of America in 1492 was followed by a great development of the slave trade, which, before the Portuguese era, had been an overland trade almost exclusively, and never confined to any one continent.

But at the same time that slavery was ending in Europe, in the early 19th century the European imperial powers staged a massive "scramble for Africa" and occupied most of the continent, creating many colonial nation states, and leaving only two independent nations: Liberia, the Black American colony, and Ethiopia. This occupation continued until after the conclusion of the Second World War, when all colonial states gradually obtained formal independence.

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Africa is the world's second-largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30 million km² including its adjacent islands, it covers 5.9% of the Earth's total surface area, and 20.3% of the total land area. With over 840 million people in 61 territories, it accounts for more than 12% of the world's human population.

Around 3300 BC, the historical record opens in Africa with the rise of literacy in Egypt, which continued with varying levels of influence over other areas until 343 BC. Other prominent civilizations include Ethiopia, the Nubian kingdom, the kingdoms of the Sahel (Ghana, Mali, and Songhai) and Great Zimbabwe.

In 1482, the Portuguese established the first of many trading stations along the Guinea coast at Elmina. The chief commodities dealt in were slaves, gold, ivory and spices. The European discovery of America in 1492 was followed by a great development of the slave trade, which, before the Portuguese era, had been an overland trade almost exclusively, and never confined to any one continent.

But at the same time that slavery was ending in Europe, in the early 19th century the European imperial powers staged a massive "scramble for Africa" and occupied most of the continent, creating many colonial nation states, and leaving only two independent nations: Liberia, the Black American colony, and Ethiopia. This occupation continued until after the conclusion of the Second World War, when all colonial states gradually obtained formal independence. More

 
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