WORLD GEOGRAPHY
CHAPTER 24
“SOUTHERN AFRICA”

I. NATURAL ENVIRONMENTS
A. Landforms and Water
1. Along coastline is a narrow coastal plain
2. Farther inland, a high plateau reaches more than 4000 feet where
most of this region lies
3. Between the coastal plain and the plateau is an escarpement (a
steep face at the edge of a plateau or other raised area)
a. Drakensberg range forms part of escarpment
b. Include a peak 11,425 feet high
4. Major rivers of region include the Zambezi River which is a major
source of hydroelectric power
5. Rivers form waterfalls and rapids which prevent large ships from
sailing upriver to the interior
B. Climates, Biomes and Resources
1. Tropical wet and dry and semiarid climates are found in much of
southern Africa
2. Drakensberg causes a rain-shadow effect
3. Cold ocean current off the Atlantic coast influences the Namib
Desert
4. Moving inland, rainfall gradually increases as the Namib gives way to the Kalahari Desert
5. Region has many valuable energy and mineral resources
II. HISTORY AND CULTURE
A. History
1. First inhabitants of region were hunter-gatherers and animal
herders
2. Several powerful kingdoms existed in region including Zimbabwe
3. Portuguese sailors began exploring region in late 1400s
4. Portuguese were discouraged from moving very far inland by
dense vegetation, threat of disease, and lack of navigable rivers
5. Colonial Period
a. 1652: Dutch set up a small settlement at the Cape of Good
Hope
1. Mediterranean climate made it a good place to farm
2. Early 1800s: Great Britain took over the Cape area
b. Late 1800s: discovery of diamonds and gold drew people
to southern Africa
c. European countries claimed different parts of the region
6. Independence
a. Most of region remained under colonial rule until late 1900s
b. Conflicts continued long after independence in some areas
B. Culture
1. African traditions are strongest in rural areas and small towns
2. In cities, many people have adopted American and European
customs
3. People, Languages and Religion
a. Bantu languages are widely spoken in region
b. White population speaks mainly English and Afrikaans
c. Because of the diversity of languages in each country,
governments often rely on European languages
d. Many still practice traditional religions
e. Europeans brought Christianity to region
f. Islam is also practiced
4. Settlement and Land Use
a. Wetter eastern part of region has long been more densely
populated that the drier western part
b. Small villages have a traditional settlement pattern
1. In the center of the village is a pen where cattle are
kept at night
2. Around the pen, villagers build small houses with
wooden poles, clay, and grass roofs
c. Europeans founded most of the cities which today are large
d. Most southern Africans still live in small villages
III. THE REGION TODAY
A. Southern African Economies
1. All the countries of this region are classified as developing
2. South Africa has the most developed economy in the region
3. Agriculture
a. Farming, whether market-oriented or subsistence, is the
most common economic activity in the region
b. Most farmers are subsistence farmers
1. Depend on crops and livestock for survival
2. May also sell some of their produce at local markets
4. Business and Industry
a. Minerals and oil are increasingly important
b. South Africa produces more gold than any other country and exports many other metals
c. Botswana is one of the world’s largest producers of diamonds
d. Tourists travel to wild-game parks
B. Urban Environments
1. Cities are places of great contrasts
a. In the suburbs, wealthy business-people, foreigners, and
government officials live in large, comfortable houses
b. Downtown areas have tall buildings and well-stocked stores
c. In the poorer areas, many people are crowded into small
homes
d. Others live in shanties--rough houses made of scrap wood,
metal sheeting, or mud bricks
2. Greater Johannesburg is the largest urban area in the region
C. Challenges
1. Poverty is the most serious problem
2. Cities are growing rapidly
3. High birthrates
4. Housing shortages
5. Environmental problems
6. Disease, especially AIDS