Sothern Africa

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Southern Africa
Its physical geography and how that may affect the population distribution

In this essay I am to describe the physical geography of southern Africa, and to that I am to include some geology and other such things. I am also going to write about the population distribution, and why it may be distributed the way it is. I took to of the alternatives to write about, since I believe that these two topics go hand in hand.

Africa is a gigantic, old continent and southern Africa; the part I am going to write about is also massive. The population in southern Africa is not very big; it is a lot smaller than the populations in Europe, America and other such places, mainly because of its physical geography and climate. Most of the people live on the eastern coast, and very few on the western. All these things are factors that I will go more deeply into, later on.

Most of Africa is either dry or high. The countries that are part of southern Africa are; South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, and Botswana. Southern Africa consists of an inland plateau that is between 500 and 2000 meters above sea level.

To understand how the land was formed, and why it looks like it does today, I will begin far back in time, 100,000,000 years ago to be more exact. At that time, Africa is said to be part of the gigantic continent Gondowanaland, which then split up. Africa is probably the part that has moved the least since then, and that explains the fact that it doesn’t have sharp, high mountains. It is said that Africa moves about 2 cm a year, and that it already then got its shape. Southern Africa consists of mainly plateaux in stead. Hills, valleys and mountains surround the plateau in southern Africa. These sudden changes are called enscrapments and they form the edges of the plateau that dominates most of southern Africa. This bumpy landscape forms a block between the narrow coastal plain and the quite flat top of the plateau. The continental shelves are often quite close to the coast, as in Angola for instance. They make it hard for people and all other animals to travel from the coast up onto the plateau. Because of southern Africa’s bumpy topography, it does not have any navigable rivers. This means that Africans have always relied on the land more than the water transportation. The natural vegetation varies according to the about of rainfall, and this partly explains the distribution of southern Africa’s population.

The plateaux in southern Africa are divided in three areas; the Highveld; the Bushveld and the Middle Veld. All of them are grasslands but Highveld resembles prairie and does not often have trees, and the Bushveld is like a savannah and has some trees and bushes scattered. The Middle Veld does not have any rainfall, and the grassland is very poor.


South Africa is a country with a population of about 41.5 million people. Blacks make up 76.1 %; the whites 12,8%, coloureds 8.5% and Asians make up 2.6% of the population. The blacks make up 28% of the country’s income; meanwhile the whites earn 61% of the country’s income. White farmers own more than 87% of the land. Nearly all of South Africa has a mild, temperate climate, except for the extreme southwest. The great plateau makes up two-thirds of the country, and it is highest along the southeastern edge. The Drakensberg Mountains on the east coast are part of the Great Escarpment that separates the plateau from the coastal areas. The enscrapment includes Champagne Castle, which has the highest elevation in South Africa. The Highveld that covers most of the plateau is between 1200 and 1800 metres. On the southwest coast, a range of folded mountains marks the edge of the plateau. The main rivers are the Orange, Vaal and Limpopo. Many rivers are dry during much of the year, and can therefore not a very good and dependable source of hydroelectric power. South Africa has a mild, temperate climate. Down in the furthest south in South Africa there is Mediterranean climate. There are ancient crystalline rocks under the whole plateau, which were worn down to form a level surface. It is in many places covered by thick layers of sandstone and shale. South Africa is very rich in mineral resources. It has plenty of gold, coal and diamonds. This makes many people move here to work in the mines, and that increases the population in South Africa. Erosion; rain destroying and taking away the soil, is a problem there. Acid rain is a problem in the Highveld region, where much of the energy of the country is generated. South Africa also includes a part of the Kalahari Desert in the northwest and a part of the Namib Desert in the west. The population density in South Africa is 34 persons per square kilometre.

Botswana has a population of about 1.5 million, and a population density of 3 persons per square kilometre. Most of them live in the eastern part of the country, where the plateau is higher and it is enough rainfall for farming and cattle. This explains Botswana’s small population, since it so dry there, that only a few people can farm there. They have warm winters and very, very hot summers. 71.9% of the people live inn rural areas, but more are now moving into the cities. Most of Botswana’s income comes from their minerals. They have copper, diamonds and nickel. In the Kalahari Desert it is extremely dry. Only the San people live there, and they are only about 5000 of them, who live traditionally. They eat roots, berries and nuts as food, and hunt for survival. The major stream in Botswana is the Okovango River. The Kalahari Desert that is part of Botswana is a semidesert region, where it rains a little and there is some grass and scrub.

Namibia has a population of about 1.5 million as well. It has a population density of 2 persons per square kilometre. 62.6% of all the people live outside the cities, in the countryside, and either mine or farm for a living. Their agricultural production has gone up a lot. Deforestation is a problem and so is freshwater resources and sanitation. It is a very hot country and not very good for farming, and therefore it does not have a very big population. At the coasts, fishing is quite a big industry.

Zimbabwe has a population of 11.3 million and a population density of 29 persons per square metre. Zimbabwe has the highest population density in the whole of southern Africa. It has really good agriculture, and therefor produces a lot that the country exports. They have a subtropical climate, and it rains enough to grow crops. This is because it is located on the plateau, and not at the coast. Their main crop is tobacco, but they also have corn, cotton, wheat, sugarcane and vegetables. Zimbabwe is very mineral rich as well, thanks to the Great Duke, which is a big mineral rich rock that contains gold, copper, iron ore and nickel. It also has the great Zambezi River that is a good resource for hydroelectric power. It has a hydroelectric power plant that produces electricity for both Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Malawi is a country that has many vulcanoes and therefore has volcanic soils, which enables them to grow many different kinds of crops, such as rice, tea, corn, sugarcane, cotton and tobacco.

Mozambique has a population of 16 million people, and a population density of 20 persons per square kilometre. 34.2% of its inhabitants live in the cities. It is located on the eastern coast, and has a very big fish industry. It has plenty of mineral resources, and crops, such as sugarcane, tea, cotton etc. The population distribution growth is a lot higher along the coasts, especially the eastern.

Angola is a country on the western coast, with a population of 8 million. Most of them live on the plateau, and not on the plain along the coast. The capital Lucanda is not very populated because it is so dry. Fish feed people along the coast, which is an important industry. Angola also has lots of diamonds, iron ore, gold, copper etc. Its two most important exports are coffee and oil. Because Angola is so dry, very few people live there and the population density is really low.

I believe that people live where they h...

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Inactive member [2000-08-28]   Sothern Africa
Mimers Brunn [Online]. http://mimersbrunn.se/article?id=149 [2018-09-26]

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