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AFRICA, one of the five divisions of the globe, mentioned in history thousands of years ago, is still to us what it was to the ancientsthe land of mystery. Only a small extent of sea separates Africa from Europe ; its coasts lie in sight of the most civilized countries ; and yet we know nothing more than its outlines: into the interior the foot of a European has lately, for the first time, penetrated. Whether the Africans are descended from a Negro Adam, or whether a descendant of Noah conducted thither from Asia its first inhabitants, who received their black complexion from the fierce heat of the African sun, is a problem which can never be solved. Under the same name which it now bears, the valley of the Nile was, in the earliest ages of history, the cradle of commerce, the arts and sciences. But even in the period of Egypt's greatest prosperity, deep night seems to have enveloped the surrounding countries, which were called Negroland. Subsequently, the Greeks (see the very minute accounts of Herodotus) and Romans became better acquainted with the Mediterranean coast of AFRICA, and penetrated into the interior perhaps as far as the river Joliba; but their knowledge never reached beyond the confines of Numidia, and they were totally ignorant of the southern part of A. How vague was the conception which Ptolemy himself formed of this portion of the earth, though it appeared to him a large peninsula! Its outlines were not determined till the 15th century. Henry, the Navigator, sailed round the formidable cape Non (non plus ultra), Diaz and Vasco de Gama discovered the cape of Good Hope, and both the western and eastern coasts were examined by European navigators.Africa is a vast peninsula, forming a triangle, with its vertex towards the south, containing 12,256,000 (according to Gruberg, 11,031,400) square miles; situated between 18° W and 51cE. Ion, ana from 34° S. to 37° 3(X N. lat.; bounded on the north by the Mediterranean, on the east by Asia, the Red sea and Indian ocean, and on the south and west by the Southern and Atlantic oceans. It has a great breadth from east to west. The northern portion is much larger than the southern; the greatest breadth, from west to east, from cape Negro to cape Guardafui, is 69°. Under the equator, the breadth is 4500 geographical miles. The internal structure of Africa is marked by many peculiarities. It possesses immense chains of mountains, extending, perhaps, from the cape of Good Hope to the Mediterranean, in many parallel ranges. Such are the Atlas mountains, the mountains of the Moon, of Kong and Lupata; those of the Cape, 5000 feet high, and covered with continual snows; but, on the whole, it is more level than any other quarter of the globe. In none other do we find such boundless deserts; and the Cobi, in the centre of Asia, is not to be compared with the Sahara. These deserts appear like oceans of sand, by no means destitute of fertile islands. These islands are the Oases, peculiar to Africa. (See Oases.) Among the mighty streams of A. we can now follow the Egyptian Nile to its sources. The courses of the other great rivers have not yet been satisfactorily explored. We know, indeed, where the Congo or Zaire, Coanza, and Cuama or Zambese terminate, but not where they rise. The Joliba (the Niger of Herodotus), Mungo Park has informed us, flows from west to east. The Senegal, the Gambia and the Orange are also important rivers. A. contains several large lakes, such as the Dembea, Wangara, Maravi, Tschad and aquilunda. The climate is various, but in general extremely hot. In the lifeless atmosphere of the tropics, which have but two seasons, the wet and the dry, the heat of the sun is terrible; and Adanson tells of eggs being roasted in the sands of Guinea, and the naked feet of the Negroes blistered. On the coasts, the heat is mitigated by the breezes from the sea and the mountains, and by incessant rains; but the atmosphere is not so healthy and pure as in the interior, which has a higher elevation. The whole tract of Barbary is warmer than the more southerly regions, and all A., compared with Europe, is a hot country. Of its winds, the dry, parching harmattan is peculiar to A.; it has the simoom in common with Asia, and the sirocco with Europe.To the naturalist, this wonderful country seems the first fa vorite of nature, as far as it respects the riches of the organic world, and the ni tuber of giant forms of animals and plants. It can enumerate five times as many species of quadrupeds as Asia, and three times as many as all America. It excels Asia in the size of its colossal river horse (hippopotamus), gigantic giraffe ana large antelopes and apes. That giant of birds, the ostrich, is exclusively indige nous to Africa. But the most beneficen gift of nature to the African is the camel the constitution of which is in every re spect adapted to the country and climate. Among the other animals are the elephant and rhinoceros, the lion, panther, leopard, ounce, jackal, hyaena, wolf, fox, dog, cat, mongus, bat, rat, marmot (cavict capensis), hare, rabbit, jerboa, porcupine, hedgehog, mole, civetcat, ichneumon, bear, horse, ass, zebra, sheep (some with hair and large, fat tails), argalis (capra ammori), goat, innumerable varieties of the gazelle, the buffalo, fallowdeer. In Guinea are found the roe, swine, emgalos, babyroussa, and other quadrupeds, whose natural history has been as yet by no means sufficiently investigated ; even the problematical unicorn is still said to exist in the interior. The varieties of birds are equally numerous; among which is the crownbird, the most beautiful of the feathered tribes; the flamingo, kingfisher, pelican, and many kinds of parrots ; the peacock, partridge, pheasant, widow and cardinalbird; the cuckoo, the cuculus indicator, turtledoves, pigeons, ducks, geese, &c. The class of reptiles comprises the crocodile and boa constrictor, with many other serpents, some innoxious, some highly poisonous. The bays and rivers abound in fish, but the variety of the,species is not so great as in the northern seas, and many of the most useful are entirely wanting. The shrubs and earth swarm with termites, ants, scolopendras, spiders and caterpillars, while passing armies of locusts obscure the sun like clouds. The most beautiful insects abound. Still more extraordinary is the force of vegetation. The earth renders back the seed to the cultivator increased a hundred fold, and produces those immense trees, among which the baobab, or monkey breadtree, whose crown of branches sometimes forms a circle 130 feet in diameter, holds the first rank; the splendid white trunk of the ceiba grows almost perpendicularly from the root to the branches, 60 feet, and, with its fine round crown, rises to a height of 120 feet. In AFRICA, as in America, the torrid zon" produces plants and fruits, at the same time the most nutritious, the most refreshing and most wholesome. The antiseptical quality appertains to the fruits of the palm, banana, orange, shaddock, pineapple, tamarind, and to the juice and leaves of the baobab. The best butter (likewise an excellent medicine) may be procured from the shih or buttertree, in the interior of the west of Africa, and the groundnuts of Whidah ripen within six weeks from the time of sowing. The vegetable productions, used for sustenance, are principally wheat, barley, millet, poa abyssinica, rice, the convolvulus batatas, L., yams, lotus berries, gum Senegal, dates, figs, the various kinds of spices, and especially sugarcane ; for drink, coffee is used, palm wine, from the female palmtree, the milk of cocoanuts, and Cape wine ; for clothing, cotton, hemp, and even flax. Here thrive the papaw, the pomegranate, five kinds of pepper, the best indigo, the draccena draco, from which is procured dragon's blood, the tallowtree, the best wood for dyeing and cabinet work, innumerable spices, &e. Madagascar is rich in the most valuable productions. Our information respecting the mineral kingdom is the most limited. Of gold, Africa has more than any other portion of the globe ; and iron is found in most parts of this continent ; but it wants the other metals. Of other minerals, it has only saltpetre, sal ammoniac, some fuller's earth, and emery in abundance ; ambergris is found on the coasts. The want of salt, except in a few regions, is most severely felt.The African races of men offer many points of interest to the inquirer. The majority of them are distinguished from the rest of the human family, not only by their black complexion and\ curly hair, but also by peculiarities in the construction of the bones of the head and even of the nerves. This seems to imply that the Negro is originally a distinct race. It is thought that traces of this primitive race may still be detected here and there ; e. g. of the original Egyptians in the Copts, and of the Ciuanches (the original inhabitants of the'Canaries) in the natives of Barbaiy. The population is probably between 100 and 110 millions. The interior of the country must be very populous, since, within two centuries and a half, it has contributed 40 millions of vigorous men to the slave trade, and, notwithstanding, is any thing but depopulated. Even the countries along the coast are thickly peopled. Jackson computed the popu8* lation of Morocco alone at 17 millions, and the Barbary states, with Egypt, which constitute but an eighth part of the continent, contain 20 millions. The torrid Guinea has, on the whole, a numerous population; and large cities are situated on the Joliba, of which we hardly know the names. The inhabitants belong to two branches of the human family; to the black, or Ethiopian race, which extends from the Joliba to the southern extremity, comprising, notwithstanding their tawny complexions, the Hottentots ; and to the Caucasian race, which includes the natives of Barbary, Copts, the Arabs or Moors, the Agaziones or Abyssinians, and the nations of Nubia. The Arabs are not to be regarded as aborigines of Africa, but they have scattered themselves, and become occupants of the greater part of the north and west. On the islands and some points of the seaboard, we find Portuguese, Spaniards, French, Dutch, British, and even Jews in particulai spots ; but the Falaschas in Tigre, though they profess the religion of Moses, seem not to be of Hebrew descent.The Arabic is the leading language throughout all the north, and as far as the Joliba, where it is understood, in some degree at least, by those nations who revere the Koran. The Berber and Shelluh tongues are spoken in the Barbary states, and along the Atlas mountains. The Mandingo language is used from the Senegal to the Joliba. On the western coast, a corrupt Portuguese is heard; in the regions of Abyssinia, the Tigre and Amhara tongues prevail. The languages of the blacks are as multifarious as the nations. In Sahara, alone, 43 dialects are said to be spoken. But of all the 150 languages (this conjectural number was adopted by Seetzen). of the African nations, we are hardly acquainted with 70. Equally manifold are the modes of worship. Mohammedanism has diffused itself over the north to the Joliba, and most of the eastern coast; the Christian religion is professed by the inhabitants of Tigre and Amhara, by the Copts, the Nubians, and European strangers, though with great diversity of forms. The most disgusting Fetichism prevails among most of, the Negro nations, demanding, from many of its votaries, human sacrifices/ We must not look to A. for the triumphs of science, not even to the country which was its cradle in the infancy of man*. , All*that the Pharaohs and Ptolemies had ever effected, was swept away by the storms which broke upon this unhappy regionin the middle ages. Schools, however, are still maintained by the Mohammedans in the cities of Barbary, by the Maraboots, in the countries where they have settled, and, here and thei'e, by the Copts and Monophysites in Tigre and Amhara. The arts are exercised only on the northern coasts, where the Moors manufacture much silk, cotton, leather and linen ; an Hctive commerce is carried on by them with the maritime nations of Europe, and, by means of caravans, a traffic, full as important, with the interior, to which they convey their own products and those of Europe. Some of the most important routes pursued by the caravans are the following :1. From Mourzouk, the capital cf Fezzan, to Cairo, 30 days' journey, by way of the marketplaces and encampments Siwah, Augila and Temissa. 2. From Mourzouk to Bornou, 50 days' journey, by way of the deserts of Bilma and Tibesti; the marketplaces and encampments are Temissa, Domboo and Kanem. 3. From Mourzouk to Cashna or Cassina, 60 days' journey, by way of Hiatts, Ganatt and Agadez. 4. From Fez to Timbuctoo, 54 days'; but a halt of some time is made at the encampments; e. g. at Akka or Tatta, the general rendezvous, at Tegaza and Aroan, 65 days; so that this caravan is 119 days in reaching its place of destination. 5. Another route along the sea coast leads through Wadey, cape Bqjador and Gualata. 6 and 7. The caravans from Sennaar and Darfur to Egypt do not travel regularly every year, but once every 2 or 3 years ; such a caravan comprises from 500 to 2000 camels. It goes about three miles an hour, and rarely travels more than 7 or 8 hours a day.The blacks stand on the verge of absolute barbarism, even where they are united into states. Their wants are exceedingly simple, and every article used by them is prepared by themselves ; the cloth which surrounds their loins, the hut which protects them from the weather, the bow and arrow necessary for the hunt and selfdefence,.as well as all their household furniture, are manufactured by themselves ; the gold, which they collect from the surface of the earth, is wrought by them into ornaments, and iron into arms. Commerce, however, with Europeans has taught them many wants, and increased their list of necessaries; among which may now be reckoned firearms, powder, brandy, tobacco, different kinds of cloth, glass beads, coral, &c. ; for which they barter slaves, ivory, gold and gums, the staples of Africa. The slave trade is yet of such importance, that, although most of the European and American nations have agreed to prohibit it, nearly 50,000 Negroes are yearly torn from the interior by the Mussulman, Portuguese, French, American, and even British dealers. Formerly, 105,000 slaves were annually introduced into the West Indies, besides those who were transported into Asia by the Kermanians, and by the North Americans into the southern states of the Union. The exports of ivory, gold dust and gums are also important ; those of ostrich feathers, tiger skins, hides, and other natural productions, are of less consequence. Of all the states of Africa, Barbary alone uses coin; in the rest, not frequented by Europeans, money rarely serves as the medium of exchange ; in some, on the western coast, cowries are made to answer the purposes of coin; in others, pieces of salt.The tropic of Cancer and the equator divide Africa into three principal parts:1. Northern Africa, comprising Egypt, the piratical states of Tripoli (including the coast of Barca), Tunis and Algiers, the empire of Morocco, Fezzan, and the northern part of Soodan oi the Sahara, with the Azores, Canary and Madeira islands. 2. Central Africa, comprising, on the eastern coast, Nubia, Tigre, Amhara, Efat, Adel, Ajan, the southern part of Soodan, with Darfur and the countries of the Gallas ; and, on the western coasts, Benin, Owhere, Senegambia and Guinea, besides the cape Verd islands, those near Guinea, the 16 Bissao islands, Socotora, &c. 3. Southern Africa, with all the southeast and southwestern coasts and interior, the cape of Good Hope and the island of Madagascar, the Comoro islands, with those of Mascarenhas, Amirante, Tristan d'Acunha, St. Helena and Ascension.In a historical view, also, Africa is deserving of the minutest investigation, as one of the richest archives of former times and the ancient world. It guards, couched in mysterious characters, innumerable annals of the history of man's progress from the earliest times down to the overthrow of the Roman empire in the East. In A. the enterprising European is discovering new sources of industry and commerce. Great Britain has already flourishing colonies established on its coasts; on which the Portuguese colonies, planted four centuries since, laid the foundation of the colonial system of Europe. It is with reason, therefore, that Africa has, in our days, engaged the attention of geographers, as in the period of Herodotus, ana 400 years since, in the time of Henry the Navigator. The French expedition to Egypt (q. v.) first opened this country to modern investigation, and roused even the Turks from their sluggish apathy. British perseverance has created for the nations of the Cape new sources of prosperity, and established a colony there, to receive the superfluity of British population; while the colony previously established (1793) at Sierra Leone has been laboring, not without success, for the civilization of the Negroes. At the same time, adventurous travellers, British, German, French, Italian and American, have penetrated into A. from all sides. But we must regard as erroneous the idea that the eastern coasts of A. were visited, in the remotest antiquity, by the Jewish and Tyrian merchants, who, according to Hebrew accounts, sailed to Tarshish and Ophir, said to be situated on those coasts, and carried thence great riches to kings David and Solomon. For a history of the voyages of discovery in Africa, since the time when the Phoenicians, under Nechos, king of Egypt, sailed from the Red sea, round Africa, and back through the pillars of Hercules (600 years before the Christian era), down to the enterprises of the latest times, we refer the reader to the complete history of voyages and discoveries in Africa, from the most distant times down to the present, by Dr. Leyden and Mr. Hugh Murray, Edinburgh, 1817; translated from the English into French, with additions, Paris, 1821, 4 vols.; and the N Geogr. Ephem., 1824. Among the most important travels of our own time are the mission of Bowdich, an Englishman, to Ashantee, in 1818, which has made us acquainted with a powerful and warlike nation near the western coast; and the journeys undertaken by Burckhardt to Nubia, which have made known to us the active commerce of the Nubian nations. It is principally by means of these, that the "African Association," incorporated in 1787, in London, as well as the British consulate (e. g. Salt, in Egypt), and the British Bible and Missionary societies, have been enabled to raise the veil which hung over this continent. The bold M imgo Park, Hornemann and Rontgen, of Neuwied, had previously penetrated into the interior. The last was murdered on the road to Timbuctoo, not far from Mogadore. Besides those mentioned above, we ought to cite Leod's Voyage to Africa, London, 1821, because it gives e more minute description of the peopleof Dahomy (q. v.), who inhabit the most fertile part of Guinea, wTith which we were only superficially acquainted from the accounts of Norris, and Capt. Lyon's Narrative of Travels, 1818-20, in Northern Africa, London, 1821, who, starting from Tripoli, visited the caves of the tribes of mt. Garean, and penetrated, by way of Mourzouk, to Tegerhy, (24° 4' N. lat.), the most southern city of the kingdom of Fezzan, in company with his friend Ritchie, who died, however, in Mourzouk, Nov. 20,1819. In September, 1821, three Englishmen, doctor Oudney, major Denham and captain Clapperton, proceeded on a similar expedition to Tripoli, in order to travel to Bornou, by way of Mourzouk, and explore the course of the Niger. Oudney died at Murmur, Jan. 12, 1824, in consequence of catching a cold when the frost was so violent on a plain, between hills of sand, that water froze in the leather bags. His fellowtraveller, Clapperton, pursued his journey to Cano, the present capital of Houssa, and reached Soccatoo, the residence of the governor of Soodan. They discovered the freshwater lake Tschad, into which two large rivers empty, the Shary from the south, the Yaou from the west. (See Narrative of Travels and Discoveries in Northern and Central Africa, by Maj. Denham, Capt Clapperton and the late Dr. Oudney, in the years 1822,23, 24, London, 1826.) In 1824, major Gordon Laing undertook to travel from Tripoli to Timbuctoo. Clapperton commenced, in 1825, a new expedition into the interior from Benin, by way of Soccatoo, to the Tschad, in order to penetrate into Abyssinia through Timbuctoo, whence Laing was to start for Benin. He was accompanied by doctor Dickson, the naturalist, capt. Robert Pearce and doctor Morrison. Clapperton died, of a dysentery at Soccatoo, April 13, 1827, and Laing is now known to have been killed near Timbuctoo in the latter part of the year 1826. Clapperton's journal of his second expedition has been published at London, 1829, together with the journal of Richard Lander, from Cano to the seacoast. Among the German and French adventurers, who have explored the interior of Africa, starting from Egypt, are Minutoli (q. v.), Caillaud, and, since the year 1822, Ed. Ruppel. Ruppel explored, in 1825, th i great Oasis in the west of Nubia, and the un known country of Kordofan, and undertook, in 1826, a journey to the Red sea. He has imparted to the public much that is new respecting Egypt and Ethiopia, and the antiquities of the East, in von Zach's Corresp. Astron. The French Gasp. Mollien, who published a Voyage dans VInUrieur de VAfrique aux Sources du Senegal et de la Gambia, Paris, 1820, 2 vols., set out from St. Louis, and reached the sources of the Senegal, the Gambia and the Rio Grande, at no great distance from each other, Ion. 7° 15' W., and lat. 10° 30' N., in the neighborhood of Teemboo. But he was unable to reach the sources of the Niger, and also wanted instruments to give accuracy to his observations. In the connexion of those two streams by the Nerico, he has shown the route on which the caravans from the kingdoms of Oubi and Foutadiallon, in the interior, might proceed along the Senegal to fort St. Louis. Much light has been shed over the south of Africa by Burchel, an Englishman, who travelled five years in the interior, setting out from the Cape. Before him, the Cape itself had been explored, by Barrow, in 1797, and by John Campbell, agent of the London Missionary Society, as far as Latakoo, a settlement of the Bushwana tribe, 900 miles north of Cape Town. In 1818, Campbell undertook a second journey, in the same direction, arrived at Latakoo in 1819, and reached, in April, 1820, Old Latakoo, containing 8000 inhabitants. He here found, in a northerly direction, several populous cities, situated in a fertile and cultivated country, where he discovered the tribe of the red Caffres, and reached Kureechanee (almost 24°*S. lat.), a city of the Marootzees, near the eastern coast, said to contain 16,000 inhabitants. Auguste Caille, a French traveller, has at length reached Timbuctoo. (q. v.) He set out from Kakondy April 19,1827, and arrived at Timbuctoo April 19, 1828. The committee of the geographical society at Paris, appointed to examine him, report chat his journey is connected, in a way very advantageous for science, with those of Park, Laing and others, who have explored A. (See Caille.) Thus the courage of European discoverers has penetrated Africa from four sides, the Cape, Senegal, Tripoli and Egypt. North Africa has now been intersected and scientifically explored, by five or six important expeditions. But there are yet wanting communication and connexion between the 20 or 25 principal lines, which mark the routes of the discoverers. The space already explored by them in Africa is estimated at 225,000 square miles. We nave, therefore, accounts more or less authentic respecting the 50th part of this vast continent. (See Jomard., Sur les Decouvertes dans VInUrieur de VAfrique, Rev. Enc, 1824, Dec.) Ukert has compiled the latest geography of the northern half of Africa (Weimar, 1824, the 21st vol. of the Vollst. Handb. der neuesten Erdbeschreib.) A new and very complete lithographic map of Africa was published in 1828, by Cotta, at Munich, containing all the late additions to African geography, price six guilders. For information respecting the American colony Liberia, and the other important settlements on this continent, see the separate articles.