[[Image:Giraffes, Masai Mara, Kenya.jpg|thumb|400px|Giraffes in [[Maasai Mara National Park]] in [[Kenya]]]]
'''Africa''' has 54 sovereign countries—the most on any continent—and is the second largest continent in terms of both land area and population. Africa is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, by the Red Sea to the northeast, and by the Indian Ocean to the southeast. Africa is a vast continent spanning over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 mi) north-south and 7,500 kilometers (4,800 mi) east-west (not including islands) and contains a wide array of peoples, skin colors, religions, and cultures. Africa contains the world's longest river—the 6,650 km-long (4,100+ mi) Nile River running from [[Burundi]] to [[Egypt]]—while the Congo River in the [[DRC]] is the second largest in terms of discharge as well as the deepest with a depth of over 230 m (750 ft) in some spots. [[Tanzania|Tanzania's]] Mount Kilimanjaro is the world's tallest free-standing mountain at 5,890 m (19,340 ft). [[Djibouti|Djibouti's]] Lake Assal is the second lowest point on [[Earth]], the saltiest lake outside [[Antarctica]], and one of the hottest places on Earth. While the first activity most people associate with Africa is safaris, there are endless possibilities for adventure. You can purchase crafts in markets, venture into the Sahara with a Tuareg caravan, visit pygmy villages, hike through jungle to watch gorillas, relax on tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, snack on
Africa is a very diverse continent, with each country, or even each part of a country having its own unique culture. While it is common for people in the West to refer to Africa as if it was a single country, one should remember the sheer size of the continent, and that Africa is not one country but 54 different countries, meaning that it is impossible to make generalisations of Africa as a whole.
*[[Marrakech]] — a blend of the ancient and modern in Morocco
*[[Nairobi]] — the capital of Kenya and the largest city in East Africa
[[Image:Cape Coast castle.jpg|thumb|250px|Slaving castle in [[Cape Coast]], [[Ghana]]]]
The lucrative trade and large amounts of gold obtained by the Portuguese lured other nations to the continent. As the demands for labor in the
In the 19th century, European attention shifted from establishing coastal ports for trade to fighting one another to colonize the continent and explore its uncharted interior. With slavery abolished by Britain and their strong efforts to thwart slavery around the world, Europe began to look for other sources of wealth on the continent. The most successful European colony, the Dutch '''Cape Colony''', was seized by the British in 1795. Napoleonic France conquered Egypt in 1798, notably discovering the Rosetta Stone, only to be forced out by the British and then the Turks. France invaded a significant amount of coastal West Africa and the Barbary states in Algeria, cutting rampant piracy in the region. Accounts of brave adventurers travelling inland to find places such as Mount Kilimanjaro and rumored "inland sea" (the Great Lakes) and city of gold on the Nile sparked a wave of exploration in the mid-century primarily by Catholic and Jesuit missionaries in the Southern, Eastern, & Great Lakes regions of Africa. Chief among explorers was the British national hero '''David Livingstone''', who as a poor missionary with few porters explored much of Southern and Eastern Africa, flowed down the Congo River from its sources, and sought the source of the Nile. In West & Central Africa, French, Belgian, & Spanish explorers ventured into the Sahara to find the legendary Timbuktu and Malian gold mines and the Congo in search of the Pygmies and hairy, large peoples (gorillas) of Greek legend.
[[Image:Africa independence dates.PNG|thumb|250px|Dates of independence across Africa.]]
The '''decolonization''' of Africa began with Libyan independence from Italy in 1951. Colonial powers employed varying means of control over their colonies, some granting natives representation in the government and cultivating a select few civil servants while others maintained a firm grip with an all-European government. In some countries, nationalist movements were quashed and their leaders killed or jailed while others were able to peacefully achieve independence. In the 1950s, Guinea, Ghana, & North African nations gained independence non-violently with the exception of Algeria, where France violently fought independence movements until 1963. With the establishment and new constitution of France's Fifth Republic in 1958, French West Africa & French Equatorial Africa ceased to exist and, after a brief "community" with France, the countries of these regions gained independence in 1960. By 1970, all but a handful of African nations were independent. The Portuguese bitterly fought to maintain their African possessions until 1975, all but one of whom gained independence through war. Zimbabwe was the last major colony to gain independence, in 1980. In 1990, semi-autonomous Namibia gained independence from South Africa and in 1993, Eritrea separated from Ethiopia following a protracted war. South Africa remained under firm control by its white minority, suppressing its black population under a system called '''apartheid''' until 1994. Morocco maintains control over Western Sahara, despite an established independence movement and remains a point of contention between Morocco and Algeria.
Europe divided Africa with complete disregard for the cultures and ethnic groups in Africa, often dividing a peoples between 2 or more countries and forcing peoples with a history of fighting or differing religions into one country. Additionally, a lack of training in civil service before and even after independence left most countries with dysfunctional governments and leaders tended to reward their own ethnic groups with jobs and money and in many cases suppressed ethnic minorities. This has been a cause of much strife post-independence across most of sub-Saharan Africa and has led to dozens of prolonged '''civil wars''' (notably in Sudan, Angola, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Nigeria), countless coups, and a countless number of inept, corrupt leaders. The discovery of valuable natural resources such as oil, uranium, diamonds, and coltan, has produced numerous independence movements post-independence citing the taking value of resources from their land to benefit the entire country (notably tiny, oil-rich [[Cabinda]] in Angola). Fortunately, there are numerous examples in Africa where past conflict has made way for functional governments, offering some hope for the future of African self-government.
* [[New York City|New York-JFK]]: Delta Air Lines to Abuja, Accra,& Dakar; South African Airways to Johannesburg; EgyptAir to Cairo; Royal Air Maroc to Casablanca; & Arik Air to Lagos.
* [[Atlanta]]: Delta Air Lines to Johannesburg, Accra, & Lagos
* [[Houston]]: United Airlines to Lagos; charter flights for oil workers to Nigeria and Angola
Outside the peak travel times to Europe (e.g. summer) you might be able to get a good deal to London or Paris and book a fare from there to Africa separately on a European travel website. But don't book the United States to Europe portion until you get confirmed on the Europe to Africa portion first. Through fares to Africa from the United States can be quite expensive, so avoiding peak travel times to Europe can sometimes save a lot. However, since new non-stop flights to Africa have recently been added, and Europe is much more expensive than it used to be, try getting a direct quote first, then see if you can do better. Another growing option is flying through the Middle East on Emirates or Qatar, which both serve a reasonable selection of African & American cities.
In Canada, Montreal is connected to Casablanca by Royal Air Maroc and Algiers by Air Algerie. TAAG Angolan Airlines offers weekly service to Havana—the last of the heavily-subsidized communist friends routes Cuba has to Africa (former routes include Tripoli, Maputo, & Conakry).
Connections from [[South America]] are:
* [[Sao Paulo]]: South African Airways to Johannesburg; TAAG Angolan Airlines to Luanda
* [[Rio de Janeiro]]: TAAG Angolan Airlines to Luanda
* [[Caracas]]: Santa Barbara Airlines to Tenerife-North (seasonal)
*[[Italy]]-[[Tunisia]] ferries are operated by a couple of different companies: [http://www.directferries.co.uk/tunisia.htm]. However, you must pass through Algeria to Mauritania/Niger -or- Libya to Egypt, both very expensive and difficult to enter with a car.
*[[Spain]]/[[France]] to [[Algeria]] car ferries are run by Algerie Ferries.
* Yemen-Djibouti ferries may be running weekly or more frequently (information about this crossing is little and conflicting) to avoid Egypt (because of the extremely high import taxes) or Sudan (as the Ethiopian-Sudan border is prone to banditry). It is also possible to cross by dhow in motorcycles or small/light vehicles.
*'''South African Airways (SAA)''' ([[Johannesburg]], [[South Africa]]), [http://www.flysaa.com], has daily flights to most major Southern, Eastern, & Central African political and economic hubs. If you're flying from the Northern Hemisphere to somewhere north of [[South Africa]], don't forget to check how much backtracking you'll have to do, and if it's worth it. The flight from Washington, D.C. does stop in [[Senegal]], but if you get off there, SAA has no connections to anywhere else.
*'''Ethiopian Airlines''' (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), [http://www.ethiopianairlines.com] carries more passengers than any other African airline and offers a direct service from many European cities
*'''Kenya Airways''' (Nairobi, Kenya), [http://www.kenya-airways.com], partly owned by Royal Dutch KLM, offers good service and frequent flights to all East African countries and many other major African destinations.
Africa is home to many famous natural wonders, from the Nile River, the world's longest river, to Victoria Falls.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of HIV and AIDS infection on Earth. A 2005 UN Report says over 25 million infected, over 7% of adults, for the continent as a whole. Be extremely cautious about any sexual activity in Africa. Especially note that the rates of HIV infection among sex workers is phenomenally high.
See also [[Tropical diseases]] and [[Tips for travel in developing countries]].