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AFRICA

PHYSICAL FEATURES AND RESOURCES

Where is the Kalahari Desert?

The Kalahari Desert covers much of Botswana and Namibia. The Kalahari Desert is one of the largest deserts in the world, over 100,000 square miles (259,000 square kilometers), and lies on a high plateau at 3,000 feet (914 meters).

How big is the Sahara Desert?

The Sahara is the world's largest desert. It covers more than 3.5 million square miles (9 million square kilometers) in northern Africa. The Sahara receives less than 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain each year but contains hundreds of individual oases. The elevation in the Sahara Desert ranges from 100 feet (30.5 meters) below, to more than 11,000 feet (3,353 meters) above sea level. There are people who live in the Sahara, mostly at or near oases.

Why are the Blue Nile and White Nile Rivers both called Niles?

The Nile River begins as two separate rivers—the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The White Nile begins its flow from Lake Victoria in Eastern Africa and the Blue Nile originates in the Ethiopian Highlands. The Blue Nile and the White Nile converge in Khartoum, the capital of the Sudan, and form the Nile River, which continues on to the Mediterranean.

Was the flooding of the Nile predictable before dams were built?

The summer floods of the Nile River were so predictable that the Egyptian calendar was based on their rise and fall. Flooding on the Nile occurred from late June until

A view of Amboseli National Park in Kenya, with Tanzania's Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background. The snow on top of the mountain is disappearing due to global warming.

A view of Amboseli National Park in Kenya, with Tanzania's Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background. The snow on top of the mountain is disappearing due to global warming.

late October. The floods brought nutrients and sediments beneficial to the nearby agricultural lands, making farming productive throughout the remainder of the year. Measuring scales called "nilometers" were placed along the river, and not only measured the river height but also served as a calendars.

Is there any permanent ice in Africa?

Though located within three degrees of the equator, there is ice year-round at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, 19,340 feet (5,895 meters) in the air.

Has global warming affected the ice on Mt. Kilimanjaro?

Global warming has indeed affected the glacial ice on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and has caused as much as 80 percent of the ice to permanently disappear. Scientists believe that by the year 2020 there will be no more snow on top of the mountain.

How was Mt. Kilimanjaro formed?

Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa at 19,340 feet (5,895 meters), was formed as a volcano, but is now dormant. The mountain is located in northeastern Tanzania and was first climbed in 1889 by German geographer Hans Meyer and Austrian climber Ludwig Purtscheller.

What is the Great Rift Valley?

In eastern Africa there lies a deep valley known as the Great Rift Valley. Over 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) in length and 20 to 60 miles (32 to 97 kilometers) wide, the rift spans the length of Africa and was formed by tectonic plates sliding apart. In 10 million years, eastern Africa will detach from the rest of Africa along this rift and form its own subcontinent.

What is the world's longest freshwater lake?

Lake Tanganyika is 420 miles (676 kilometers) long, the longest freshwater lake in the world, but it's only between 10 and 45 miles (16 to 72 kilometers) wide. It lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. It is also the world's second-deepest lake, with a maximum depth of 4,710 feet (1,436 meters).

What is Africa's largest lake?

Located in eastern Africa, Lake Victoria is Africa's largest lake, with a surface area of approximately 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers). It is also the world's second-largest freshwater lake, after Lake Superior. Lake Victoria is bordered by Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. The lake was named by British explorer John Hanning Speke, the first European to see the lake (in 1858), in honor of the reigning British queen.

What is the Bight of Bonny?

Also called the Bight of Biafra, the Bight of Bonny is a bay located in the Gulf of Guinea, near Cameroon. The word "bight" is Old English for bay.

How did a lake kill more than 2,000 people?

In August 1986, Cameroon's Lake Nios, which sits upon a volcanic vent, produced an eruption of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide gasses. The cloud of acidic gas blew into nearby villages, killing more than 2,000 people while they slept.

What country in Africa has the world's highest minimum elevation?

Lesotho, located in the mountains of South Africa, has an absolute minimum elevation of 4,530 feet (1,381 meters) above sea level in the valley of the Orange River, but almost all of the land in the country lies above 6,000 feet (1,829 meters).

Which African country is the world's leading producer of cocoa beans?

Cote d'Ivoire, also known as the Ivory Coast (named for the large amount of ivory collected from elephant herds that once roamed the country), produces 37.4 percent of the world's cocoa beans, the beans used to make chocolate. It produces more than 1.3 million tons each year. Ghana produces another 20 percent of the world's total, and both Cameroon and Nigeria contribute 10 percent to the total production of cocoa in the world. This means that nearly 70 percent of the world's cocoa beans are grown in Africa.

Which country produces the most gold?

South Africa's gold mines yield 28 percent of the world's gold annually. In 1886, gold was first discovered in South Africa at the mines near Witwatersrand, which is now South Africa's largest gold-producing area. In 2007, China overtook South Africa by producing 276 tons of gold, beating South Africa for the title of biggest gold producer by just four tons of gold. This is the first time that South Africa has not been first in gold production since 1905.

What fish, once thought to be extinct, suddenly appeared near Comoros?

In December 1938, a fisherman discovered a very strange-looking fish near the Comoros islands. Scientists discovered that this lobe-finned fish was a coelacanth, thought to have been extinct for over 70 million years. This species continues to live in the waters off of the Comoros islands, located between Madagascar and continental Africa.

 
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