Chapter 21 – West Africa Section Notes Video Impact of Desertification Physical Geography History and Culture West Africa Today Maps West Africa: Political West Africa: Physical West Africa: Climate West Africa: Land Use and Resources West Africa: Precipitation West Africa West Africa: Population World Almanac Africa’s Largest Cities Images Quick Facts Geography Sahel Merchants from North Africa A West African Village Chapter 21 Visual Summary
Physical Geography • The Big Idea • West Africa, which is mostly a region of plains, has climates ranging from arid to tropical and has important resources. • Main Ideas • West Africa’s key physical features include plains and the Niger River. • West Africa has distinct climate and vegetation zones that go from arid in the north to tropical in the south. • West Africa has good agricultural and mineral resources that may one day help the economies in the region.
Main Idea 1:West Africa’s key physical features include plains and the Niger River. Plains and Highlands • Plains cover most of the region. • Most cities are on coastal plains. • A few areas of highlands are scattered around the region. The only high mountains are the Tibesti Mountains. The Niger River • The Niger River is the largest river in West Africa. • The Niger provides fish, water for farming, and an easy transportation route for people in the region. • In Mali, the Niger breaks into a network of channels, marshes, and lakes called the inland delta.
Sahara West Africa’s climates are zonal, or organized by zone. The northern part of the region lies in the Sahara, the world’s largest desert. Almost no vegetation grows there. Dry, so few people live in many areas Sahel The semiarid Sahel is south of the Sahara. The area has a steppe climate, and rainfall varies from year to year. It has enough vegetation to support livestock. Desertification, the spread of desertlike conditions, is making the Sahel more like the Sahara every year. Main Idea 2:West Africa has distinct climate and vegetation zones that go from arid in the north to tropical in the south.
Savanna Lies south of the Sahel The savanna is an area of tall grasses and scattered trees and shrubs. When rain falls regularly, farmers can grow many crops. Humid Tropical Lies along the coasts of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Guinea Plentiful rain supports tropical forests. Many trees have been cut down to make room for people. Climate Zones of West Africa
The climate in part of the region is good for agriculture. Ghana is the world’s largest producer of cacao, which is used to make chocolate. Coffee, coconuts, and peanuts are also grown in the region. Oil is the most valuable resource in the region. Found off the coast of Nigeria Other mineral resources include diamonds, gold, iron ore, and bauxite, the main source of aluminum. Main Idea 3: West Africa has good agricultural and mineral resources that may one day help the economies in the region.
History and Culture • The Big Idea • Powerful early kingdoms, European slave trade and colonization, and traditions from a mix of ethnic groups have all influenced West African culture. • Main Ideas • In West Africa’s history, trade made great kingdoms rich, but this greatness declined as Europeans began to control trade routes. • The culture of West Africa includes many different ethnic groups, languages, religions, and housing styles.
Main Idea 1:In West Africa’s history, trade made great kingdoms rich, but this greatness declined as Europeans began to control trade routes. • One of the earliest kingdoms in West Africa was Ghana. It grew rich from the Sahara trade in salt and gold. • The empire of Mali later replaced Ghana and took control of the salt and gold trade routes. • King Mansa Musa used Mali’s wealth from trade to support artists and scholars. • The kingdom of Songhai came to power as Mali declined. • The Songhai city of Timbuktu was a cultural center with more than 100 schools. • West African trade cities declined as Europeans began to sail along Africa’s west coast. Europeans could trade for gold on the coast rather than paying traders to bring it across the desert.
The Slave Trade In the 1500s the demand for labor in Europe’s American colonies led to the creation of the slave trade. The slave trade was profitable for traders. The slave trade devastated West Africa. Families were broken up when members were enslaved. Many Africans died on the voyage to America. Colonial Era and Independence France, Britain, Germany, and Portugal claimed colonies in West Africa in the 1800s. Some Europeans moved to West Africa to run colonies. They built schools, roads, and railroads. Europeans created many economic problems in the colonies. After World War II, Africans worked for and gained independence. Later West Africa
Main Idea 2:The culture of West Africa includes many different ethnic groups, languages, religions, and housing styles. People • Hundreds of ethnic groups • Some groups live in traditional villages. Others live in cities and mix with other groups. • Country boundaries do not match ethnic group boundaries. Many people are more loyal to their group than to their country. Languages • Hundreds of languages • Colonial languages like French, English, and Portuguese help groups communicate. • Many people speak West African languages.
West African Culture • Religion • Traditional religions are forms of animism, the belief that natural objects have spirits. • The two most common religions in the region are Christianity and Islam. • Clothing • Mix of modern and traditional clothes • Western-style clothes are common in cities. • Traditional clothes includes robes, pants, blouses, skirts, and wrapped headdresses. • Families and Shelter • Rural houses are small and simple. • Extended families, or large groups of relatives, often live together in one house. • In urban areas, many people live in apartments.
West Africa Today • The Big Idea • Many countries in West Africa struggle with poor economies and political instability. • Main Ideas • Nigeria has many different ethnic groups, an oil-based economy, and one of the world’s largest cities. • Most coastal countries of West Africa have struggling economies and weak or unstable governments. • Lack of resources in the Sahel countries is a main challenge to economic development.
Main Idea 1:Nigeria has many different ethnic groups, an oil-based economy, and one of the world’s largest cities. People andGovernment • Many different ethnic groups • One group, the Igbo, tried to secede, or break away, in the 1960s, which began a civil war. • Ethnic and regional conflicts are still a problem. • The capital, Abuja, was chosen because it was in an area with a low population density, so there were few people to cause problems. • The government is now a democracy. Economy • Oil is the country’s major export. The oil industry is based around Lagos. • Most Nigerians are poor because of a high birthrate, lack of food, and poor government.
Main Idea 2:Most coastal countries of West Africa have struggling economies and weak or unstable governments. Senegal and Gambia • Senegal wraps around Gambia and is larger and richer. • Peanut farming and tourism are major economic activities. • Many people speak a language called Wolof. Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Cape Verde • Small, poor countries • Guinea has bauxite resources. Guinea-Bissau has many undeveloped resources. • Cape Verde is a chain of islands with a democratic government. Tourism is central to the economy.
Other Coastal Countries Liberia and Sierra Leone • Liberia is Africa’s oldest republic, founded by Americans in the 1820s as a home for freed slaves. • Sierra Leone experienced violent civil war from 1991 to 2002, which killed thousands and left millions homeless. • Both countries are working to rebuild. Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire • Rich natural resources • Ghana has gold, timber, and cacoa. • Côte d’Ivoire produces cacao and coffee. Togo and Benin • Unstable governments • Both countries are poor. People mostly farm and herd.
Main Idea 3:Lack of resources in the Sahel countries is a main challenge to economic development. • Mauritania • Most people were once nomadic herders, but many have moved to cities. • Most people are poor. • Only the far south is good for farming. • Corruption and ethnic tensions have caused problems. • Niger • Very little good farmland • Farmers grow grains on the little farmland that exists. • In the early 2000s locusts and drought caused famine, or an extreme shortage of food. • Chad • Better farmland than other Sahel countries • In the past, Lake Chad supported fishing, but the lake has largely dried up. • The end of a civil war and the discovery of oil hold promise for Chad’s future.
Mali About 40 percent of the land is desert. Because so little land is available for farming, Mali is one of the world’s poorest countries. Cotton and gold are its main exports. A stable democratic government has begun economic reforms. Tourists visit ancient cities such as Timbuktu and Gao. Burkina Faso Poor country Thin soil and few mineral resources Ouagadougou is the capital. Jobs there are scarce. Many people try to find work in other countries. When other countries have political or economic problems, Burkina Faso also suffers. Other Sahel Countries