Africa, the second largest continent on earth, covers 6 of the world’s total surface. It is also the second most populous. With over one billion people, it accounts for about 15 of the world’s population. Although Africa is one landmass, it is often seen as consisting of two distinct regions: Africa South of the Sahara desert, or Sub-Saharan Africa, and North Africa. There are cultural, racial, climatological and linguistic differences between the two regions. North Africa tends to be Arab and people in countries such as Algeria and often identify more with the Middle East than with the cultures on the rest of the continent. However, The African Union, an international organization including 54 African states (the only state not in the AU is Morocco) was formed in 2002 and has made great strides in politically uniting the continent. Many of the problems besetting countries in South Africa are equally pervasive in the north. Important issues such as poverty, hunger and HIV rates are devasting to the entire continent. Ultimately, despite the enormous diversity among the nations of Africa, and the sense of a division between North and South Africa, all countries form part of one vast continent.
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