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Map of AfricaMap of Africa Africa is the second largest continent after Asia. The hot, barren Sahara Desert stretches across the north, with coastal areas that are cooler and wetter in winter. Farther south, the desert gives way to dry, flat grassland called the Sahel. The equatorial regions (lying close to the Equator) of central and west Africa have hot and wet climates and are dominated by tropical rainforest. To the east and south are wide areas of grassland and scattered trees known as savanna. Mountains rise in East Africa on either side of the Great Rift Valley. Much of southern Africa forms a plateau, bordered by mountains in the southeast and desert in the southwest. Thousands of different peoples live in Africa, many often sharing the same countries. Islam is the religion of the north, while traditional beliefs and Christianity are followed in the rest of Africa.

A market in Kampala, UgandaA market in Kampala, Uganda

Developing nations

Africa exports its natural resources of metals, minerals and oil, as well as crops such as coffee and cocoa. Some African countries—such as Ghana and Botswana, for example—are developing fast and will soon become prosperous nations. Others are far less developed compared to the rest of the world. In these countries there are few manufacturing industries. Most people still live in the countryside, and rely on producing only enough crops, or raising enough cattle, to support their families.

Even though Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, is almost on the Equator, it is so high that glaciers form on its summit. If, however, global warming continues at its current rate, Kilimanjaro will be ice-free within the next 20 years.

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