Africa Continent

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Dark Continent

Dark ContinentAfrica was called the Dark Continent by the Europeans because very little was known about the continent until the middle of the 19th century. It was because travelers and traders did not venture into the continent due to various reasons like:
  • The hot and humid climate and the dense forests and the marshes teeming with wild animals and dangerous insects discouraged the explorers from entering the interior of the continent.
  • Plateaus rising steeply from the coasts and lack of natural harbors made it difficult for the ships to land. 
  • Explorers could not travel to the interior of the continent because the rivers were not navigable. These big, swift rivers dropped down the steep slopes of the plateaus forming huge waterfalls. 
  • The vast Sahara Desert in the northern part of the continent was another obstacle. 
  • Fear of diseases like Malaria and Sleeping sickness further kept them away.

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Size of Africa

Africa is the second-largest continent after Asia and occupies more than one-fifth of the earth’s land area.


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Location of Africa

  • Africa is surrounded by water on almost all sides.

  • It almost touches Europe in the North-West at the Strait of Gibraltar and Asia in the east at the Strait of Babel-Mandeb.

  • The isthmus of Suez used to join Asia and Africa but now due to the Suez Canal, the two continents are disconnected.

  • The continent stretches for 35 degree N to 37 degree S latitudes and from 17 degree W to 50 degree E longitude.

  • The Equator passes through the middle of the continent.

  • The Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn and the Prime Meridian, all pass through the continent.

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Mont Kilimanjaro

  • Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. It is also Africa’s only glacier. Scientists predict that the ice on the mountain will disappear after the 2030s because of Global warming. 

  • It is located in Tanzania.

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Great Rift Valley

The Great Rift Valley is a name given to the continuous geographical trench, about 6,000 kilometers (3,700 mi) in length, that runs from northern Syria in Southwest Asia to central Mozambique in East Africa. The rift is bordered by a series of mountains and active volcanoes. It is a site of faults and earthquakes.


Basically, the western part of Africa is drifting away from the eastern part body. This causes all the geological activity at the Valley. Far in the future, a sea will run between these two parts of Africa. The Arabian peninsula is already almost separated. The whole process is part of plate tectonics. In eastern Africa, the valley divides into two, the Western Rift Valley and the Eastern Rift Valley.


There are about 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites which owe their formation to the geography and geology of the Great Rift Valley.


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Tribes in Africa

  • Pygmies - The Pygmies are the traditional forest dwellers who live by hunting animals and by gathering forest produce.

  • Bushmen - The Bushmen of the Kalahari deserts are the hunter-gatherers. The women gather forest resources while the men hunt.

  • Masais - The Masais live along the great rift valley along with southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. Cattle comprise their most important asset.

  • The Moors, Bedouins, and Tuaregs are the nomadic tribes who cross the vast Sahara desert on camels.

  • The tribes in Africa are famous for their crafts, such as African jewelry, fabrics, sculptures, masks, and baskets.

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Nile River

  • The Nile River flows from south to north through eastern Africa. 

  • It begins in the rivers that flow into Lake Victoria (located in modern-day Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya), and empties into the Mediterranean Sea more than 6,600 kilometers (4,100 miles) to the north, making it one of the longest rivers in the world. 

  • The Nile River was critical to the development of ancient Egypt. 

  • In addition to Egypt, the Nile runs through or along the border of 10 other African countries, namely, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. 

  • Its three main tributaries are the White Nile, the Blue Nile, and the Atbara.