Chapter 21: EAST AFRICA

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1 Chapter 21: EAST AFRICA

2 Physical Geography of East Africa Landforms East Africa is a diverse landscape of different plains, volcanic mountains, and plateaus cut by a large valley and marked by many rivers and lakes. The Great Rift Valley cuts through much of East Africa forming two branches, both of which lie within a set of fault lines. Transportation via water is of great economic importance to the area, such as Eritrea s access to the Red Sea and Kenya and Tanzania s access to the Indian Ocean.

3 The Great Rift Valley

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6 Physical Geography of East Africa Water Systems East Africa s many lakes and rivers are used for hydroelectric power, fishing, and transportation and support tourism, agriculture, and natural ecosystems. Lake Victoria, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, lies at the headwaters of the White Nile River and is surrounded by rich soil that has encouraged human settlement. Lake Tanganyika, one of the deepest freshwater lakes in the world, offers abundant fishing and also supports large populations.

7 Lake Victoria

8 Lake Victoria

9 Lake Tanganyika

10 Lake Tanganyika

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12 Physical Geography of East Africa Climates, Biomes, & Resources Covering a wide range of latitudes and elevations, East Africa consists of a diverse set of climates and biomes. The savanna, a tropical grassland with scattered trees, has alternating wet and dry seasons, with the Serengeti Plain making a home for millions of animals. Mining and agriculture contribute to the area s economy.

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15 Human Geography of East Africa History & Government With access from the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, traders established colonies in East Africa. Colonial European powers, looking to expand trade routes and capitalize on new opportunities, created enormous problems for Africa. Although many countries gained independence in the 1960s, long-standing challenges persisted. Conflict between indigenous, or native, peoples resulted in extraordinary dislocations.

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19 Human Geography of East Africa Population Patterns Today s population reflects the many languages, belief systems, and ways of life in the subregion. In many countries, one ethnic group is the majority of the population. Most cities are located on coasts or rivers, although some inland cities developed along trade routes; however, in general, rates of urbanization are low. Population densities are high on fertile lands near water where better irrigation of crops is possible.

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22 Human Geography of East Africa Society & Culture Today Most people in the subregion are either Christian or Muslim, but traditional animist religions are also practiced. Levels of education vary, with literacy rates higher among men than women, and many students leave school so they can work and contribute to family income. Poor nutrition, famine, overpopulation, and the inability to treat common diseases, such as AIDS, are chronic issues in East Africa.

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24 Human Geography of East Africa Economic Activities The majority of jobs are in agriculture, with most products earmarked as exports, commodities sent from one country to another. The focus on cash crops, such as coffee, instead of food staples has created food-supply issues. Ecotourism, highlighting the many unique attributes of the subregion, has become a key part of the economy. China s investment and trade within the subregion has skyrocketed since 2001, encouraging positive changes.

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30 People and Their Environment: East Africa Managing Resources The failure to face environmental challenges contributes to the continuing cycle of poverty and hunger. Conflict, governmental corruption, and mismanagement of resources compound the issues confronting the subregion. Governments and organizations in the subregion have slowly improved health care, literacy, and standards of living.

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33 People and Their Environment: East Africa Human Impact The lack of infrastructure, such as electricity, encourages deforestation, as people turn to wood for cooking and heating. The destruction of animal habitats, or living areas, is exacerbated by deforestation and poaching, or illegal hunting, causing many species to become endangered. As the population increases in fertile areas around waterways, pollution threatens the area s waters and marine life.

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35 People and Their Environment: East Africa Addressing the Issues Governments are taking steps to protect the environment, such as establishing national parks. The naming of UNESCO world heritage sites has raised awareness of conservation efforts in the subregion. Wildlife reserves have helped revive animal populations and have encouraged ecotourism, bringing millions of dollars into the subregion s economies.

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