Africa: Geography and Culture

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The Kalahari

A desert in the south of Africa

Savanna

A grassy plain with scattered trees and bushes

Plateau

A tableland

The Nile

Longest River in the world

Coastline of Africa

Few bays, gulfs, or peninsulas

Rift

A large, long valley on a continent; formed at a divergent boundary; small volcanoes are typical as magma rises and cools

Basin

a natural depression in the surface of the land often with a lake at the bottom of it

Extent of the Great Rift Valley

from Arabia to Mozambique

Continental Drift

the gradual movement and formation of continents (as described by plate tectonics)

Pangaea

the ancient super continent that split through continental drift

The climate at the Equator

warm and wet

Rainfall in Africa

distributed unevenly

Reason for poor soil in rainforest

leaches of the soil's nutrients due to high rainfall

Savannas

where most Africans farm and raise livestock

Sahara

largest desert in the world

Sahel

a zone of semidesert that separates the Sahara from the savanna to the south - short, sparse, grass and very vulnerable

Steppe

the semi-arid lands to the south of the southern savannas

Desertification

the gradual transformation of habitable land into desert

Soil Erosion

the result of allowing too many animals to graze or too many crops to be harvested

Highlands of East Africa

best crop-growing region of Africa

Mt. Kilimanjaro

located on great rift valley, africa's tallest mountain, 19,341 ft high

The Sudd

Worlds largest swamp: in southern Sudan

High Veld

Grassy plains in the uplands of South Africa

Blue Nile

Originates in mountains of Ethiopia

White Nile

Originates in Uganda

Zaire or Congo River

a huge river system that drains the rainforest of central Africa

Niger River

a huge river in West Africa that creates an enormous delta where it enters the Atlantic

Zambezi River

flows into the Indian Ocean and includes Victoria Falls

Wadi

River bed, usually dry

Lake Tanganyika

Longest fresh water lake in the world

Lake Victoria

second largest lake in the world

cocoa beans, cashews, yams

major African crops

bananas, peanuts, coffee, cotton, sugar, tea

major African cash crops

salt, gold, copper, tin, iron

earliest minerals mined in Africa

South Africa

major source of gold and diamonds

Cobalt

important mineral mined in Africa - used for cutting tools and jet engines

Subsistence farmers

grow food for their own consumption

timber, rubber, palm oil

products of the rainforest

tsetse fly

insect which causes sleeping sickness in people and animals - often fatal

river blindness

caused by black fly; results in blindness; causes people to move away from fertile river areas

food production

has not kept pace with population growth in Africa

millet

a staple grain crop in Africa

where people live in Africa

in highland areas, along rivers and lakes, along coast

Aksum and Timbuktu

ancient African cities

Urbanization

movement of people from rural areas to cities

ethnic group

a groups of people who share a common ancestry, language, religion, and culture

800

the number of ethnic groups in Africa

Afrikaners

White South Africans; descendants of Dutch, German, and French settlers

Creation of African Countries

Arbitrary boundaries drawn by European colonial powers cutting across territories of different ethnic groups

Number of African languages

1000

Niger-Congo

largest family of languages in Africa

Bantu

a family of languages spoken in the southern half of Africa

Khoisan languages

have the "click" sound - spoken by Bushmen

Major European languages

English, French, Portuguese, Afrikaans

Reverence for ancestors

Important part of the religious experience of most Africans

Islam in Africa

Practiced mostly in the North

Coptic Christianity

the ancient Church of Ethiopia

Important elements of African worship

music and dance

African sculpture

created for use in ceremonies

Lost-wax techinque

type of sculpture perfected by ancient kingdom of Benin in West Africa

Polyrhythmic

several overlapping rhythms are played at once on drums

Kora

a harp-guitar played by oral historians in West Africa

Griots

keep alive cultural traditions and stories by remembering a huge amount of information

Praise poem

used to sing praises of an important person - like a panegyric

Shifting Cultivation

rotation of crops to increase productivity

The danger of "cash crops"

endangers food production for the local people

Gender roles in African communities

Women do the farming and food preparation; men clear the land

African animal herding

particularly for dairy products, not for meat

The African family

basic unit of production, distribution, an consumption

Extended family

three or more generations of relatives living together or near one another

Kinship

the way in which one is related to other family members

Marriage

Union, not just of individuals, but of families

Bride-wealth

payment that a groom makes to the father of the bride

Polygyny

having more than one wife

Patriarchy

a form of social organization where the man is the head of the household

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