13 - Tropical Africa and Asia, 1200 - 1500

13 - Tropical Africa and Asia, 1200 - 1500 - CHAPTER 14...

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CHAPTER 14 Tropical Africa and Asia, 1200–1500 I0. Tropical Lands and Peoples A0. The Tropical Environment 10. The tropical zone falls between the Tropic of Cancer in the north and the Tropic of Capricorn in the south. The Afro-Asian tropics have a cycle of rainy and dry seasons dictated by the alternating winds known as monsoons. 20. While those parts of the tropics such as coastal West Africa, west-central Africa, and southern India get abundant rainfall, there is also an arid zone extending across northern Africa (the Sahara) and northwest India, and another arid zone in southwestern Africa. Altitude also affects climate, with high-altitude mountain ranges and plateaus having cooler weather and shorter growing seasons than the low-altitude coastal plains and river valleys. Major rivers bring water from these mountains to other areas. B0. Human Ecosystems 10. Human societies adopted different means of surviving in order to fit into the different ecological zones found in the tropics. In areas such as central Africa, the upper altitudes of the Himalayas, and some seacoasts, wild food and fish was so abundant that human societies thrived without having developed agricultural or herding economies. 20. Human communities in the arid areas of the tropics relied on herding and supplemented their diets with grain and vegetables obtained through trade with settled agriculturalists. The vast majority of the people of the tropics were farmers who cultivated various crops (rice, wheat, sorghum millet, etc.) depending on the conditions of soil, climate, and water. 30. In those parts of South and Southeast Asia that had ample water supplies, intensive agriculture transformed the environment and supported dense populations. In most parts of sub-Saharan Africa and many parts of Southeast Asia, farmers abandoned their fields every few years and cleared new areas by cutting and burning the natural vegetation. 40. The tropics have an uneven distribution of rainfall during the year. In order to have year-round access to water for intensive agriculture, tropical farming societies constructed dams, irrigation canals, and reservoirs. 50. In India, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka, governments mobilized vast resources to construct and maintain large irrigation and water-control projects. Such huge projects increased production, but they were highly vulnerable to natural disasters and political disruptions. In contrast, the smaller irrigation systems constructed at the village level were easier to reconstruct and provided greater long-term stability. C0. Mineral Resources 10. Tropical peoples used iron for agricultural implements, weapons, and needles.
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This note was uploaded on 07/18/2010 for the course IAS 45 taught by Professor Karras during the Summer '07 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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13 - Tropical Africa and Asia, 1200 - 1500 - CHAPTER 14...

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