Africa is the second largest continent on the Earth and includes about 22 percent of the Earth's land mass. It is also the second most populous continent, with 1.1 billion people, 16 percent of the world's population as of 2014. Half of those people are under 25 years of age. Over 2,000 languages spoken in Africa, and the most commonly spoken language is Arabic, with over 170 million speakers. The continent also features the largest reserves of gold and platinum.
Africa's Nile River is the world's longest river, with a total length of 4,192 miles. The world's largest desert, the Sahara, is located in Africa. It covers an area almost as large as the entire United States. The second largest fresh water lake in the world, Lake Victoria, is located in Africa, and it is the largest lake in Africa. Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa rising to a height of 19,300 feet, is located close to the equator but has glaciers near its summit.
Scientists believe that once all the continents were one giant land mass. They believe that most of the continents have completely moved across the Earth, except Africa, which has stayed almost perfectly still.
Colorful cotton garments known as kangas are popular in Africa. Kangas often have symbols or messages on them. Among these, the fish is a popular motif in Africa. It often symbolizes a protection against evil.
Before the colonization of Africa by foreign powers in the 19th century, the continent featured over 10,000 states and groups, each with their own language and traditions. During the colonization, the entire continent came under the rule of foreign countries except for Libya and Ethiopia.
The continent is the world's poorest and has a very poor literacy rate. Only 40 percent of all adults on the continent are literate, while the countries of Chad, Mali, Ethiopia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have below 50 percent literacy rates.
Africa is the hottest continent in the world and the second driest continent, behind only Australia. The Sahara desert, the world's largest desert sits in the northern part of the continent. This desert is larger that the entire continental United States. The rainfall on the continent varies from almost 0.0 millimeters per year in the Sahara to over 9,500 millimeters around Mount Cameroon.