Africa History

From ancient times to the Middle Ages


Africa in Middle Ages 2

Prehistoric finds near Oran (Algeria), Casablanca and Rabat (Morocco), Broken Hill (Zimbabwe), Soldanha (South Africa), Oldoway (Kenya), partly related to the Javanese; Cultural remains are from the early to late Paleolithic. Generally the same levels from hand ax to blade culture as in Europe. In North Africa, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco with foothills to the Niger and Nile in the transition to the Neolithic age, the capsia culture is pronounced; the man of this time is like the European Cro-Magnon man, interrelations with the simultaneous cultural world of the Pyrenees peninsula and Sicily are certain; the Capsien man knew no hatchets, he made vessels from ostrich eggs with incised ornaments; he also inhabited the Sahara, which was still rich in vegetation and animals at the time (elephants, rhinos, hippos, warthogs, giraffes, deer, Cattle, which he drew on rocks or painted in colors); since the 5th millennium BC Gradual spread of agriculture.

The timing of the spread and the migratory movements of today’s breeds are uncertain; old-breeds in the rainforest zone are the light to yellow-skinned, short-grown pygmies, which were once much more widespread and still live in the Stone Age today; the old races also belong to the middle-aged Bushmen in the south, whose rock carvings seem to have links to the art of Spain and Sahara, and the tall Hottentot peoples in the south and southwest. In Madagascar, the ancient tribes were overlaid by Indonesian immigrants early on.

Late, probably from their core area around the large East African lakes, the brown to very dark-skinned peoples spread across the continent, mingled with earlier peoples, adopted new ways of life and settled down again; the north was the residential area of ​​Mediterranean, Ethiopian (East Hamite), Berber peoples; only the slave trade of the Arabs brought Africans to the north coast in large numbers; Europeanization began in early antiquity.


Africa was initially considered part of Asia in ancient times (which also included Egypt). Check African population on the website of

Country Number of residents per square kilometer Proportion of residents in the cities (percent)
Algeria 18 (2018) 72.1 (2017)
Angola 25 (2018) 64.8 (2017)
Benin 102 (2018) 46.8 (2017)
Botswana 4 (2018) 68.7 (2017)
Burkina Faso 72 (2018) 28.7 (2017)
Burundi 435 (2018) 12.7 (2017)
Central African Republic 7 (2018) 41.0 (2017)
Comoros 447 (2018) 28.8 (2017)
Djibouti 41 (2018) 77.6 (2017)
Egypt 99 (2018) 42.7 (2017)
Equatorial Guinea 47 (2018) 71.6 (2017)
Ivory Coast 79 (2018) 50.3 (2017)
Eritrea 32 (2011) 35.8 (2011)
Ethiopia 109 (2018) 20.3 (2017)
Gabon 8 (2018) 89.0 (2017)
Gambia 225 (2018) 60.6 (2017)
Ghana 131 (2018) 55.4 (2017)
Guinea 51 (2018) 35.8 (2017)
Guinea-Bissau 67 (2018) 42.9 (2017)
Cameroon 53 (2018) 55.8 (2017)
Cape Verde 135 (2018) 65.3 (2017)
Kenya 90 (2018) 26.6 (2017)
Congo-Brazzaville 15 (2018) 66.5 (2017)
Congo-Kinshasa 37 (2018) 43.9 (2017)
Lesotho 69 (2018) 27.7 (2017)
Liberia 50 (2018) 50.7 (2017)
Libya 4 (2018) 79.8 (2017)
Madagascar 45 (2018) 36.5 (2017)
Malawi 192 (2018) 16.7 (2017)
Mali 16 (2018) 41.6 (2017)
Morocco 81 (2018) 61.9 (2017)
Mauritania 4 (2018) 52.8 (2017)
Mauritius 623 (2018) 40.8 (2017)
Mozambique 38 (2018) 35.5 (2017)
Namibia 3 (2018) 49.0 (2017)
Niger 18 (2018) 16.4 (2017)
Nigeria 215 (2018) 49.5 (2017)
Rwanda 499 (2018) 17.1 (2017)
São Tomé and Príncipe 220 (2018) 72.0 (2017)
Senegal 82 (2018) 46.7 (2017)
Seychelles 210 (2018) 56.3 (2017)
Sierra Leone 106 (2018) 41.6 (2017)
Somalia 24 (2018) 44.4 (2017)
Sudan 34.4 (2017)
South Africa 48 (2018) 65.9 (2017)
South Sudan 19.3 (2017)
Tanzania 64 (2018) 33.1 (2017)
Chad 12 (2018) 22.9 (2017)
Togo 145 (2018) 41.2 (2017)
Tunisia 74 (2018) 68.6 (2017)
Uganda 213 (2018) 23.2 (2017)
Zambia 23 (2018) 43.0 (2017)
Zimbabwe 37 (2018) 32.2 (2017)

Also see population and rankings of each top city in Africa on

First founding of the empire in the Niloase around 3000 BC. (still Stone Age culture); since about 1200 BC Phoenician-Semitic trade colonies along the north coast, especially in today’s Tunisia (Carthage, Phoenicians), education of Libyan and Berber life forms; around 800 BC Foundation of the Kush Empire in central Sudan; around 700 BC in the Ethiopian highlands the beginnings of the later empire of Aksum; around 600 BC probably the first Phoenicians to sail around Africa from the Red Sea, returning through the Strait of Gibraltar; in the 6th century BC Trips of the Hanno, perhaps to the Cameroon Hill, the colonial Greek Euthymenes probably to the mouth of the Senegal.

146 BC the area around (destroyed) Carthage became the “Africa” ​​Roman province. 30 BC Egypt was added in 42 AD. Mauritania. Around 20 BC Cornelius Balbus advanced in Libya (to Fezzan?), around 25 BC. C. Petronius to Nubia, 41/42 AD Suetonius Claudius into the Atlas Mountains, soon afterwards Roman centurions to the Nile swamps.

Turn of the times

At the turn of the year, a new great movement of peoples appeared to have started from Central Africa, the tribes of which had already been able to mine and melt iron and had better weapons; they spread mainly in previous empty spaces; among them probably the tribal groups of the Bantus. At the beginning of the 2nd century the Roman Julius Maternus is said to have reached Lake Chad. The Arabs advanced to the west coast of North Africa in the 7th century and settled on the east coast in the 10th century, to which Chinese trade trips led early (porcelain finds in Tanzania).

Middle Ages

Africa in Middle Ages

Numerous kingdoms and cultures flourished in the Middle Ages, particularly in the Sudan Belt and the Niger region. Christianity only asserted itself in Ethiopia and in Coptic Egypt. Since the 16th century, North Africa came under Turkish rule or sovereignty.

History of discovery since the Middle Ages

Around the middle of the 14th century, Italians touched Madeira and the Azores, but only really became known in the 15th century, the age of discovery. In 1402 Norman Bethencourt reached the Canary Islands. The development of the west coast was the work of the Portuguese (bypassing Cap Verde in 1446, the Gold Coast in 1456, the Guinea coast discovered in 1471, the Congo estuary reached in 1486); In 1487 Bartolomeu Diaz circumnavigated the Cape of Good Hope, in 1497/98 Vasco da Gama found the sea route to East India from there.

The English began exploring Africa in 1788; it was funded by “Africa Societies” (1788 London, 1873 Berlin, 1876 Brussels) and promoted by the colonial policies of the European powers.

Colonial period

Research followed the division of Africa, which degenerated into a race for colonies at the end of the 19th century and made Africa the main arena for the imperialist conflicts. Until then, the seafaring nations had only established fortified bases to secure the sea route to the East Indies (Portuguese: Mozambique, Angola) or for the slave trade. An exception was Cape Town, which was snatched from the Spaniards by the Dutch in 1652 and developed into a settlement colony. The conquest of Algeria by France was the beginning of a new style of colonial policy; In 1880, the French Prime Minister Ferry established a large colonial action program and implemented it with the help of General Faidherbes: the protectorate over Tunis was established by treaty in 1881-1883.

England had preceded Egypt (1882) after the Cape Colony had been conquered in 1806; Since the 1980s Cecil Rhodes has been promoting the merging of all British African possessions through the link “From Cape Town to Cairo”. 1898 collision with France in Sudan (Faschoda crisis), French west-east advance against the upper Nile canceled. England remained lord of Sudan and subjugated the Boer republics of Oranje and Transvaal in 1900-1902 (merged with Cape and Natal to form the Dominion of the South African Union in 1910). Belgium acquired the Congo state through the initiative of King Leopold II (1885). In the north, conflicts of interest between France and Italy over Tunis (1881), with Germany over Morocco (1905/06 and 1911; Morocco).

Emergence of independent states

Germany lost its possessions through the First World War (acquisitions: 1884 German South-West Africa, Togo, Cameroon; 1885 German East Africa, leading colonial pioneer: Peters); Italy also lost its colonies (acquired: Eritrea, Somaliland in 1889; Tripoli and Cyrenaika = Libya in 1912; Abyssinia in 1936) through World War II. The dissolution of the British, French, Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires after the Second World War created numerous independent states.

Since the formation of nationally independent states, archaeological and historical research into the pre-European history of Africa has continued. Ownership of the new raw material areas of the Sahara, the hinterlands of Morocco and Tunisia became a problem; Contrasts exist not only between Africans and Indians, Muslims and the believers of indigenous cults, between Christians and non-Christians and Black and White Africa, but also between the pan-African and pan-Arab movement, the representatives of pan-African and nation-state ideas, federalism and centralism, the democratic and autocratic forms of government, the progressives and traditionalists, the underdeveloped and agrarian strong or industrialized areas.