15 Interesting Ancient Africa Facts For Curious Kids

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Oct 05, 2023 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Feb 23, 2022
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Did you know that anatomically modern humans or the Homo sapiens first developed in Africa?

Africa has ever since flourished with rich culture and resources. Come let’s explore this earliest continent together and get to know Africa a little more.

Africa has been considered the oldest continent to have been inhabited by humankind. Evidence has been found that dates back to as early as seven million years ago. This evidence included fossils of the earliest hominid species that were speculated to be the ancestors of our kind.

Astonishingly, the control of fire and stone tools were all invented in Africa by our ancestors. Africa is the second-largest continent which covers almost one-fifth of the entire Earth's surface.

The African continent has the Atlantic Ocean bordering it on the west, the Mediterranean Sea on the north, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean on the east, and the south is where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet.

The largest country in the African continent is Algeria (belonging to northern Africa) with a total area of 919595.34 sq mi (28381741 sq km) followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo holding the second position. 54 countries call the African continent their home.

Africa is also native to the longest river in the world, the Nile river with a total length of 4,158.84 mi (6,693 km).

With that said, let’s dive into the glorious continent of Africa, and its history and culture.

If ancient country facts interest you, further reads like ancient Greece facts, and ancient Indian facts should be your next stoppage. 

List Of Ancient African Civilizations

The most important ancient African civilizations include Egypt, Carthage, Aksum, Namibia, and Nubia.

Through most of the continent’s early times, Africa had remained no nation-states. It was mostly inhabited by hunter-gatherers who would domesticate cattle in northern Africa in around 5,200-5,070 BC.

By 5,400 BC, Africa went through extreme climate change which led to the desertification that made people migrate to a more favorable place and ended up in West Africa in search of a tropical climate.

One of the most ancient civilizations in ancient Africa, also the world, was that of ancient Egypt which began with the settlement of people along the Nile river. In 3,100 BC, Egypt was ruled under the pharaoh named Narmer. The Egyptians began making their first pyramids by the year 2,780 BC. Pyramids were the greatest inventions of ancient Africa.

Ironworking was one of the most important parts of the ancient African civilization that were started by the Nok culture, which appeared around the fourth century BC and disappeared somewhere around present-day northern and central Nigeria, and began in north Africa. Ironwork began to spread rapidly across the Sahara and was fully established by 500 BC.

Trading played a very important role in the African civilization. One of the longest-lived kingdoms of north African civilization was the Carthaginian republic which was famous for its trade. However, the kingdom of Carthage fell after the three Punic Wars against the Roman Empire.

Two of the most important civilizations that occurred around Eritrea and Ethiopia were D’mt and Axum. D’mt was the first-ever known kingdom that existed in Eritrea and Ethiopia with its capital city located at Yeha.

It rose to its power around the 10th century BC. Another important kingdom that rose to be the first powerful kingdom was the one of Aksum around the first century AD.

In West Africa, the Empire of Ghana rose into power in the period of 300 AD. The empire of Ghana was a very powerful kingdom that ruled until about 1100 AD. 

By the year 709 AD, the Arab Muslims invaded northern Africa, the region which will later influence Islam in entire Africa. And by 711 CE, the Iberian Peninsula of Europe was conquered by the Moors (a term used to refer to Muslims who lived in the Peninsula). The medieval period in Africa had begun.

The city of Great Zimbabwe also gradually rose into its importance and was established in the 11th century AD in Central Africa, and by the year 1235 AD, the Mali empire was established.

In the year 1324 AD, the King of all Kings in Egypt, Mansa Musa of the Mali Empire, visited Mecca on a pilgrimage proving the influence of Islam in ancient Africa. In 1464 AD, the Songhai empire rose into power in West Africa while in Central Africa, the Luba Kingdom was established in 1585 AD. 

Ancient African History

After the desertification of the Sahara desert, North Africa became related to the Middle East and Southern Europe. The spread of Bantu expansion from Central Africa to the sub-Saharan continent took place. 

Africa has seen the beginning and end of a number of different civilizations. Some of the most powerful African kingdoms and states of ancient Africa include Egypt, D’mt, Alodia, Nok culture, Mali empire, Songhai empire, Kingdom of Lunda, Great Zimbabwe, and a lot more.

It is said that prior to the European invasion, Africa had up to 10,000 states with their individual languages and culture.

It was from the late 15th century AD when the glorious continent of Africa was hit with bad fortune and was exploited through slave trading. The slaves were taken mostly from west, central, and southern Africa and were sent overseas. 

However, after much struggle, Africa finally stood on its legs between 1945-1960.

Africa flags on the map

Ancient African Culture

Ancient Africa was enriched in culture and traditions. The culture of ancient Africa is diverse and has different forms and variations as we go around this large continent.

The geography of the region has influenced the people inhabiting there to shape their life accordingly. The geography of these regions also impacted the places where these people could live.

Gold and salt were some of the most important resources which were traded through different trade routes. Storytellers, called griots, are the ones we should be grateful to for all that we know of the history and culture, art, empires, and the lives of the ancients.

Africa is also known for its diverse art as part of its culture. The pyramids of Egypt, the sculptures, all of them have their own share of stories to tell. The houses of the emperor were built out of wood and stone.

Domesticated animals mostly included cattle. For food, the Africans depended on animals and plant sources of varied species. People grew wheat, barley, and yam in their own lands making agricultural practices an important part of their daily lives too.

Ancient Africa Religion

Ancient African religions were based on polytheistic and pantheistic beliefs.

African religion, during the same period when civilizations were booming and were in the good old pre-European era, was based on mostly animistic, polytheistic, and pantheistic aspects. Humans were seen as having a deep connection with nature.

The core of traditional African religions was heavily influenced by animism which included the worship of ancestors, nature, tutelary deities, and beliefs in the existence of an afterlife.

These beliefs were passed down through stories, tales, and myths, and hardly have any written records. The deities of different regions were worshipped through sacrificial offerings of animals, vegetables, flowers, cooked food, precious metals like gold, and semi-precious stones. Ancient Africans also used a lot of divination techniques to seek divine guidance. 

The continent of Africa is filled with rich traditions and resources that have been known throughout history. With huge empires full of powerful kings to incredible artifacts and geography. Whether you are in east, west, central, or South Africa, you will never fail to appreciate the beauty of nature’s blessings showered on this continent.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for ancient Africa facts then why not take a look at ancient japan facts, or ancient Mayan facts.


Editorial credit: Jack.Q / Shutterstock.com

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Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
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