African Civilizations, 1500 BC700 AD
African cultures adapt to harsh
environments, spread through major
migrations, and establish powerful
kingdoms.
Diverse Societies in Africa
African peoples develop diverse
societies as they adapt to varied
environments
Africa Today
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Population: 900 million (14% of world’s total)
Percent of population under age 25: 71%
Most populated nation: Nigeria
Number of spoken languages: 2,000
Number of Muslims: 358 million
Number of Christians: 410 million
Percent of population dependent on agriculture for a living:
66%
Average income: 50% live on less than $1 a day
Average life expectancy: 46 in Sub-Saharan Africa; 67 in North
Africa
Most common cause of death: Aids
Literacy rates (15 years and older): 60%
A Land of Geographic Contrasts
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Geography of Africa
1. 2nd Largest continent
2. 1/5th of Earth’s land surface
3. 4,600 miles from east to west and 5,000
miles from north to south
4. 1/3rd of Africa is desert
5. Few harbors or ports or inlets
6. Mostly a plateau
Geography cont
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Tallest mountain: Kilimanjaro
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Largest lake: Victoria
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Mountains to the northwest:
Atlas
Rivers: Congo, Niger, Nile,
Zambezi
Borders: Atlantic Ocean,
Indian Ocean, Red Sea,
Mediterranean Sea
Waterfalls and Rapids
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Because Africa is mostly a plateau, there
are many waterfalls on the escarpments.
What is the effect on Africans?
Navigation is impossible to and from the
coast; isolated groups
inland
Deserts
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Sahara to the north;
size of United States
Sahel
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Definition: The African region along the
southern border of the Sahara (in the Savanna)
The area is quickly becoming part of the desert
(desertification)
What problems might the expansion of the
Sahara cause?
Push people off the land, crowd people into
smaller livable areas, limit food production
Climate
Deserts cont
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Kalahari to the south
What is the effect of the deserts on
Africans?
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Too hostile for people to live
Hampered movement
Rainforests
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Found near central part of continent;
Covers about 5% of Africa
Mahogany and Teak trees
Mediterranean coastal areas
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Located along NW coastal area of Africa
and the southern tip of the continent
Effect on Africans:
Mild climate/fertile land/supported large
population
Tsetse fly
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Found in rain forest
Effect on Africans:
Caused sleeping sickness
Prevented use of draft animals in farming near
rainforests; prevented invaders from colonizing
fly infected areas
Other Diseases
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Malaria caused by the mosquito
Ebola:
Found only in Africa; Kills people within a week of
contracting the virus; no cure; internal and external
bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea; can be spread through
touching blood or secretions of an infected person
First emerged in 1976 and 17 outbreaks since then
“Because of its lethality, the virus has been considered a
potential bio-weapon threat.”
In 2005 Ebola virus traced to fruit bats
Savannas
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Grassy plains; Most of the
people of Africa today live in
the savanna areas
Effect on Africans:
Supported abundant farming
and herders; led to permanent
settlements; healthier lives and
increased birthrates
Savannas cont.
Welcoming Lands
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Northern coast and southern tip of Africa
have Mediterranean climates
Savannas, or grasslands, cover almost half
of Africa
Early Humans Adapt to Their
Environments
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Nomadic Lifestyle
Earliest people are nomadic
hunter-gatherers; then
domesticated animals
Herders drive animals to find
water, graze pastures
Agriculture develops by 6000 BC
People settle down in permanent
settlements; more food from
farming; people live longer;
increased birthrate; specialization
of workers; governments develop
As the Sahara dried up, farmers
move to West Africa or Nile Valley
Early Societies in Africa
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Three similarities:
1. Societies organized by family groups
Extended families
Clans-families with common ancestors
2. Local Religions
Animism-belief in spirits
3. Keeping a History
History, literature, culture passed on by
storytellers, called griots (Few African
societies have written languages
West and South Africa
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San of the Kalahari Desert:
Hunter-gatherers
Use resources of natural environment
People of Djenne-Djeno
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Oldest known city south of the
Sahara
250 BC-1400 AD (abandoned)
50,000 people on tributary of
Niger River
Fishermen, grew rice, herded
cattle
Reed huts at first; then mud bricks
Prosperous through trade on Niger
and camel routes
What are some possible reasons
that Djenne-Djeno was abandoned?
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Drought
Famine
War
Nok
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500 BC-200 AD
West Africa earliest known culture
Made iron tools and weapons (First in West Africa to
smelt iron)
Present day Nigeria
More than 150 Nok figurines
have been excavated
Clay heads; many are
4’ tall; human figures are
abstract; hairstyles still common
in Nigeria
Nok Cont.
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African Civilizations, 1500 BC