Africa - "The Dark Continent"

Does anyone know how Africa got the nickname, “The Dark Continent”?

In my innocence of youth, I always assumed it was because Africa was full of deep forests, and those forests were really dark. Was that it, or does this nickname have other, less savory origins?

Dark in this case meant “unexplored.”

Dark in this context means unknown or unseen (i.e. unexplored).

This word use is the same in phrase “Dark side of the moon”. This has been the source of some confusion with some people declaring that the phrase is wrong. Its not wrong, its just that dark is being used in the sense of unknown or unseen rather than unilluminated.’s ninth definition even uses Africa as an example of this particular use of the word “dark.”

Inhabited by dark-skin people ?

Yup - the ayes have it. It’s so embarrassing. I think I’ve got a pretty extensive vocabulary (well, good enough to win my share of Scrabble games), but I never considered “dark” in this context as “unexplored”. I knew the definition, I just never put the two together. Man, humilty sucks. :o) Thanks all…

About 23% of the universe consists of cold dark matter. Not only is it difficult to see and poorly understood, it’s heavily forested as well. :wink:

What color are its inhabitants?


But the tentacles tend to be various colors, depending on season.

The forest do make the interior of the continent considerable darker than the desert regions.
Here is the Dark Continent. Notice this NASA image shows the contrast from the desert to the forest.

I always assumed the phrase was both figurative and literal, with regard to exploration as well as the skin color of its natives. I mean “dark” and “darky” weren’t meant to be post-ironic.

As I’m a Civilization III player, it makes perfect sense to me. The whole map of the world is literally darkened and invisible at the start of the game, except the little space around your starting point. You have to explore by sending your units to look around, or else trade for maps with other civs, to get a look at whatall’s out there. Until eventually, later in the game, the whole world map gets lit up for all the players as they trade maps with each other.

I always thought because it was relaitivly unexplored, hard to penetrate and somewhat mysterious to boot.

In the North you have the sierra, in the South you have thick jungle with rivers that weren’t really navigate from the coasts until steam was invented. That keeps a fair bit of the continent somewhat inaccessible to exploration. And throughout the ages, there have been all sorts of interesting things imagined in the interior.

The Mouth of the nile, the moutains of the moon, the kingdom of prester john, the lost 10 tribes of isreal, King Solomon’s mines, and of course, the cool looking lost civilization overgrown by the jungle.

“There’s no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.”

Now where did that prism get to?