Africa's 1.2 billion people belong to more than 3,000 different ethnic groups and speak more than 2,000 languages. After many years of colonial rule, most African countries achieved independence by the end of the 1970s. Today, many countries in Africa face major problems, from famine and drought to economic hardships to epidemics of AIDS, cholera and other diseases. Ongoing local conflicts have also killed thousands of people and hampered the economic progress of African countries.
Africa is the second-largest continent and is composed of 54 countries. According to the World Data Lab, 27 of the world's poorest countries are in Africa, and poverty in Africa is increasing in 16 of them.
Compassion's Africa child development centers, started in 1980, now serve more than 317,400 children in eight countries and are helping release children from poverty through programs encouraging the healthy development of all aspects of a child — spiritually, physically, socially, emotionally, and even economically.