Lesson 4 Africa re - Lesson 4: Africa Africa is a huge...

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Lesson 4: Africa Africa is a huge continent, about 10 million square miles—more than three times the size of the continental United States. Of all the world’s languages, more than 1/3 are spoken in Africa. As you are probably aware, various African nations are often in the news because of severe droughts, leading to environmental degradation and famine. Of course Africa has a number of political challenges (to be discussed later), but one of its major challenges is its weather. The weather patterns result from a combination of the geography of the continent and air flow patterns. Africa’s climate is affected by what is called the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Basically, this is a weather phenomenon in which airflows from opposite directions meet, cause the air to rise, and create rainfall. Much of Africa has very definite wet seasons and dry seasons, which are caused by the ITCZ. Therefore, the way people in many regions of Africa make their living has historically had to be organized around this extreme seasonality. If you will refer to the maps on the following pages, you will see that at different times of the year, the ITCZ is either to the south or the north of the Equator. What this means is that depending on the location of the ITCZ, rainfall patterns will be affected. Rain tends to fall south of the ITCZ. So for instance, in the first map (July) the ITCZ is in the north of the continent, just south of the Sahara Desert. This means that lands like southern Sudan and other lands of the Sahel region (i.e. south of the Sahara) will have their wet season, and southern Africa will have its dry season. If the ITCZ doesn’t form far
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Lesson 4 Africa re - Lesson 4: Africa Africa is a huge...

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