Travel Guide Africa
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Africa is a vast continent of diverse cultures and landscapes. Surpassed in size and population only by Asia, Africa boasts about 14% of the world's population and over 20% of the total global land area. Most of this land is dominated by desert and savannah plains, though there are also stretches of rainforest.
Owing to its history of being a colonised land, traditional African culture is infused with Arabic and European influences. Especially the northern parts of Africa, including the Magreb countries and Egypt are more Arabic than really African. Arabic influences are also noticeable along the western coastline and islands off the coast like Zanzibar, Madagascar and Mauritius. The European influences are scattered across the continent but still are best seen en felt in southern Africa, in countries like South Africa and Namibia.
Africa's geography is as diverse as it's culture. Africa is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Northern and Southern Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the Suez Chanel to the east. Although the latter, the Suez Chanel, only divides Africa from the Middle East geographically, not politically as the Sinai Peninsula is also part of Africa, that is Egypt. The waters that border Africa are dotted with many islands though, which officially are part of Africa as well, like the Seychelles, Mauritius and Sao Tome and Principe, although many of these islands have a distinct culture from the mainland.
The northern part of Africa contains the largest non-arctic desert in the world, the Sahara, one of the most famous deserts. Northwest of the Sahara lies one of the highest mountain ranges of Africa, the Atlas Mountains, which runs from southern Morocco through Algeria to Tunisia. South of the Sahara is transition zone with savanna scrubby grasslands and semi-desert landscapes. Further to the south and southeast you will find the tropical rainforests. Parts of Central Africa include volcanic moutain ranges, including the Ruwenzori Mountains and Mount Cameroon, one of the highest mountains in Africa after the Kilimanjaro. Again, south of the tropical zone you will find semi-desert landscapes and savannah before reaching the deserts of the Kalahari and Namib. Finally, South Africa's southern parts are like it's Mediterranean counterparts in the north with pleasant climates, enough rain and absence of real deserts.
|North Africa||Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia|
|Saharan Africa||Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan, Western Sahara|
|West Africa||Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo|
|Central Africa||Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe|
|East Africa||Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mayotte, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda|
|Southern Africa||Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Réunion, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe|
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|Ascension Island |
(Dependency of Saint Helena)
|British Indian Ocean Territory||Diego Garcia|
|Central African Republic||Bangui|
|Democratic Republic of Congo||Kinshasa|
(Overseas Collectivity of France)
|Republic of Congo||Brazzaville|
(Overseas Department of France)
|Saint Helena |
(British Overseas Territory)
|Sao Tome and Principe||Sao Tome|
|Tristan da Cunha |
(Dependency of Saint Helena)
|Edinburgh of the Seven Seas|
|Western Sahara||El Aaiun (disputed)|
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For the first time, the FIFA World Cup, beginning on the 11th of June 2010, is held in Africa and South Africa is the host country. One of the most prestigious and popular world sporting events, the World Cup 2010 promises to bring throngs of passionate supporters from around the globe. Held once every four years, it's a football tournament (known as soccer in South Africa) where 32 world nations vie for the famous golden trophy.
See also: Famous Landmarks
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Safaris were 'invented' in Africa and although it just means 'trip' or 'travel' in Swahili language, the term is internationally used when someone is going to visit Africa's national parks, in search of the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino) and hopefully more animals. Some parks adjacent to the ocean (in South Africa) even claim to have the Big Seven (including whales and white sharks).
Other traditional countries to see Africa's beautiful nature and wildlife are Kenya, South Africa and Botswana. South Africa is perfect for a self drive safari. This applies to Botswana as well, but you really need a 4wd here to visit some of the nicest parks like Chobe National Park. A great alternative is Namibia, with better roads and some fantastic parks in the northern half of the country.
Other highlights regarding wildlife in Africa are Etosha National Park in Namibia, several more remote parks like Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and South Luangwa National Park in Zambia and visiting the mountain gorillas in the mountainous areas of Uganda and Rwanda and even the Democratic Republic of Congo. Surprisingly, there are actually quite a few countries, areas and parks where few visitors go. Especially the western and central parts of Africa are not that known to the 'safari' enthusiasts but do have serious potential. An upcoming example is Gabon, where hippos and elephants live right up to the beach!
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Africa has very fine beaches, especially in the east. Of the coast of Africa are several islands to enjoy the beaches as well. Most of them are located in the Indian Ocean, but there are a few gems in the Atlantic Ocean as well.
Most travellers visiting Africa, fly in and although there are much less flights to African cities compared to for example Asia, most continents have direct flights to a number of cities. Most popular areas to fly to are the eastern and southern parts of Africa and especially South Africa has a wide range of flights, including from Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur and even Washington, D.C.. The best deals are from Europe though, from where you can also take several ferries, for example to Morocco from Spain or Tunisia from Italy. Africa is a popular continent to cross overland from north to south or vice versa and apart from ferries, the only overland route is crossing from Israel or, by short ferry ride, from Jordan. For detailed information it is best to check the country and city articles.
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