Geography CH 7 - 1 2 3 4 5 6 The Geographic Setting Why are...

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The Geographic Setting 1. Why are Africa’s landforms so exceptionally uniform? What effect has this had on transportation and trade? Despite their lack of complexity, the landforms of Africa have obstructed transport and hindered connections to the outside world. Routes from the plateau to the coast must negotiate steep escarpments (long cliffs) around the rim of the continents, and the long, uniform coastlines have few natural harbors. 2. What are the general characteristics of Africa’s climates? What effect does the ITCZ have on climate? What challenges do these climates bring to human beings? Most of sub-Saharan Africa has a tropical climate because 70 percent of the continent lies between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Most rainfall comes to Africa by way of the intertropical convergence zone (ITZC), a band of atmospheric currents that circles the globe roughly around the equator. At the ITCZ, warm winds converge from both north and south and push against each other, causing the air to rise, cool, and release moisture in the form of rain. The climate of Africa presents a number of challenges to human habitation. Parasites and insects that breed prolifically in warm, wet climates cause and spread debilitating diseases such as river blindness, schistosomiasis, and malaria. In drier tropical climates, water for drinking, farming, and raising animals is often in short supply, and soils are not particularly fertile. Wherever both temperature and moisture are high, organic matter in soil decays rapidly. To maintain soil quality, cultivators of the wet tropics over the ages have developed a method of farming called shifting cultivation. They clear only small patches of land, an acre or two at a time, and use the cleared vegetation as fertilizer, sometimes burning it to release nutrients. They plant their gardens with many varied species that over the soil quickly to prevent it baking hard in the hot sun. The small plots produce well for only 2-3 years and then are allowed to revert back to forest for several decades. 3. What were some of the causes and negative outcomes of internal and external slavery in Africa? There was a long standing custom in Africa of enslaving people captured as a result of hostilities between two or more ethnic groups. The treatment of slave within Africa, governed by local custom was generally humane, though by no means egalitarian. The European slave trade severely drained the African interior of human resources and set in motion a host of damaging social responses within Africa that are not well understood even today. It made Africans dependent on European goods and technologies, especially the guns used by the raiding kingdoms.
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