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Africa A to Z: Continental and Country Profiles

Third Edition

Pieter Esterhuysen

Publication Year: 2013

The popularity of the first two editions of this book necessitated a third revised and updated version to record the many challenges in Africa since the first edition appeared in 1998. Africa is a vast and fascinating continent whose population has exceeded the one billion mark. Africa A-Z attempts to provide, in a concise manner, the facts for an elementary understanding of the continent and its complex problems. The book falls into two main sections; the five chapters on the first main section focus on the continent as a whole, dealing with its physical and human diversity, its eventful history and Africansí struggle for economic survival. The second main section contains profiles of 58 independent countries, ranging from Algeria to Zimbabwe. Presentation of the profiles is uniform, in that the same themes are covered in each profile. The data panels with the profiles contain data not provided in the text. The maps, appearing throughout the text were produced by AISAís cartography department.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents, Map

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pp. iii-iv

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Continental and Country

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pp. v-vi

The popularity of the first two editions of this book, necessitated a third, revised and updated version to record the many changes in Africa since the second edition appeared in 2008.
Africa is a vast and fascinating continent whose population exeeds one billion. Africa also has more politically independent states than any other continent...

Part 1: Continental Profile


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pp. 2

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1. Geography and Population

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pp. 3-22

Extending over an area of more than 30 million km2, Africa is the world’s second largest continent.
The equator bisects the continent, the two halves stretching almost equally far north and south to more or less the latitudes 37° N and 35° S. Longitudinally, it lies astride the 20° E meridian, the bulge of West Africa reaching about 15° W and, to the east, the Horn of Africa (Somalia) stretching to about 52° E...

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2. Peoples and Origins

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pp. 23-44

Recording Africa’s history has occupied the attention of historians since the rise of the early civilisations around the Mediterranean Sea. Until the enormous expansion of source materials brought about by the information explosion of the 20th century, historians relied on the written accounts of travellers, traders, scribes, administrators and students of indigenous African societies, such as the preachers of the Christian and Islamic faiths...

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3. Colonial to Present Times

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pp. 45-62

It was during the period of colonial rule that modern Africa took on many of its most familiar characteristics.
The imposition of alien overlordship, the colonial experience and the African reaction to these were by no means uniform, but throughout Africa the impact of these events was revolutionary, whether measured in political, economic or social terms...

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4. Developing Economies

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pp. 63-78

Notwithstanding their great diversity, the economies of Africa have many features in common.
African economies are comparatively small and heavily dependent on the production of a few agricultural or mineral products that are exported to the industrial countries of the northern hemisphere, mostly in unprocessed form and subject to the vagaries of international demand...

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5. Regional Economic Groupings

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pp. 79-90

The size of most African economies – per capita income – is commonly seen as a major obstacle to their development. Since the early 1960s, therefore, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) has encouraged member states to combine their economies into sub-regional markets that would ultimately form one Africa-wide economic union...

Part 2: Country Profiles A-Z


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pp. 92

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pp. 94-97

Algeria, with land measuring 2 381 741 km2 and a population of 37,367,226 as of July 2012, is currently the largest country in Africa after Sudan split into Northern Sudan and Southern Sudan in 2011. As about 85% of the country consists of Sahara desert, almost the entire population is concentrated in the well-watered coastal zone between the Atlas mountain range and the Mediterranean Sea. Only 3% of the country is suitable for crop cultivation...

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pp. 98-102

Angola fronts on the Atlantic Ocean and is the largest country in the southern African region. It had an estimated population of about 13 million in 2010, the bulk of whom are concentrated in the western third of the country that includes the Angolan highlands running parallel with the coast. About one quarter of the total population lives in Luanda, the largest seaport and urban area. The city is also the national capital. The small Angolan province of Cabinda is separated from the rest of the country by the Congo River estuary...

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pp. 103-106

Benin is a narrow sliver of land in West Africa sharing common borders with Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and Togo. The country extends from its narrow coastline on the Gulf of Guinea as far as the Niger River, a distance of about 650 km...

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pp. 107-111

Botswana is a large, landlocked country, located in the heart of the Southern African region. Its borders (with Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe) stretch over vast distances. As much of Botwana lies in the dry Kalahari (Kgalagadi) Basin, the climate is semi-arid. River courses are dry most of the time, except in the northwest where the perennial Okavango and Linyanti-Chobe...

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Burkina Faso

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pp. 112-115

Formerly known as Upper Volta, the country lies in the heart of Western Africa, to the south of the middle section of the great Niger River. The country lies across the upper reaches of the Volta River system and is the smallest of three landlocked countries in this part of Africa...

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pp. 116-119

Bordering on the northeastern end of Lake Tanganyika, Burundi is one of Africa’s smaller countries. It is enclosed on all sides by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and by Tanzania, except in the north where it borders on Rwanda, which is largely similar to Burundi in size and complexion...

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pp. 120-124

Triangular-shaped Cameroon is wedged between Western and Central Africa. The country forms a bridge between moist and arid Africa, between Christians and Muslims, between English and French-speakers and between Bantu-speaking and other African linguistic groups. There are great physical differences between Cameroon’s north, south, east and west...

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Cape Verde

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pp. 125-128

Lying about 500 km west of Dakar (in Senegal), the Atlantic Ocean state of Cape Verde comprises several islands, of which nine are inhabited, and a number of islets. Six of the islands lie to the north, in a group called the Windward Islands...

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Central African Republic (CAR)

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pp. 129-134

This large landlocked country lies almost exactly in the middle of the African continent. It is one of the remotest places in Africa, being far from the sea and regular transport routes. Much of the Central African Republic (CAR) is gently undulating plateau, forming a watershed between rivers fl owing southward into the great Congo Basin or northward to Lake Chad...

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Ceuta and Melilla

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pp. 135-136

Ceuta and Melilla are tiny Spanish exclaves situated on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast; they are sometimes collectively referred to as Spanish North Africa, the sole foreign-ruled territory in the African continent (see map of Morocco, p244)...

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pp. 137-141

Chad occupies a central and strategic position north of the equator. Its capital, N’Djamena, located some 1 500 km from the nearest seaport, is among the most remote of African cities. From its southern savanna zone Chad stretches over a distance of nearly 2 000 km to its northern border (with Libya)...

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pp. 142-146

The Comoros archipelago consists of four main islands spread across the northern end of the Mozambique Channel between Africa and Madagascar. Three of the islands, Grand Comoro (Ngazidja), Anjouan (Nzwani) and Moheli (Mwali) constitute the Union of Comoros, an independent federal republic with a total area of 1 862 km2 and a combined population of about 600 000...

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Congo, Republic (Brazzaville)

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pp. 147-151

Congo Brazzaville lies in the Congo basin, on the western side of the lower stretch of the great Congo River. On the river’s eastern side lies the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The equator cuts through the northern part of Congo Brazzaville which is covered by dense evergreen rainforest, while the southern half is made up of low bush-covered plateaus, separated from the Atlantic coast by the Mayombe escarpment...

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Côte d’Ivoire

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pp. 152-158

Offi cially known as Côte d’Ivoire in all languages, this square-shaped country is one of a dozen Western African countries fronting on the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf of Guinea. It is a low-lying area (on average less than 500 m above sea level) with a wet and humid equatorial climate over the southern half; ...

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Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC)

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pp. 159-163

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the third largest country in Africa (2 344 885 km2) after Sudan and Algeria, and is almost twice the size of South Africa. It borders on nine countries. The DRC lies in the Congo River Basin, which includes Congo Brazzaville, southern Cameroon and the southeastern parts of the Central African Republic...

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pp. 164-167

In area, Djibouti is one of Africa’s smallest mainland countries, larger only than Swaziland and The Gambia. The country is adjacent to the Horn of Africa on the African side of the Gulf of Aden, at the southern end of the Red Sea. From the Gulf of Aden another stretch of sea, the Gulf of Tadjoura, juts deep into Djibouti...

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pp. 168-174

Egypt is strategically located at the junction of Africa and Asia, fronting on both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea; the 165 km Suez Canal to the northeast links the two seas. The Suez Canal and the Gulf of Suez, extending from the Red Sea, separates the arid Sinai Peninsula from the rest of Egypt, which is dominated by the trough-like...

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Equatorial Guinea

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pp. 175-179

Equatorial Guinea consists of a chunk of African mainland, wedged between Cameroon and Gabon, and several islands of which Bioko Island in the Gulf of Guinea is the largest. The square-shaped mainland area has a 300 km coastline and extends about 200 km inland, with a surface area of some...

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pp. 180-184

Eritrea is one of Africa and the world’s newest states, having seceded from Ethiopia in 1993. A prominent natural feature of Eritrea is the high escarpment overlooking the Red Sea to the east. The country’s major towns, including the national capital, Asmara, are located in the highlands on the western side of the escarpment...

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pp. 185-192

This large country, extending over more than one million km2, forms the heartland of the Horn of Africa region. With much of its territory lying above 2 000 m, Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most mountainous regions; the national capital of Addis Ababa is situated more or less in the middle of the country, about 2 450 m above sea level...

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pp. 193-197

Gabon is a medium-sized, sparsely populated country located on the Atlantic side of the vast Congo River basin. The equator runs just south of the great Gabon Estuary, near the country’s northern border with Equatorial Guinea...

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The Gambia

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pp. 198-202

The Gambia is enclosed by Senegal in Western Africa and is the smallest state on the African continent. The country is a sliver of land along the lower reaches of the river with the same name. The River Gambia is one of Africa’s finest waterways, owing to its great depth and navigability by ocean-going vessels...

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pp. 203-209

Ghana is a medium-sized country, located between Togo and Côte d’Ivoire in Western Africa. Ghana has a seafront on the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean). The coastline is rather straight, lacking natural harbours. There are two artificial harbours (built along breakwaters jutting into the sea): the largest is Tema, near Accra, the national capital; ...

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pp. 210-215

Fronting on the Atlantic Ocean, this kidney-shaped country borders on six other Western African countries. The coastline is marked by numerous estuaries and mangrove swamps. The largest city and national capital, Conakry, is situated on the rocky Kaloum peninsula, jutting out to a small group of islets, the Los Islands...

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pp. 216-220

To distinguish it from Guinea, its southern neighbour, the name Bissau was added to the name of Guinea-Bissau at independence. Bissau is the country’s only city, main seaport and the national capital. Guinea-Bissau is one of Africa’s smaller countries and lies wedged between Senegal and Guinea on Western Africa’s Atlantic coast...

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pp. 221-225

Kenya has a population of over 30 million and is almost equal in size to Botswana or Madagascar. The northern parts of the country border on Ethiopia and the remainder forms part of the Great Rift Valley, with escarpments and highlands on both sides of the valley...

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pp. 226-230

The Kingdom of Lesotho is one of the smallest African countries with rugged mountains, heavy rainfall, winter snow and a bracing climate. Entirely surrounded by South Africa, it borders on the Free State Province to the north, west and southwest; ...

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pp. 231-236

Liberia lies on Western Africa’s Atlantic coast, between Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Its coastline of some 600 km is fairly straight with shallow mangrove-fringed lagoons and no natural harbours. From the broad coastal plain the land rises to a plateau with low hills and mountain ranges...

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pp. 237-243

Libya is one of five northern African countries fronting on the Mediterranean sea. It is the second largest (after Algeria) of the five countries, constituting Northern Africa. Libya’s vast area of nearly two million km2 is mostly Sahara desert, dotted by numerous oases...

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pp. 244-250

Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island, after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo – nearly twice the size of the British Isles. It lies across the Mozambique Channel, about 400 km from Africa’s southeast coast. The Tropic of Capricorn runs through the island’s southern portion. Madagascar measures about 1 570 km from north to south and about 570 km from east to west, through its broadest part...

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pp. 251-255

Landlocked Malawi is a long and narrow stretch of land located on the western and southern side of Lake Malawi. Malawi shares borders with Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique. Compared with its neighbours, Malawi is a small country. A large part (24 400 km2) is covered by water (Lake Malawi and smaller lakes such as Malombe, Chiula and Chilwa)...

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pp. 256-262

Mali forms a link in a chain of enormous countries, extending across the Sahara Desert, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. In landlocked Mali most places are remote from the nearest foreign seaport. The country is shaped like butterfly wings with one wing larger than the other; this northern ‘wing’ consists almost entirely of Sahara sands...

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pp. 263-269

Mauritania is a very large, sparsely populated country on the western bulge of Africa where it fronts on the Atlantic Ocean. It forms a geographical and cultural bridge between Northern and Western Africa. Much of the country is real desert but the southern portion falls within the semi-arid Sahel zone that extends across the continent. The land rises from fl at coastal plains in the west to low plateau in the rest of the country that reaches heights of more than 500 m above sea level only in a few places...

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pp. 270-274

Mauritius is a small island in the Indian Ocean, with a total area of 1 860 km2 (about 58 km by 47 km) and an estimated population of 1.2 million. Mauritius lies 800 km east of Madagascar and 2 400 km from Durban in South Africa...

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pp. 275-277

The island of Mayotte (or Maore) is geographically part of the Comoros Archipelago but is French territory remaining politically separate from the independent island state comprising Mayotte’s three sister islands (see Comoros Profile)...

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pp. 278-285

Morocco is one of only three monarchies remaining in Africa, the others being Lesotho and Swaziland in Southern Africa.
The Kingdom of Morocco is located in the northwestern corner of Africa, in the part of Africa nearest to Europe, and which is also the westernmost outpost of the Arab-Muslim world...

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pp. 286-290

Mozambique is a long strip of land, stretching from the south (bordering South Africa) far to the north (bordering Tanzania). The country’s coastline extends over nearly 2 500 km. Most of the country is made up of coastal plains and low-lying lands with a total area of 799 380 km2...

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pp. 291-297

Namibia’s large territory lies to the south of Angola on the west coast of the Southern African subcontinent; other neighbours are Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. The country’s 1 500 km coastline stretches from the Orange (Gariep) River, in the south, to the Kunene River in the north, all of it consisting of the Namib Desert whose desolate northern section is known as the Skeleton Coast...

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pp. 298-303

Enormous Niger lies in the middle of five similarly large countries extending across the Sahara Desert and its Sahel borderlands (the others being Mauritania, Mali, Chad and Sudan). Niger is the largest country in Western Africa, stretching from the Niger River, running through its southwestern corner, to the Djado Plateau on Niger’s northern borders with Algeria and Libya...

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pp. 304-312

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and the continent’s leading oil producer. Physically, it is the largest of the Western African countries fronting on the Gulf of Guinea. Nigeria’s most prominent natural feature is the Y-shaped river system formed by the Niger River and its main tributary, the Benue...

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pp. 313-315

Réunion is not an independent state; the island is an integral part of France with the status of a French Overseas Department. It is the largest island in the Mascarene group of islands, located in the Indian Ocean, about 650 km east of Madagascar...

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pp. 316-321

One of Africa’s smaller countries, Rwanda borders on Lake Kivu, between Uganda and Burundi. Rwanda is slightly smaller than Burundi, its southern neighbour, and it shares many other similarities with Burundi, so that the two of them are often spoken of as twin countries...

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São Tomé and Príncipe

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pp. 322-326

São Tomé and Príncipe is an island state, comprising a larger main island, another smaller island and a number of rocky islets, about 300 km off the coast of Gabon. São Tomé, located on the equator, is the larger island whose central peak rises to over 2 000 m above sea-level...

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pp. 327-333

Senegal is the western-most country in Africa. Its capital, Dakar, lies on the Cape Verde Peninsula, the continent’s most westerly point. The entire country is low, fl at plateau, except in the southeast where the land rises to Guinea’s Futa Jallon Highlands...

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pp. 334-338

The Seychelles island state comprises some 115 islands and islets, lying scattered over a marine area of some 1.3 million km2 in the Indian Ocean, just south of the equator (between 0 °S and 10 °S) and about 1 600 km east of the African ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam...

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Sierra Leone

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pp. 339-344

Sierra Leone takes its name from the mountainous peninsula jutting into the sea next to an enormous river estuary. It is a conspicious landmark on the rather monotonous West African coastline. The capital, Freetown, lies on this peninsula, overlooking the estuary of what is called the Sierra Leone River...

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pp. 345-351

Extending over 3 000 km, Somalia’s barren coastline is longer than that of any other African country. On the map the coastline resembles a rhino horn, hence the designation Horn of Africa for this part of the continent. The Ras Hafun Peninsula, just south of Cape Guardafui (Ras Asir) at the Horn’s tip, is Africa’s most easterly point...

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South Africa

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pp. 352-359

The Republic of South Africa occupies the larger part of Africa south of the Tropic of Capricorn which traverses South Africa’s Limpopo Province. Independent Lesotho is enclosed by South African territory and independent Swaziland nearly so...

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South Sudan

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pp. 360-363

South Sudan, a landlocked country of about 644 000 sq km, lies in the northeastern part of Africa. It is bordered by the Central African Republic to the west, by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south-west, by Uganda and Kenya to the south, by Ethiopia to the west and by the Republic of Sudan to the north...

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pp. 364-372

Until July 2011, Sudan was the largest country in Africa. The secession of South Sudan left the North a much smaller territory. Now with a significantly reduced population and diminished resources, Sudan is the third largest country in Africa...

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pp. 373-377

Swaziland is the second smallest country in the African continent (only The Gambia is smaller). It is landlocked, being enclosed by South Africa (on the north, west and south) and by Mozambique (on the east). Swaziland lies between South Africa’s Drakensberg range and the Lebombo Mountains that demarcate the Mozambique border...

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pp. 378-382

Tanzania covers about 945 000 km2, with a population estimated at 35 million including about 900 000 people in Zanzibar. Its surface area includes the southern half of Lake Victoria, eastern half of Lake Tanganyika and the other smaller lakes in the country. Tanzania borders on Lake Malawi in the far south...

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pp. 383-389

Togo is a small elongated country on the West African coast. It covers about 57 000 km2, extending 540 km inland from a 56 km coastline on the Gulf of Guinea. It lies, on average, 500 m above sea level, except in the mountain ranges of the southwest (Togo Mountains) and northeast (Atakora Mountains) where the mountains reach heights of over 900 m...

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pp. 390-395

Located on the western side of the great Gulf of Sirte in the Mediterranean Sea, Tunisia is the smallest independent country in Northern Africa. However, its proportion of arable land is among the largest in Africa. The northern fifth of the country is an extension of the Algerian Tell zone that enjoys a temperate Mediterranean cimate with winter rainfall...

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pp. 396-400

Uganda is a landlocked country located in East Africa bordering Sudan on the north, Kenya on the east and Tanzania and Rwanda on the south. The Democratic Republic of Congo lies to the west. Uganda is much smaller than its neighbours; with a population of about 23 million and a surface area of 241 000 km2, which includes some 44 000 km2 of inland water, including much of Lake Victoria...

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Western Sahara

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pp. 401-404

Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara) is a disputed territory that has been administered by the Kingdom of Morocco since 1976. It fronts on Africa’s north Atlantic coast, where the Sahara Desert meets the ocean. The territory’s coastline extends over 1 100 km between Morocco and Mauritania. In the northeast, Western Sahara has a short common border with Algeria...

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pp. 405-409

Zambia is a landlocked state in southern Africa with a total area of 752 614 km2 and an estimated population of 9.7 million. About half the population is urbanised with the majority of the urban population living in the capital Lusaka and in the Copperbelt towns on the northern border...

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pp. 410-414

Zimbabwe lies on the central Southern African plateau and is landlocked. About 8% of the land area is used for crop cultivation. Towards the northeast is Harare, the largest urban centre (pop over 2 million) and national capital. Bulawayo (pop about 1 million) some 440 km southwest from Harare, is the second largest city...

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pp. 415-422

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780798304498
Print-ISBN-13: 9780798303446

Page Count: 428
Publication Year: 2013