Africa physiography: Bulge of Africa
  • West most countries of African region
    • Member of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
      • Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mali, Niger

Africa’s Physiography: Horn of Africa
  • Eastern region of Africa containing the countries Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia
    • Mountains uplifted through the formation of the Great Rift Valley;

Africa’s physiography: Continental Drift
  • 220 million years ago there was one huge formation: Pangea
  • It split through plate tectonics into:
    • Gondwana and Laurasia
  • Idea was proposed by German metereologist
  • Africa has hardly moved
    • this means no continental mountains like the Himalayas

River Course explanation
  • when the super continent was together (Pangea), rivers flowed into basins
  • But because of continental drift, rivers now flow into the ocean

  • North: (Bwh) Dry and arid
  • Middle region: (Aw and Af) Dry winter
  • Southern middle: (Cwa) Humid, dry winter
  • Southern region: (Bwh) Dry and arid

African Population
  •         Relatively low population reflects climates and poor soils
  •        770 million (just over half of China)
  •        Nigeria, around lakes in East Africa, Ethiopian Highlands

Medical Geography
  •         Africa is an extraordinary laboratory.
    •        Disease incidence and diffusion
    •        Widespread nutritional deficiencies
  •         Millions suffer from:

                – malaria  – river blindness

      – yellow fever  – sleeping sickness
      – AIDS  – bilharzia
      – Ebola fever   – smoking

Medical Geography
Three Types of Studies
I. Best Location for Medical Facilities (Technique: Mathematical Programming—Transportation Problem, Simplex Method)
II. Diffusion of Diseases (Diffusion Theory)

      III. Correlations Between Patterns of Disease and Environmental Factors (GIS)

  • Exists in equilibrium with the population
  • Many develop an immunity of sorts
  • Saps energy, lowers resistance, shortens lives
  • (malaria, sickle cell anemia, bilharzia)

  • The carrier of a disease
  • Many develop an immunity of sorts
  • Tse Tse fly for African sleeping sickness
  • Mosquito for malaria and yellow fever
  • Snail for bilharzia

  • an area or a species from which a disease spreads
  • savanna wildlife is resorvoir for African sleeping sickness
  • African monkeys are the reservoir for yellow fever 

  • Sudden outbreak at local, regional scale (SARS)

  • Worldwide spread (AIDS)

Medical geography
               •    Guinea Worm 3-3.5 million cases in 1986
               •    2005: 11,000 cases
               •    From drinking standing water with Guinea worm larvae


A global view of HIV infection in 2007
  • 24.5 million of 34.3 million cases were in Africa in 2009
  • 30 million deaths worldwide since early 1980s
  • In 2007, 2.0 million people died of AIDS in Africa, 75% of world toll
  • Medicine is too expensive for most Africans
  • Started Central Africa and spread to Haiti (Congo was French and so was Haiti)

Smoking in Africa
•  Saturation advertising by international tobacco companies
•  WHO: Tobacco is a disease, an epidemic and communicable, the Vector is advertising
•  Cigarette sales in LDCs up 80% 1990-2000
•  4+ million deaths per year worldwide in 1990s
•  100 million deaths during past century
•  In the next 20 years, tobacco will kill more Africans than AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, maternal mortality, automobile crashes, homicides, and suicides combined
•  African governments are starting to restrict smoking in public places and to put warnings on packages

Agriculture in Africa


• Villages and families own land, not individuals (land tenure)
• Best lands taken by Europeans (Land alienation)
• Major sector of the economy that employs 66% of the population, mostly subsistence
• Women produce 75% of the food
• Population explosion puts pressure on land which is then overused leading to degradation of the land
• African agricultural production is declining
–Infrastructure issues (roads, electricity)
–Climate: leaching of the soil, drought, rainfall unreliable
–Goats denuding the land


Historical Geography
• Cradle of Humanity
• Absence of a written history means we know little about Africa prior to the arrival of the Europeans

Early Kingdoms
  • Kush lasted 23 centuries
  • Nubia was a Christian state
  • Axum controlled Red Sea and lasted 6 centuries
  • Bantu migrations for 5,000 years-led to powerful Zulu Empire 

Early Kingdoms- Great Zimbabwe
  • Shona people
  • Work began in the early 11th century and went on for some 400 years
  • The palace was surrounded by a huge stone wall
  • Outside, a city with a population of about 10,000 developed
  • It is not known why the city was abandoned in the 15th century, but it may have been because the soil could no longer maintain the population 

Early Kingdoms- West Africa
  • Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Nok
  • Dry north and west South were complementary (salt for ivory, spices and dry foods)
  • Note N-S orientation of modern countries
  • Timbuktu as trading center 

  • Ports established along the West African coast as way stations to South Asia and Southeast Asia (Portuguese were first)
  • African peoples along the coasts profited from raiding the interior for people and selling them as slaved to the Europeans
  • Benin and Nigeria were built on the slave trade
  • Perhaps 30 million people were forcibly removed from the continent

Islamic Slave Trade
The trans-Saharan slave trade developed in the 7th and 8th centuries, as Muslim Arabs conquered most of North Africa. The trade grew significantly from the 10th to the 15th century and peaked in the mid-19th century.

Islamic Slave trade
  • At least 10 million persons were forcibly removed from sub-Saharan Africa by the Arab slave trade – maybe more than the Atlantic slave trade
  • Slave farms in Sudan
  • Zanzibar processed 15,000-20,000 annually
  • Slavery has continued in Africa in Mauritania, Sudan, Algeria

Berlin Conference- Bismark 1884
  • 14 States divided up Africa without consideration of cultures
  • Results of superimposed boundaries 
    • African peoples were divided
    • Unified regions were ripped apart
    • Hostile sociesties were thrown together
    • Hinterlands were distrupted
    • Migration routes were closed off

Colonial Policies (Great Britain: Indirect Rule)
  • (Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe)
  • Indigenous power structures were left intact to some degree and local rulers were made representatives of the crown 

Colonial Policies (France: Assimilationist)
  • Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast
  • Enforced a direct rule which propagated the French culture through language, laws, education and dress (acculturation)

Colonial Policies (Portugal: Exploitation)
  • Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozambique
  • First to enslave and colonize and one of last to grant independence
  • Maintained rigid control; resource oriented

Colonial policies (Belgium: Paternalistic)
  • Rwanda, Congo, Burundi
  • Treated Africans as though they where children who needed to be tutored in western ways; did not try to make them Belgian (10 million Congolese murdered)
  • Raw resource oriented; ignored the development of natives

African Languages
  • Over 1000 languages- centrifugal force
  • Colonial languages became the lingua franca in many places
  • Niger-Congo family is pervasive
  • Nilo-Saharan Family is second most important 

African Languages
  • Khoisan uses clicks
  • Africaans in South Africa (65% of whites)
  • Malagsy is a Malay-Polynesian language
  • Hause (24 million speakers)
  • Yoruba (28 million speakers)
  • Nigeria has 250 languages-English is used to communicate among groups 

African Religions
  • Christianity came with colonialism, except for Coptic Christiansin Ethiopia (4th Century) and Axum
  • Islam went down the coast of East Africa and crossed the Sahara
  • Christianity was fused with African cutoms, Islam was not 

Attempts at Supranationalism 
  • Almost 50 states
  • OAU not the AU (African Union)
  • Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
  • South African Development Community (SADC) 

Urban Africa
  • This is not an urban realm with relatively low overall urbanization (34%)
  • Changing rapidly as rate of urbanization is high 
  • City living is harsh
    • informal sector of economy 

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