Africa, the cradle of humanity, is the second largest continent after Asia. Its surface, equal to 30,227,467 km ², representing 20.2% of the land on the planet, its inhabitants (more than 920,000,000 in 2005) constitute one-seventh of the world population. Africa is bounded on the north by the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean to the west, south and east from the Southern Ocean from the Indian Ocean. A North-East is separated from the Suez Canal dall'artificiale. Crossed the equator and is characterized by a great variety of climates.
The history of Africa begins with the first emergence of man sapiens in East Africa, continuing into its modern present as a patchwork of diverse and politically developing nation states.
Obelisk at temple of Luxor, Egypt. c. 1200 BC
Africa's written history starts with the rise of Egyptian civilization in the 4th millennium BC, and in succeeding centuries follows the development of the many diverse societies beyond the Nile Valley. From an early date this has involved critical interactions with non-African civilizations. These ranged from the Phoenicians, who established the merchant empire of Carthage, to the Romans, who colonised all of North Africa in the first century BC. Christianity began its spread through large areas of northern Africa at this time, reaching as far south as Kush and Ethiopia. In the late 7th century, North and East Africa were heavily influenced by the spread of Islam, which eventually led to the appearance of new cultures such as those of the Swahili people in East Africa, and powerful kingdoms including the Songhai Empire in the sub-saharan west. Farther south, Ghana, Oyo, and the Benin Empire developed with little influence from either Islam or Christianity. The rise of Islam led to an increase in the Arab slave trade that would culminate in the 19th century. This presaged the forced transport of African people and cultures to the New World in the Atlantic slave trade, and the beginning of the European scramble for Africa. Africa's colonial period lasted from the late 1800s until the advent of African independence movements in 1951, when Libya became the first former colony to become independent. Modern African history has been rife with revolutions and wars as well as the growth of modern African economies and democratization across the continent.
African history has been a challenge for researchers in the field of African studies due to the scarcity of written sources in large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Scholarly techniques su