Little meanings of... Africa

When Rome destroyed Carthage, she made the conquered territories into a province that she called « Africa », a word derived from "Afri", the name of a group of people about whom little is known. The province covered only the north-eastern part of present-day Tunisia.
After Rome had extended her control over the Maghreb, Caesar created a new province, Africa Nova (New Africa), to the west of the original province of Africa, which was then, designated Africa Vetus (Old Africa), and the two provinces were united to form the Africa of the early Roman Empire, called Africa Proconsularis, after its system of administration. Roughly, it comprised Tunisia, a fairly small strip of eastern Algeria and Tripolitania.
Around the time of the administrative reorganizations of the late Empire and the Byzantine period, Islam inherited the use of the term Africa. At first, a vague concept, "Ifriqiya" soon came to denote the same Tunisian nucleus slightly expanded into eastern Algeria. These were the limits of the Aghlabite Emirate of the ninth century. While the connotation of the term Africa has broadened, the connotations of the two other terms of classical origin have become more limited.
Libya originally signified the entire continent, as Ionian geographers imagined it to be, bordered on the west by river Nile. The Romans called all the white African people «Libyans» and all the dark-skinned people were « Ethiopians», (People with burnt faces). The term “Ethiopian” consequently included those who today are distinguished, sometimes incorrectly, from the « true » Blacks under the generally unsatisfactory name of “Hamites”. In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, the name « Africa » began to denote the entire continent instead of being applied, as it was when its meaning was first widened, only to Mediterranean and white Africa, in contrast to « Ethiopia », the land of the Blacks. Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers six percent of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4 percent of the total land area. With 1.0 billion people, it accounts for about 15% of the world's human population.
This article was written With the assistance of Henri Moniot and the D.B.A.C, Library of Congress cataloging in Publication Data, NY.

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