Africa AFRICA INTERESTING FACTS The Great Rift Valley of East Africa is a huge crack in the earth’s surface. It stretches from Mozambique in the south, all the way to Sudan in the north. There are places along the rift where the valley walls are over a mile high! Most of the land near the equator in Africa is abundant, verdant rainforest. Since the rainforest provides oxygen to the entire planet earth, the rainforest is home to many of the world’s most important vegetation! The African savanna, which is north and south of the rainforests, is home to large grazing animals like lions, tigers, giraffes, elephants, and zebras! Because the topsoil is too thin, no farming takes place there. There are three massive deserts in Africa, one of which is the largest desert in the world: the Sahara. The second is the Kalahari Desert and it is cold and rocky and is situated in Southern Africa. The Namib Desert, situated in southwest Africa, is the hottest and driest place on earth! Africa is home to four of the five fastest land animals: the cheetah, which can run at a startling 70 miles per hour, the wildebeest, the lion, and the gazelle. THE FOUR REGIONS OF AFRICA Africa can be divided into four regions: (1) North (2) West (3) East (4) Central and Southern 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. 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 Rift Valley. THE GREAT RIFT VALLEY The Great Rift Valley is so large that more than 30 Grand Canyons could fit inside it. AFRICA’S RIVERS 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 Mediterranean Sea. Its floods deposit silt, bits of rock and soil that make the land fertile, or nourishing, to plants. 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 larger river. The Niger: Africa’s third-longest river begins in Guinea, running about 2,600 miles and ending in the Gulf of Guinea. 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 Equator. AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES 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 crops. raised to be sold are called cash 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. •From this map you can see how the ways of making a living in Africa vary from region to region. •Herding is widespread in the north, and farming takes place throughout the western and central portions of the continent. •Other activities such as manufacturing are scattered throughout Africa. MINERAL RESOURCES An economy is a system for producing, distributing, consuming, and owning goods, services, and wealth. Mining is a major part of Africa’s economy. Parts of North Africa, as well as the West African country of Nigeria, have large supplies of a valuable mineral resource: petroleum. It is used to make oil and gasoline. The country of Ghana was once called the Gold Coast because it was a chief exporter of gold. Other minerals from Africa include copper, silver, uranium, titanium, and diamonds.