Geography of Africa


North Africa, including the Atlas Mountains, Northern Sahara and the Canary Islands, belongs to the Palarctic fauna region, while tropical Africa, together with the southernmost Arabian peninsula, constitutes the Ethiopian fauna region.

Africa Wildlife 3

Africa, including Madagascar and other surrounding islands, houses approximately 1,640 mammal species, distributed among 75 families, of which 17 are endemic. The latter include ground pigs, giraffes (giraffes and okapi), hippos, galagos, tanrecs, golden moles and barbed-tailed squirrels. The continent’s most typical and often dominant mammals consist of ungulates (88 species, including antelopes, gazelles, rhinos, zebras and pigs), predators (79 species, many of which roam) And primates (53 species, including apes, Old World monkey and lemurs). See Countryaah for latest population of Africa.

About 1,850 species of birds are known from Africa, of which 1,450 breed south of the Sahara (including Madagascar) and a further 165 north of it; the others are winterers or temporary visitors. 15 bird or bird families subfamilies are endemic, including ostrich, coliiformes, shadow dries, Shoebill, secretarial birds, guinea fowl, turacos, Wood Hoopoe, widows and shrub Shrikes. Africa, in particular the savannas north of the equator, constitute important wintering areas for northern nesting birds; up to 5 billion birds spend the northern winter in Africa. The number of domestic bird individuals is estimated at 75 billion.

Of amphibians are mentioned worm amphibians, real toads, leaf frogs, western tree frogs and narrow coin frogs. Girdle and shield lizards are endemic. Other typical crawfish are turtles, crocodiles, gecko lizards, chameleons, hams, snakes and poison snakes. The fish fauna in freshwater is rich (about 2,000 species) and is only surpassed by the South American. pike and lungfish belong to odd groups. Coelacanths (broomstick), believed to be extinct since 65 million years, was discovered in 1938 outside South Africa. Its main area of ​​distribution has been found around the Comoros.

Relatively few groups of invertebrates are limited to Africa, but the continent harbors many disease causing or harmful invertebrates, including tsetse flies (which transmit the parasite that gives sleeping sickness and livestock naganasjuka), malarial mosquitoes, desert grasshopper and locust, termites and digena flukes of the genus Schistosoma (which causes schistosomiasis).

The fauna of Mediterranean North Africa is very similar to that of southern Europe and the Middle East, but also has some genuine African features. Here you will find wild boar, red deer, jackals, red fox, small weasel, genet and rats. In the Atlas Mountains there are still occasional leopards, while lions and cantilopes have been extinct in the area for the last hundred years. Here you will also find rare groups of magos whose closest relatives are macaques found in Southeast Asia.

Many of the animals in the Sahara are night-active or burrowing as an adaptation to heat and drought. Examples of mammals, Fennec Fox, SandraV, sand cat, gazelles, Aoudad or Barbary sheep and many rodents. The donkeys are found in the easternmost desert areas, while the often-distorted dromedary originates from the Arabian Peninsula. Common desert birds are flying chickens, stairs, larches and falcons. hams, agams and dabbagams are widespread, while only a few frogs occur, in temporary ponds. scorpions, scorpion spiders and especially black beetles (also called tenebrionids) are abundantly represented.

Rainforests are Africa’s richest environments, but cannot be compared to South American or Southeast Asian. Because of their complex vegetation structures, there are a variety of micro-environments, which give way to great richness but more rarely individual richness. Many of the animals are night-active. The forests, which can be surprisingly quiet during the day, resonate at night with frogs, crickets, spring bitters, owls, tree nests and gallows. The monkeys, among other chimpanzees, gorillas, mandrill, drill and markattas, on the other hand, are daily active. forest elephant, African buffalo, several species of diving antelopes, okapi, cones, dwarf hippopotamus and forest pigs are other examples of forest mammals. Parrots, turnips, rhinoceros, kingfishers and sunbirds are common in the rainforest. In particular, seals often hold together in species-mixed groups, which seek to feed together, for example, in trees with attractive fruits or around trains of migratory ants.

The savannas are dominated by grass and shrub-grazing ungulates, such as wildebeest, cantaloupe, gazelles, zebras and giraffes. These choose different food, which leads to an efficient but gentle utilization of land with considerably higher production than can be obtained with tambourine livestock on the same land. Numerous predators live on the grass eaters, such as lions, cheetahs, hyen dogs, jackals and hyenas. Although bird life does not exceed the rainforest, it seems much richer, because of the landscape’s openness, with numerous birds of prey (for example, vultures), fun eagle and the terrestrial secretary bird), ostriches, frankolins, bee-eaters, sunbirds, shining stars and weavers. The blood beak weaver is probably the world’s most abundant bird and in some areas harms crop damage.

The South African deserts house a number of antelopes, including oyx and springbok. The most extreme desert adaptations, especially in crawfish and invertebrates, can be seen in the Namib Desert.

Madagascar has, through its prolonged isolation, trained a special fauna, which is very different from the rest of Africa and exhibits a high degree of endemism. Predators, monkeys and many other mammal groups are missing; on the other hand, there are three endemic families of half-monkeys: lemurs, indians and the peculiar finger-animal.

With the exception of clean desert areas and limited parts of the rainforests, the nature of Africa is strongly influenced by human activities. In too many areas, the wild grass eaters have been replaced with excess domestic sheep and goats, resulting in erosion and soil degradation as a result. Uninhibited tree felling has had the same effect.

Hunting has greatly decimated, including leopard, elephant, rhinos and crocodiles. A large proportion of Africa’s animals are currently concentrated in the approximately 250 national parks or reserves and in areas where livestock management is made more difficult by the nagana disease. The reserve does not provide adequate protection, but many species are threatened to their existence.

African Countries

Country Important rivers Largest lake
Algeria Chelif
Angola Kwanza, Cunene
Benin Ouémé
Botswana Chobe / Linyanti, Okavango, Limpopo Xau
Burkina Faso Mouhoun, Nazinon, Nakambe
Burundi Ruzizi Lake Tanganyika
Central African Republic Oubangui (Ubangi)
Egypt Nile Lake Nasser
Equatorial Guinea Rio Benito, Rio Muni
Ivory Coast Bandama, Komoé, Cavally, Sassandra Kossou (artificial)
Eritrea Baraka
Ethiopia Abbai (Blue Nile) Lake Tanasjön
Gabon Ogooué
Gambia Gambia River
Ghana Mouhoun (Black Volta), Nakambe (White Volta) Lake Volta (artificial)
Guinea Senegal, Niger
Guinea-Bissau Cachaeau, Mansoa, Geba, Corubal
Cameroon Sanaga, Bénué
Cape Verde
Kenya Tana, Athi-Galana Lake Turkana
Congo-Brazzaville Ubangi / Kongo, Sangha
Congo-Kinshasa Congo River Lake Tanganyika
Lesotho Orange rivers
Liberia Cavally, St Paul
Madagascar Betsiboka Alaotra
Malawi Lake Malawi
Mali Niger, Senegal Data not available
Morocco Moulouya, Sebou, Oum al-Rbia
Mauritania The Senegal River
Mozambique Zambezi, Limpopo, Ruvuma, Save Lake Malawi (formerly Nyasasjön, border lake)
Namibia Kunene, Okavango, Zambezi, Orange
Niger Niger, Dallol Bosso Lake Chad
Nigeria Niger Lake Chad
Rwanda Kagera Lake Kivus
São Tomé and Príncipe
Senegal Senegal, Casamance, Saloum
Sierra Leone Sewa, Mongo, Moa
Somalia Shabelle, Juba
Sudan Nile
Swaziland Komati, Usutu
South Africa Orange rivers Lake Fundudzi
South Sudan Vita Nilen
Tanzania Rufiji-Ruaha Lake Victoria
Chad Chari, Logone Lake Tcad
Togo Oti, Mono, Kara Togosjön
Tunisia Medjerda (al-Majrada) Salt Lake Chott el-Djerid (Shatt al-Jarid)
Uganda Vita Nilen Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, Lake Edward, Lake Kyoga
Zambia Zambezi Kariba (artificial)
Zimbabwe Zambezi Kariba (artificial)

Land former

Most of Africa consists of vast flat plateaus (often with isolated mountains) and streams, separated by higher areas formed by elevated parts of Precambrian bedrock or by volcanism. With a line from Ethiopia to the northern border of Angola, Africa can be divided into Lowland Africa in the north and Highland Africa in the south.

Lowland Africa is generally less than 600 meters above sea level. Exceptions include: The Ahaggarm Massif, which reaches 2,918 m above sea level, Tibesti (3,415 m above sea level) and Jabal Marra (3 088 m above sea level) as well as the Adamawa highlands and the active volcano Cameroon (4,070 m ash). In the northwest rises the Atlas Mountains, a series of parallel chains with intermediate high plateaus. The highest peak, 4 165 m above sea level, lies in the western part of the High Atlas. The Niger, Chad, Sudan and Congo basins occupy large parts of Lowland Africa. For Africa’s unusually wide coastal plains are found along the Gulf of Guinea, north of the Gambia River and along the Mediterranean, where areas below sea level are found. Egypt’s Qattara sink is the lowest, 133 m uh

In Highland Africa, the country is mostly more than 1,000 meters above sea level. In the south, the highlands are surrounded, with Kalahari basin and Veld, of mountains, which reach about 2,500 meters above sea level in Angola and Namibia. Equally high is the Cape Mountains, while the basalt plateau surfaces in Drakensberg reach over 3,000 m above sea level. – at a maximum of 3,482 m asl. The slopes down the narrow coastal plain from Angola to Mozambique’s southern border are called The Great Escarpment. From Mozambique to Somalia the coastal plain is broader and the transition to the highlands less dramatic.

Most dominant in eastern Africa is the system of reefs that exist from the Red Sea to the Zambezi River, from northeastern Ethiopia to Mozambique called the East African Rift System. A western, deep part is marked by the large Albert, Edward, Kivu, Tanganyika and Malawi lakes. Lake Tanganyika is 1,435 m deep, and its bottom is 622 m uh An eastern, shallow part begins in the Afarsankan, cuts through the Ethiopian highlands and is marked south by the shallow, salty Turkana lake, other salt lakes such as Magadi, Natron and Manyara seas and freshwater lake Naivasha.. On a flat, bowl-shaped plateau between the two parts lies Lake Victoria (69,000 km2)), 1,134 m above sea level and only 80 m deep. The Assal Lake in Djibouti (Afarsenkan), on the other hand, is 155 m above sea level.

Active volcanism occurs both in the reefs, e.g. in the Afars sink, and in connection with the tear system, e.g. in Virungabergen northeast of Kivusjön. Kilimanjaro with Africa’s highest peak, the snow-and-ice-covered Kibo (5,895 m), and Mount Kenya (5,200 m above sea level), which are second highest, are extinguished volcanoes along the eastern branch of the rift system. Ruwenzori (5 119 m asl) in the west, on the other hand, is a horst.

About 1/3 of Africa’s surface area is a dry area. The largest is the Sahara desert, about 9 million km2. Most of it is only 200-350 meters above sea level. and occupies a large part of North Africa. Sand, stone and rocky deserts alternate. The Namib Desert, 1,900 km off the coast of southwest Africa, on the other hand reaches as much as 1,000 m above sea level. Here, too, the terrain alternates between sand, rock and rock deserts. The Kalahari basin is largely absorbed by tower bush and dry water. Only occasional cushion areas exist. Most of the Somali peninsula is also a dry area.

The rivers Nile and Congo with their tributaries drain together 1/4 of the surface of Africa. Other major rivers are Niger with the tributary Benue, Zambezi and the Orange River. Some streams have internal drainage. One such is the Chad basin. To the only few meters deep Chad lake flows, among other things. Chari. To the south, Okavango (Kubango) forms an inland delta with large marshlands in the northern Kalahari basin.

Africa is surrounded by a narrow continental shelf. Coral reefs are found along the east coast, while sandy and lagoon coasts are common in the west. There is no real archipelago. Cape Verde, Reunion, the Comoros and the Canary Islands, all with active volcanism, count as Africa, as does Madagascar. Madagascar is dominated by a north-south mountain range, which has its highest parts (close to 3,000 m above sea level) in the east, where it falls steeply down a narrow coastal plain. The west side of the mountains is more sloping, also here towards a narrow coastal plain.


A very large area of ​​desert earth moons is spreading in northern Africa. Another area with similar soils is found in the southern and southwest parts of the continent. Desert soils are often bordered by narrow strips of chestnut-brown soils, brown soils and chernozems.

Lateritic soils occur in a wide belt around the equator between about 15 ° north and 15 ° south latitude, from the west coast of Africa and east to Sudan and Uganda and all the way to the east coast of Tanzania. Lateritic soils also occur further south along the east coast, as well as in Madagascar.

Chestnut ground moons, brown soils and vertisoles also have a wide distribution. Special soils are found in mountain areas and river valleys.

Plant Life

Africa Plant Life

Africa’s vegetation can be divided into eight areas: the Mediterranean, the North African desert, the rainforest around the equator, the steppe, savannah and dry forest, the Cape Flora, the mountains of East and North Africa, the Macaronesian region and Madagascar.

The coastal areas in the north belong to the Mediterranean botanical area, with the exception of Egypt and parts of Libya, where the desert reaches the sea. The vegetation (macchia and garrigue) is dominated by evergreen shrubs and has many bulbs and annuals. Originally, the area was largely covered by evergreen forests, including hard- leafed oak and cork oak as well as several species of pine, and in the Atlas Mountains there are forests of atlas cedar.

To the south, the Mediterranean area is transitioning into the North African desert area. During the ice ages, the border has probably gone further south, and Mediterranean elements are still found in isolation in central Sahara mountains. The vegetation is generally sparse and the flora poor. Only in dried-up river beds (wadier) and in oases does lush vegetation occur, including acacias and tamarisk trees. Important families are amaranth plants, cruciferous plants and pockenwood plants. Aristida and other grass species occur on sand dunes. In the southeast, bushes are found by the genera Commiphora and Boswellia, which gives off smelling resins – Bible incense and myrrh. The oases are almost entirely cultivated. In the southern peripheral regions, the Sahel belt, the desert advances (during the 1970s about 6 km/ year), probably due to both climate change and erosion through overgrazing.

The rainforest area around the equator is estimated to have about 25,000 species of seed plants, that is twice as many as in Europe but fewer than in other tropical areas; Brazil, for example, has about 40,000 species. The reason for the relative species poverty in Africa is possibly that the northern Bengal stream off the west coast was previously stronger and led to dehydration of the continent, with species disappearing. In South America, the Andes have protected against the effect of the corresponding Humboldt stream.

Along the Guinea coast and in the Congo basin there are dense lowland rainforests, rich in palm trees and other high-stemmed trees, including within the families pea plants, white mangrove plants and sorrel plants. Among the epiphytes, orchids and ferns dominate. Rain forest species follow in the drier areas the rivers as narrow belts of so-called gallery forest. On the mountains there are mountain rainforests, which also contain conifers, including the genus Podocarpus. Forest felling and burning have greatly reduced the rainforest.

The north, east and south of the rainforest area follow the steppe, savanna and dry forest areas. The trees are lower and often have umbrella-shaped crowns. They are leafless during part of the dry season. Important plants are acacias, Combretum, Brachystegia, palmyra palm and doum palm. In low-lying areas, baobab occurs. Cactus-like tortoises grow on termite mounds.

The savannah is dominated by perennial grass with groups of acacias and other trees. Fires deplete the tree plant and increase the spread of grasslands. Overgrazing leads to erosion and promotes prickly shrubs, such as acacias and Dichrostachys.

There are desert areas around the southern tropics in the interior (Kalahari desert) and along the west coast (Namib desert). A remarkable species in the Namib Desert is welwitschia, a relative of the conifers. The coastal strip itself lacks vascular plants but is affected by fogs, which gives a rich lava flora. The desert-like Karoo area in the interior of South Africa has many succulent herbs.

The South-Western Cape Province of South Africa, the Cape Flora area, has a rich and distinctive flora with about 7,000 species, half of which are endemic to the area. The most important vegetation type is fynbos, which corresponds to the macchia of the Mediterranean. Endemic genera with more than 100 species include Aspalathus, Cliffortia and Agathosma. The bell genus has a total of about 600 species, of which about 530 are in the Cape area. Lily plants and soil orchids are common. The flora shows kinship with other flora in the southern hemisphere, especially that in southwestern Australia, with protea plants and shin freckles.

The plains are largely cultivated.

On the mountains of East Africa, above the mountain rain forest, follows a subalpine zone of shrub or tree-shaped heather plants, including tree heather (which is also found in the Mediterranean area) and species of the genus Philippia. In the alpine zone there are strange rosette trees in the genus Senecio and lobeliors, as well as northern elements such as cataracts and swifts. Some of these also occur in the mountains of Northeast Africa in the Ethiopian highlands. An important cultural plant that originally originated in Ethiopia’s mountain forests is coffee.

The Macaronesian area, that is, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores, is floristically reminiscent of the Mediterranean, but has many endemic species and (especially in Cape Verde and the Canary Islands) also some tropical African elements, such as dragon blood trees and succulent scorpions. Characteristic of the Canary Islands are wooded species in otherwise herbaceous genera, such as snowflakes.

Madagascar has a rich flora with the greatest affinity with tropical Africa, but also with Indomalai connection and many endemic elements. On the precipitous east side there are rainforests, on the inner high plateau and on the west side dry forests and savanna and in the dry southern part thorny stem succulents, including the crown of thorns of Christ. Flamboyant, now widely cultivated as a tree of the tropics, originated in Madagascar.