- For a topic outline on this subject, see List of basic Africa topics.
Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent (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.
Africa hosts a large diversity of ethnicities, cultures and languages. In the late 19th century, European countries colonised almost all of Africa; most present states in Africa originated from a process of decolonisation in the 20th century. African nations cooperate through the establishment of the African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa.
Cyclone Elita was an unusual tropical cyclone that made landfall on Madagascar three times. The fifth named storm of the 2003–04 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season, Elita developed on January 24 in the Mozambique Channel. It strengthened to become a tropical cyclone before striking northwestern Madagascar on January 28. Elita weakened to tropical depression status while crossing the island, and after exiting into the southwest Indian Ocean it turned to the west and moved ashore for a second time on January 31 in eastern Madagascar. After crossing the island, the cyclone intensified again after reaching the Mozambique Channel, and Elita turned to the southeast to make its final landfall on February 3 along southwestern Madagascar. By February 5 it underwent extratropical transition, and the remnants of Elita moved erratically before dissipating on February 13.
Elita dropped heavy rainfall of over 200 mm (8 inches), which damaged or destroyed thousands of houses in Madagascar. Over 50,000 people were left homeless, primarily in Mahajanga and Toliara provinces. Flooding from the storm damaged or destroyed more than 450 km² (170 sq mi) of agricultural land, including important crops for food.
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Plagues of the desert locust ( the scientific name being Schistocerca gregaria) have threatened agricultural production in Africa, the Middle East and Asia for centuries. The livelihood of at least one-tenth of the world’s human population can be affected by this hungry insect. The desert locust is potentially the most dangerous of the locust pests because of the ability of swarms to fly rapidly across great distances. The 2004 desert locust outbreak has caused significant crop losses in West Africa and had a negative impact on food security in the region.
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Lieutenant Colonel Alexandre Banza (1932 – 12 April 1969) was a Central African military officer and politician. Born in Carnot, Central African Republic, Banza served with the French Army during the First Indochina War before joining the Central African Republic armed forces. As commander of the Camp Kassaï military base in 1965, Banza helped Jean-Bédel Bokassa overthrow the government of President David Dacko. Bokassa rewarded Banza by appointing him as minister of state and minister of finance in the new government. Banza quickly established the new regime's reputation abroad and forged diplomatic relations with other countries. In 1967, Bokassa and his protégé had a major argument over the president's excessive extravagances. In April 1968, Bokassa removed Banza as minister of finance. Recognizing Bokassa's attempts to undermine him, Banza made a number of remarks highly critical of the president's handling of the government. Bokassa responded by abolishing the minister of state position.
Banza soon decided to stage a coup d'état. He confided in a few military officers, who he hoped would support his attempt to gain power. One of his confidants, Jean-Claude Mandaba, contacted the president and informed him of the date of the coup, 9 April 1969. Hours before he was going to execute his bid for power, Banza was ambushed by Mandaba and taken directly to Bokassa.
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