The population of Africa has grown exponentially over the past century, and consequently shows a large youth bulge, further reinforced by a low life expectancy of below 50 years in most African countries. The population doubled in the period 1982–2009 and quadrupled from 1955–2009, according to United Nations estimates.
The total population of Africa is estimated at 1 billion (as of November 2009.) The most populous African country is Nigeria with 148 million (as of 2006), followed by Egypt (79 million) and Ethiopia (78 million). Among other populations there is also a significant white population in Africa and an Asian population in Africa.
Liberia, Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Burkina Faso have annual population growth rates above 3%.
34 out of 53 African countries are counted among the world's Least Developed Countries.
The healthcare sector in Africa is showing signs of remarkable improvement as the quality of hospitals and the availability of qualified doctors has dramaticaly improved over the last few years. By making the transformation from traditional medicine to a modern and well structured healthcare system, many African countries have been able to meet the growing demands for quality healthcare services for their people.
However, Africa’s healthcare industry is characterised by a huge division between the private and public sectors both in terms of facilities and funding. Perhaps the biggest problem facing the public sector currently is the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS, which is and will continue to place considerable strain on the public health system in many African countries.
As a result, there exist immense opportunities for the supply of a wide range of hospital equipment, intrumentation, machinery and allied medical products. Most of the requirement s of the healthcare sector in Africa are imported from various countries around the world. Being a price-sensitive market, African buyers are always on the lookout for high quality, competitively priced goods to meet their requirements.
All government efforts as well as the public and private hospital sectors in Africa are dedicating their energies towards making healthcare more accessible and affordable for the general population of Africa.
By most estimates, well over a thousand languages (UNESCO has estimated around two thousand) are spoken in Africa. Most are of African origin, though some are of European or Asian origin. Africa is the most multilingual continent in the world, and it is not rare for individuals to fluently speak not only multiple African languages, but one or more European ones as well. There are four major language families indigenous to Africa.
- The Afro-Asiatic languages are a language family of about 240 languages and 285 million people widespread throughout the Horn of Africa, North Africa, the Sahel, and Southwest Asia.
- The Nilo-Saharan language family consists of more than a hundred languages spoken by 30 million people. Nilo-Saharan languages are spoken by Nilotic tribes in Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, and northern Tanzania.
- The Niger-Congo language family covers much of Sub-Saharan Africa and is probably the largest language family in the world in terms of different languages.
- The Khoisan languages number about fifty and are spoken in Southern Africa by approximately 120,000 people. Many of the Khoisan languages are endangered. The Khoi and San peoples are considered the original inhabitants of this part of Africa.
Following the end of colonialism, nearly all African countries adopted official languages that originated outside the continent, although several countries also granted legal recognition to indigenous languages (such as Swahili, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa). In numerous countries, English and French (see African French) are used for communication in the public sphere such as government, commerce, education and the media. Arabic, Portuguese, Afrikaans and Malagasy are examples of languages that trace their origin to outside of Africa, and that are used by millions of Africans today, both in the public and private spheres.
Africans profess a wide variety of religious beliefs and statistics on religious affiliation are difficult to come by since they are too sensitive a topic for governments with mixed populations. According to the World Book Encyclopedia, Islam is the largest religion in Africa, followed by Christianity. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, 45% of the population are Muslims, 40% are Christians and less than 15% are non-religious or follow African religions. A small number of Africans are Hindu, Baha'i, or have beliefs from the Judaic tradition. Examples of African Jews are the Beta Israel, Lemba peoples and the Abayudaya of Eastern Uganda.