Physical Geography The Big Idea The Congo River, tropical forests, and mineral resources are important features of Central Africa’s physical geography
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Physical GeographyThe Big IdeaThe Congo River, tropical forests, and mineral resources are important features of Central Africas physical geography.
Main IdeasCentral Africas major physical features include the Congo Basin and plateaus surrounding the basin. Central Africa has a humid tropical climate and dense forest vegetation.Central Africas resources include forest products and valuable minerals such as diamonds and copper.
Main Idea 1:Central Africas major physical features include the Congo Basin and plateaus surrounding the basin.LandformsRiversThe Congo Basin is in the center of the region. A basin is a flat region surrounded by higher land.Plateaus and low hills surround the Congo Basin.High mountains lie to east.The Congo River is the main river of the region. Rapids and waterfalls along its route keep ships from sailing to the sea from Central Africas interior.The Zambezi River lies farther south. Victoria Falls are one of the many waterfalls on the river.
Main Idea 2:Central Africa has a humid tropic climate and dense forest vegetation.ClimateHumid tropical climate, since most of the region lies along the equatorWarm temperatures all yearPlenty of rainfallVegetation Large, dense tropical forestTall trees in the forest form a complete canopy.Canopy leaves block sunlight from reaching the ground.AnimalsGorillas, boars, elephants, and okapis live in the forest.Because of the lack of sunlight, few animals live on the forest floor.Birds, monkeys, bats, and snakes live in the canopy.
Climate, Vegetation, and Animals Central Africas animals and forests are in danger.Forests are being cleared for farming and logging.Animals are hunted for food.Governments have set up national parks to protect forests, and animals and other natural environments.North and south of the Congo Basin are tropical savannas.Warm all year, but distinct wet and dry seasonsGrasslands with scattered trees and shrubsMountains in the east have highland climates.Steppe and desert climates can be found in the far south.
Main Idea 3: Central Africas resources include forest products and valuable minerals such as diamonds and copper.Most people in the region are subsistence farmers. Some people have begun to grow crops to sell in periodic markets, open-air trading markets that are set up once or twice a week.Tropical forests provide timber.Rivers produce hydroelectricity. Copper is the most important mineral in the region. Much of it is found in a copper belt that stretches through northern Zambia and Democratic Republic of the Congo.Other resources include oil, natural gas, coal, uranium, tin, zinc, diamonds, gold, and cobalt.
History and CultureThe Big IdeaCentral Africas history and culture have been influenced by native traditions and European colonizers.
Main IdeasGreat African kingdoms and European colonizers have influenced the history of Central Africa. The culture of Central Africa includes many ethnic groups and languages, but it has also been influenced by European colonization.
Main Idea 1:Great African kingdoms and European colonizers have influenced the history of Central Africa.The Kongo Kingdom was formed in the 1300s near the mouth of the Congo River. The Kongo grew rich from trade.Europeans arrived in the region in the 1400s. They wanted products like timber, ivory, and slaves for their colonies. In the 1800s European countries like France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal divided Central Africa into colonies. Boundaries drawn by the Europeans ignored the homelands of different ethnic groups. As a result, people from different groups were forced to live together, and conflict resulted.
Modern Central Africa Central African countries gained their independence after World War II.Some countries had to fight bloody wars for their freedom.The last country to become free was Angola, which broke away from Portugal in 1975.Independence did not bring peace.Ethnic groups continued to fight each other within many countries.The United States and the Soviet Union supported different allies in Central Africa throughout the Cold War.
Main Idea 2:The culture of Central Africa includes many ethnic groups and languages, but it has also been influenced by European colonization.PeopleAbout 100 million people live in Central Africa.They belong to many ethnic groups.LanguagesMost ethnic groups have their own languages or dialects, regional varieties of a language.Most people speak African languages in their daily lives.The official languages of most countries are European because of the influence of the colonial powers. For example, Portuguese is the official language of Angola.
Religion and the ArtsReligionEuropeans introduced Christianity to the region.Many people in former French, Spanish, and Portuguese colonies are Catholic.People in former British colonies are Protestant.Muslims and Hindus also live in the region.The ArtsFamous for sculpture, carved wooden masks, and cotton gownsCentral African music is also popular.The likembe, or thumb piano, was invented in the Congo area.A type of dance music called makossa was created there.
Central Africa TodayThe Big IdeaWar, disease, and environmental problems have made it difficult for the countries of Central Africa to develop stable governments and economies.
Main IdeasThe countries of Central Africa are mostly poor, and many are trying to recover from years of civil war.Challenges to peace, health, and the environment slow economic development in Central Africa.
Main Idea 1:The countries of Central Africa are mostly poor, and many are trying to recover from years of civil war.Democratic Republic of the CongoBelgian colony until 1960A dictator named Joseph Mobotu came to power in 1965. He changed the countrys name to Zaire.Mobotu was corrupt and used his position to make himself rich.In 1974, George Foreman boxed former heavyweight world champion and challenger Muhammad Ali in Zaire.After a civil war in 1997 a new government took over and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo.The country is full of minerals, but bad government has scared investors away. As a result the resources are not used.Most people are poor. Many are moving to Kinshasa.
Countries of Central Africa
Equatorial Guinea and So Tom and PrncipeEquatorial Guinea is a republic, but some think its elections are flawed. Most people in the country are poor.So Tom and Prncipe is an island country. It has struggled with political instability, and most people there are poor.Central African Republic and Cameroon Central African Republic is landlocked. It has faced many problems since independence:Military coupsCorrupt leadersImproper electionsWeak economyCameroon has a stable government and economy.Elected presidentHigher standard of living
Countries of Central AfricaGabon and Republic of the CongoGabon has the highest standard of living in the region because of oil money.Republic of the Congo has oil, but civil war hurt it in the 1990s.The country is mostly urban. The largest city is Brazzaville.Angola After years of civil war, Angola is now a republic.The economy is struggling. Most people are subsistence farmers.Inflation, a rise in prices, is a big problem.Angola has oil and diamonds.Zambia and MalawiA huge majority of Zambias workers are farmers. The country has copper, but it is developing slowly.Most people in Malawi are farmers. It depends heavily on foreign aid.
Main Idea 2:Challenges to peace, health, and the environment slow economic development in Central Africa.Thousands of people have died in these wars.Wars have also hurt the regions economies. People who are killed or injured in the fighting can no longer work. In addition, fighting destroys land and other resources.A mix of ethnic groups and the desire for power has led to civil war in many countries.
HealthDiseases like malaria kill many people in Central Africa each year. Malaria is a disease spread by mosquitoes that causes fever and pain.International health organizations and governments are working to prevent the spread of malaria, but the preventative measures are expensive.Malaria is not the only disease that causes problems in Central Africa. AIDS also kills hundreds of thousands of people each year. Partly because so many people die from disease, Central Africa has a very young work force. As a result, productivity suffers.
Resources and EnvironmentsCentral African countries need to develop their natural resources more effectively. Agricultural production has declined in many areas.As a result malnutritionthe condition of not getting enough nutrients from foodhas increased.Current policies regarding resources are also leading to environmental problems.Forests are being cut down for timber.Mining destroys the landscape.Organizations around the world are working to find ways to help Central Africans improve their use of resources and protect their environment at the same time.