Length: 4 Pages 1099 Words

Africa Until the 19th century most of Africa was a mystery to the western world. Its impassable forests, rivers blocked by falls, enormous deserts, and deadly diseases had foiled explorers’ attempts to infiltrate the interior. Little was known about the hundreds of different groups of people who lived south of the Sahara in communities ranging from small villages to sprawling kingdoms. Nor was it guessed that some four million years ago our earliest ancestors took their first upright steps in Africa’s heartland. Africa, as well as being the home of the lion elephant, the tall Watusi and diminutive Pygmy, the longest river and largest dessert, was also the birthplace of humanity. Africa is a huge continent, second in size only to Asia, but it has few of the other geographical features found on other continents. Its coastline has a relatively small number of inlets and peninsulas. Most of the continent consists of a vast high plateau that drops steeply to narrow coastal plains. Few mountains regions mark Africa and those that do, like the Atlas in the northwest, are relatively small ranges or are isolated volcanic mountains, such as Mount Kilimanjaro. In addition, Africa’s major rivers follow very irregular courses. Continue...

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In the seventeenth century an Arab invasion swept across the area. African countries are striving to improve health, education, and agricultural development. The Romans and the Greek Mediterranean civilizations influenced later African people. In the 1960's, the shrinking Sahel was the site of extreme human misery. Moreover, in many African counties, democratic multiparty governments are replacing one-party regimes a good sign for Africa's political future. Sharp land drops called escarpments formed at the continent's edges where the other plates broke away. By the fourteenth century, Timbuktu in present-day Mali was a thriving center for commerce and Islamic learning in West Africa. Great kingdoms and empires develop here thousands of years ago. The desert is chiefly the domain of nomadic herders. Severe drought and misusage of the land are expanding the Sahara about three miles a year in to the Sahel, the arid region of short grasses on the Sahara's southern border. Today the Islamic religion is one of the most important influences in North African society, and Arabic is the primary language. Diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness, and AIDS attack millions, and malnutrition continues to be a major problem. Settlement is possible, though, around oases. On a map of the world, Africa's West coast and South Americas east coast look as though they could fit together.


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