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1- Landforms and Resources

I) A Vast Plateau
A) Africa’s Plateau
a) most of the continent lies over 1000 feet above sea level
b) plateaus are the most prominent feature of Africa
(i) they are found in almost every region
B) Basins and Rivers
a) near most plateaus lie several basins
(i) these can be over 5000 feet deep
(ii) water typically collects here
b) the Nile River
(i) the Nile is the longest river in the world, flowing over 4000 miles
(ii) historically, it has provided irrigation and drinking water for thousands of years
(iii) most people in Egypt (95%) live within one mile of the Nile
1 today, the Nile has multiple dams and provides massive amounts of
hydroelectric energy for the region of Africa
c) the rivers of Africa have many waterfalls, rapids, and gorges
(i) this makes them dangerous for transportation
1 the Congo River flows over 2900 miles, but much of it is unusable for travel
II) Distinctive African Landforms
A) Rift Valleys and Lakes
a) the most distinctive landforms are in East Africa in the form of rift valleys
(i) they are long and deep, and lakes can form in them
(ii) the most famous is the Great Rift Valley, which contains Olduvai Gorge, the
location of much of the records of human evolution
B) Mountains
a) many mountains in Africa are actually volcanoes
(i) Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest and most famous, is actually a volcano
(ii) Africa is covered in volcanic rock
1 this contributed to preserving evolutionary records
b) escarpments are other landforms that are steep slopes topped by a nearly flat plateau
III) Africa’s Wealth of Resources
A) A Wealth of Minerals
a) raw minerals are so abundant that Africa is one of the richest continents in terms of
(i) includes gold, diamonds, copper, chromium, platinum, and others
b) unfortunately, Europeans conquered the region in the late 1800s in the search of raw
materials to feed their industrial machines, so the wealth of resources did not transfer
to Africans, but to Europeans
(i) as a result, many African countries have struggled to build infrastructure and
maintain stability
B) Oil Resources
a) massive oil reserves have made some countries able to advance, however some have
also drawn the attention of terrorists seeking to control the resources
(i) Nigeria, Libya, and Algeria are huge exporters of oil, but all have problems with
b) Angola has huge oil reserves
(i) America paid to drill here, but most of the money went to fighting a civil war, and
they have been unable to build their country up enough to take full advantage of
their oil reserves
IV) Diversity of Resources
A) Major Commodities
a) agriculture is Africa’s most profitable economic activity
(i) after oil, coffee is the most profitable product in Africa
1 Africa grows 10% of the world’s supply
(ii) lumber is also valuable
1 unfortunately, logging is destroying Africa’s forests
(iii) other commodities include cocoa and sugar

pg. 418 (1, 3ab) R (1, 3) H

2- Climate and Vegetation

I) A Warm Continent
A) The Deserts
a) Sahara
(i) largest desert in the world
(ii) temperatures range from freezing at night (winter) to 130 in the day (summer)
(iii) only 20% is sand, the rest is mountains, rock formations, etc
(iv) extreme conditions mean travel is risky
1 many rely on camels, as they can go 17 days without water
(v) in some areas, about 6000 ft down lie massive aquifers
1 in a few areas the water forces its way to the surface, creating an oasis
b) other deserts include the Namib, Nubian, and Kalahari
B) The Tropics
a) Africa has the largest tropical area of any continent
(i) this is due to the fact that 90% of the continent lies within the Tropics of Cancer
and Capricorn
b) temperatures run very high year round
(i) in Ethiopia, a town hold the record for highest average annual temperature (93.9)
and highest average daily temperature (106)
II) Sunshine and Rainfall
A) Rainfall Patterns
a) Central Africa gets the most rain- most of it is a rain forest
b) most of the rest of Africa has two rain seasons
(i) the tropical savannah is the largest climate zone in Africa, and has a rainy season
that can last up to 6 months in areas near the tropical rain forest
c) West Africa also gets lots of rain
d) other areas of Africa get very little rain, and in the desert regions they sometimes
don’t get rain for years
B) Moderate Areas
a) in addition to the tropics and deserts, Africa contains small areas of moderate climates
(i) a Mediterranean climate exists at the northern and southern edges of the continent
(ii) a portion of the southern tip of Africa has a marine west coast climate
III) A Grassy Continent
A) Tropical Grassland
a) grasslands (mostly in the tropical savannah) cover most of the continent
(i) the most well known is the Serengeti Plain
1 dry climate and hard soil prevent trees and crops from growing, but are perfect
for grasses
2 here large numbers of wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras roam, and they are
hunted by lions, cheetahs, hyenas, etc
IV) Africa’s Extremes
A) Rain Forest
a) the major rain forests are located in the Congo Basin
(i) here there are over 600 species of trees
1 the trees blanket the sky in thick leaves, creating a shady canopy that means
the ground gets very little sunlight
 as a result, most life is located high in the trees
(ii) hundreds of species of birds, monkeys, apes, snakes, flying foxes, etc live up in
the trees
b) farmers using slash-and-burn techniques clear away huge portions of the forest, and
have destroyed many trees and habitats for the animals
(i) experts estimate over half of Africa’s original rain forest has been irreversibly
(ii) Madagascar’s forest has nearly been totally wiped out

pg. 423 (1, 3ac) R (1, 3) H

3- Human-Environment Interaction

I) Desertification of the Sahel

A) Human Causes
a) overgrazing the land
(i) animals also trample soil, which makes it erode faster
b) clearing land for farming
(i) clearing the vegetation loosens the dirt, then over-farming the area kills the dirt,
which increases erosion
c) increasing population
(i) increased population means increased farming and increased destruction of land
B) Results
a) forests are being cleared, and in areas already near deserts the desert expands more
b) slowing the process is difficult, but attempts have been made to plant more trees
II) Harming the Environment in Nigeria
A) Major Oil Producer
a) Nigeria is 8th in the world in production
(i) oil is 80-90% of Nigeria’s income
b) mismanagement, poor planning, corruption, and a decline in oil prices have left
Nigeria poorer than before the oil boom
B) Destroying the Land and People
a) over 4000 oil spills have occurred in the Niger delta over the last 40 years
(i) slow cleanup led to forest fires, acid rain, and deposits of soot
1 this has caused respiratory diseases in the people
b) oil pipeline explosions have caused the deaths of over 2000 people
(i) some of these were not accidents
c) some people drain fuel from the pipelines and resell it
C) A New Start
a) in 1999, Nigeria adopted a new constitution and have had public elections for
III) Controlling the Nile
A) The Aswan High Dam
a) the dam was built by Egypt on the Nile
b) it created Lake Nasser, which stretches for 300 miles
(i) this gives farmers a regular supply of water, holds back flood waters for
predictable irrigation, increased useable farmland, and provides hydroelectric
power to the region
B) Problems with the Dam
a) in order to build the dam, many people native to the region were forcibly moved
b) the lake covered smaller treasures left behind from ancient times
c) now that floods don’t cover the land in fresh silt, the soil isn’t as healthy
(i) farmers must use expensive fertilizers instead
(ii) the waters also don’t clear away the natural salt that develops, so expensive field
drains have to be installed
d) the still waters of the lake have increased the bug population, so rates of malaria and
other diseases have increased

pg. 427 (1, 3)