Africa is the third largest part of the world with 30 million square
kilometers - it makes up around 22 percent of the total country area of the
world. It extends from 37 ° north latitude to 34 ° south latitude.
Africa is a land mass that is not very subdivided by indentations of the sea
and is separated from Europe by the Mediterranean Sea , the Red Sea and the
Suez Canal from Asia. Africa has a barely structured coast and few good ports.
The African continent is characterized by numerous different landscapes: the
great desert landscape of the Sahara connects to the Atlas, the young fold
mountains in the northwest. This is limited in the south by
the Sudan basin. Basin landscapes and highlands lie in the southern part of
Africa, and in the east also with rifts and volcanoes: Here lies the famous
Kilimanjaro. The Cape Fold Mountains finally rise in the far south.
Large streams such as the Nile, Congo, Zambezi and Niger flow in the vast
basins of the African continent. In East Africa there are also large lakes such
as Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika or Lake Malawi.
Climate and vegetation
A distribution of the climate zones starting from the equator to the north
and south is relatively uniform. The climate near the equator is tropical. Here
you can find dense jungle with rain in all seasons. Subtropical regions adjoin
the tropical rainforest to the north and south, which merge into tree grass
steps, which are characterized by the alternation of rainy and dry
seasons. These areas are followed by the continent's large arid regions in the
north and south. In the dry regions there are grass plains and deserts
(Kalahari, Sahara). Finally, there is a Mediterranean climate on the north and
south coast of Africa. In the areas of the Atlas there are hardwoods, maquis and
The animal world is very diverse: monkeys, elephants, hippos, crocodiles,
snakes, lizards, birds and insects live in the jungle, antelopes, ostriches,
giraffes, lions, elephants, rhinos, jackals, hyenas and leopards etc. live in
The population of Africa is not exactly known. Some of the figures differ
considerably. According to
the Africa has a population of 906
million (2004). Around six million of these are of European origin. In the north
to the middle of the Sahara mainly European races (Arabs, Berbers, etc.) live,
in the south mainly negrine races. Asian peoples also immigrated to the east. In
the jungle there are still hunter and gathering tribes, while in North, East and
South Africa there are more cattle breeders and nomad herders.
Most of the people in North Africa are Muslim. The Christian mission was
successful in the other parts of the continent, mostly Christians live
here. There are also early Christian communities (Copts) in Egypt and
Ethiopia. Other beliefs such as animism, fetishism and totemism are also
The African rain forests have supplied large quantities of tropical timber to
the European market. Especially on the Guinea coast in West Africa, much
rainforest has been cleared. In addition to logging, clearings for plantations,
small-scale farming, roads, urban growth and fuel have removed most of the
forest. Also in East Africa (Ethiopia, Uganda) and Madagascar, large forest
areas have been cleared. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the largest of the
remaining rainforest areas is found (1 million km2).
The deforestation gives way to soil erosion in connection with heavy rainfall
and runoff, and certain tropical soil types are converted to gold laterite when
exposed to precipitation of iron minerals in the surface.
Most of the energy used for cooking is derived from firewood and charcoal,
and in many areas the consumption of wood is greater than the growth of trees.
This can also cause erosion problems and spot desertification. As modern energy
supply is largely undeveloped in rural and urban slums, it is not possible to
replace the fuel with fossil fuels. Several aid projects support the development
of renewable energy sources, streamline logging efficiency and tree planting.
The savannah areas are home to the large, well-known African mammals such as
elephant, giraffe, rhino, zebra and lion. Here, nature is adapted to the change
between rainy and dry times. Population growth has meant an initial cultivation
of the savannah's outer areas; plant growth and soil erosion are increased and
some animal species are threatened by hunting pressure.
Especially in East Africa, which has a particularly rich animal and plant
life, large savannah areas have been protected to counteract these threats. One
consequence is that the original residents are excluded, which in particular has
caused problems for the nomads when traditional grazing land has been laid out
for national parks.