Demographic problems of Africa


The traditional type of population reproduction dominated in Africa throughout the history of the human civilization. It was characterized by high levels of fertility and mortality rates and, consequently, low rate of natural increment. By the turn of AD 16-17 million people lived in Africa (according to other data, 30-40 million). In 1600, the population was 55 million people. Over the next 300 years (1600-1900) the population of the continent has risen to 110 million, ie twice, which meant the slowest growth among all major regions of the world.

Such a slow growth can be explained by the slave trade of course. It has led to the loss of tens of millions of people, heavy forced labor on the plantations of European colonies, hunger and various diseases. The situation has changed in the first half of the XX century. Africa’s population began to grow more rapidly, and by 1950 has reached 220 million people.

But the real demographic revolution has occurred in Africa in the second half of XX century. In 1960, its population reached 275 million, in 1970 – 356 million, in 1980 – 475 million, in 1990 – 648 million, in 2000 – 784 million, and in 2007 – 965 million people. This means that in 1950-2007 it increased by almost 4.4 times! No other region of the world has experienced such growth rates.

Africa has the highest rates of reproduction of its population. In some countries, such as Kenya or Nigeria, the birth rate exceeds fifty newborns per thousand inhabitants. This is four times higher than in Europe. To be specific, seashores and coastal zones of South Africa, Zaire and Zimbabwe are the most densely populated regions. Here, the population density varies from fifty to thousand people per square meter. In large areas of deserts the density can hardly reach one person per one square meter.

This work will help to identify the causes of such surges of population growth, and reveal the essence of the demographic problems of African countries as a whole.

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