april 6 Sub-Saharan Africa-1

april 6 Sub-Saharan Africa-1 - Geography class with...

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CHAPTER SEVEN Sub-Saharan Africa April 6, 2009 CHAPTER OVERVIEW This   chapter   introduces   a   complex   region   riddled   with   poverty,   economic   crises,   resource  scarcity, and political and ethnic conflict. More than 500 years ago, Europeans began colonizing  sub-Saharan   Africa,   affecting   culture,   society,   agriculture,   industry,   and   human   well-being.  Although   colonization   has   officially   ended,  the  deep  influence   of  colonization   poses   many  difficult challenges for the future. Despite all these problems, there is also the promise of future  solutions. Although the population is distributed unevenly and sparse in relation to the land area, it is  growing rapidly. Population pressures and disease are obstacles to raising the extremely low  standards of living in this region; people’s basic human needs often are not met. The greatest  public health concern is the HIV-AIDS epidemic, which threatens to affect population growth and  life expectancy across the region. Economically, sub-Saharan Africa is in crisis. It is still primarily an exporter of agricultural  products  and  raw   materials,   both   with   low  and   unstable   prices   –  this  role  is   a  legacy   of  colonization. Political instability has added to this economic crisis; the region is plagued by  decades of dictatorships, ethnic strife, corruption, and elite dominance. In addition to profound poverty and economic and political troubles, the harsh and fragile  environment of this region makes it difficult to raise standards of living. Soils are poorly suited  for cultivation and water is scarce, so agriculture is difficult to sustain. Alternatives have changed  ecological   relationships,   promoting   desertification,   reducing   forest   resources,   diminishing  wildlife, and rapidly reducing clean water supplies. This region is facing many challenges, and the role of Africans themselves is increasing in  defining problems and designing solutions. This is a major step for a continent that for hundreds  of years has been under direct as well as indirect control by other countries. I. THE GEOGRAPHIC SETTING A. Physical Patterns Landforms The African continent continues to break its connection to the Arabian Plate at the Red Sea. Africa’s landforms are exceptionally uniform because it has been rather geologically stable  over time. Despite a lack of complexity, Africa’s landforms – coastal escarpments and a coastline with  few natural harbors – have hindered transportation and connections to the outside world.
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