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EAST AND CENTRAL AFRICA

Central Africa is a hugely fertile region, with abundant grasslands, vast tropical rainforests, and many rivers and lakes. Both Niger and Chad are mostly desert, however, and in recent years, Lake Chad has shrunk to one-tenth of its former size as the rivers that feed it have dried up. Although many of the countries have great agricultural and mineral wealth, political instability and civil wars have kept people in this region in great poverty.

HOW CAN THE ANIMALS BE PROTECTED?

Governments have established huge national parks and wildlife reserves, such as the Masai Mara in Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania. Here, tourists can go on a safari to view the animals in their natural habitat, contributing much-needed income to both local and national economies.

WHAT IS THREATENING AFRICA’S WILDLIFE?

Africa has an amazing variety of wildlife, but in recent years, many species have come under threat from hunters. Elephants are prized for their ivory tusks, black rhinoceroses for their horns. These and other species are now threatened with extinction, while some species have been lost forever.

HOW DOES THE EQUATOR AFFECT THE LANDSCAPE?

Africa is the only continent through which the equator and both tropics (Capricorn and Cancer) run. Around the equator itself, high rainfall has created a watery landscape of lakes, rivers, and lush tropical rainforest. On either side of the equator, the climate and vegetation roughly mirror each other, with huge deserts forming in the hot and rain-starved land around each tropic.

RIFT VALLEY

The East African Rift stretches for 3,000 miles (4,830 km) from Syria in western Asia south through the Red Sea and East Africa to Mozambique. Its landscape is extraordinary, with many deep lakes, steep-sided valleys, vast plateaus, and volcanic peaks.

IS NIGERIA RICH?

Nigeria is potentially the richest nation in Africa, with huge reserves of oil, natural gas, coal, tin, and iron ore. It also has abundant fertile land, capable of growing cotton, coffee, sugar, and many other crops. However, corruption and bad government have meant that the money earned from these natural resources has not been used properly, and most Nigerians remain very poor.

WHAT WORK DO PEOPLE DO IN THIS REGION?

Most rural Africans live off the land, tending herds of cattle, sheep, and goats, and growing food crops such as corn, cassava, and yams. In East Africa, many also work on the tea and coffee plantations or earn a living from tourism in the many wildlife reserves. The oil industries of Nigeria and Cameroon and the mineral mines of Congo employ thousands of people.

WHAT DO LOCAL PEOPLE CALL THE CONGO RIVER?

The Congo River is known locally as the Zaire. It runs in a huge, upturned U-shape through the Democratic Republic of Congo, previously known as Zaire. The river is a lifeline for the Congolese people, providing fresh water, fish, irrigation for crops along its banks, and a vital transportation system.

WHY DOES FAMINE KEEP OCCURRING?

Ethiopia and Somalia have both endured lengthy civil wars in recent years, leaving many people homeless and destitute and creating millions of refugees. Both countries have also been affected by drought, crop failure, and the overfarming of poor or exhausted land. This intense pressure on hugely overstretched resources means that famine occurs regularly.

FACTFILE: EAST & CENTRAL AFRICA

NIGER

Capital city: Niamey

Population: 11.6 million

NIGERIA

Capital city: Abuja

Population: 120 million

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Capital city: Malabo

Population: 483,000

SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE

Capital city: São Tomé

Population: 170,372

CONGO

Capital city: Brazzaville

Population: 3.2 million

GABON

Capital city: Libreville

Population: 1.3 million

CAMEROON

Capital city: Yaoundé

Population: 15.5 million

CHAD

Capital city: N’Djamena

Population: 8.4 million

CENTRAL AFRICAN REP.

Capital city: Bangui

Population: 3.8 million

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Capital city: Kinshasa

Population: 54.3 million

TANZANIA

Capital city: Dodoma

Population: 36.8 million

BURUNDI

Capital city: Bujumbura

Population: 6.7 million

RWANDA

Capital city: Kigali

Population: 8.2 million

UGANDA

Capital city: Kampala

Population: 24.8 million

SUDAN

Capital city: Khartoum

Population: 32.6 million

ERITREA

Capital city: Asmara

Population: 4 million

DJIBOUTI

Capital city: Djibouti

Population: 652,000

ETHIOPIA

Capital city: Addis Ababa

Population: 66 million

KENYA

Capital city: Nairobi

Population: 31.9 million

SOMALIA

Capital city: Mogadishu

Population: 9.6 million

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

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