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        It is not possible to understand African history, politics, economic issues, environmental or cultural development without first getting a clear idea of Africa’s enormous size.  Africa is so large that the United States, India, China, Argentina, New Zealand and all of Europe could easily fit inside the continent. If we took one penny to represent 10,000 square miles, the state of Indiana would be less than four pennies  while Africa would be $11.70 in pennies.

Nature  has  endowed   the  continent  of  Africa with many  gifts. There  are  vast, fertile  plains, watered  like   clockwork   every   year, that  support  millions upon millions  of people.  Yet  there are other vast plains on which  few people , but  millions of animals, live. There are great  mountain ranges  yielding  earth’s most  precious  treasures - gold, silver, diamonds, uranium, bauxite and every other  conceivable  mineral - in large quantities. There are also tremendous areas of perfect  desolation, wastelands as large as  continents.  There are rainforests as thick and full  of life as is  earthly possible; and there are other areas barely able  to support  insects.  Indeed, the continent of Africa bears  witness to nearly every form of environment on earth.

There are African people of all races and descriptions as well, ranging from the shortest to the tallest ethnic groups in the world; from people with jet black skin to white skinned desert dwellers and all colors of humanity in between; and from people whose direct ancestors have inhabited Africa -in an unbroken line- from the origins of Mankind over a million years ago, to groups  whose first African settlers arrived on the continent only a few short centuries ago.

Africa epitomizes physical and cultural diversity. Yet five regions, and Africa’s significant islands share many common elements.