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Origin of the Name 'Africa'

The name Africa came into Western use through the Romans, who used the name Africa terra — "land of the Afri" (plural, or "Afer" singular) — for the northern part of the continent, as the province of Africa with its capital Carthage, corresponding to modern-day Tunisia.

 
 

 

The origin of Afer may either come from:

-the Phoenician `afar, dust;
-the Afri, a tribe—possibly Berber—who dwelt in North Africa in the Carthage area;
-the Greek word aphrike, meaning without cold;
-or the Latin word aprica, meaning sunny.

The historian Leo Africanus (1495-1554) attributed the origin to the Greek word phrike (φρικε, meaning "cold and horror"), combined with the negating prefix a-, so meaning a land free of cold and horror. But the change of sound from ph to f in Greek is datable to about the first century, so this cannot really be the origin of the name.

 

Egypt was considered part of Asia by the ancients, and first assigned to Africa by the geographer Ptolemy (85 - 165 AD), who accepted Alexandria as Prime Meridian and made the isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea the boundary between Asia and Africa. As Europeans came to understand the real extent of the continent, the idea of Africa expanded with their knowledge.

 

 

 

 

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Africa".