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What is the second largest continent of the Earth?

The largest continent on our planet is Eurasia. And which is the second largest continent? This article is devoted to the detailed answer to this question. After reading it, you will learn about the geographical position, climate, features of the terrain, population, rivers and lakes of this continent.

Africa is the second largest continent of our planet. Its area is approximately 30 330 000 square meters. Km, if you include the adjacent islands. In total, this is about 22% of the total surface area of the Earth. The second largest continent that crosses the equator is also the second largest. Approximately 12% of the world's population lived in Africa in 1990 (about 642 million people). According to 2011, the number of residents has increased to 994 million people. The undisputed leader in population is Asia.

The length of the continent

Africa, located in the equator, stretches for a distance of 8050 km from the most northern point, which is Cape El Abyad (Tunisia), to the southernmost (Cape Agulh, located in South Africa). The largest width of this continent, measured from the eastern point of Ras-Hafun in Somalia to Cape Almadi in Senegal, located in the west, is approximately 7560 km. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, constantly covered with snow, is considered the highest point of this continent (5895 m). And the lowest is Lake Assal (153 m below sea level). A regular coastline is typical for Africa. About 30,490 km is its total length. By the ratio of the area to the area, the length of the line is smaller than that of the other continents.

Relief and population

Plain relief is typical for Africa. There are several mountain chains here, as well as a narrow coastal plane. Usually the continent is divided along the Sahara desert, the largest in the world. It occupies most of the northern part of the mainland. North Africa is made up of countries north of this desert. Among them are such densely populated and large states as Algeria and Egypt. The peoples who live here have been studied more than the inhabitants of countries in the south. Part of this situation is due to the fact that the Nile River, the longest in the world, flows in this region.

To the south of the Sahara, the majority of the population of this continent lives. This area is known as the Sub-Saharan Africa. East Africa in this area includes countries such as Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia. Of course, we noted only the largest. Among the countries of West and Central Africa - Cameroon, Angola, Nigeria, Ghana. This includes the Democratic Republic of the Congo. South Africa includes Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana.

The second largest continent of our planet is surrounded by many islands. Madagascar is the largest of them. It is located to the southeast of the mainland. Africa as a whole covers about 50 states, from Nigeria (population - 127 million people) to small island republics.

History of the settlement of the continent

It is believed that life on this continent began between 5 million and 8 million years ago. Here was the Egyptian empire, one of the first major civilizations. Over 5 thousand years ago it was united. However, Africa has been under the control of ethnic and political struggle, foreign colonization for the past 500 years. All this hindered its social and industrial development.

Economy of Africa

The economy of Africa is the most undeveloped (with the exception of Antarctica). The main branch of it is still agriculture. Outbreaks of the epidemic and hunger are heightened by a shortage of medical personnel and poor road conditions. The second largest continent is rich in natural resources, the export of which is one of the most important parts of the economy. A lot of African countries depend on foreign investments or on the export of one or several resources.

Culture of Africa

The culture of this continent is diverse. About a thousand different languages and ethnic groups are represented here. For Africans, generic relations are of great importance. The majority of the population is black, but there are also many Arabs, Europeans, Asians and Berbers. With the urban culture, the Western way of life and trade, rural culture adjoins with its tribal structure, religion and agriculture.

Literature, art and music are very important not only for Africa, but also had a great impact on other cultures of the world. African rhythms, for example, have influenced modern Western styles of pop music such as blues, jazz.

Most of the nations that inhabit the second largest continent have been independent since the 1950s. It brought with it great changes, including the creation of democratic multi-party governments.


The second largest continent due to its geographical location is the hottest on the planet. Africa receives the greatest amount of sunlight and heat compared to other continents. Throughout the year the sun is high above the horizon between the tropics, and twice a year happens at the zenith at any point. Because the equator crosses Africa almost in the middle , the climatic zones, except the equatorial belt, are repeated twice in its territory.

Equatorial belt

This belt includes the coast of the Gulf of Guinea and part of the basin of the river. Congo. Equatorial climate is characterized by constancy. In the morning, there is usually clear weather. Due to the fact that the surface of the earth is very hot during the day, the equatorial air saturated with moisture rushes down. Thus, cumulus clouds are formed. The downpour bursts in the afternoon. Often it is accompanied by a strong thunderstorm and a storm. Trees, previously quietly standing, with the onset of the storm swing from side to side, as if now rush from their place. However, strong roots do not allow them to break away from the ground. Lightning flashes. But a few minutes after the end of the rain forest again stands majestic and quiet. By evening, the weather is clear again.

Subequatorial belt

The strip of the subequatorial belt is wide. It frames the belt of the equatorial climate. There are 2 seasons - wet summer and dry winter. Rainy time comes when the sun is at its zenith. It begins suddenly. Savannah is flooded with water for three weeks. All depressions, crevices are occupied by water, saturating the withered earth. Savannah is covered with grass.

Sahara Desert

The length of the rainy season and the amount of summer precipitation toward the tropics are decreasing. The tropical belts are in tropical latitudes, located in both hemispheres. In North Africa, the driest. Here lies the driest and hottest region of not only this continent, but the entire planet. This is the Sahara desert. Summer in it is extremely hot, almost cloudless sky. Up to 70 ° C, the surface of sand and stones is heated. The air temperature often exceeds 40 ° C.

At night, due to the lack of clouds, the air and the surface of the earth quickly cool down. Therefore, there are very large fluctuations in daily temperatures. With a dry hot air during the day it is difficult to breathe. In the roots of dried grass and in the crevices of stones, all life is hidden. The desert at this time seems dead. In summer, a strong wind blows, which is called Samum. He carries clouds of sand. Dunes come to life, the horizon ceases, among the reddish mist, the sun seems to be a fireball. Eyes, nose and mouth clog sand. It will be hard for someone who does not have time to escape from the storm.

Tropical Belt

The tropical belt in South Africa occupies a smaller territory. There is more precipitation here than in the Sahara (due to the smaller extent of South Africa from west to east). Especially a lot of them in the area of the Drakensberg Mountains, on the eastern slopes, as well as in the east of the island of Madagascar, where precipitation brings the southeast winds from the ocean. However, there is almost no rain on the Atlantic coast. The fact is that the cold currents of this ocean, which pass near the south-western coasts, reduce the temperature of the air in the region of the coastal part of the continent, which prevents precipitation of rain. Cold air becomes denser, heavier, can not rise and produce precipitation. Dew, formed with a decrease in temperature, is the only source of moisture.

Subtropical Belts

The extreme south and north of the continent are located in subtropical belts. It has a hot, dry summer (+ 27-28 ° C) and a fairly warm winter (+ 10-12 ° C). All this contributes to the economic activities of man. The second largest continent receives a large amount of heat. This favors growing such important tropical crops as cocoa, coffee, oilseeds and date palms, bananas, pineapples, etc.

Inland waters

The 2nd largest continent has many large rivers. On the territory of the continent, the distribution of the river network is uneven. The second largest continent, whose name is Africa, is characterized by the fact that about a third of its surface is a territory of internal drainage.


The Nile is the longest river of our planet (6671 km). It flows through the continent, which is the second largest continent, Africa. The river originates on the East African plateau, it moves through the lake. Victoria. Rushing along the gorges down, the Nile in the upper reaches forms waterfalls and rapids. Coming to the plain, it moves calmly and slowly. In this part the river is called the White Nile. In Khartoum, it merges with the waters of the largest tributary flowing from the Ethiopian Highlands, called the Blue Nile. After the Blue and White Nile unite, the river becomes two times wider and is called the Nile.

However, this is not the only major river to be described, describing the second largest continent of the earth. Let's talk about some others.


Congo is the most full-flowing river in Africa and the second longest (4320 km). According to the area of the basin and the high water level, it is second only to the Amazon. In two places the river crosses the equator. It is very large all year round.


The third by the area of the pool and the length is the Niger. This is a flat river in the middle reaches, and in the lower and upper reaches many waterfalls and rapids. The Niger crosses arid areas on a significant part, playing an important role in irrigation.


Zambezi is the largest of the African rivers that flow into the Indian Ocean. On it is Victoria Falls, one of the largest in the world. By a wide stream (about 1800 m), the river falls from a ledge (whose height is 120 m) in a narrow gorge that crosses its bed. The roar and rumble of the waterfall are audible very far.

Lakes of Africa

As for the lakes, almost all of them are located on the East African plateau, in the zone of faults. Therefore, the basins of these lakes have an elongated shape. They, as a rule, are bordered by steep and high mountains. They have a considerable length and great depth. For example, with a width of 50-80 km, Lake Tanganyika stretches for 650 km in length. It is the longest lake in the world from freshwater. In its depth (1,435 meters) it is second only to Baikal.

Lake Victoria is the largest by area in Africa. The basin of it is in the canopy of the platform, and not in the fault. Therefore, it is shallow (about 40 m), its shores are cut and canopies.

Lake Chad is shallow. Its depth is 4-7 m. Depending on the spill of the falling rivers and precipitation, its area changes sharply. In the rainy season, it almost doubles. The shores of this lake are heavily waterlogged.

Now you know which is the 2nd largest continent of our planet. And although the description can be supplemented, the basic information about him was presented above.

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