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Unit Two: Studying Africa through the Social Studies

Module Six: The Geography of Africa

Teacher's Edition

Activity Three: Africa's topography, vegetation and climate-Explore

Map Three: Climate and Vegetation of Africa

Teachers will need to download this map and make copies for students. Download map.

Carefully study the climate/vegetation map of Africa. Answer the following questions on your map and in your journal.

  1. Nearly one third of Africa is desert of semi-desert. On your map label:
    1. the Sahara Desert
    2. the Ogaden Desert
    3. the Namib and Kalahari Deserts
  2. In what types of economic activities do people who live in deserts engage?
  3. About 15 % of Africa is comprised of tropical rain forests. List the African countries that have tropical rain forests.
  4. In what types of economic activities do people who live in tropical rain forests engage?
  5. Most of the people in Africa live in Savannah and Steppe regions of West, East, Central, and Southern Africa. List as many reasons as you can to explain this pattern of population density.

Answer Key:

Teachers are encouraged to point out the rich diversity of Africa's climate and vegetation.

  1. Desert dwelling peoples in Africa are not homogenous. They engage in a variety of economic activities that relate to their environment. Many groups in the Sahara desert region are engaged in long distance trading, herding of camels, sheep, and goats, and some fruit cultivation at oases. In the southern African deserts, Namib and Kalahari, most desert dwellers are hunters and gatherers. However, most desert dwellers are nomadic and live in small groups.
  2. Teachers should stress the fact that contrary to popularly held beliefs, only about 15% of Africa's surface is comprised of tropical rainforests (jungles). People who live in tropical rain forests engage in wide variety of economic activities, including hunting and gathering, lumbering, rubber tapping, production of palm products, and cultivation of primarily root crops such as yams and cassava.

Students should be able to draw inferences from the information on these maps in developing an understanding of why the majority of people in Africa live in savannah regions. The combination of fairly regular precipitation, moderate temperatures, and natural vegetation, which does not require a tremendous effort in clearing land, provide an environment generally supportive of human habitation.

Go to Map Exercise Three

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