Largest Continent covering 11.6 million
Mediterranean Sea, Suez Canal and Red Sea to the
Atlantic Ocean to the West.
Indian Ocean to the East.
Africa can be divided into two based on
culture and climate:
North Africa and Africa south of the Sahara. Arid
North Africa includes Morocco, Western Sahara,
Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, all of which are
climatically and culturally similar to the Middle
South if them is a semiarid zone stretches across
much of South Africa.
I. Physical Features
A. Africa consists of a number of plateaus, dissected in the east by
the Rift Valley.
1. Volcanic eruptions and elongated lakes and valleys are found along this
2. The Atlas Mountains in the
northwest of the continent
are the only geologically
recent mountains in Africa.
3. Mt. Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest
B. Africa has several
1. The Nile – 4,160
miles long. It arises in
the Kenyan highlands,
flows north and
disgorges in the
2. The Congo Basin –
3. Zambeze – 1,700
4. Niger - 2,150 miles.
II. Climate and Vegetation
A. Africa is a continent of climatic contrasts.
1. North Africa contains the world’s largest hot desert, the
a. Drought and fire resistant shrubs and grasses are
2. To its north lie narrow zones along the Mediterranean
coast with cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers.
B. On the southern border of the Sahara lies the
Sahel, consisting of thorny woodlands and
grasslands with scattered trees.
1. Rainfall is generally low and variable.
2. The area is prone to severe droughts, such as those in
the 1980s in Ethiopia and 1990s in Somalia.
a. Injudicious cattle herding and grain farming
contributed to desertification.
C. In central and west Africa, equatorial and tropical
conditions prevail, with annual rainfall exceeding 50
inches per year.
1. Forests and woodlands cover large areas.
a. The forests are layered shrubs and mosses at lower
layers and large tree canopies at higher layers.
b. Each layer possesses abundant and distant wildlife.
2. East Africa has a monsoon climate, and its forests are less
a. In areas of lesser rainfall (15 inches), thorny woodlands
and grasslands occur.
3. The forests of Africa harbor chimpanzees and gorillas, and
their bird life is abundant.
D. The vegetation of the semiarid lands of the
southernmost part of Africa, notably around the
borders of the Kalahari Desert, consists of thorny
scrub and grasslands.
1. A greater variety of plants occurs in the wetter coastal and
upland areas of the southeast parts of South Africa.
D. Africa’s savannas possess among the richest and most
diverse animal populations of the world.
1. Zebras, antelopes, giraffes, elephants, rhinoceros, and
wildebeest roam in herds, preyed upon by carnivores such as
lions, tigers , leopards, hyenas, jackals, and foxes.
2. Bird life includes ostriches and raptors such as eagles and
F. Large-scale hunting of wildlife, begun during the
colonial era, has had a major impact on Africa’s
1. The most notable example has been the quest for ivory.
a. World bans on the trading of ivory have reduced the
threat to elephant populations.
2. Other threatened species are white and black hippopotamus,
the black wildebeest and some types of zebras.
G. Island off the African coast also have their distinct
plant and animal species.
1. Notably the lemurs in Madagascar, and the seas are also
rich in animal life, including whales, seals, dugongs,
A. From being the apparent origin of the human
species, Africa’s population has grown to 922
million people (2007).
1. The high rate of population increase between 1985 and
1990 of 3% put pressure on resources and food supplies.
a. Currently the growth rate has fallen to 2.3%.
2. Life expectancies are low in comparison with other
a. 51.7 years for males.
b. 53.8 years for females.
B. In arid North Africa,
1. In Egypt, 90% of the
lives along the banks
of the Nile River and
on its delta.
2. In humid tropical
are more dispersed.
C. A lack of employment in rural areas during the 20th
century has caused a drift to the cities, resulting in
fringe urban settlements with poor facilities.
1. In 2005, an estimated 39.7% of Africa’s people lived in
A. More than 60% of Africa’s people depend upon agriculture
for their livelihood.
1. Farming is mostly of the subsistence variety.
a. The Hausa people of the W. African savannas grow grains
and herd animals.
b. The Tuareg people in the Sahara practice pastoralism.
B. Rice, maize, and wheat are grown in several parts of
Africa, either where rainfall is adequate or through the
use of irrigation.
1. Fruits and vegetables are also grown.
a. Bananas and mangoes in humid tropical areas.
b. Date palms in arid areas.
c. Citrus fruits, grapes, and olives in areas with a
C. Plantation agriculture and large-scale farming were
established by Europeans in tropical humid Africa and
1. The plantations provide some countries with their main
a. Tea and coffee in Burundi and Rwanda/
b. Peanuts in Senegal.
c. Tobacco in Malawi
C. Prolonged droughts in several parts of Africa,
especially in the semiarid Sahel, have severely affected
1. Agricultural production has also been disrupted by civil wars
and wars between neighboring countries.
E. In the countries of the Guild of Guinea, tropical forests are
logged for valuable timbers including mahogany, but forest
depletion destroys animal habitats and may affect the
A. Mineral-rich Africa exports most of the minerals it extracts.
1. Examples of some minerals
a. Algeria, Libya, and Nigeria are major petroleum
b. Natural Gas occurs in Algeria, Libya, and Egypt.
c. Copper and Zinc in Southern Africa.
d. Lead in the Congo.
e. Iron Ore in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
f. Nickel in Botswana and South Africa.
2. Precious Metals
a. South Africa is a major producer of gold and
b. Diamonds are mined in Namibia, South Africa, the
Congo and Angola.
B. Several African countries obtain more than half their export
earnings from a single commodity;
1. Libya, Nigeria, Gabon, Angola, and Egypt from petroleum.
2. Guinea from bauxite (aluminum ore).
3. South Africa, with its diversified economy, depends on gold for 40% of its
B. Despite the continent’s natural resources, there are no developed
countries in Africa.
1. A large proportion of African countries have low indicators for nutrition,
education health, and life expectancy.
a. The U.N. has designated these as the world’s least developed nations.
2. Somalia and the Sudan , are not self-sufficient in food production and have
during drought and war desperately needed food and aid.
D. Relatively few African countries have developed
significant manufacturing industries.
1. The major exception is South Africa, which now exports
machinery and other equipment.
2. During the years of apartheid, however, their racially-based
separate development policy created a wide gulf in living
standards between black and white populations.
A. A large number of languages are spoken in Africa.
1. Many such as Tigre and Chadic in NE Africa are restricted to small tribal
2. Zulu is spoken by a large group in South Africa.
3. Arabic is the main language of North Africa and the adjoining countries
just south of the Sahara.
a. Other common languages include; Swahili, Hausa, and Malagasy.
B. During the colonial period, several European languages became
official languages in carious parts of Africa.
1. French , Portuguese, and English are still spoken over large areas.
2. These languages allow communication between tribal groups which speak
VII.Boundary disputes and Wars
A. From the 16th
Century onward, Africa was overrun by
colonial powers including France, Britain, Portugal,
Spain, and Germany.
1. The colonists had great impact in the areas of language, law,
2. The current borders of the nations of Africa were determined
during colonial times.
a. These borders would often cut across tribal areas,
separating member of the same ethnic group while
brining together traditionally antagonistic tribes.
i. The Somalis for instance found themselves in
Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
B. Following decolonization, several tribal conflicts have
1. Genocide of Tutsis by the Hutus in Rwanda in 1994. Nigeria
had a period of insurrection when its southern part seceded
to form a short-lived Republic of Biafra.
2. Civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo between
1999 and 2003 killed around 2.5 million people.
3. The Zulu of South Africa continues to demand for greater