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Unit Two: Studying Africa through the Social Studies

Module Six: The Geography of Africa

Teacher's Edition

Activity One: Location-Engage

This exercise is meant to be a computer lab exercise. Where labs are not available, the images in the exercise can be downloaded and printed as transparencies (see "printable resources").

An overhead projector can be used where computer labs are not available to project the images. The teacher should have students answer the questions in their Exploring Africa Journals. The teacher should lead a class discussion using the prompts given in the "Teacher Discussion" section that follows every set of images. Each image can be projected as it is being discussed. Student responses should be discussed in full class setting after they have completed the exercise.

Study the World Map. This is the same equal area projection of the world to which you were introduced in Module One: Exploring the Diversity of Africa. Answer the following question in your Exploring Africa Journal.


  1. Looking at the map, rank the continents according to size.
  2. Africa is bordered by two oceans and a sea.
    1. Which ocean borders Africa to the west?
    2. Which ocean borders Africa to the east?
    3. Which sea borders Africa to the north?
  3. Which continent is connected to Africa by a land-bridge?
    1. What is the virtual line that divides the world into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres called?
    2. What is the virtual line that connects the North and South Pole and divides the World into Eastern and Western Hemispheres called?
    3. Which continent(s) occupy space in all four Hemispheres?
  4. Based on Africa's global location (as projected on the map), (a) do you think that Africa has a long history of active contact (trade, migration, exchange of ideas) with other regions of the world? OR (b) do you think that until recently (the past 300 years) Africa has been isolated from other regions of the world? Give as many reasons as you can for your answer.
  5. Based on the information provided on the map, with which two continents do you think people and societies in Africa had the longest contact? Why? Which regions of Africa do you think had the earliest contact with other regions of the world? Why?
  1. Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia
    1. Indian Ocean
    2. Atlantic Ocean
    3. Mediterranean Sea
  2. Asia
    1. Equator
    2. Prime Meridian
    3. Africa
  3. Students should be able to ascertain from the map Africa's central location particularly in relationship to Asia and Europe. The geographic proximity to these two continents facilitated the movement of people, goods, services, and ideas between these three regions for millennia. Students should be able to make this inference from looking at the map. Teachers may want to take the opportunity to deal directly with the commonly held stereotype that Africa as a whole was isolated from other regions of the world and that this insolated Africa from major developments in human civilization. Students may point out that the Sahara desert acted as a barrier to contact. If this comes up, teachers should point out that there is archeological evidence of trans-Sahara routes that existed for nearly 3,000 years. The Nile River has also served as a "highway" moving people, goods, and ideas between East Africa and North Africa, and from there to Asia, beginning thousands of years ago. The issue of movement will be addressed directly in the Expand section, below.
  4. Asia is geographically connected to Africa. Europe is separated from Africa by the narrow Mediterranean Sea.

Location and Spatial relations:

Through the use of world maps, students should be able to locate Africa in relationship to the rest of the world. Teachers will have already introduced students to the different spatial/map projections. We encourage educators to use an equal area map, which demonstrates Africa's position and size relative to the rest of the world. In the introductory lesson, Why Study Africa?, we used a map that demonstrated the size of Africa as the second largest continent in the world relative to the United States and other major countries and regions of the world. Students should be able to identify where Africa is located (bounded by Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea) and the impact of location on its history and relationships with Asia, the Americas, and Europe.

Throughout history, Africa's spatial location has impacted its historical development and its dynamic relationships with other regions. Building on conceptual knowledge, understanding, and skills, which the students already have, they will be able to understand the spatial location of peoples in Africa and how human location/settlement relates to climate, vegetation, topography, and the historical development of relations (trade, cultural and political) with other areas of the world (Asia, the Americas, Europe).

Go to Activity Two or go directly to one of the following activities in Module Six

  1. Location-Engage
  2. Africa's Rivers and Lakes-Engage
  3. Map activities Physical features, Climate and Vegetation; Summary map exercise-Explore
  4. Africa's Natural Resources-Explore
  5. Four maps of movement-Explain
  6. Human-Environment Interaction: Expand/homework
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