Africa: a continent of contrasts – ‘geography explained’ fact sheet Key questions and ideas Key facts Lesson 1: Africa – Africa is one of the seven North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, Antarctica scale and diversity continents. Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Africa is a large continent Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic, Congo, Republic of , Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, containing over fifty different Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, countries Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Africa has a huge diversity of South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe human, physical and environmental conditions. Africa sits astride the Greenwich Meridian and the Equator. It stretches from 38° N to 34° S. There are many different climate zones and many different ecosystems which change mainly from north to south but are also affected by relief. Contrary to popular belief it is possible to be very cold in some parts of Africa. Water resources vary enormously from one country to another but water is scarce in the desert and semi-desert areas. Population density is generally low compared to other regions of the world. Lesson 2: Dealing Africa is a continent not a Africa is all too often referred to as if it is a country and people forget or do not realize that there is with common country. great diversity within this continent. Diversity, as already stated starts with the physical environment misconceptions of and the spread of people but there are also huge variations in culture, language, religion and lifestyle. Africa The countries of Africa have a There is great wealth in many parts of the continent but it is shared unevenly between the countries wide range of opportunities, and between the people within countries. challenges and lifestyles. Although the majority of people still live in rural areas, the percentage of people in towns and cities is There is no ‘one size fits all’ growing fast and many of the people are strongly influenced by western lifestyles in the urban areas. stereotype that can be applied to the people of The opportunities and the challenges faced by African countries vary widely. Africa. Lesson 3: Conflict Where in the world is Sudan? Sudan is the largest country on the continent of Africa lying at latitude 15º north of the Equator and in Sudan longitude 30º east of the Greenwich Meridian. It is located in north east Africa. Sudan‟s land borders are with Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad and Libya. To the west, it is bordered by the Red Sea. Sudan has an area of 2.5 million sq km. The area of the UK is 250,000 sq km. Sudan is roughly 10 times larger in land area than the UK. The official name of Sudan is Republic of the Sudan. What is Sudan’s climate and Sudan‟s landscape is generally flat and featureless. There are mountains in the far south, northeast environment like? and west and desert dominates in the north. The Sahara desert occupies part of northern Sudan. The lowest point in Sudan is the Red Sea at 0m and the highest point is Kinyeti (in the southern mountains) at 3187m. Sudan suffers from natural disasters such as dust storms and periodic persistent droughts. The climate of Sudan is tropical towards the Equator in the South and arid in the northern desert. The rainy season varies depending on the region but generally occurs between April and November. Current threats facing the environment in Sudan are inadequate supplies of potable water; wildlife populations threatened by excessive hunting; soil erosion; desertification; periodic drought. Some of these problems have been exacerbated by the strain caused by the establishment of refugee camps due to the long running civil war. Nearly the entire country of Sudan is drained by the Nile and its two main tributaries – The Blue Nile and the White Nile. Who are the people of the The total population of Sudan is about 41million. The ethnic groups are; black 52%, Arab 39%, Beja Sudan? 6%, foreigners 2%, other 1%. There is currently a process of “Arabization” in progress. The religious groups are; Sunni Muslim 70% (in north), indigenous beliefs 25%, Christian 5% (mostly in south and Khartoum). The Official language of the country is Arabic, although English and tribal languages are widely spoken. The capital city is Khartoum. The country has a very low GDP and approximately 40% of the population live below the poverty line. About 42% of the population live in urban areas. Many people live in rural areas and about 80% of the population is employed in agriculture. The civil war in Sudan began in 1983. During the course of the war, which ended in 2005, 2million What has been happening to people were killed and 4 million were made homeless. The war was mostly fought between the cause conflict in Sudan? government and the SPLA (Sudanese People‟s Liberation Army) who wanted control of Southern Sudan. The discovery of oil in the south caused further problems as the government did not want the Why has the conflict lasted so south to take all the wealth from the oil. The Murahaleen – Arab fighters on horseback from the north long? of the country also assisted the government. Many homes were burnt down and entire villages destroyed. Women and girls were raped, children – especially boys – were kidnapped and put to work either as slaves or child soldiers. The SPLA could also be accused of similar atrocities. Many orphaned boys formed large walking groups and walked across the country to apparent safety in Ethiopia. For some this involved walks of up to several months. There was little food and water and many children died of thirst, starvation or by being taken by lions. Many refugees ended up in refugee camps in Ethiopia where conditions were not much better at first. Eventually, overseas aid arrived and food, clothes, medical aid and education were provided. Many Sudanese have never returned home since the peace treaty in 2005. There are many reasons What are the impacts of civil for this. Some refugees know nothing other than the life they have had in the camps as they were war on people in Sudan? young children at the start of the war. For some of them, they no longer speak the local dialect of the area they came from as, being orphans, there were no family members to keep the languages alive. Many people cannot afford to return home as they have nothing to go back to. Their homes were destroyed and any wealth they had (mostly in the form of cattle) was taken by the Murahaleen raiders. Not speaking the local dialect will make finding employment difficult. Other information The BBC news website contains many news stories on the subject if you perform a search on Sudan There have been many books written about the conflict in Sudan, if you can get hold of copies of certain books, some passages may prove useful e.g. “What is the What” by Dave Eggers, “The Weekenders – Travels in the heart of Africa”, written by a variety of authors (Garland, Deedes, Hawks…). A recent interview with a Bishop in Southern Sudan on the BBC today programme: http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_7581000/7581572.stm Lesson 4: Hope for How should Sudan develop? With a landmass of over two million sq km, Sudan is the largest country in Africa. It has borders with the future nine countries, all of which will be affected to a greater or lesser degree by the conclusion of a peace How sustainable is Sudan’s deal in their giant neighbour. A comprehensive peace agreement between the Sudanese government future? and rebel Sudan People‟s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) has the potential to change the dynamics of the region. One of the greatest effects of a peace deal would be the return of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees to their country from the neighbouring states. If peace lasts, then Sudan does have a sustainable future but it will take many years to repair the damage to communities in the worse affected areas. Sudan has an $8 billion, six-year reconstruction plan, called the „Framework for Sustained Peace, Development and Poverty Eradication in Sudan‟ funded mainly by oil revenues. If the money is used to fund basic services such as clean water, health services and education, people‟s lives could improve greatly. Lesson 5: Ghana – Ghana is a country in west The Republic of Ghana is a country in West Africa. It borders Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to the west, an economic Africa. Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south. success story Ghana is an example of a Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in successful African nation. In West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains somewhat dependent on international financial and technical spite of problems and assistance as well as the activities of the large number of Ghanaians living and working abroad. Gold, challenges, it has made timber, cocoa, diamond, bauxite, and manganese exports are major sources of foreign exchange. An progress and improved the oilfield which is reported to contain up to 3 billion barrels of light oil was discovered in 2007. This lives of the majority of the discovery may not only help offset the current high cost of oil imports but may in time generate large people in recent years. revenues for the country. Ghana has a number of The domestic economy continues to revolve around subsistence agriculture, which accounts for 50% of successful export products GDP and employs 85% of the work force, mainly small landholders. but is also actively seeking to promote new products. Ghana has made good economic progress under a three-year structural adjustment program in cooperation with the IMF. Ghana remains one of the more economically sound countries in all of Africa. The high cost of imports, particularly oil, is a problem for the balance of trade in Ghana. Lesson 6: Education is a key area of Presently, Ghana has 18,530 primary schools, 8,850 junior secondary schools, 900 senior secondary Education in development in Ghana and schools, 28 training colleges, 20 technical institutions, 4 diploma-awarding institutions, 6 public Ghana – moving improvements in provision universities and over 10 private universities. Most Ghanaians have relatively easy access to primary forward will have a direct impact on and secondary education. However, the cost of school fees, uniforms and school equipment, alongside people’s lives as well as the the need for children to support their families by working has meant that the fluctuating numbers in future of the country. education remains a problem that the government is determined to deal with by various measures. A new Education Plan was finalised in 2007 and the aim is to provide universal free primary education by 2015 in line with the Millennium Development Goals. A key issue for the country has been the fact that as the various measures have been successful in attracting more children into education, the shortage of teaching rooms, equipment and teachers has become even worse. Lesson 7: Africa – Modern technology brings It is increasingly realised that modern technology has a key role to play in even the poorest of the looking to the both advantages and developing countries. In spite of the many obstacles, the use of mobile phone communications and ICT future disadvantages to people in has shown that it can transform the lives of people in both rural and urban areas. Mobile phone developing countries. companies have a rapidly growing market and are doing their best to improve the infrastructure whilst keeping customer costs as low as possible. The richer developed countries in Europe and North The high costs of providing ICT equipment and of training people in its use is a difficult issue in many America often rely on people developing countries. One of the methods of increasing access is to make use of the services of in the poorer, developing companies which recycle and upgrade computer hardware from the richer, developed countries. This countries to process and system provides both advantages (low cost of equipment, some training and support) and dispose of their electronic disadvantages (out of date, low-spec equipment and software that will often not run). Alongside this waste. generally positive system is the increasing frequency with which countries such as the UK and USA are sending their unusable e-waste to countries in Africa to be recycled or disposed of. The low-technology techniques employed in the processing of computers, etc is extremely hazardous to the health and safety of the workers. Whilst work is undoubtedly created, the moral dilemma is clear.
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