Mapping the Physiographic Features of Africa

Social Studies Skill Builder
Standard: 7.4: Students learn the Geographic
Features of Africa.
 CST3: Students use maps to learn the physical
features of Countries in Africa.
 starter activity WARM-UP
What does “physiographic feature” mean?
 This term comes from the Greeks.
 “physio” means: physical
 “graphic” means: written down or recorded.
 “feature” means: a particular characteristic of
 Thus: “physiographic feature "is a physical
characteristic of the land—a lake, a mountain, a
river, a desert—that is recorded on a map.
As you preview each slide, you are to identify the
important physiographic features of Africa.
 You will write the name of each of these important
physiographic features of Africa after the question.
 Then you will label the physiographic map of Africa
with each of these features in their correct
 Make sure that you draw in each area the symbols
that correspond to the map key and label the
name of the feature with the letter of each answer.
A. What is the strip of dry grassland on the
southern border of the Sahara Desert?
The Sahel, in Nigeria, is a semiarid
region between the Sahara to the
north and the savannas to the south,
extending from Senegal to Ethiopia.
The Sahel forms a belt that separates
the arid Sahara from tropical West
The Sahel has natural pasture, with
low-growing grass and tall trees.
Forage for animals (cattle, camel, pack
ox, and sheep) consist of thorn shrubs,
and trees such as the baobab and the
At least 8 months of the year are dry,
and rainfall averages four to 8 inches
per year.
B. What is the mountainous region located near the
horn of East Africa?
The Ethiopian Highlands,
near Harrar, are located on
the western section of the
Ethiopian Plateau.
Fringed by the Sudan
lowlands, these mountains
are probably of early volcanic
The Ethiopian Plateau and
several of its mountain
groups are cut by deep
The Blue Nile runs from its
source, Lake Tana, through
the center of the plateau.
C. What is the tallest mountain in Africa?
Mount Kilimanjaro,
located in northeast
Tanzania, is the highest
mountain in Africa.
An extinct volcano, Mount
Kilimanjaro rises in two
peaks, Kibo (19340 feet)
and Mawenzi (17,564
Coffee and plantains are
raised on Kilimanjaro’s
lower slope.
D. What is Africa’s largest lake?
Lake Victoria is the largest lake
in Africa and the chief reservoir
of the Nile River.
The lake lies mainly in Tanzania
and Uganda, fills a shallow
depression in the great plateau
that stretches between the
Western and Eastern Rift Valley.
This is one of the most densely
populated regions in Africa;
within 50 miles of its shores live
several million people, nearly all
Lake Victoria is a freshwater
lake with a wealth of fish.
E. What is the longest river in Africa?
The Nile River, shown here in Uganda, is
4160 miles long from its remotest
headstream in central Africa to its delta on
the Mediterranean Sea, making it the
longest river in the world.
The Nile flows northward through parts of
Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda,
Rwanda, Burundi, and Zaire.
The Nile River supports practically all
agriculture in the most densely populated
parts of Egypt and furnishes water for 20%
of Sudan’s total crop area.
The Nile is an important source of
hydroelectric power.
F: What extensive rainforest covers a large part of
central Africa and is almost completely surrounded by
The Congo Basin is the
worlds largest river basin,
comprising as an area of
1,335,000 square miles.
The vast drainage are lies
astride the Equator in
west central Africa and
includes almost all of
Zaire, western Zambia,
and northern Angola.
G: What is the largest desert in southern Africa?
The Kalahari Desert, shown here
in Botswana, is an arid plateau
region that spans three countries
and covers 100,000 square miles
in southern Africa.
Covered largely by reddish sand,
the Kalahari lies between the
Orange and Zambezi Rivers and is
dotted with dry lake beds.
Grass grows throughout the
Kalahari during the rainy season,
and grazing and small-scale
agriculture are possible in some
H: What is the major river in western Africa that
empties into the Gulf of Guinea?
The Niger River, which is 2600 miles long,
rises on the Fouta Djallon plateau in
southwest Guinea and flows through
Guinea into the Mali Republic.
Near Timbuktu, Mali. The Niger begins a
great bend, flowing out of Mali, through the
Republic of Niger, and into Nigeria.
The Niger then flows south, emptying
through a great delta into the Gulf of
The delta—the largest in Africa—is
characterized by swamps, lagoons, and
navigable channels.
The Niger River is a major source of fish in
the region.
I: What is the enormous desert that stretches across
North Africa?
The Sahara Desert, as shown her in Morocco, is the
world’s largest desert, comprising and area of
3,500,000 square miles.
Extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea,
the Sahara is bordered on the north by the Atlas
Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, and on the
south by the Sahel.
Regions of sand dunes cover 15 percent of the
Sahara;“stone desert,” consisting of plateaus of bare
rock or areas of coarse gravel, cover about 70% of
the region; mountains, oases, and transition zones
account for the remainder.
The Sahara has one of the harshest climates in the
world, as the region is subject to strong winds that
constantly blow from the northeast.
Other difficulties include lack of water, extremely
high daytime temperatures, and sparse vegetation.
J: What is the mountain range in northwestern Africa?
The Atlas Mountains, as shown here in Tunisia, is
a system of ranges and plateaus in northwest
Africa, extending 1,500 miles from southwest
Morocco through Algeria to north Tunisia.
The Atlas system is most rugged in Morocco,
where the highest mountain ranges are found.
Fertile lowlands separate the ranges.
The Atlas Mountains are a climatic barrier
between the Mediterranean basin and the
Sahara Desert.
The slopes facing north are well watered and
have important farmland and forests, while the
south are generally covered with shrubbery and
have salt lakes and salt flats.
The Atlas Mountains are rich in minerals,
especially phosphates, coal, iron, and oil.
K: What is the largest river flowing through the Congo
Basin and emptying into the Atlantic?
The Congo, or Zaire River, shown her
between Inga and Matadi, is formed by the
waters of the Lualaba, the upper Congo
River, and its tributary the Luvua River.
One if the largest rivers in the world, the
Congo flows for 2,720 miles through Zaire
to the Atlantic Ocean.
In some parts, the Congo is from 4 to 10
miles wide, with many islands and
Because the Congo has a fairly constant
flow throughout the year.
It is Africa’s largest potential source of
hydroelectric power.
L: What Ocean lies east of Africa?
The Indian Ocean, as shown here
off the Kenyan coast, is the thirdlargest ocean in the world,
extending from south Asia to
Antarctica and from east Africa to
southeast Australia.
The average depth of the ocean’s
floor is 11,000 feet.
A large rift (crack or fissure), an
extension of the Great Rift Valley,
extends along most of the
ocean's length.
M: What is the great valley that extends, with several breaks, from
Syria to central Mozambique?
The Great Rift Valley, shown here
in Ethiopia, is a geological fault
system that extends from central
Mozambique to northern Syria.
The valley ranges in elevation
from 1,300 feet below sea level
at the Dead Sea to 6,000 feet
above sea level in southern
Erosion has leveled out much of
the valley, but in some sections,
especially Kenya, there are cliffs
that are several thousand feet
N: What is the broad, level area of land that is located in north central
Tanzania and extends east of the southeastern shore of Lake Victoria?
The Serengeti Plain is located in
north central Tanzania.
It extends 100 miles east and
southeast from the southeastern
shore of Lake Victoria.
With altitudes ranging from 3,000
to 6,000 feet, the Serengeti Plain
contains some of the best
grassland area in central and east
Serengeti National Park, a wildlife
refuge with more than 500 species
of animals, is located on the plain.
O: What island is located about 240 miles off the southeastern
coast of Africa?
Located in the Indian Ocean,
Madagascar is separated from
the east African coast by the
Mozambique Channel.
One of several islands in the
Malagasy Republic.
Madagascar is the fourth-largest
island in the world.
Madagascar is made up of a
highland plateau, which is now
largely deforested, that is fringed
by a lowland coastal strip with
lagoons along much of the
eastern coast.
The economy of Madagascar is
overwhelmingly agricultural.
P: What ocean lies west of Africa?
The Atlantic Ocean, shown off the
coast of Senegal, is the secondlargest ocean in the world,
extending in an “S” shape from the
arctic to the Antarctic regions.
It is connected with the Arctic
Ocean by the Greenland Sea and
Smith Sound; with the Pacific
Ocean by the Drake Passage, the
Straits of Magellan, and the
Panama Canal and the expanse
between Africa and Antarctica.
The Mediterranean Sea and the
Gulf of Guinea are two of the
principal arms of the Atlantic
Q: What is the large body of water that separates Africa
from Europe?
The Mediterranean Sea, shown here
off the coast of Algeria, is the worlds
largest inland sea.
Surrounded by Europe, Africa, and
Asia, it covers an area of 965,000
square miles.
The Mediterranean Sea connects with
the Atlantic Ocean through the Straits
of Gibraltar, with the Black Sea
through the Dardanelles, the Sea of
Marmara, and the Bosporous; and
with the Red Sea through the Suez
The shores of the sea are mainly
mountainous. Fish (close to 400
species), sponges, and corals are
abundant here.
R: What is the sea that is actually an arm of the Indian Ocean and extends
northwest between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula?
The Red Sea, shown here off the
coast of Ethiopia, is a long, narrow
sea that sits between Africa and
the Arabian Peninsula.
The Gulf of Aqaba and Gulf of
Suez are the sea’s northern arms;
between them sits the Sinai
The Red Sea is linked with the
Indian Ocean by the Gulf of Aden.
Because it is surrounded by
excessively hot and dry deserts
and steppes, summer
temperatures often exceed 85º F.
Directions: Label the map below with the physiographic features. Draw in the
different features with the symbols that correspond with the map key and letter of
the feature.
Directions: Label the map below with the physiographic features. Draw in the
different features with the symbols that correspond with the map key and letter of
the feature.

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