Features of Africa
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The Red Sea is an extension (or inlet) of the Indian Ocean, located between Africa and Asia.
Entrance to the sea in the south is through the Gulf of Aden and the somewhat narrow Bab el Mandeb (strait).
In the north the sea is accessed from Middle Eastern countries via the Gulf of Aqaba (or Gulf of Eilat.) The Mediterranean Sea provides a conduit south through the Suez Canal and Gulf of Suez.
This salty sea is just over 190 miles (300 km) across at its widest point, and about 1,200 miles (1,900 km) in length.
There's a measured maximum depth of 8,200 feet (2,500 m), and an estimated average depth of 1,640 feet (500 m). Much of the immediate shoreline is quite shallow.
With hot sunny days, and the lack of any significant rainfall, desert dust storms are known to sweep across the sea. High heat combined with the lack of precipitation facilitates high levels of evaporation - thus the sea's high salinity.
Regardless, the consistent sunshine, as well as white sand beaches, pristine coral reefs and a scattering of shipwrecks are major attractions for scuba divers and sun worshipers. Resorts like Sharm al-Sheikh and others in Egypt's "Red Sea Riviera" along the Gulf of Aqaba and Gulf of Suez are fast becoming major tourist destinations.
The vast forest of the Congo Basin is the second largest tropical rainforest on earth and the lungs of Africa. Its incredibly rich and diverse ecosystem provides food, fresh water, shelter and medicine for tens of millions of people, and is home to many critically endangered species including forest elephants, gorillas, bonobos and okapis. Of the hundreds of mammal species discovered there so far, 39 are found nowhere else on Earth, and of its estimated 10,000 plant species, 3,300 are unique to the region.
The rainforest supports an astonishing range of life, within its teeming rivers, swamps and savannahs. But it also helps to sustain life across the whole planet. An estimated 8% of the earth’s carbon that is stored in living forests worldwide is stored in the forests of the DRC, making the country the fourth largest carbon reservoir in the world. The Congo Basin rainforest plays a critical role in regulating the global climate and halting runaway climate change, for the benefit of the entire biosphere.
But the forest, and the people and animals that depend upon it, are under threat as the unquenchable global thirst for natural resources, crops and foodstuffs means African lands are, more than ever, a target for investors. The solutions to these threats lie firmly with those who live there
The Sahara is the world’s largest hot desert and one of the harshest environments on the planet. It is third largest desert overall after Antarctica and the Arctic, which are cold deserts.
At 3.6 million square miles (9.4 million square kilometers), the Sahara, which is Arabic for "The Great Desert," engulfs most of North Africa. The desert covers large sections of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia.
The animals of Madagascar found plentiful foodstuffs, and an almost total lack of predators. Because evolutionary pressures on Madagascar's early inhabitants were almost nonexistent, the island literally teems with life forms that have changed little in hundreds of thousands, even millions of years. In many ways, Madagascar is literally a land that time forgot.
The first humans arrived on Madagascar around 2,000 years ago, most likely using outrigger canoes hailing from India, Africa, and Arabia. The newcomers were greeted by dense rainforests and an abundance of wildlife – strange monkey-like creatures known as lemurs, dwarf hippos, giant tortoises, ten-foot tall elephant birds (their enormous, thousand-year old eggs are still being found to this day), and over 100 other exotic species of animal found nowhere else on earth.
Unfortunately for many of these creatures, the arrival of man represented their first encounter with a predator. It took almost 1,000 years, but skilled human hunters managed to drive almost two dozen of those unique and irreplaceable animal species to extinction.
Kalahari, a large, basinlike plain of the interior plateau of southern Africa. It occupies almost all of Botswana, the eastern third of Namibia, and the northernmost part of Northern Cape province in South Africa. In the southwest it merges with the Namib, the coastal desert of Namibia. The Kalahari’s longest north–south extent is roughly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres), and its greatest east–west distance is about 600 miles; its area has been estimated at some 360,000 square miles (930,000 square kilometres).
This page of Interesting Africa facts provides information on the Niger River which is the third longest river in Africa, only the Nile and Congo rivers are longer. In the list below there are many facts about this amazing African landform, including its history and geography. There is also information about the animals, fish, and plants found in and around the river.
- The river is 4,180 kilometers (2597 miles) long.
- The Guinea Highlands located in southeastern Guinea is the rivers source.
- The Niger has one of the most unusual routes of any of the major rivers in the world. It starts approximately 150 miles from the Atlantic Ocean (240 kilometers). Instead of flowing to the nearby Atlantic Ocean it instead heads inland, away from the sea into the Sahara Desert. It turns sharply near the city of Timbuktu and heads to the Gulf of Guinea.
- Like the Nile River, the largest river in Africa, the Niger floods annually. The flooding begins in September and ends by May.
- Unlike the Nile, the Niger is very clear. This is because its source contains very little silt.
- The countries of Niger and Nigeria get their names from the river.
- Between Segou and Timbuktu the gradient of the river decreases drastically and forms the Inner Niger Delta. The delta is approximately the size of the country Belgium. The decrease gradient causes the flow of the river to slow down resulting in numerous marches, lakes, and streams. In this area about two thirds of the rivers potential flow is lost, leaking into lakes and marches. When the region floods, during the rainy season, excellent conditions for fishing and farming are created.
- The Scottish explorer Mungo Park was the first European to see the Niger River. He did so in 1796.
Cape of Go
Cape of Good Hope, rocky promontory at the southern end of Cape Peninsula, Western Cape province, South Africa. It was first sighted by the Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias in 1488 on his return voyage to Portugal after ascertaining the southern limits of the African continent. One historical account says that Dias named it Cape of Storms and that John II of Portugal renamed it Cape of Good Hope (because its discovery was a good omen that India could be reached by sea from Europe); other sources attribute its present name to Dias himself.
Known for the stormy weather and rough seas encountered there, the cape is situated at the convergence of the warm Mozambique-Agulhas current from the Indian Ocean and the cool Benguela current from Antarctic waters. Grass and low shrub vegetation is characteristic of the promontory, which is part of the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve (established 1939) that encompasses the southern tip of the peninsula. There is a lighthouse on Cape Point about 1.2 miles (2 km) east of the Cape of Good Hope.od Hope