Chapter 3 The Shape of the Land and Climate and Diversity In ancient times ships carried people , goods and ideas along the African Northern Coast. It is in the center of world transportation routes. Geography and landforms Most of Africa is a plateau. Mountain Ranges are on its edges. Narrow plains fringe the coasts. Over thousands of years African traders crossed the plateaus. Europeans were slow to do so. They tried to sail up rivers and were blocked by cataracts. The Great Rift Valley- Formed millions of years ago. Rich soils wash down the cliffs into the valley. Has fertile farmland. Was the site of the earliest known civilization. The Nile is the longest river in the world. Egypt started along its NE portion. The Nile flooded, depositing rich nutrients to the soil, and supported farmlands and a large population. The Sahara Desert is larger than the continental US. Ten years pass with no rainfall. A few areas have animal-supporting grasses, but not much. It is a highway (for trade) and a barrier. Disease: Malaria (spread by mosquitoes) kills up to 1 million children each year. Sleeping sickness is common on the savanna (and carried by tsetse fly). It kills people and cattle. 5 basic types of societies: • • • • Farming Herding Fishing Hunting and gathering • Urban There are more than 1000 languages in Africa. Some common languages are used for trading and business. Most common are Swahili, Bantu, Portuguese, French and English.