The Fula people or Fulani or Fulɓe, numbering between 38 and 40 million people in total, are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Sahel and West Africa dispersed across the region. Inhabiting many countries, they live in West Africa and northern parts of Central Africa but in, South Sudan and regions near the Red Sea coast. A significant proportion of the Fula – a third, or an estimated 12 to 13 million – are pastoralists, making them the ethnic group with the largest nomadic pastoral community in the world; the majority of the Fula ethnic group consisted of semi-sedentary people as well as sedentary settled farmers, artisans and nobility. As an ethnic group, they are bound together by their history and their culture. More than 90% of the Fula are Muslims; the Fulas are leaders in many West African countries. These include the president of Muhammadu Buhari, they are leaders in International Institutions such as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed. There are many names used in other languages to refer to the Fulɓe.
Fulani in English is borrowed from the Hausa term. Fula, from Manding languages, is used in English, sometimes spelled Fulah or Fullah. Fula and Fulani are used in English, including within Africa; the French borrowed the Wolof term Pël, variously spelled: Peul and Peuhl. More the Fulfulde / Pulaar term Fulɓe, a plural noun has been Anglicised as Fulbe, gaining popularity in use. In Portuguese, the terms Fula or Futafula are used; the terms Fallata Fallatah or Fellata are of Kanuri origins, are the ethnonyms by which Fulani people are identified by in parts of Chad and in Sudan. The Fula people are distributed, across the Sahel from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea in West Africa; the countries where they are present include Mauritania, Senegal, the Gambia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Chad, South Sudan the Central African Republic, as far east as the Red Sea in Sudan and Egypt. With the exception of Guinea, where the Fula make up the largest ethnic group, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, Fulas are either a significant or a minority ethnic group in nearly all other countries they live in.
Alongside, many speak other languages of the countries they inhabit, making many Fulani bilingual or trilingual in nature. Such languages include French, Bambara and Arabic. Major concentrations of Fulani people exist in the Fouta Djallon highlands of central Guinea and south into the northernmost reaches of Sierra Leone; this is the area known as the Fombina meaning "The South" in Adamawa Fulfulde, because it represented the most southern and eastern reaches of Fulɓe hegemonic dominance in West Africa. In this area, Fulfulde is the local lingua franca, language of cross cultural communication. Further east of this area, Fulani communities become predominantly nomadic, exist at less organized social systems; these are the areas of the Chari-Baguirmi Region and its river systems, in Chad and the Central African Republic, the Ouaddaï highlands of Eastern Chad, the areas around Kordofan and the Blue Nile, Kassala regions of Sudan, as well as the Red Sea coastal city of Port Sudan. The Fulani on their way to or back from the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, settled in many parts of eastern Sudan, today representing a distinct community of over 2 million people referred to as the Fellata.
While their early settlements in West Africa were in the vicinity of the tri-border point of present-day Mali and Mauritania, they are now, after centuries of gradual migrations and conquests, spread throughout a wide band of West and Central Africa. The Fulani People occupy a vast geographical expanse located in a longitudinal East-West band south of the Sahara, just north of the coastal rain forest and swamps. There are an estimated 20-25 million Fulani people. There are three different types of Fulani based on settlement patterns, viz: the Nomadic/Pastoral or Mbororo, The Semi-Nomadic and the Settled or "Town Fulani"; the pastoral Fulani move around with their cattle throughout the year. They do not stay around, for long stretches; the semi-nomadic Fulani can either be Fulɓe families who happen to settle down temporarily at particular times of the year, or Fulɓe families who do not "browse" around past their immediate surroundings, though they possess livestock, they do not wander away from a fixed or settled homestead not too far away, they are "In-betweeners".
Settled Fulani live in villages and cities permanently and have given u
Azawad is the name given to northern Mali by Berber Touareg rebels, as well as a former short-lived unrecognised state. Its independence was declared unilaterally by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad in 2012, after a Tuareg rebellion drove the Malian Army from the region, it rejoined Mali in February 2013, after less than a year of unrecognized independence. Azawad, as claimed by the MNLA, comprises the Malian regions of Timbuktu, Gao, as well as a part of Mopti region, encompassing about 60 percent of Mali's total land area. Azawad borders Burkina Faso to the south, Mauritania to the west and northwest, Algeria to the north and northeast, Niger to the east and southeast, with undisputed Mali to its southwest, it straddles a portion of the Sahelian zone. Gao is its largest city and served as the temporary capital, while Timbuktu is the second-largest city, was intended to be the capital by the independence forces. On 6 April 2012, in a statement posted to its website, the MNLA declared "irrevocably" the independence of Azawad from Mali.
In Gao on the same day, Bilal Ag Acherif, the secretary-general of the movement, signed the Azawadi Declaration of Independence, which declared the MNLA as the interim administrators of Azawad until a "national authority" could be formed. The proclamation was never recognised by any foreign entity, the MNLA's claim to have de facto control of the Azawad region was disputed by both the Malian government and Islamist insurgent groups in the Sahara. At this time, a rift was developing with the Islamists; the Economic Community of West African States, which refused to recognise Azawad and called the declaration of its independence "null and void", warned it could send troops into the disputed region in support of the Malian claim. Tuareg military leader Moussa Ag Achara Toumane affiliated with the MSA was interviewed by the French language news outlet "TV5MONDE," during its "Le journal Afrique" or "African Journal" segment, about hostile events that occurred between the MNLA and other separatist groups against jihadi extremists in 2012.
He claimed that jihadi groups, the Ansar Dine in particular, had been in the region of Azawad for 10 years before the circumstances which led to the Azawadi Declaration of Independence. Locals had heard of their extremist views subsequently distanced themselves from the jihadis. Ag Toumane further asserted that the death of Col. Mu'ammar el Gaddafi destabilised the political landscape for sahelians from Mali and Niger to such a degree that it was described as "disastrous." The Tuareg rebels went into a "survival mode" for 5 years after his death which were fraught with socio-political and socio-economic crises. Disorganised and unaware of moderate militias, some joined jihadi groups but left when acquainted with better options; when asked about the speculated alliance between the MNLA and the Ansar Dine, Ag Toumane said he "personally did not know of the alliance" and referred back to the distance Azawadi locals kept from them. On 14 February 2013, the MNLA renounced its claim of independence for Azawad and asked the Malian government to start negotiations on its future status.
The MNLA ended the ceasefire in September of the same year after government forces opened fire on unarmed protesters. According to the Scottish explorer and scientist Robert Brown, Azawad is an Arabic corruption of the Berber word Azawagh, referring to a dry river basin that covers western Niger, northeastern Mali, southern Algeria; the name translates to "land of transhumance". On 6 April 2012, in a statement posted to its website, the MNLA declared the independence of Azawad from Mali. In this Azawad Declaration of Independence, the name Independent State of Azawad was used. On 26 May, the MNLA and its former co-belligerent Ansar Dine announced a pact in which they would merge to form an Islamist state, but this new name is not clear – sources list several variants of it: the Islamic Republic of Azawad, the Islamic State of Azawad, the Republic of Azawad. Azawad authorities did not confirm any change of name. Reports indicated the MNLA had decided to withdraw from the pact with Ansar Dine. In a new statement, dated on 9 June, the MNLA used the name State of Azawad.
The MNLA produced a list of the 28 members of the Transitional Council of the State of Azawad serving as a provisional government with President Bilal Ag Acherif to manage the new State of Azawad. The Gao Empire owes its name to the town of Gao. In the ninth century AD, it was considered to be the most powerful West African kingdom. In the early 14th century, the southern part of the region came under the control of the Mali Empire. King Musa I peacefully annexed Timbuktu in 1324. With the power of the Mali Empire waning in the first half of the 15th century, the area around Timbuktu became autonomous, although the Maghsharan Tuareg had a dominant position. Thirty years the rising Songhay Empire expanded in Gao, absorbing Timbuktu in 1468 or 1469 and much of the surrounding area; the city was led, consecutively, by Sunni Ali Ber, Sunni Baru and Askia Mohammad I (1493
The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition in Africa between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian Savanna to the south. Having a semi-arid climate, it stretches across the south-central latitudes of Northern Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea; the name is derived from the Arabic word sāḥil meaning "coast" or "shore" in a figurative sense, while the name in Swahili means "coastal " in a literal sense. The Sahel part of Africa includes parts of northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, central Mali, northern Burkina Faso, the extreme south of Algeria, the extreme north of Nigeria, central Chad and southern Sudan, the extreme north of South Sudan, Cameroon, Central African Republic and the extreme north of Ethiopia; the western part of the Sahel was sometimes known as the Sudan region. This belt was located between the Sahara and the coastal areas of West Africa; the Sahel spans 5,400 km from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Red Sea in the east, in a belt that varies from several hundred to a thousand kilometers in width, covering an area of 3,053,200 square kilometers.
It is a transitional ecoregion of semi-arid grasslands, savannas and thorn shrublands lying between the wooded Sudanian Savanna to the south and the Sahara to the north. The topography of the Sahel is flat. Several isolated plateaus and mountain ranges rise from the Sahel, but are designated as separate ecoregions because their flora and fauna are distinct from the surrounding lowlands. Annual rainfall varies from around 100–200 mm in the north of the Sahel to around 600 mm in the south; the Sahel is covered in grassland and savanna, with areas of woodland and shrubland. Grass cover is continuous across the region, dominated by annual grass species such as Cenchrus biflorus, Schoenefeldia gracilis and Aristida stipoides. Species of acacia are the dominant trees, with Acacia tortilis the most common, along with Acacia senegal and Acacia laeta. Other tree species include Commiphora africana, Balanites aegyptiaca, Faidherbia albida, Boscia senegalensis. In the northern part of the Sahel, areas of desert shrub, including Panicum turgidum and Aristida sieberana, alternate with areas of grassland and savanna.
During the long dry season, many trees lose the predominantly annual grasses die. The Sahel was home to large populations of grazing mammals, including the scimitar-horned oryx, dama gazelle, Dorcas gazelle, red-fronted gazelle, the giant prehistoric buffalo and Bubal hartebeest, along with large predators like the African wild dog, the Northwest African cheetah, the Northeast African cheetah, the lion; the larger species have been reduced in number by over-hunting and competition with livestock, several species are vulnerable, endangered, or extinct. The seasonal wetlands of the Sahel are important for migratory birds moving within Africa and on the African-Eurasian flyways; the Sahel has a hot steppe climate. The climate is hot, sunny and somewhat windy all year long; the Sahel's climate is similar to, but less extreme than, the climate of the Sahara desert located just to the north. The Sahel receives a low to a low amount of precipitation annually; the steppe has a long, prevailing dry season and a short rainy season.
The precipitation is extremely irregular, varies from season to season. Most of the rain falls during only one or two months, while the other months may remain dry; the entire Sahel region receives between 100 mm and 600 mm of rain yearly. A system of subdivisions adopted for the Sahelian climate based on annual rainfall is as follows: the Saharan-Sahelian climate, with mean annual precipitation between around 100 and 200 mm, the strict Sahelian climate, with mean annual precipitation between around 200 and 600 mm and the Sahelian-Sudanese climate, with mean annual precipitation between around 200 and 400 mm; the relative humidity in the steppe is low to low between 10% and 25% during the dry season and between 25% and 75% during the rainy season. The least humid places have a relative humidity under 35%; the Sahel is characterized with an unvarying temperature. The Sahel experiences cold temperatures. During the hottest period, the average high temperatures are between 36 and 42 °C for more than three months, while the average low temperatures are around 25 to 31 °C.
During the "coldest period", the average high temperatures are between 27 and 33 °C and the average low temperature are between 15 and 21 °C. Everywhere in the Sahel, the average mean temperature is over 18 °C due to the tropical climate; the Sahel has a high to high sunshine duration year-round, between 2,700 hours and 3,500 hours. The sunshine duration in the S
Aeolian processes spelled eolian or æolian, pertain to wind activity in the study of geology and weather and to the wind's ability to shape the surface of the Earth. Winds may erode and deposit materials and are effective agents in regions with sparse vegetation, a lack of soil moisture and a large supply of unconsolidated sediments. Although water is a much more powerful eroding force than wind, aeolian processes are important in arid environments such as deserts; the term is derived from the name of the keeper of the winds. Wind erodes the Earth's surface by abrasion. Regions which experience intense and sustained erosion are called deflation zones. Most aeolian deflation zones are composed of desert pavement, a sheet-like surface of rock fragments that remains after wind and water have removed the fine particles. Half of Earth's desert surfaces are stony deflation zones; the rock mantle in desert pavements protects the underlying material from deflation. A dark, shiny stain, called desert varnish or rock varnish, is found on the surfaces of some desert rocks that have been exposed at the surface for a long period of time.
Manganese, iron oxides and clay minerals form most varnishes and provide the shine. Deflation basins, called blowouts, are hollows formed by the removal of particles by wind. Blowouts are small, but may be up to several kilometers in diameter. Wind-driven grains abrade landforms. In parts of Antarctica wind-blown snowflakes that are technically sediments have caused abrasion of exposed rocks. Grinding by particles carried in the wind creates grooves or small depressions. Ventifacts are rocks which have been cut, sometimes polished, by the abrasive action of wind. Sculpted landforms, called yardangs, are up to tens of meters high and kilometers long and are forms that have been streamlined by desert winds; the famous Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt may be a modified yardang. Major global aeolian dust movements thought to influence and/or be influenced by weather and climate variation: From Sahara averaged 182 million tons of dust each year between 2007 and 2011 and carry it past the western edge of the Sahara at longitude 15W.
Variation: 86%. Destination: 132 mln tons cross the Atlantic, 27.7 mln tons fall in Amazon Basin, 43 mln make it to the Caribbean. Texas and Florida receive the dust. Events have become far more common in recent decades. Source: NASA's Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation data. Harmattan winter dust storms in West Africa occur blowing dust to the ocean. Gobi Desert to Korea, Japan and Western USA. See Asian dust. Thar Desert pre-monsoon towards Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Indo-Gangetic Plain. See 2018 Indian dust storms. Shamal June–July winds blowing dust in north to south in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE, parts of Pakistan. Haboob dust storms in Sudan, Arizona associated with monsoon. Khamsin dust from Libya and Levant in Spring associated with extratropical cyclones. Dust Bowl event in USA, carried sand eastward. 5500 tons were deposited in Chicago area. Sirocco sandy winds from Africa/Sahara blowing north into South Europe. Kalahari Desert blowing east to southern Indian Ocean and Australia.
Particles are transported by winds through suspension and creeping along the ground. Small particles may be held in the atmosphere in suspension. Upward currents of air support the weight of suspended particles and hold them indefinitely in the surrounding air. Typical winds near Earth's surface suspend particles less than 0.2 millimeters in diameter and scatter them aloft as dust or haze. Saltation is downwind movement of particles in a series of skips. Saltation lifts sand-size particles no more than one centimeter above the ground and proceeds at one-half to one-third the speed of the wind. A saltating grain may hit other grains; the grain may hit larger grains that are too heavy to hop, but that creep forward as they are pushed by saltating grains. Surface creep accounts for as much as 25 percent of grain movement in a desert. Aeolian turbidity currents are better known as dust storms. Air over deserts is cooled when rain passes through it; this cooler and denser air sinks toward the desert surface.
When it reaches the ground, the air is deflected forward and sweeps up surface debris in its turbulence as a dust storm. Crops, people and even climates are affected by dust storms; some dust storms are intercontinental, a few may circle the globe, they may engulf entire planets. When the Mariner 9 spacecraft entered its orbit around Mars in 1971, a dust storm lasting one month covered the entire planet, thus delaying the task of photo-mapping the planet's surface. Most of the dust carried by dust storms is in the form of silt-size particles. Deposits of this windblown silt are known as loess; the thickest known deposit of loess, 335 meters, is on the Loess Plateau in China. This same Asian dust is blown for thousands of miles, forming deep beds in places as far away as Hawaii. In Europe and in the Americas, accumulations of loess are from 20 to 30 meters thick; the soils developed on loess are highly productive for agriculture. Aeolian transport from deserts plays an important role in ecosystems globally, e.g. by transport of minerals from the Sahara to the Ama
The Sudan is the geographic region to the south of the Sahara, stretching from Western to eastern Central Africa. The name derives from the Arabic bilād as-sūdān, or "the lands of the blacks", referring to West Africa and northern Central Africa; the Arabic name was translated as Negroland on older English maps. The name was understood to denote the western part of the Sahel region, it thus encompassed the geographical belt between the Sahara and the coastal West Africa. In modern usage, the phrase "The Sudan" is used in a separate context to refer to the present-day country of Sudan, the western part of which forms part of the larger region, from which South Sudan gained its independence in 2011; the Sudan region extends in some 5,000 km in a band several hundred kilometers wide across Africa. It stretches from the border of Senegal, through southern Mali, Burkina Faso, southern Niger, northern Nigeria, northern Ghana, southern Chad, the western Darfur region of present-day Sudan, South Sudan.
To the north of the region lies the Sahel, a more arid Acacia savanna region that in turn borders the Sahara Desert further north, to the east the Ethiopian Highlands. In the southwest lies the West Sudanian Savanna, a wetter, tropical savanna region bordering the tropical forests of West Africa. In the center is Lake Chad, the more fertile region around the lake, while to the south of there are the highlands of Cameroon. To the southeast is the East Sudanian Savanna, another tropical savanna region, bordering the forest of Central Africa; this gives way further east to the Sudd, an area of tropical wetland fed by the water of the White Nile. The people of the Sudan region share similar lifestyles, dictated by the geography of the region; the economy is pastoral, while sorghum and rice are cultivated in the southern parts of the region. The region was governed in colonial times by European powers, including the French ann the latter half of the 20th century. Sub-Saharan Africa Sudanian Savanna East Sudanian Savanna West Sudanian Savanna Readers Digest: Atlas of the World, Rand-McNally ISBN 0-276-42001-2
The Aïr Mountains or Aïr Massif is a triangular massif, located in northern Niger, within the Sahara Desert. Part of the West Saharan montane xeric woodlands ecoregion, they rise to more than 1,800 m and extend over 84,000 km2. Lying in the midst of desert north of the 17th parallel, the Aïr plateau, with an average altitude between 500 and 900 m, forms an island of Sahel climate which supports a wide variety of life, many pastoral and farming communities, dramatic geological and archaeological sites. There are notable archaeological excavations in the region that illustrate the prehistoric past of this region; the endangered painted hunting dog once existed in this region, but may now be extirpated due to human population pressures in this region. The Precambrian to Cenozoic Aïr Mountains consist of peralkaline granite intrusions which appear dark in colour. In the Sahara Desert such mountains stand out in stark relief as topographic heights amidst lowlands covered by sand; the terrain consists of high plateau, mountain ranges, broad, sandy valleys and seasonal wadis which once contained rivers.
Areas of these deep intersecting, valleys contain waterborne clay and silt deposits. Underground watercourses in some of these valleys continue to provide year-round oasis and seasonal vegetation; the Aïr mountains themselves consist of nine circular massifs rising from a rocky plateau, bordered by the sand dunes and plain of the Ténéré Desert to the east. The massif is a plateau consisting of a sub-Cambrian age erosion surface on Precambrian metamorphic rocks, punctuated by a series of flat-topped, granite intrusion peaks, which include Mont Idoukal-n-Taghès, Mont Tamgak, Mont Greboun, Adrar Bous, Chirriet, Agueraguer and Goundai; the massif contains volcanic features including the extinct caldera of Arakao, Cenozoic lava flows of hawaiite to trachyte composition, volcanic cones, tuff rings and one of the largest ring dike systems in the world. At Izouzaoenehe, lie the marble Blue Mountains, the lower Zagado valley is surrounded by white marble hills. Carboniferous sandstone and coal units in the Iullemmeden Basin just to the west of the massif contain uranium mineralisation sourced from the granites of the massif.
Because of its altitude and despite its low rainfall, the Aïr forms a green region in comparison with the surrounding deserts after the August–September seasonal rains. The climate is classified like that of the regions well to its south. While the mountains are bare of vegetation, the dry wadi river valleys channel and hold rainwater in gueltas, creating oases which provide forage for animals, in some areas, farming; the high Bagzane plateau of the central Aïr in particular provides adequate rainfall for intensive agriculture. Other, areas of the region are devoid of plant life and with their volcanic protrusions and rock fields present an otherworldly appearance. More than 430 vascular species has been recorded so far in the Aïr mountains; the location of the Aïr as a southern extension of the Hoggar mountain range makes it a connection between the Saharan Flora and the Sahelian Flora. However, the presence of mountains up to 2000 m a.s.l. Generates locally favourable conditions for several species of the Sudanian zone and the Mediterranean zone.
During the 20th century a series of scientific missions in the Aïr has permitted to identify the majority of plant species developing in the Aïr. Acacia tortilis subsp. Raddiana and Balanites aegyptiaca are among the most frequent tree species in the intermountain zone. In the vicinity of temporary rivers named koris, species like Acacia nilotica, Faidherbia albida and the palm Hyphaene thebaica coexist with planted date palms Phoenix dactylifera. Severe droughts and high aridity have made the intermountain zone of the Aïr a harsh place for plants to develop; the additional presence of domestic herbivores has led to a severe deficit in tree regeneration, cited as a major ecological concern. Tree regeneration has been observed enhanced as soon as tree seedlings are protected by large tussocks of the frequent grass Panicum turgidum; this positive interaction between plants represents a promising restoration tool to be used by local inhabitants. In comparison, mountainous areas are less documented.
Tropical tree species less resistant to drought have been described in the highlands, among which the Fabaceae Acacia laeta and Acacia seyal. Quezel has observed the remnant presence of a rare endemic taxon related to the olive tree in the northern sector of the Aïr range; this taxon, Olea europaea subsp. Laperrinei, has been found in other mountains of the Aïr: these isolated, small populations represent the southern limit of the species distribution. A study led on the slopes of the highest summit in the Aïr, Idoukal’N’Taghes, identified plant species that had never been inventoried in Niger before. Among them, Pachycymbium decaisneanum, Cleome aculeata, Echinops mildbraedii and Indigofera nummularia are tropical species with low resistance to water stress, whereas Silene lynesii, Tephrosia elegans, Echinops mildbraedii have a Saharan-Mediterranean distribution. Three ferns were found for the first time in the Aïr Cheilanthes coriacea, Actiniopteris radiata, Ophioglossum polyphyllum, suggesting that ferns may be more prone to de
Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae in the order Proboscidea. Three species are recognised: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, the Asian elephant. Elephants are scattered throughout sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia. Elephantidae is the only surviving family of the order Proboscidea. All elephants have several distinctive features, the most notable of, a long trunk, used for many purposes breathing, lifting water, grasping objects, their incisors grow into tusks, which can serve as weapons and as tools for moving objects and digging. Elephants' large ear flaps help to control their body temperature, their pillar-like legs can carry their great weight. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs while Asian elephants have smaller ears and convex or level backs. Elephants are herbivorous and can be found in different habitats including savannahs, forests and marshes, they prefer to stay near water. They are considered to be a keystone species due to their impact on their environments.
Other animals tend to keep their distance from elephants while predators, such as lions, tigers and any wild dogs target only young elephants. Elephants have a fission -- fusion society. Females tend to live in family groups, which can consist of one female with her calves or several related females with offspring; the groups are led by an individual known as the matriarch the oldest cow. Males leave their family groups when they may live alone or with other males. Adult bulls interact with family groups when looking for a mate and enter a state of increased testosterone and aggression known as musth, which helps them gain dominance and reproductive success. Calves are the centre of attention in their family groups and rely on their mothers for as long as three years. Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild, they communicate by touch, sight and sound. Elephant intelligence has been compared with that of cetaceans, they appear to show empathy for dying or dead individuals of their kind. African elephants are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature while the Asian elephant is classed as endangered.
One of the biggest threats to elephant populations is the ivory trade, as the animals are poached for their ivory tusks. Other threats to wild elephants include habitat destruction and conflicts with local people. Elephants are used as working animals in Asia. In the past, they were used in war. Elephants are recognisable and have been featured in art, religion and popular culture; the word "elephant" is based on the Latin elephas, the Latinised form of the Greek ἐλέφας from a non-Indo-European language Phoenician. It is attested in Mycenaean Greek as e-re-pa in Linear B syllabic script; as in Mycenaean Greek, Homer used the Greek word to mean ivory, but after the time of Herodotus, it referred to the animal. The word "elephant" was borrowed from Old French oliphant. Loxodonta, the generic name for the African elephants, is Greek for "oblique-sided tooth". Elephants belong to the family Elephantidae, the sole remaining family within the order Proboscidea which belongs to the superorder Afrotheria.
Their closest extant relatives are the sirenians and the hyraxes, with which they share the clade Paenungulata within the superorder Afrotheria. Elephants and sirenians are further grouped in the clade Tethytheria. Three species of elephants are recognised. African elephants have larger ears, a concave back, more wrinkled skin, a sloping abdomen, two finger-like extensions at the tip of the trunk. Asian elephants have smaller ears, a convex or level back, smoother skin, a horizontal abdomen that sags in the middle and one extension at the tip of the trunk; the looped ridges on the molars are narrower in the Asian elephant while those of the African are more diamond-shaped. The Asian elephant has dorsal bumps on its head and some patches of depigmentation on its skin. Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus first described the genus Elephas and an elephant from Sri Lanka under the binomial Elephas maximus in 1758. In 1798, Georges Cuvier classified the Indian elephant under the binomial Elephas indicus.
Dutch zoologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck described the Sumatran elephant in 1847 under the binomial Elephas sumatranus. English zoologist Frederick Nutter Chasen classified all three as subspecies of the Asian elephant in 1940. Asian elephants vary geographically in their amount of depigmentation; the Sri Lankan elephant inhabits Sri Lanka, the Indian elephant is native to mainland Asia, the Sumatran elephant is found in Sumatra. O