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Africa is the poorest continent in the world. About 1/3 of Africa's inhabitants live on less than $ 1 a day, below the World Bank's poverty level.
The spread of epidemics, the worsening of misery and the armed conflicts bring this region into chaos.
In addition, nearly 2/3 of the planet's HIV carriers live on this continent. Economic backwardness and the absence of a large-scale consumer society place the African market in the background of the globalized world. Africa's total GDP is only 1% of world GDP and the continent participates in only 2% of world trade.
Most Africans are traditionally farmers and herders. European colonization increased foreign demand for certain agricultural and mineral products. To meet it, communication systems have been built, European crops and technology introduced, and a commercial exchange economy system developed, which continues to coexist with the subsistence economy.
Although a quarter of the African territory is covered by forests, much of the wood has value only as fuel. Gabon is the largest producer of okoumé, a wood derivative used in plywood making. Ivory Coast, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria are the largest exporters of hardwood.
Sea fishing, which is widespread and geared towards local consumption, is of commercial importance in Morocco, Namibia and South Africa. Mining represents the largest revenue among exported products. Mining industries are the most developed sector in much of the African economy. Additionally, Sierra Leone has the largest known reserve of titanium.
The continent's most industrialized nation is South Africa, which has achieved relative political stability and development by owning 1/5 of all Africa's GDP. However, notable industrial centers have also been established in Zimbabwe, Egypt and Algeria. The main economic bloc is the 14-country SADC, which stands as the most promising pole of the continent.