The Four Regions of Africa
• Africa can be divided into four
(3) East; and
(4) Central and Southern.
• North Africa’s physical features
include rocky mountains and the
Sahara, the world’s largest desert.
• West Africa is Africa’s most
populated region; its grasslands
provide good soil for farming.
• East Africa is
• Central and Southern Africa has
grasslands, rain forests, mountains,
swamps, and deserts, including the
Namib and the Kalahari.
Africa’s Major Landforms
• Africa is called the “plateau continent”
because of its high elevation—the
height of land above sea level.
• Each of Africa’s regions has mountains.
The highest are in East Africa.
• There, the continent’s highest mountain,
Mount Kilimanjaro, rises to a height of
more than 19,000 feet.
• Coastal plains lie along much Africa’s
coastline. In some places, the plains end
in an escarpment, or steep cliff.
• The 4,000-mile-long Great Rift Valley in
East Africa was formed millions of
years ago as continents pulled apart.
• A rift is a deep trench.
• Major lakes are in or near the Great
The Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift
Valley is so large
that more than
30 Grand Canyons
could fit inside it.
• The Nile: The world’s longest river, it runs
more than 4,000 miles.
• From its two sources, the White Nile and
the Blue Nile, it flows north into the
• Its floods deposit silt, bits of rock and soil
that make the land fertile, or nourishing,
• The Aswan High Dam controls flooding and
provides electric power from the rushing
• The Congo: Africa’s second-longest
river runs through Central Africa into
the Atlantic Ocean, fed by tributaries,
small rivers and streams that flow into a
• The Niger: Africa’s third-longest river
begins in Guinea, running about 2,600
miles and ending in the Gulf of Guinea.
• The Zambezi: Africa’s fourth-longest
river is about 2,200 miles long and runs
through six countries in Southern
Climate and Vegetation
• What types of climates and
vegetation are found in Africa?
• How do climate and vegetation
affect how Africans make a living?
What Influences Climate?
• The climate in most of Africa is
warm because the continent lies
along the Equator.
• The seasons above the Equator are
the opposite of those below the
• Countries with higher elevation, such as
Ethiopia, tend to have a cooler, moister
climate than those at a low elevation.
• Lower countries such as Somalia
tend to be hot and dry.
• Their farmers must irrigate, or
artificially water, their crops.
• Or they must farm near an oasis, a
place with springs and underground
• Rainfall in Africa varies greatly,
from more than 100 inches per year
to almost no rain.
• Between the Sahara
and the savanna is a
region called the Sahel,
which is hot and dry.
• Nomads are people who
move around to various
places to make a living.
• Nomadic traders,
hunters, and herders
live in the Sahara.
Building Good Health
• Climate affects the health of people and
livestock throughout Africa.
• The moisture in the rain forest breeds
• The tsetse fly is found in nearly one fifth
• The bite of the tsetse fly kills cattle and
causes humans to get sleeping sickness.
• Herders in various countries use poisons
to try to control
the spread of the
• Much of Africa’s land is used for
subsistence farming, or raising crops
to support one’s own family.
• Some subsistence farmers also grow
a few crops to sell or trade.
• Crops raised to be sold are called
• African cash crops include coffee,
cacao, and tea.
• When too much land is used for
cash crops and those crops fail,
food shortages can occur.
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