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What are some of the major differences in the overall physical geography between north...

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accge | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted September 10, 2013 at 5:09 PM via iOS

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What are some of the major differences in the overall physical geography between north and south Africa, and to what are these differences attributed?

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kipling2448 | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 10, 2013 at 6:54 PM (Answer #1)

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Africa constitutes an enormous landmass, covering over 11 1/2 million square miles and stretching from the Cape of Good Hope at 33 degrees latitude south to the Mediterranean Sea, at 36.6 degrees latitude north at Tunis, Tunisia.  In between those points is an extremely varied physical geography, and, in the center of which, is an enormous rainforest comprising much of central Africa.  Those geographical differences are a direct result of the continent's expanse.  

Northern Africa is geographically distinct from what is referred to as sub-Saharan Africa.  While the northern-most strip comprises the kind of mild temperatures characteristic of the Mediterrean Sea, it soon transitions to a drier climate that comprises one of the world's largest deserts, the Sahara, and is peopled largely by Arabs, with an assortment of other ethnicities and innumerable tribes scattered across the Islamic Maghreb.  This desert geography is a result of its unique geographic factors including a hot, dry climate, a product of its latitude and the surrounding ocean currents.  As one moves south towards the equator, the physical geography reflects that latitudinal position.  Dry, arid climates give way to broad grassy savannahs and, in central Africa, to the rainforests, obviously characterized by intense heat and humidity.  

This pattern repeats itself as one travels south.  Rainforest and jungle give way to semi-arid grasslands and then to the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa.  As one approaches the Cape of Good Hope at the southern-most tip of Africa, the point where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans visibly meet, the physical geography becomes similar to the northern-most strip along the Mediterranean.  The moderate climate of Cape Town and neighboring towns is reminiscent of that found along the northern coast.

Africa's geography is a direct reflection of each region's latitude combined with the effects of ocean currents along its 16,000 miles of coastline, along which the effects of those currents are more directly felt.

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