Africa: natural areas and climate
Africa is a rare place on Earth where geographical zonality prevails. Nowhere are the continents' natural zones so clearly demarcated. Africa demonstrates this division right on the map. Extreme north and south are distinguished by stile-leaved evergreen forests with shrub undergrowth, followed by semi-deserts and deserts, then savannas, and in the center - variable-wet and permanently-wet forests. Such latitudinal zonality is slightly disturbed in the mountains and highlands, but there are few of them on the continent. This is Africa - the natural zones are demarcated extremely clearly, as regards the climate, flora, and fauna.
In addition to the mainland, Africa also includes islands. There are not so few of them: let's compare the area of the big land - 30,300,000 square kilometers and the area of the islands - 1,100,000. Madagascar, the largest island, has 587,000 square kilometers.
The most beautiful waterfall in the world - Victoria. This is one of the most outstanding attractions of the continent. The Zambezi River plunges into a hundred-meter (very narrow!) Crevice more than a kilometer in length and over a hundred meters high.The noise of water is heard within a radius of forty kilometers, the spray and the fog from the fall of water rise up half a kilometer up, they can be observed at a distance of fifty kilometers. Nowhere is there such amazingly beautiful moon rainbows from the refraction of rays.
Northeast Africa is no less famous. Here, in the desert, the mountain Kilimanjaro rises. This is an ancient volcano, which is the highest point of the continent (5,895 meters above sea level). The fact that Kilimanjaro is amazingly beautiful can be seen for many tens of kilometers from any side - a volcano, like a pillar, towering among the even Kenyan and Tanzanian savannas. Sloping slopes raise the view to a flat, oblong apex - a two-kilometer-long giant calera, a vast hollow at the peak of the volcano.
The lowest point on the mainland, Lake Assal, is 153 meters below sea level. This crater lake is located in Djibouti. Below this lake is only the Dead Sea.
It remains to add that in Africa, fifty-seven countries, the largest in area - Sudan. The climate in Africa is very hot, which is probably why the population overtakes all other continents except Asia.In terms of area, Africa also ranks second.
Equatorial forest zone
On both sides of the equator, along the Congo River basin and on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, there are both constantly-wet and variable-wet forests, which Africa is famous for. Natural areas here are formed due to the difference in the amount of heat and moisture. The soils of the local forests - red and yellow - get it all in abundance.
The composition of tropical forests is diverse. Tree species number over a thousand items. The upper tiers — more than eighty meters high — formed rubber plants, oil palm trees, a cola tree, and others. Bananas, tree ferns, coffee trees (Liberian species), valuable sandalwood, rubber-bearing and redwood trees settled below,
Wildlife of tropical forests
The animal world is rich and diverse in these places. Monkeys are numerous. In addition to monkeys and chimpanzees, they are represented by a dozen more species. Dog-headed baboons raid African plantations. These monkeys are distinguished by a rare acumen - they are afraid only of armed people, even a man with a stick in his hands will not make them start running.African gorillas - great apes - reach two hundred and fifty kilograms of live weight, are up to two meters tall, and few people are afraid at all.
East Africa is rich in coral fauna - more than four hundred species. Sea mollusks especially spread in the waters of the Western Indian Ocean region - more than three thousand species of gastropods only. East African lakes are rich in freshwater mollusks.
To the south of the Sahara desert, up to twenty percent of the global diversity of the insect world has settled - more than one hundred thousand species. Many are very dangerous for humans - anopheles mosquitoes, for example, or a tsetse fly.
Freshwater fish in the lakes of the continent has three thousand species. Sea fish in the Indian Ocean more than two thousand only in coastal waters. Among amphibians, the giant goliath frog is especially famous.
Reptiles, with which Africa is particularly rich, the natural zones of the continent, one might say, are teeming with a variety of their species, have settled almost everywhere. These are pelomeduzovye and land turtles, as well as lizards, laryndal, skinks, agamas, monitor lizards of different species ...And the largest number of chameleons live in Madagascar.
Many dozens of species of snakes, among which the most dangerous for travelers are mambas, cobras, African poisonous vipers, huge pythons. Crocodiles in Africa are also the most real and extremely dangerous - as many as three kinds: African bluffy, narrow-nestled and African.
Reptiles settled everywhere, because it allows geography - the natural areas of Africa, differing in climate, we repeat, are suitable for reptile living almost everywhere.
Birds and mammals
More than two and a half thousand bird species are considered the inhabitants of Africa, among which many species are threatened with extinction. Characteristic for the continent: secretary bird, nectar, African ostrich.
Especially many types of parrots, from the most famous, for example, jaco. The most interesting birds are marabou storks, guinea fowl, turaco, hornbills, there are even penguins. A huge number of passerine - up to one and a half thousand species.
Mammals in Africa are also of great diversity - more than a thousand names. The number of animals is particularly distinct in the East African Plateau.Where the climate of Africa is changing, natural areas are characterized by the spread of certain mammalian species. Tropical forests inhabit exotic species: wyverra, needle-tailed flying squirrels, brush-eared pigs, pygmy hippopotamuses, many species of antelope, okapi, dukery, bongo. Only apes here are four species. And in Madagascar charming lemurs got accustomed.
The megafauna of Africa is represented most widely. There are no places in the world where large animals such as elephants, lions, hippos, giraffes, cheetahs and leopards, black and white rhinos would have survived from prehistoric times ... You can list which animals of the Mediterranean natural zone of Africa still can long. This includes antelopes, buffaloes, zebras, hyenas, wild animals, and warthogs. And all the rodents - lagomorphids and meerkats - probably only experts know.
The climate of Africa, natural areas are also clearly divided. To the south and north of the equator, the humidity of equatorial forests decreases rapidly, they become poorer in composition, and savannah spots are embedded in a solid array of forests. The jungles are first thinned out, then generally remain only within the borders of the river valleys.Deciduous trees appear instead of evergreen tree species.
Savannah of Africa occupy about forty percent of the total area. Of course, they are very different from the equator forests. You can immediately see what nature zones are in Africa and how they are divided. The length of the rainy season greatly influences the appearance of the terrain - the soil and vegetation changes.
Not far from the equatorial forests, the rainy season lasts seven to nine months, so red or ferrallitic soils are formed, the grass grows to three meters high. Further to the north and south, where it rains for less than six months, the soil is red-brown, the grasses are lower. But there are baobabs and umbrella-shaped acacias.
Closer to the boundary with the semi-desert, the humidity significantly decreases, since the rainy season lasts only two or three months a year. Here savannahs are deserted, thorny bushes and grasses grow: euphorbia and treelike plants.
The natural desert zone of Africa also occupies a significant area in the northern and southern parts of the mainland. The largest desert is the Sahara, five thousand kilometers from east to west and two thousand kilometers from north to south.It crosses the mainland from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
In fact, there is a group of deserts, some very large, for example, Libyan, Arabian. In the north of the country, Sudan is Nubian. In Algeria, the desert is called the Great Western and Great Eastern Ergi.
Here the highest temperature on the globe is +59 in the shade. The most interesting is that in this territory is the city of Tripoli. Here is the largest area in the world, occupied by sandy deserts - six hundred thousand square kilometers. It is in these places the smallest amount of precipitation on Earth - in a number of areas they never fall at all. And in Western Sahara, day and night temperature differences exceed thirty degrees.
Islands of life
Only in the oases of the Sahara life is beautiful: the vegetation is rich, the animal world is diverse. However, many animals have adapted to the climate of the desert itself: the Oryx antelopes, addaks, gazelles run great distances in search of water. Rodents of the Sahara are numerous: hamster, mouse, jerboa, squirrel. Therefore, there are predators: hyenas, jackals, cheetahs, foxes. Many birds - both migratory and permanently living in the desert.And of course, the abundance of reptiles: turtles, snakes, lizards.
Kalahari and Namib
To the south of the equator are two other famous deserts - Kalahari and Namib. Coastal Namib is great - one and a half thousand kilometers in length - cool and very severe. Vegetation, however, is diverse: euphorbia, grassroots, endemic species. The plant velvichia is generally unique and grows only here - it has a short and thick stalk, from which three-meter-long leaves spread along the ground.
Kalahari is considered one of the hottest deserts in the world. In South Africa, it is also the largest - it spreads across the sands in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana. The most important thing is that it grows constantly and inevitably, it is advancing in space: the desert has already arrived in Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe, although this realm of sand already takes about six hundred thousand square kilometers.
The desert landscapes of the Kalahari are diverse and magnificent. The sand is colored by nature in all shades of red - from pale pink to almost brown. It tried iron oxide contained in the sand, but it seems that this ruthless sun burned red earth. And it’s even hard to believe that not too far to the north, the multi-tiered tropical forests have been raised on their land by Africa, whose natural zones are characterized by such sharp contrasts.