Africa a continent of contrasts by benbenzhou

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									                                     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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