Africa South of the Sahara
Map of Africa - 1999 Interactive Africa map quiz!!! - (very helpful in learning the names of the countries)
Map of Africa - political 1998 Population Density Map - interactive info Population Pyramid example
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) had been a home to many world civilizations long before Europe and had major universities (Ghana, 850 A.D.) long before Europe had any universities. 

Ancient West African Empires and Peoples
Later Empires and Peoples of West Africa

Members of the Akan people of Ghana in ceremonial clothing and linguist staffs. 
They are preparing to dance in a funeral ritual; red is a color of mourning in Ghana.

Dance face masks, Nigeria

Nilotic tribe members wear traditional clothing

Masai woman

Lots of Interesting pictures
Images of Nigeria
Women in African Art
Nigeria - Arts Overview


Sub-Saharan Africa annual incomes average less than $2/day. (closer to $1.30/day)
What impact would a low income have on education and health?

What factors, past and present, have placed Sub-Saharan Africa on the periphery?


1000 languages spoken in SSA; 3000 ethnic groups 
Language groups map
One example of a country with many languages - Burkina Faso

Ethnicity is expressed through tribal loyalties - e.g., Shona, Hausa, Ibo, Kikuyu, Fulani, Zulu, Masai, Ariaal, Yoruba, Oromo.....
National Geographic presentation: "Vanishing Cultures" -- check out the section on Ariaal
Gishora drum dance celebrates the harvest

Some tribes are very large (the Yoruba have approx. 22 million)... larger than the population of some countries

Loyalty to tribe often runs stronger and deeper than loyalty to country -- what impact might this have? For help with this problem, which has a distinctly geographic flavor, look at the map of colonial (national) boundaries over tribal boundaries.

Red lines indicate tribal boundaries; black lines delineate national boundaries
What does this map suggest to you?

Religious Influences 

1. Islam –North Africa and northern West Africa (i.e., Mali, Mauritania, Niger)
2. Christianity (southern 2/3 of Sub-Saharan Africa)
Africa Religions and Missions - 1913

In some countries such as Nigeria and Sudan, there is an Islamic north and a Christian south. What impact might that have on internal relations? 

3. Animism (what the Europeans classified in 1913 as "heathens")

    Kuba cup
Using wood from the rain forests of the Congo River basin, Kuba artists use geometric patterns to decorate many objects, such as this carved wooden cup. Notice the cup has four legs and a handle that represents the human form.

   Kota guardian
The Kota people of Gabon believe that the spirits of their ancestors can help them communicate with God. It is important to take care of ancestors and to see that outsiders and evil forces do not disturb their remains. This Kota guardian figure was made to watch over the remains and sacred relics of the dead.

Shona headrest
In many African societies, people sleep with their heads elevated on a carved wooden headrest. In the Shona culture of southern Africa, headrests also help people communicate with their ancestors. The Shona believe that ancestors visit people in their dreams.

Some Historical Maps
Africa - 1808
Africa - 1885
Africa - 1890 (note the area inland labeled "unexplored")

What else do you notice on these maps? Anything interesting about place names? Labeling? What can you learn about a place by studying old maps? 

Impact of Slavery 

notorious and lucrative traffic in slaves 
slave trade had been part of African life for centuries but never before to the degree experienced during European/American slave trade 
coastal cities of Western Africa rose in support of this trade, while the interior declined
African Trade Routes
(note Timbuktu)

horrible disruption of families, tribes, economies, civilizations -- perhaps 30 million people taken from their homes

Many to blame for the slave trade - Europeans, Americans, warring Africans, who 
made slaves of rival tribe members

Colonial Impacts

European occupation often less than 100 years (late 1800s - mid 1900s)
     - Berlin Conference 1884
     - What did the Europeans want? raw materials, markets, land, wealth... How might these goals influence their development of transportation networks?
     - What might be some of the negative and positive impacts of European occupation?
     - So, if the borders are so disruptive, why not change them?
     - What impact does the urbanization trend have on tribal ties? 

Impacts of Berlin Conference (1884-85)

Colonial Africa after Berlin Conference

Historical Map - 1895

1. political boundaries as cultural conflict 
2. improved infrastructure (but mostly railroads and roads were built between port cities and mines or agricultural fields; little linking of villages, towns, regions)
3. improvements in health care (what demographic effects might this cause? Remember the demographic transition model.)
4. marginalization of subsistence farming (pushed onto inferior, less fertile lands)
5. switch to cash crops for export 

Independence and Civil Wars in Africa

Nations of Independent Africa

Historical Map - Namibia Homelands 1978 
Most of Sub-Saharan Africa gained its political independence in the 1960s and 1970s. 
Encyclopedia Britannica map of African political status and stability

What crises would a newly independent nation in Africa face? 
What economic situation would a new SSA country face? For example:
How easy/ difficult would it be for a newly independent nation to enter the global 
     economy on its own?
How would the lack of transportation affect productivity? Inter-regional interaction?


Picking coffee in Kenya
Over-dependent on a few cash crop exports such as coffee and tea in Kenya and cocoa in Ghana 

Poor transportation hinders development (dirt roads hinder transport of produce to 
market versus all-weather roads)
Foreign debt: need for debt restructuring
End of Cold War resulted in reduced economic aid
Dictators; military rule - personal gain, bribery, proportionally high military spending
Serious political instability in many national governments - among other things, inhibits foreign investment


Map of physical Africa
Africa climate zones


Vegetation zones (notice relationship between vegetation zones and climate zones)

CONGO TREK: A Journey through the Heart of Central Africa (National Geographic)
"Man-Eaters of Tsavo" Kenya (National Geographic Photo gallery)
Okavango: Africa's Savage Oasis
 Biomes, Hydrology

Flowers, sparse grass in the Sahara Desert

Sahel: a climatic transition zone between the Sahara Desert and the tropical rainforests. Due in large part to drought, the Sahel is subject to overuse by humans. Sahel means "coast" or “border” in Arabic.  The Sahel was the location of many ancient kingdoms. 
Interactive map of Sahel
Food Insecurity Map of the Sahel


Basins, plateaus
High lands (also see this maps - same area), rift activity in the east 
Radar image of Africa - describe the tectonics
Rift valley in East Africa
Great Rift Valley



environmental issues 
     -  persistent drought
man-made problems
     - food output has generally declined since approx. 1960 
     - gap between population increase and food production
long-term; rarely an easy solution
August Average Vegetation Index, Africa Famine factsheet Africa Famine Data and Imagery
August 1984 Vegetation Anomaly, Africa
What causes famine? Averting famine for 18 million,
Southern Africa 1993
August 2000 Vegetation Anomaly, Africa  Famine in Africa Famine in Ethiopia


Persistent poor health: malaria, schistosomiasis, AIDS, river blindness 

Yellow fever zone

  African trypanosomiasis zone

River blindness; blind adults must be led by children 

Tracking Disease from Space


1. segregation of races :separate restaurants, separate hotels, etc.
2. homelands scheme:each tribe in Africa was to receive a homeland 
3. Mandela and de Klerk received Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for ending apartheid 

apartheid and the Homelands Scheme

Homelands Scheme
Historical Map: South Africa Homelands - 1986

Nelson Mandela and President de Klerk 

War-Torn Somalia

99.8% Sunni Muslims
2% land under cultivation
civil war, international war and warlords: Aidid
Ethnic Groups Map of Somalia
threat of massive famine in early 1990s
Operation Restore Hope

Genocide: Rwanda and Burundi
Refugee camp set up for those fleeing war in Rwanda

Map of Rwanda and Burundi

85% - 90 % of populations of Rwanda and Burundi are Hutu
economic class distinction based on cattle wealth: German colonial legacy
Tutsi: economically more advanced (cattle owners)
Genocide- mid 1990s
War has spread throughout region 

Refugees and Displaced Persons - Burundi 1995
Children of Rwanda's Genocide - pictures with narration

Refugees in Africa

Central Africa 1999 - UNHCR Map
The Horn of Africa  1999 (UNHCR)
West Africa 1999 (UNHCR)
Rwanda and Burundi 1995

National Geographic Millenium Presentation: Refugees (Tanzania)

Time out for some physical identification practice:
Kinshasa, Brazzaville on map
Kinshasa, Brazzaville on satellite image


Rural Landscape

Permanent structures in rural areas are typically found only in agricultural communities

Ancient Landscape

Great Zimbabwe
Ruins of Great Zimbabwe
Great Zimbabwe

a modern landscape in Kenya: nature preserve in national park 
Urban landscape in Lagos, Nigeria