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Did you ever wonder how your town got its name? Or why some place-names in the United States seem to recall an amusing story or event? Accident, Maryland; Boring, Oregon; and Lame Deer, Montana, are three examples that come to mind.

Not all place-names are humorous. Indeed, some of them provide clues about the people who lived there years ago. Many places, for example, are named for Native American tribes that once lived there. When European explorers trekked across the land and settled communities, they named places after rulers, cities, or towns from their home countries.

A curious reader wants to know more about place-names, specifically that of one faraway continent.

Q: How did Africa get its name?

A: Scholars believe that the seafaring Phoenicians, who lived in an area of present-day Lebanon about 3,000 years ago, called one of their trading partners either Afri or Afridi. They lived along the Mediterranean coast of what is now Tunisia, in North Africa. In 814 B.C., the Phoenicians set up a colony there called Carthage, which is Phoenician for "New City."

Years later, when the Romans conquered the area, they referred to it as "Africa." In fact, they made it a province of Rome. Over time, the name Africa was used for the entire continent.


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Author:McMahon, Jim
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Nov 15, 2004
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