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Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent, being behind Asia in both categories. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Africa's average population is the youngest amongst all the continents; the median age in 2012 was 19.7, when the worldwide median age was 30.4. Algeria is Africa's largest country by area, and Nigeria is its largest by population. Africa, particularly central Eastern Africa, is widely accepted as the place of origin of humans and the Hominidae clade (great apes), as evidenced by the discovery of the earliest hominids and their ancestors as well as later ones that have been dated to around 7 million years ago, including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster—the earliest Homo sapiens (modern human), found in Ethiopia, date to circa 200,000 years ago. Africa straddles the equator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones.

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In the news

7 February 2019 –
Six people are killed by a gas explosion in an abandoned coal mine in Middelburg, South Africa. (BBC)
5 February 2019 – Central African Republic Civil War (2012–present)
The Government of the Central African Republic sign a peace deal with 14 rebel groups. (Al Jazeera)
2 February 2019 – Somali Civil War
Two people are killed and at least five others injured by a suicide car bombing that targeted an African Union Mission base in Somalia. Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for the attack. (AA)
1 February 2019 –
Three students at a school in Johannesburg, South Africa, are killed after a footbridge connecting the main school administration to various class rooms collapses. (AA)
29 January 2019 –
Two lions, two hyenas, a rhino and a giraffe are killed at Kruger National Park, South Africa, after storms topple a power cable. (BBC)
25 January 2019 –
18 people were killed and 23 others were injured when gunmen belonging to the "Union for Peace" group, attacked a funeral ceremony in the town of Ippy, Central African Republic. (The Tribune)
22 January 2019 –
Five foreign demining experts, identified as two South Africans, one Croatian, one Bosnian and one Kosovar, are killed in an accidental explosion in Yemen. (BBC)


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