Ch. 8 Reading Guide
There are five natural regions in Subsaharan Africa.
- The TROPICAL RAIN FOREST region is found in the equatorial portions of the Democratic Republic of
Congo, much of Gabon, and the Republic of Congo, south and central Cameroon, the coastal strips of West
Africa, and portions of Kenya, Tanzania, and Madagascar. Mean monthly temperatures remain above 64
degrees throughout the year. Monthly precipitation is substantial, with annual rainfall ranging from 60 to 80
inches. There are more than 8,000 plant species, more than 80% of the continent’s primate animal species
and more than 60% of its passerine birds. The soils are oxisols, and are weathered due to soil leaching, but
are capable of supporting plantation crops such as rubber, cocoa, and oil palm.
- The TROPICAL SAVANNA region is located in several countries along the West African Atlantic coast,
and others such as the Central African Republic, southern Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, northern
Angola, southern Congo and Gabon, and much of Tanzania. Annual rainfall totals 40 to 60 inches in the
heavily wooded section and 20 to 40 inches in the grassland regions of the drier margins. This region is
home to Africa’s most famous national parks and game reserves such as Serengeti National Park. It has the
largest concentration of plains game in Africa, including millions of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles. Soils
consist primarily of alfisols, which maintain a higher nutrient level than oxisols. They are widely cultivated
and support a range of crops including cocoa, rubber, bananas, maize, cassava, sorghum, and millet.
- The STEPPE is located thinly between desert areas and tropical savanna regions and is prone to prolonged
droughts. Rainfall averages from 10 to 20 inches annually and varies greatly from year to year. Sparse,
shrubby vegetation is characteristic of this region. The soils of the African steppe regions are primarily
entisols, they tend to be shallow, stony, and deficient in surface organic matter, so potential for agricultural
production is limited.
- The DESERT is comprised of the Sahara (the largest in Africa), Ogaden of eastern Ethiopia and Somalia,
the Kalahari of Southern Africa, the Atlantic coastal zones of Namibia and Angola, and a small portion of
southwestern Madagascar. Temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees in May and June with the difference
between daily high and low temperatures being as much as 60 degrees. Parts receive less than 4 inches of
rainfall annually. The lack of soil moisture within these deserts restricts vegetation to a few favored sites
where water occurs near the surface, such as in intermittent river channels and oases. Outside of these
zones, most of the plants and animals exhibit permanent physiological adaptations to drought. Soils in this
area are called ardisols. The date palm is commonly cultivated, and sorghum and millet are cultivated on a
-The HIGHLAND regions are located in the isolated mountainous areas of the southern and eastern