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Africa is the most tropical of all the continents; some four-fifths of its territory rests between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
As a consequence, the cultures and the physical variations of the peoples reflect adaptation to both hot, dry climates and hot, wet climates.
Anatomically modern humans are believed to have appeared as early as 200,000 years ago in the eastern region of sub-Saharan Africa.
Somewhat later those early humans spread into northern Africa and the Middle East and, ultimately, to the rest of the world.
Most Africans speak more than one language, and frequent migrations and interactions, including intermarriage, with other peoples have often blurred ethnic distinctions.
There are an estimated 900 to 1,500 different languages, but many distinct political units share a common or similar language (as among the Yoruba, Hausa, and Swahili-speaking peoples).
Skin colour shows a clinal variation from a light or tan colour in the northern fringe of the continent, which has a Mediterranean climate, to very dark skin in certain Sudanic regions in western and East Africa, where radiation from the Sun has been most intense.Much earlier, in several waves of migrations beginning in the 7th century, Arabs spread across northern Africa and, to a lesser extent, into western Africa, bringing a new religion (Islam) and a new language (Arabic), along with some new cultural and political institutions.They also spread Islam southward along the east coast, largely through trading and kinship relationships.The savanna area stretches for some 3,000 miles (4,800 km) east to west along the southern Saharan borderland.Its vegetation consists of extensive grasslands and few forests, and little rain falls there.