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Africa

  Africa – a continent of contrasts

Africa 2 serengeti_sunrise_c02_17_2015_0J6A2456_b-1200

Africa


The world’s greatest wilderness. The only place on Earth to see the full majesty of nature. There’s so much more here than we ever imagined. I’m standing
where the equator cuts wide across the middle of the continent. To the North of me, there’s an immense desert the size of the United States of America. To the West
a vast rainforest the size of India, and behind be for thousands of miles the most fertile savannahs in the world. From the roof of Africa to the deepest jungle rarely seen places and untold stories.There’s nowhere in the world where wildlife puts on a greater show.
This is the last place on earth where you can come eye to eye with the greatest animals that walk our planet. This… is Africa (David Attenborough)

Africa – A continent of contrasts – Africa: scale and diversity

Key questions

  • Where is Africa and what countries does it contain?
  • What human, physical and environmental conditions are found in Africa?

Where is Africa and what countries does it contain?

Africa is one of seven continents; North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Antarctica.

Africa 3 map mapAfrica

It contains the countries of; Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic, Congo, Republic of , Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Africa 4 map africalargemap

What human, physical and environmental conditions are found in Africa?

Africa sits astride the Greenwich Meridian and the Equator. It stretches from 38° N to 34° S. There are many different climate zones and many different ecosystems which change mainly from north to south but are also affected by relief. Contrary to popular belief it is possible to be very cold in some parts of Africa. Water resources vary enormously from one country to another but water is scarce in the desert and semi-desert areas. Population density is generally low compared to other regions of the world.

True or False?

  1. Africa is the second largest of the Earth’s seven continents.  
  2. There are 15 different countries in the continent of Africa.  
  3. Egypt is a large country in the northwest of Africa.  
  4. The Equator (0 degrees) and the Greenwich Meridian (0 degrees) both pass through the continent of Africa.          
  5. Lake Albert is the largest lake in Africa and the is the world’s second-largest freshwater lake.                                                               
  6. The Sahara Desert stretches right across the northern half of Africa.                                                                                                     
  7. Mount Kilimanjaro is close to the equator but has permanent snow and ice on the summit.      
  8. The River Nile flows from the mountains of Ethiopia southwards to the Mediterranean Sea.                                                      
  9. In South Africa, it is colder in August than it is in December.
  10. Almost everyone in Africa speaks the same language.          

Use the interactive resources below

Scale of Africa

Africa’s contrasting environment

What do you know about Africa

Africa – A continent of contrasts – Dealing with common misconceptions of Africa

Key questions

  • Is Africa a Country or a Continent?
  • What are the common misconceptions about Africa?
Kinshasa

Kinshasa

Africa is all too often referred to as if it is a country and people forget or do not realise that there is great diversity within this continent. Diversity, as already stated starts with the physical environment and the spread of people but there are also huge variations in culture, language, religion and lifestyle. There is great wealth in many parts of the continent but it is shared unevenly between the countries and between the people within countries. Although the majority of people still live in rural areas, the percentage of people in towns and cities is growing fast and many of the people are strongly influenced by western lifestyles in the urban areas. The opportunities and the challenges faced by African countries vary widely.

Biomes

Biomes

Task – Africa word association

Read the information in blue (below) before you start the task underneath:

Even if we have not visited a place, we all have an image in our minds of what that place is like – this what we mean when we say, this what we perceive the place to be like. Where does this information come from? Unless you know someone who has visited a place, it is likely that you will form your opinions from the media – what you read, what you hear and what you see. Sometimes an ‘expert’ may tell you about a place – your teacher for example. These experts may or may not have visited a place but they have learnt something about it and they share their knowledge and understanding about that place with you. When we learn about a place for the first time, what is the best source of information? Who do we trust? When we have only small pieces of information, it does not help to give us a fair impression of what a place is like. If the information we use contains bias, we may get the wrong idea about what the place is like. Africa is a continent but often the media talks about Africa as if it is one country and is all the same everywhere you go. As a general rule, the media loves reporting ‘bad news’ and only rarely reports ‘good news’. Have a look at the table of words below which are taken from a single web page from the BBC news website.

You have two minutes to write down up between five and ten words that you associate with the word Africa.

(As a class, share your word lists, ticking off on your own list any words that are mentioned by other students and writing down new words that you have not got. Continue with this until no one has any new words left to share.)

Discuss the words that your class has come up with. Can they be grouped into any categories?

Below is a list of word we often hear from the media try to describe the image of life in Africa that is created by the use of this set of words.

Ethiopian hardships Zimbabwe in meltdown Starting from scratch
Food crisis Village’s food shortages Hunger and misery
History of drought Struggling to eat Animals starve
Aid figures Lesotho starves Drought-stricken community
Affected countries GM struggle Food aid addiction
Recurring hunger crisis Hungry herders Zambia: fertile but hungry
Digging for scarce water Deadly daily poverty More harm than good
Dried-up riverbeds Battle with Aids The struggle to survive

Wealth and HDI data

The Wealth and HDI data spreadsheet provides you with data about the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and the HDI (Human Development Index) of people living in the 53 countries of Africa. To put it simply, these are measures of wealth and standard of living respectively.

You can graph or map this data either by hand or using ICT.

  • How accurate do you think this data is?
  • What does it tell us about the lives of individual people living in these countries?
  • What factors do you think are important to consider when it comes to measuring people’s quality of life?
This is a list of African countries by GDP at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). Figures are in 2007 International Dollars This is a list of African countries by GDP per capita at Purchasing Power Parity(PPP). All figures are in 2005 International Dollars.. Human Development Index
Rank Nation GDP Rank Nation GDP per capita   Rank Country DHI World rank
1  South Africa $467,600.00 1 Equatorial Guinea $16,507 1  Seychelles 0.84 47
2  Egypt $431,900.00 2 Mauritius $13,029 2  Mauritius 0.81 63
3  Nigeria $294,800.00 3 Seychelles $12,135 3  Libya 0.80 64
4  Algeria $268,900.00 4 South Africa $11,035 4  Algeria 0.73 102
5  Morocco $127,000.00 5 Libya $11,354 5  Cape Verde 0.72 106
6  Sudan $107,800.00 6 Botswana $10,866 6  Egypt 0.70 111
7  Angola $80,950.00 7 Tunisia $8,223 7  Equatorial Guinea 0.65 120
8  Libya $78,790.00 8 Algeria $7,095 8  South Africa 0.65 121
9  Tunisia $77,160.00 9 Gabon $6,977 9  Morocco 0.64 123
10  Kenya $57,650.00 10 Namibia $6,658 10  Gabon 0.63 124
11  Ethiopia $55,070.00 11 Cape Verde $6,287 11  Namibia 0.63 125
12  Tanzania $43,490.00 12 Morocco $5,765 12  São Tomé and Príncipe 0.61 127
13  Cameroon $40,010.00 13 Swaziland $5,181 13  Botswana 0.57 131
14  Côte d’Ivoire $32,860.00 14 Egypt $4,282 14  Comoros 0.56 132
15  Uganda $31,470.00 15 Angola $2,829 15  Ghana 0.53 136
16  Ghana $31,230.00 16 Ghana $2,601 16  Republic of the Congo 0.52 140
17  Equatorial Guinea $25,690.00 17 Sudan $2,417 17  Sudan 0.52 141
18  Botswana $24,140.00 18 Zimbabwe $2,413 18  Madagascar 0.51 143
19  Senegal $20,610.00 19 Mauritania $2,307 19  Cameroon 0.51 144
20  Gabon $20,090.00 20 Cameroon $2,284 20  Uganda 0.50 145
21  Madagascar $19,950.00 21 Lesotho $2,163 21 Gambia 0.50 145
22  Congo-Kinshasa $19,070.00 22 The Gambia $1,999 22  Swaziland 0.50 146
23  Mozambique $17,820.00 23 Guinea $1,986 23  Togo 0.50 147
24  Burkina Faso $17,500.00 24 Djibouti $1,957 24  Djibouti 0.49 148
25  Chad $15,950.00 25 Senegal $1,914 25  Lesotho 0.49 149
26  Zambia $15,930.00 26 Uganda $1,817 26  Zimbabwe 0.49 151
27  Mauritius $14,900.00 27 Chad $1,744 27  Kenya 0.49 152
28  Mali $14,180.00 28 Comoros $1,717 28  Mauritania 0.49 153
29  Congo-Brazzaville $13,970.00 29 São Tomé and Príncipe $1,638 29  Gambia 0.48 155
30  Benin $12,180.00 30 Togo $1,600 30  Senegal 0.46 156
31  Namibia $10,670.00 31 Côte d’Ivoire $1,475 31  Eritrea 0.45 157
32  Malawi $10,470.00 32 Rwanda $1,431 32  Rwanda 0.45 158
33  Guinea $9,741.00 33 Republic of the Congo $1,379 33  Nigeria 0.45 159
34  Niger $8,998.00 34 Mozambique $1,335 34  Guinea 0.45 160
35  Rwanda $8,576.00 35 Burkina Faso $1,326 35  Angola 0.44 161
36  Burundi $6,389.00 36 Nigeria $1,188 36  Tanzania 0.43 162
37  Zimbabwe $6,186.00 37 Central African Republic $1,163 37  Benin 0.43 163
38  Mauritania $5,818.00 38 Benin $1,147 38  Côte d’Ivoire 0.42 164
39  Somalia $5,575.00 39 Kenya $1,125 39  Zambia 0.41 165
40  Swaziland $5,424.00 40 Mali $1,084 40  Malawi 0.40 166
41  Togo $5,132.00 41 Eritrea $917 41  Democratic Republic of the Congo 0.39 167
42  Sierra Leone $4,882.00 42 Zambia $911 42  Mozambique 0.39 168
43  Eritrea $4,751.00 43 Madagascar $911 43  Burundi 0.38 169
44  Cape Verde $3,709.00 44 Sierra Leone $901 44  Ethiopia 0.37 170
45  Central African Republic $3,101.00 45 Liberia $900 45  Chad 0.37 171
46  Lesotho $3,088.00 46 Niger $896 46  Central African Republic 0.35 172
47  Djibouti $1,878.00 47 Ethiopia $859 47  Guinea-Bissau 0.35 173
48  Seychelles $1,655.00 48 Guinea-Bissau $856 48  Burkina Faso 0.34 174
49  Liberia $1,498.00 49 Burundi $753 49  Mali 0.34 175
50  Gambia $1,338.00 50 Tanzania $720 50  Sierra Leone 0.34 176
51  Comoros $1,262.00 51 Democratic Republic of the Congo $675 51  Niger 0.31 177
52  Guinea-Bissau $901.00 52 Somalia $600 52  Liberia n/a
53  São Tomé and Príncipe $278.00 53 Malawi $596 53  Somalia n/a

Journey through Africa

Imagine that you are travelling across the continent of Africa, either from east to west or from north to south. Write down some of the differences that you might see on your journey as you pass through some of the 53 different countries. Try to include an equal number of positive and negative things that you might see.

Tip: Think about the landscapes, environments, resources and people.

 

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