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Over one billion people inhabit Africa. Over 2,000 languages are spoken in Africa (according to UNESCO), and you'd be hard pressed to find a more ethnically diverse land.
The earliest history of Africa goes back millennia, when early life-forms roamed the Earth. It was only around 3300 BC that ancient civilizations, like that of Egypt came into existence. Most of the northern African coastline was also under the control of Roman Empire during its heyday. Islam started to expand in the continent by about seventh century AD and to this day remains a major religion in Africa.
In the last 200 years, Africa saw a dark period of colonization and the slave trade, when most of the continent was a colony of one empire or the other. The European powers, who managed to remain in control for much of the time were significantly weakened during World War II, after which there was a wave of independence movements among the African countries.
Although the availability of natural resources is enviable, many African countries suffer from famines, epidemics, civil wars and ethnic conflicts. Nations like Egypt and South Africa have done well, but most others remain extremely poor and some are even considered failed states.
Agriculture and mining are the largest sectors of the economy of many countries in Africa. Agriculture alone employs about 60 percent of the continent's workforce. Gold, diamond and copper are among the various minerals exported. Manufacturing also holds importance in the continent, with developed nations like Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and South Africa employing about 15 percent of their population in manufacturing.
Last Updated : December 05, 2013
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