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Africa

Lat/Long: 8.7832° S, 34.5085° E

The second largest of the seven continents, Africa covers 11,677, 239 square miles. It is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean; on the east by the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean; on the north by the Mediterranean Sea, and on the south by the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Prior to 300 BCE, Africa was home to great civilizations in Egypt, Carthage, Phoenicia, and Ethiopia. Beginning with the Greeks in the 300s BCE, Africa experienced colonization and domination from Asian, Arab, and European people, beginning with the Arabs in the eighth century, who conquered North Africa for Islam. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Portugese and Spanish explorers penetrated the continent and establish the slave trade which supplied their colonies with slave labor. The English and Dutch followed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. During Abraham Lincoln's lifetime, European explorers and Christian missionaries penetrated further into the continent, increasing European power and influence in the area. By the end of the nineteenth century, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Germany, and other European states had partitioned the continent into European colonies.

Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary 3rd ed., (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1997), 10-11; John Scott Keltie, "Africa: IV. History,"The Encyclopædia Britannica , 11th ed. (New York: Encyclopædia Britannica Company, 1910), 1:331-35.