Western Africa

Geography

Many countries constitute West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, The, Ghana, Guinea, GuineaBissau, the Cote d`Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. The region has a population of over 250 million, at least one-half of which live in Nigeria. Savannah and grassland dominate the geography of West Africa.

Politics,Economics and Religion

West Africa is a region of two worlds: one with marked territorial boundaries reflecting the modern era, the other an array of different African culture and ethnicities that aren't contained by lines drawn on a map. Most of the countries in West Africa are small in size and face development issues. As such their economies are small and most are dependant upon subsidies and international loans. Mining (both mineral as well as coal/oil/gas) is being developed but such development is dependant upon foreign investment and the interest of local government. Several of the countries, such as Gambia, The, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, have had numerous coups of government. Islam and Christianity are widespread amongst the populace with some African religions specific to certain regions.

History

Sierra Leone underwent a devastating civil war during the 1990s and is only now recovering. However, there is hope for a brighter future in the region with countries such as Senegal, Guinea and Benin serving as examples of transparent, working democracies.

Climate

Around water systems such as the Niger Delta there are tropical rainforests while those countries further north and closer to the Sahara have drier plains or arid desert.

Southern Africa

Geography

The south of Africa is made up of the five nations of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland (which constitute the Southern African Customs Union) and Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia). Over 70% of the 60+ million people in the region live in South Africa. Outside of the developed areas the landscape varies. South Africa, Zambia and Swaziland both have abundant rainforests and savannahs. Because of this variety of environment many different species live throughout in the region including bushveld animals such as the lion, leopard, giraffe, hippopotamus, hyena and white rhino.

Politics,Economics and Religion

Rich deposits of metals and minerals are to be found here; much of the world's supply of platinum, diamonds, silver, lead and zinc come from these nations. Tourism remains a strong economic factor and several campaigns to increase the population of wild animals have met with success. Despite some healthy economic factors, many problems remain. Crime, high unemployment, a tide of refugees from war-torn Central African nations and the AIDS crisis have rocked these countries and will pose continued challenges for the foreseeable future.

History

Colonialism in the 19th century produced a century of racial segregation between native Africans and European whites. Great strides have been taken in giving back independence to the native Africans, for example, Namibia's independence and the end of South African apartheid in 1990.

Climate

Namibia and Botswana both have large deserts and corresponding climates. Botswana's desert dominates over 70% of the country's total area. The tiny nation of Lesotho, nestled completely within South Africa, has a more moderate climate due to its high elevation.

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Eastern Africa

Geography

The eastern most portion of Africa is bordered by the Red Sea to the northeast, the Arabian Sea to the east and the Indian Ocean to the south. Due to ancient continental forces there are numerous points of geologic interest, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania the highest mountain in Africa is here and the end of the 6,000km Great Rift Valley being two important features. The lush area surrounding the freshwater Great Lakes which are the source of the Nile River is one of the most densely populated areas on the planet containing one-twelfth of the continent's entire population. Generally speaking, east Africa's landscape is grassland with patches of jungle and savannah with variations in elevation and rainfall patterns. Great swathes of land remain unspoilt and populations of lions, giraffes, hippos, zebras, buffalo and other big game animals reside there. The Serengeti region of Tanzania is especially well-known in this regard, as well as being scientifically noted for containing some of the oldest discovered fossils of early humans.

Politics,Economics and Religion

As is the case with the rest of Africa, one can find a variety of civilizations, cultures, political stability, topography and eco-diversity across the region. Most of these countries are republics, claiming to incorporate democratic principals but most fall short in practice. A number of these countries have been marred by violence in the form of civil war (Somalia, Mozambique) and the haunting specter of genocide (Rwanda). Additionally natural disasters such as drought and flooding has decimated countries that are unprepared for such disasters. Despite these challenges many countries have made vast improvements in their infrastructure, education systems and the human rights of their populations. For example, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya have reintroduced the East African Community to better improve their financial and trade infrastructures. Nairobi (Kenya) is the center for business and media affairs within the region.

History

European colonization in the 19th century carved out the continent along old world lines of territorial interest. The 20th century saw a drive for African independence but the fallout has been inequality and European indifference that continues to influence African politics today.

Climate

Farming is more established in lowland regions by the coastline due to the favorable weather patterns from easterly trade winds. The notable exception is the Horn of Africa, a vast peninsula that stretches out into the Arabian Sea and is predominantly dryer than the neighboring western lands.