Africa > Africa Plains

Africa: Africa Plains





Africa Plains

The area between the east and west coast highlands, which north of 17° N is mainly desert, is divided into separate basins by other bands of high ground, one of which runs nearly centrally through North Africa in a line corresponding roughly with the curved axis of the continent as a whole. The best marked of the basins so formed (the Congo basin) occupies a circular area bisected by the equator, once probably the site of an inland sea.

Running along the south of desert is the plains region known as the Sahel.

The arid region, the Sahara — the largest desert in the world, covering 9,000,000 km2 (3,500,000 sq mi) — extends from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. Though generally of slight elevation it contains mountain ranges with peaks rising to 2,400 m (7,900 ft) Bordered N.W. by the Atlas range, to the northeast a rocky plateau separates it from the Mediterranean; this plateau gives place at the extreme east to the delta of the Nile. That river (see below) pierces the desert without modifying its character. The Atlas range, the north-westerly part of the continent, between its seaward and landward heights encloses elevated steppes in places 160 km (99 mi) broad. From the inner slopes of the plateau numerous wadis take a direction towards the Sahara. The greater part of that now desert region is, indeed, furrowed by old water-channels.

The following table gives the approximate altitudes of the chief mountains and lakes of the continent:

Mountain ft m
Mount Rungwe 9,711 2960
Drakensberg 11,422 3482
Sattima (Aberdare Range) 13,120 4001
  13,435 4095
Jbel Toubkal (Atlas) 13,671 4167
Elgon 14,178 4321
Karisimbi (Virunga Mountains) 14,787 4507
Simens, Ethiopia 14,872 4533
  14,980 4566
Ruwenzori 16,763 5109
  17,058 5199
Kilimanjaro 19,340 5895
Lake ft m
850 259
Mai-Ndombe 1100 335
Rudolf 1250 381
Nyasa 1645 501
Albert 2028 618
Tanganyika 2624 800
Ngami 2950 899
Mweru 3000 914
Edward 3004 916
Bangweulu 3700 1128
Victoria 3720 1134
Abaya 4200 1280
Kivu 4829 1472
Tsana 5690 1734
Naivasha 6135 1870
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