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Thorough assessment of modern genetic diversity and interpopulation affinities within the African continent is essential for understanding the processes that have been at work during the course of worldwide human evolution. Regardless of whether autosomal, Y-chromosome, or mtDNA markers are used, allele- or haplotype-frequency data from African populations are necessary in setting the framework for the construction of global population phylogenies. In the present study we analyze genetic differentiation and population structure in a data set of nine African populations using 12 polymorphic Alu insertions (PAIs). Furthermore, to place our findings within a global context, we also examined an equal number of non- African groups. Frequency data from 456 individuals presented for the first time in this work plus additional data obtained from the literature indicate an overall pattern of higher intrapopulation diversity in sub-Saharan populations than in northern Africa, a prominent differentiation between these two locations, an appreciably high degree of transcontinental admixture in Egypt, and significant discontinuity between Morocco and the Iberian peninsula. Moreover, the topologies of our phylogenetic analyses suggest that out of the studied sub-Saharan groups, the southern Bantu population of Sotho/Tswana presents the highest level of antiquity, perhaps as a result of ancestral or acquired Khoisan genetic signals. Close affinities of eastern sub-Saharan populations with Egypt in the phylogenetic trees may indicate the existence of gene flow along the Nile River.