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However, the warming and drying climate meant that by 5000 BC, the Sahara region was becoming increasingly dry and hostile.Around 3500 BC, due to a tilt in the earth's orbit, the Sahara experienced a period of rapid desertification.According to the Romans, Africa lay to the west of Egypt, while "Asia" was used to refer to Anatolia and lands to the east.A definite line was drawn between the two continents by the geographer Ptolemy (85–165 AD), indicating Alexandria along the Prime Meridian and making the isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea the boundary between Asia and Africa.It is speculated that by 6000 BC, cattle were domesticated in North Africa.In the Sahara-Nile complex, people domesticated many animals, including the donkey and a small screw-horned goat which was common from Algeria to Nubia.In a short while, the local Berber elite had been integrated into Muslim Arab tribes.When the Umayyad capital Damascus fell in the 8th century, the Islamic centre of the Mediterranean shifted from Syria to Qayrawan in North Africa.
Other etymological hypotheses have been postulated for the ancient name "Africa": During the mid-20th century, anthropologists discovered many fossils and evidence of human occupation perhaps as early as 7 million years ago (BP=before present).
Algeria is Africa's largest country by area, and Nigeria is its largest by population. ergaster—with the earliest Homo sapiens (modern human) found in Ethiopia being dated to circa 200,000 years ago.
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 seven million years ago, including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. Africa hosts a large diversity of ethnicities, cultures and languages.
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, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
Fossil remains of several species of early apelike humans thought to have evolved into modern man, such as Australopithecus afarensis (radiometrically dated to approximately 3.9–3.0 million years BP, These first modern humans left Africa and populated the rest of the globe during the Out of Africa II migration dated to approximately 50,000 years BP, exiting the continent either across Bab-el-Mandeb over the Red Sea, Other migrations of modern humans within the African continent have been dated to that time, with evidence of early human settlement found in Southern Africa, Southeast Africa, North Africa, and the Sahara.