2 Standard 7.4.1Study the Niger River and the relationship of vegetation zones of forest, savannah, and desert to trade in gold, salt, food, and slaves; and the growth of the Ghana and Mali empires.
3 Background KnowledgeAfrica is a vast continent with many different climates and landforms. A huge desert, the Sahara, separates much of Africa from the Mediterranean world. This section will introduce the geography of sub-Saharan Africa.The sub-Saharan part of Africa is the part that lies south of the Sahara.
6 The African LandscapeAfrica is the second-largest continent in the world.triple the area of the United States.extremes, from sandy deserts to lush tropical rain forests.
7 An Unusual Continent Most of Africa is a large plateau. A plateau is a highland area of fairly flat land.
8 An Unusual ContinentThe rivers that flow across the plateau fall over waterfalls to a narrow strip of coastal plain.Africa’s coastline is smooth and mostly unbroken by natural harbors.
9 A Vast Desert The Sahara covers most of northern Africa 3.5 million square miles, the world’s largest desert.Thousands of years ago, this region had rivers, trees, and grasslands.
10 The SahelThe Sahel is a fertile region with limited and unpredictable rainfall along the southern edge of the Sahara.The word sahel is Arabic for “shore,” as if the Sahara were a great sea of sand.Grasslands cover the Sahel. It also supports crops and herds of animals.Droughts, or long dry spells, are a constant threat to the people who live in the Sahel.
11 Vegetation ZonesEach zone has its own climate and types of plants that fit its climate.A savannah is a broad grassland with scattered trees. The African savannah has wet and dry seasons.South of the savannah, along the Equator, lies the rain forest, a zone of towering trees, dense leaves, and climbing vines.The rain forest is hot and wet year-round. Thousands of kinds of plants and animals live in this steamy jungle.Some of the rain forest has been cut down due to modernization and farming
12 The Niger RiverThe main river of West Africa is the Niger River. It flows east into the Sahel from the rainy highlands of West Africa. Then it curves northeast through the desert. Finally, it flows southeast across the savannah to the Atlantic Ocean.
13 The Niger River reliable source of water in a dry region. The river let farmers grow crops in the Sahel and the desertinland delta supported both farmers and fishers.The Niger River also provided a route for trade and travel across the interior of West Africa.
15 Africa’s Natural Resources Natural resources are those products of nature that have economic value.Traders brought some of these trade goods across the desert by camel caravan. Others came by way of Egypt and the Red Sea.Trade brought Africa into contact with other parts of the world.
16 Africa’s Natural Resources The most prized resource of West Africa was gold.It was the foundation on which the trading empires of Africa were built.
17 Africa’s Natural Resources Other valuable minerals included copper, iron, diamonds, and salt. Plants were other valuable resources.The peoples of Africa’s trading empires were skilled and successful farmers. Their agricultural wealth was an important foundation for the growth of their trade networks.
18 Africa’s Natural Resources Like many other ancient cultures—including Greece and Rome—African empires also enslaved people and traded them.From ancient times, enslaved Africans were sent across the desert to be sold in North Africa or across the Indian Ocean to Asia.
19 CheckpointWhat were Africa’s valued mineral resources?