Characteristics of the African continent is one of the second largest continents in the world and ranks second with the largest number of people after the continent of Asia. This continent has an area of 30,224,050 square km, which is 20.3 percent of the total land area on Earth.
Basically, Africa is home to one-seventh of the world’s population. The African continent itself has the largest hot desert and also the second largest tropical forest in the world which hinders the development of transportation and also its economy.
In the middle of the continent, to be exact on the west side, the rainforest is almost impenetrable and that impedes the transit of people as well as goods.
According to the nationalgeographic.org website, the African continent has eight main regions. Starting from the Sahara, Sahel, savanna, Ethiopian plateau, Swahili coast, rainforest, Africa’s largest lake, and also South Africa.
Meanwhile, according to a book entitled World Regional Geography by Sulistinah Kuspriyanto, the following are some of the characteristics of the African Continent, starting from its location, climate, and others.
Characteristics of the African Continent
Africa is the only continent that is traversed by 0 degrees latitude or we can call it the equator and also 0 degrees longitude, as well as the northern and southern equinoxes at the same time. The following are some of the characteristics of the African continent that need to be understood, including:
1. Location and Area of the African Continent
Africa is indeed the second largest continent in the world after Asia and America. This continent also has a very dense population even though it has a large area and occupies the second most populous position after Asia.
With an area of 30,224,050 square kilometers, plus its adjacent islands, Africa covers the entire landmass on Earth.
However, as we know that the African continent experiences many obstacles and constraints regarding the quality of life. With 800 million people spread across 54 countries, this one continent is home to one seventh of the world’s population. Astronomically, the African Continent is located between ± 35° LU – 33° SL and ± 18° E – 53° E. The following are some of the regions in the African continent, including:
a. To the north of the African continent is directly adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea or the Mediterranean Sea and also the European continent.
b. Then to the east, directly adjacent to the Red Sea and also the Indian Ocean.
c. To the South and West it is directly adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean.
2. Physical Conditions of the African Continent
The next characteristic of the African continent is the physical condition of the African continent. Where the continent of Africa is a continent that is different from other continents. Its territory is traversed by three main latitudes, namely the equator (0°), the Tropic of Cancer (23 ½°N), and the Tropic of Cancer (23 ½°S).
Most of the area is highlands or vice versa, namely desert. However, on the African Continent there are also fertile areas in the lowlands, for example the Zaire River Valley and the Nile River Valley, which are the second largest river valleys after the Amazone River Valley.
When viewed from its fertility, it certainly won’t beat other continents that both look lush or green.
a. Desert in Africa
When discussing Africa, we will definitely remember the distribution of deserts on the African continent. We can find this around the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Cancer. The desert area in the South has a higher potential or position compared to the desert area in the North.
However, the desert in the north has a wider area. The desert in the North is usually known as the Sahara Desert, stretching from Senegal in the West to Kenya in the East. Then for the deserts in the Southern region, namely the Namibian Desert and the Kalahari Desert.
b. Mountains, Mountains and Plato in Africa
If we walk towards South Africa, then we will find many springs and rivers with altitudes between 500 and 1,200 m above sea level. In addition, in this area there are also many plateaus and mountains which are famous for their views.
That reason is what makes South Africa more famous than the rest of South Africa. The most popular Platos are the Tassilin-Ajjer Plato in the Sahara, the Shaba Plato in the Southeast, the Lunda Plateau and also the Drakensberg Plateau in the South, the Ethiopian Highlands in the East, and the Angolan Plateau in the center.
Meanwhile, the mountains on the African Continent are the Atlas Mountains which stretch from the Northwest Coast of Africa to Tunisia and also the Cape Mountains in the south. Mountains in Africa are usually inactive but there are still some that are active.
The highest point in Africa is Mount Kilimanjaro, which is 5,894 meters above sea level, where this mountain is in the East African region and is always covered in snow.
c. Rivers and Lakes in Africa
Africa is very famous for its rivers which have beautiful and long and large streams of water. The famous rivers in Africa are the Nile which has a length of about 6,500 km and is one of the longest rivers in the world.
Then, there is also the Congo River, the Orange River in South Africa, the Niger River in Nigeria, and also the Zambesi River in Zambia. Some of these rivers are dammed for irrigation as well as power generation, for example, the Aswan dam which dams the Nile River and the Akosombo dam which dams the Volta River in Ghana.
Meanwhile, for the lakes in Africa, namely Lake Victoria, which is the largest lake in Africa, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Mobutu, Lake Rudolf, Lake Chad, and Lake Zambesi. Not only that, Africa also has many large waterfalls, namely the Tugela waterfall in South Africa (984 m) and the Victoria waterfall (108 m) in Zimbabwe.
e. Flora and Fauna of Africa
The condition of flora and fauna in Africa depends on the climatic conditions in each region. In the tropical rain forest area, namely in the Central African part, there are various types of plants and very dense rain forests. While in the North and South, there are steppes and savannas that are quite extensive. Meanwhile, in desert areas there are only steppes and cactus plants.
The natural conditions of the African continent strongly support the spread of fauna. Where Africa has many types of fauna, especially large mammals. Typical African fauna include addax, elephant, zarafah, antelope, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, and others. Even though they have a physical resemblance to similar animals in Asia, African animals have a larger body size compared to similar animals in Asia.
3. Climate of the African Continent
The next characteristic of the African continent is the climate on the African continent. Because of its large area, it is certain that the African Continent has a variety of climates consisting of:
a. The temperate or sub-tropical climate area includes the area on the southeastern coast of South Africa, the southern region, and also the southern equinox.
b. The tropical climate area is the area around the equator. It experiences regular rainfall. However, rainfall will decrease for areas far from the equator. Along the coast of West Africa, Kenya, Uganda, as well as parts of the east coast will experience heat and rain throughout the year.
c. Desert climate area, where this type of climate exists in the northern and southwestern regions of Africa. Areas with desert climates can experience drought throughout the year.
d. The Mediterranean climate area, namely the type of climate that exists in the northernmost region of Africa, which is around the Mediterranean Sea.
e. Mountain climate area, namely the type of climate that exists in mountainous areas.
4. Continental Social and Culture
The next characteristics of the African continent are the social and cultural conditions of the African continent. For some people, it might sound quite racist. However, it is said that this black continent has earned a nickname since the 19th century and at that time it was mentioned by Europeans for the first time when they were looking for new areas.
This black continent was discovered because the European colonials saw the African population, which was generally black. Not only that, cartographers also experienced difficulties in mapping the continent of Africa, especially for the sub-Saharan desert.
There are also those who speculate that Africa is called the black continent because the land is black or the map is depicted in black.
a. The total population in Africa in mid-2007 reached approximately 944 million people, including the second most populous continent after Asia. The most densely populated region is East Africa.
b. The inhabitants of the black continent belonged to the Negroid race, which later split into many tribes. However, on this one continent also live other nations, such as Indians, Arabs, Malays, and also immigrant European communities. In 2007, the population of Africa reached 934,283,426 people. Africa is one of the continents with high population growth.
c. The main religions followed by the people of Africa are Islam and Christianity. Islam is embraced by the majority of the population in the North African region and has developed quite rapidly. Then Christianity who came from Egypt and the Ethiopian region was widely embraced by the people of Central Africa.
d. In addition to local languages, Africans also use various languages inherited from the colonial era. For example, French, Spanish, English, Portuguese and Italian. The word Africa itself comes from the Latin, Aprica which means shining or the Greek, Aphrike which means without cold.
5. Continental Economy
The economy on the African continent belongs to the lower middle class to the point of crisis. All of this is influenced by various factors, starting from the climate, most of the African region is classified as dry and has less potential to be worked on so farming cannot be done, animal husbandry can only be carried out by a few types of animals and not all animals that live in Africa can be utilized.
The majority are wild animals or wild animals that are contrary to the benefits of humans. However, even though this is happening, some of the residents still try to cultivate the land with limited conditions and only certain plants or animals.
Meanwhile, the developed industry is the processing of gold, diamond, iron ore, copper and phosphate mines.
But unfortunately, some foreign companies manage and take some of the wealth of African countries. So it is not uncommon for local residents there to only work as miners or laborers. But can not be the owner of the company.
This also affects as a whole the countries on the African continent which are still classified as poor. In fact, this one continent is classified as the poorest country in the world.
6. The Economy of the Residents of the Continent
The following are some potential industrial sectors or jobs on the African continent, including:
Most of the countries on the African continent are agricultural countries. Namely about 60 percent of the population of the African continent work in the agricultural sector. The products of the agricultural sector are cotton, rubber, coffee, cocoa, sugar cane, palm oil, wheat, tobacco, and also dates.
In this modern year, countries that have made great progress in the field of agricultural production such as Brazil have agreed to share technology with Africa to further increase agricultural production on the continent.
It aims to make the continent a more viable trading partner. Increased investment in African agricultural production in general has the potential to reduce poverty on the African continent.
b. Mining and Drilling
Africa has quite an abundance of mining goods with the main mining products such as gold, diamonds, chromium, copper and manganese. Africa’s most valuable exports are petroleum and minerals. Several countries own and export some of these resources.
Southern countries have reserves of gold, rough copper, and also diamonds. Although mining and drilling will generate a large part of Africa’s annual income, the industry only employs about two million people, of which a fraction comes from the continent’s population.
The industrial sector is developing quite rapidly with the presence of oil and natural gas assets owned by several countries. Countries on the African continent whose industries have developed are the Republic of South Africa and Egypt.
Banking in Africa has long been in trouble because local banks are often unstable and corrupt. Governments as well as industry depend on international banks. Only South Africa as well as Egypt has a thriving banking sector.
In recent decades, banking reform has been a priority of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. One of the key reforms was obtaining permission to increase penetration by foreign banks. South Africa as well as Egypt have been the most successful countries in attracting foreign bank local operations.
In 2007, Egypt surpassed South Africa as the largest recipient of FDI with a record $11.1 billion. The trend continued in 2008, when Egypt attracted $13.2 billion in FDI.
Thus an explanation of the characteristics of the African continent and some interesting facts in it. As we have discussed above, the African continent is the second largest continent in the world after the Asian continent and has the second most populous population after the Asian continent.