Africa (ăf´rĬkə), second largest continent (2009 est. pop. 1,010,000,000), c.11,677,240 sq mi (30,244,050 sq km) including adjacent islands. Broad to the north (c.4,600 mi/7,400 km wide), Africa straddles the equator and stretches c.5,000 mi (8,050 km) from Cape Blanc (Tunisia) in the north to Cape Agulhas (South Africa) in the south. It is connected with Asia by the Sinai Peninsula (from which it is separated by the Suez Canal) and is bounded on the N by the Mediterranean Sea, on the W and S by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the E and S by the Indian Ocean. The largest offshore island is Madagascar; other islands include St. Helena and Ascension in the S Atlantic Ocean; São Tomé, Príncipe, Annobón, and Bioko in the Gulf of Guinea; the Cape Verde, Canary, and Madeira islands in the N Atlantic Ocean; and Mauritius, Réunion, Zanzibar, Pemba, and the Comoros and Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.
Geology and Geography
Most of Africa is a series of stable, ancient plateau surfaces, low in the north and west and higher (rising to more than 6,000 ft/1,830 m) in the south and east. The plateau is composed mainly of metamorphic rock that has been overlaid in places by sedimentary rock. The escarpment of the plateau is often in close proximity to the coast, thus leaving the continent with a generally narrow coastal plain; in addition, the escarpment forms barriers of falls and rapids in the lower courses of rivers that impede their use as transportation routes into the interior. Northern Africa is underlain by folded sedimentary rock and is, geologically, more closely related to Europe than to the rest of the continent of Africa; the Atlas Mts., which occupy most of the region, are a part of the Alpine mountain system of southern Europe. The entire African continent is surrounded by a narrow continental shelf. The lowest point on the continent is 509 ft (155 m) below sea level in Lake Assal in Djibouti; the highest point is Mt. Uhuru (Kibo; 19,340 ft/5,895 m), a peak of Kilimanjaro in NE Tanzania. From north to south the principal mountain ranges of Africa are the Atlas Mts. (rising to more than 13,000 ft/3,960 m), the Ethiopian Highlands (rising to more than 15,000 ft/4,570 m), the Ruwenzori Mts. (rising to more than 16,000 ft/4,880 m), and the Drakensberg Range (rising to more than 11,000 ft/3,350 m).
We fly to Africa with: