Africa is the world's second largest continent, larger than Europe, China, and the United States combined. Its geography is immensely varied, but certain features have had a major impact on its development. Its size and location have contributed to its range of climates, vegetation, and terrains as well as the diverse cultures that developed within Africa.
The Nubian capital of Meroë was once a center of trade. Today, its ruins bake in the hot sun.
As shown on the map, Africa's vegetation regions create wide bands that stretch across the continent. Along the equator is a band of tropical rain forest. Moving north and south from this band are the continent's largest and most populated regions, the savannas, or grassy plains. Beyond the savannas lies the Sahara, the largest desert in the world. Although the Sahara did become a highway for migration and trade, its size and harsh terrain limited movement. The Kalahari and Namib deserts in the south are smaller but equally forbidding.
Although the Sahara did become a highway for migration and trade, its size and harsh terrain limited movement. The Kalahari and Namib deserts in the south are smaller but equally forbidding.
Along the Mediterranean coast of North Africa and the tip of southern Africa lie areas of fertile farmland. The fertile Nile Valley, for example, offered a favorable environment to early farmers.
In addition to deserts and rain forests, other geographic features have acted as barriers to easy movement of people and goods.