f-africa-2010-cp-kids-584

Children with their faces painted in the colours of various competing nations for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, stand in line to view a replica of the World Cup trophy at a community centre in Soweto, South Africa, on June 4. ((Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters))

This summer, the African contintent hosts one of the world's biggest sporting events — the FIFA World Cup — for the first time. And while 32 nations clash on the soccer pitch, G8 and G20 member countries will be discussing African development and health at summits in Canada.

The eyes of the world will be on Africa. What they see will be a continent developing and changing in unprecedented ways. This special report looks where the continent has been, where it is — and where it's going.

1960: The year of Africa

Before 1950, there were just four independent countries in all of Africa. Six more would become independent in the the following decade. The peak would be in 1960, with 17 countries declaring their independence.

togo50-rtr2d6oz

A Togolese entertainer paints his body in the national colours during the country's 50th Independence Day celebrations in the capital, Lome, on April 27. ((Noel Kokou Tadegnon/Reuters))

Daniel Schwartz of CBC News looks back at the 50 years that have followed.

Problems with corruption, political leadership, lack of economic diversification and inequality continue to plague Africa.

However, economic growth (and commodity price rises) had returned to Africa just before the turn of the century, and continued until the 2008 global economic crisis.

More features

The Congo turns 50, but will it ever grow up?

nick-czernkovich-98

Nick Czernkovich

Beneath the comforting beauty of the forest canopy in the Democratic Republic of Congo lies something sinister. It is the kind of violence that, in one capacity or another, has existed here for a century or more.

And, in an irony not lost on those who want to help, the fact that the Congo has such great natural resources — such a great promise of prosperity — has only helped keep these conflicts alive.