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Etymology Afri was a Latin name used to refer to the inhabitants of Africa, which in its widest sense referred to all lands south of the Mediterranean (Ancient Libya).<ref></ref><ref></ref> This name seems to have originally referred to a native Libyan tribe; see Terence#Biography for discussion. The name is usually connected with Hebrew ʿafar "dust", but a 1981 hypothesis<ref>Names of countries, Decret and Fantar, 1981.</ref> has asserted that it stems from the Berber ifri (plural ifran) "cave", in reference to cave dwellers.<ref name="Michell">Geo. Babington Michell, "The Berbers", Journal of Royal African Society, Vol. 2, No. 6 (January 1903), pp. 161-194.</ref> The same word<ref name=Michell /> may be found in the name of the Banu Ifran from Algeria and Tripolitania, a Berber tribe originally from Yafran (also known as Ifrane) in northwestern Libya.<ref>Edward Lipinski, Itineraria Phoenicia, Peeters Publishers, 2004, p. 200. ISBN 90-429-1344-4.</ref>

Under Roman rule, Carthage became the capital of the province of Africa Proconsularis, which also included the coastal part of modern Libya.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> The Latin suffix "-ica" can sometimes be used to denote a land (e.g., in Celtica from Celtae, as used by Julius Caesar). The later Muslim kingdom of Ifriqiya, modern-day Tunisia, also preserved a form of the name.

According to the ancient Romans, Africa lay to the west of Egypt, while "Asia" was used to refer to Anatolia and lands to the east. A definite line was drawn between the two continents by the geographer Ptolemy (85–165 AD), indicating Alexandria along the Prime Meridian and making the isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea the boundary between Asia and Africa. As Europeans came to understand the real extent of the continent, the idea of "Africa" expanded with their knowledge.

Other etymological hypotheses have been postulated for the ancient name "Africa":

  • The 1st-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (Ant. 1.15) asserted that it was named for Epher, grandson of Abraham according to Gen. 25:4, whose descendants, he claimed, had invaded Libya.
  • Isidore of Seville in Etymologiae XIV.5.2. suggests "Africa comes from the Latin aprica, meaning "sunny".
  • Massey, in 1881, states that Africa is derived from the Egyptian af-rui-ka, meaning "to turn toward the opening of the Ka." The Ka is the energetic double of every person and the "opening of the Ka" refers to a womb or birthplace. Africa would be, for the Egyptians, "the birthplace."<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation

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  • Yet another hypothesis was proposed by Michèle Fruyt,<ref>in Revue de Philologie 50, 1976: 221–238.</ref> linking the Latin word with africus "south wind", which would be of Umbrian origin and mean originally "rainy wind".

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