Fossil evidence indicates that the earliest forms of humans and humanlike creatures originated in Africa. In eastern Africa, human remains have been found that are more than 1,500,000 years old and remains of humanlike creatures called australopithecines have been found that are more than 4,000,000 years old. Scientists believe that humans evolved from australopithecines.

The earliest African people about whom anything is definitely known inhabited the Sahara region during an era of rainfall and luxuriant vegetation some 10,000 years ago. They left many cave paintings as a record of their culture. When the climate became dry and the desert began to develop, perhaps around 5000 B.C., the Saharan people apparently dispersed and their culture disappeared.

Bushmen, Negroes, and possibly Pygmies are considered to be racial types native to Africa; they developed in the regions south of the Sahara. The first Caucasoid Africans, who spoke Afro-Asiatic languages, probably came across the Isthmus of Suez from southwestern Asia sometime before 6000 B.C. Their descendants spread out from the Lower Nile Valley southward along the river and westward along the Mediterranean coast. Agriculture was introduced into Egypt in the 4000's. It had appeared south of the Sahara by 2000.

Important dates in Africa
c. 2,000,000 B.C. The earliest human beings may have lived in eastern Africa.
c. 5000 B.C. People in northern Africa practiced farming.
c. 4000 B.C. The Sahara began to turn into a desert.
c. 3100 B.C. Upper and Lower Egypt became one country.
c. 2000 B.C. The Kingdom of Kush arose south of Egypt.
30 B.C. The Roman Empire controlled northern Africa.
c. A.D. 1 Bantu-speaking peoples began southward migrations.
300's The Kingdom of Aksum became a Christian state.
500's Kingdoms in Nubia were converted to Christianity.
639-710 Arab Muslims conquered northern Africa.
1000-1500 Large kingdoms, including Luba and the Kongo, were established in Africa south of the Sahara.
1400's The Portuguese began to explore Africa's west coast.
1652 The Dutch founded Cape Town.
Late 1700's Europeans began to explore the African interior.
1880's European governments began to claim parts of Africa.
1920's European colonial rule was firmly established in Africa.
1950's-1960's Most European colonies in Africa became independent.
1975 Portugal, the last European country with large African holdings, gave up its remaining colonies.
1979 Black Africans in Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) gained control of the country's government, ending white-minority rule there.
1980's One of the worst droughts in history struck Africa. Ethiopia was especially hard-hit.
1990 Namibia gained independence, ending its white-minority rule by South Africa.
1994 Blacks in South Africa gained control of the country's government, ending white-minority rule there.