Africa is renowned for being the oldest inhabited territory on earth. In fact, most Asian, European (and, for that matter, American) family trees can find their ancient roots on this continent. Africa's written history begins with the Egyptians in 3300 B.C. Other prominent civilizations developed throughout the continent in the centuries that followed.
European domination of Africa began in the fifteenth century with the Portuguese exploration of the continent during their search for a lucrative trade route to India. Trading stations were established by Portugal and other European maritime powers along Africa's west coast. In the centuries that followed, the slave trade rapidly expanded.
In the early nineteenth century, as contemporary powers moved away from slavery, powerful European nations staged a massive "scramble for Africa" to secure its wealth of natural resources. The entire continent-save Liberia and Ethiopia-was colonized. This occupation continued until the conclusion of WWII, when the colonial states gradually gained independence. Today, Africa is home to 50 independent countries and is heading down a path of continued social and economic growth.