Africa is a big continent, and it has many cultures. It is split into four regions. The regions are North Africa, South Africa, East Africa, and last but not least West Africa. There are approximately 40 countries in Africa. It is the second biggest continent in the world and it has over 900 million people.
There are many types of foods grown in Africa. In West Africa farming is the main activity. It employs over 70% of the population. West Africa has a lot of cocoa beans, peanuts, coffee, and cotton. Did you know that West Africa produces over half of the world's cocoa beans?
In Eastern Africa, in addition to farming, there is also a lot of fishing. Lake Victoria is a large freshwater lake, and it provides much of the fishing in the area. Another food that is common is a porridge made from flour. This is the main food for many of the poorer countries. Eastern Africans also eat chicken, sheep and goat meat. One traditional drink of the Masai Tribe is made from cow's milk mixed with the blood from a cow's neck.
South Africa is also home to a lot of farms. Most of the continent's sugar cane is grown there along with corn and cassava. "Mealie-meal" is made from mashed up corn husks and water; it's similar to oatmeal, and is eaten by many people in the southern part of the continent. Cattle farms are also very popular there. In the richer areas, fast food restaurants, and local restaurants serving steak dinners and burgers have become more common.
The food in North Africa is influenced by many of the neighboring areas including the Middle East. Grains are used as the basis for most dishes like couscous, but the variety of spices that are used to flavor each dish is what makes them different. Some spices commonly used are nutmeg, saffron and cloves.
Traditional African clothing is very unique. It was originally designed to identify different tribes and a person's status within that tribe. For example, Kente Cloth (or nwentoma) is woven with different colors, each color represents a different meaning. Yellow is for royalty and wealth, purple for women, and black for spiritual energy. Each country and tribe in Africa has traditional clothing and weaving unique to its area. Clothing is also designed for the warm weather and climate. In desert areas, clothing similar to Middle Eastern styles is worn.
Though many Africans now wear "western" clothing, special tribal clothes and costumes are still worn by some and used in traditional celebrations.
Since Africa is such a large continent, there are many, many languages. It's estimated that there are over 2,000 languages used in Africa. Even in one country, many different languages may be spoken. For example, there are over 250 languages in Nigeria alone! Although some individual tribes may have their own language, there are "main" languages used in each area in Africa. In the northern part of the continent, Berber and Arabic are common. In southern Africa, English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa are spoken by many. Swahili, Kongo and Lingala are used in the central countries.
Many languages can be a problem when dealing with business and communications. In the recent past, many governments of African countries tried to establish one national language, but some have changed their opinion because some of the traditional tribal languages were beginning to disappear.
There are a lot of different cultures represented in Africa, and their traditions and daily life vary greatly. Did you know that in West Africa the giving of a kola nut is a sign of friendship? And did you know that in 1994 in Guinea-Bissau 77% of the boys and 42% of the girls were enrolled in primary or elementary school? In high or secondary school it went all the way down to 9% of the boys and 4% of the girls were enrolled.
On Friday afternoons, the people of West Africa pray in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Muslim temples or mosques are special in most of the West African towns.
Many of the people who live in Africa live in rural areas. They raise livestock and grow crops. Sometimes they work on their own small plots of land, or sometimes they work for large farms owned by governments or wealthy people. People often need to move to the bigger cities in order to find jobs.
There are also many large, modern cities in Africa such as Cairo, Egypt. People who live in the cities usually make a better living than people living in the rural areas. They often have better schools, hospitals, clinics, banks, etc.
I hope you learned a lot about Africa.