FACTS / Africa is the world's 2nd largest and 2nd most-populous continent. At about 11.7 million sq miles, including adjacent islands, it covers 20% of the Earth's total land area.  With 1 billion people (as of 2009) it accounts for about 15% of the world's human population. The continent includes Madagascar and various island archipelagoes. It has 54 countries and 9 territories. Africa is widely accepted as the origin of humans. The earliest Homo sapiens (modern human) were found in Ethiopia being dated to circa 200,000 years ago.  Africa straddles the equator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones.



EAST AFRICA  Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia

WEST AFRICA  Ghana, Nigeria, Mali

FASHION / Vlisco, Established in 1846, has been designing and producing colourful fashion fabrics that form an essential part of the lively West and Central African culture.  As the sole authentic designer and manufacturer of such fabrics as ‘Wax Hollandais’, Vlisco is unparalleled when it comes to quality, professional skill and innovation

We love these African Wax Prints full of color and meaning.  Originally, wax resist dyed fabrics came from Indonesia which exported to the Gold Coast and spread over West Africa to Central Africa. They became popular and over time Africans created their own designs. Now, they are primarily made in Ghana and have strong cultural and economic importance.The patterns tell stories to the wearer, such as proverbs, poems and African fables. The colours hold significance as they can represent social standing, age, tribal orientation and marital status.  Vlisco has taken the idea to the next level as you see below in these fine prints.

WEST AFRICA / Ghana is on the West Coast of Africa.  English merchants named it the Gold Coast for it's impressive areas of gold resources. French merchants, impressed with jewelry worn by the coastal people, named it the Ivory Coast. The Ivory Coast also derived its name from the huge herds of elephants and the ivory trade flourishing at that time. Consequently, today, the elephant population is much smaller, the elephant trade is outlawed, and its green forests and golden savannahs are bustling with economic activity.

ART / Beach Doodles in Ghana by Andrew van der Merwe  

PEOPLE / Blue Men: The Taureg People

The Tuareg people are Berber-speakers who trace their ancestry to the indigenous peoples of North Africa in ancient times. They are known as the “Blue Men,” for their indigo-dyed garments which leave dark blue pigment on their skins, and as the “Knights of the Sahara” for their generosity, desert hospitality and respect for women. The ancient ancestors of the Tuaregs lived west of the Nile Delta; they traded with the Egyptians, and several of their leaders ruled pharaonic Egypt for over 200 years. They are among the world’s most impoverished and disrespected people, yet widely admired for their historic position as sovereigns of the trans-Saharan trade routes and their bravery in warfare.

The Sahara is the world’s largest hot desert and one of the harshest environments on the planet. It is the third largest desert overall after Antarctica and the Arctic, which are cold deserts.  At 3.6 million square miles,"The Great Desert," engulfs most of North Africa. It covers large sections of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia. This is the image many people have of the Sahara: a vast sea of sand dunes but the terrain is actually quite varied. Ténéré desert and the Libyan desert are the most arid regions.  In the north, the Sahara reaches to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt and portions of Libya. In Cyrenaica and the Maghreb, the Sahara experiences a more Mediterranean climate with a winter rainy season. Saharan winds can reach hurricane level and give rise to sand storms and dust devils. The highest peak is volcano Emi Koussi in the Tibesti Mountains of Chad.