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A major climatic recession occurred, lessening the heavy and persistent rains in Central and Eastern Africa.
Since this time, dry conditions have prevailed in Eastern Africa and, increasingly during the last 200 years, in Ethiopia.
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It contains 54 fully recognized sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition.
Algeria is Africa's largest country by area, and Nigeria by population. ergaster – with the earliest Homo sapiens (modern human) found in Ethiopia being dated to circa 200,000 years ago.
Around 3500 BC, due to a tilt in the earth's orbit, the Sahara experienced a period of rapid desertification.
It is speculated that by 6000 BC, cattle were domesticated in North Africa.
At the end of the Ice ages, estimated to have been around 10,500 BC, the Sahara had again become a green fertile valley, and its African populations returned from the interior and coastal highlands in Sub-Saharan Africa, with rock art paintings depicting a fertile Sahara and large populations discovered in Tassili n'Ajjer dating back perhaps 10 millennia.
However, the warming and drying climate meant that by 5000 BC, the Sahara region was becoming increasingly dry and hostile.
Other etymological hypotheses have been postulated for the ancient name "Africa": During the mid-20th century, anthropologists discovered many fossils and evidence of human occupation perhaps as early as 7 million years ago (BP=before present).
Fossil remains of several species of early apelike humans thought to have evolved into modern man, such as Australopithecus afarensis (radiometrically dated to approximately 3.9–3.0 million years BP, These first modern humans left Africa and populated the rest of the globe during the Out of Africa II migration dated to approximately 50,000 years BP, exiting the continent either across Bab-el-Mandeb over the Red Sea, Other migrations of modern humans within the African continent have been dated to that time, with evidence of early human settlement found in Southern Africa, Southeast Africa, North Africa, and the Sahara.