East Africa

One of the world’s oldest civilizations, Egypt, occupies the northeastern corner of East Africa, while Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda sit farther south. Along the Horn of Africa, a piece of land that juts out into the Indian Ocean is consisting of four of the world’s poorest countries – Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti. In recent years, Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia have been devastated by drought and war. Most east Africans scrape a living from farming and some rely on food aid from abroad.

Physical Features:

Running though eastern Africa is the Great Rift Valley, a huge gash in the Earth that continues north through the Red Sea. Other features include the Nile, the world’s longest river and Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake. The Varied landscape includes deserts, grassland, mountains and swamps.

River Nile:

At 6,695 km (4,160 miles) long, the Nile supports the thousands of people who live on its fertile banks. The river flows north from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea. The Blue Nile Falls is on an important branch of the Nile in Ethiopia.


The southern countries of Eas Africa contain large areas of savannah or grassland scattered with acacia and baobab trees. This region is home to much of Afric’s including antelopes, giaffes and zebras and their predators such as lions and hyebnas.


Africa’s highest peak at 5,895 m (19,341ft), the snow-capped Mount Kibo is one of the Kilimanjaro groups of three volcanoes. The group dominates Arusha National Park in Tanzania, on the border with Kenya, Steam and fumes smoking from Kibo’s crater indicate that the volcano is not yet extinct, adding to the attraction for mountaineers.

Regional Climate:

East Africa’s climate is affected by desert, Djibouti and parts of Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia are plgued by droughts. South Sudan and western Ethiopia receive seasongal rainfall, while parts of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda are hot and dry. Their highlands are wet.

Nomadic Herding:

Many of the original peoples of eastern Africa, particularly the Dinka of Sudan, are nomads who move from place to place with their herds of cattle in search of water and grazing land. However, competition for lands is forcing many nomads to seek alternative lifestlyles. Some men now take occasional work in cities or on construction sites.


Today, as throughout its 5,000 year history, Egypt depends on the river Nile for much of its water, food transport and energy generated at the massive Aswan dam. Egypt controls the Suez Canal, an important shipping route that links Africa, Europe and Asia and brings money into the country. About 99per cent of Egypt’s people live along the lush, fertile banks of the river and most are farmers, although the oil industry and tourist trade provide a growing number of jobs.


Several ethnic groups live in Egypt. Most people speak Arabic, but there are Berber and Nubian minorities. Until recently urban women were among the most liberated in the Arab world but that may change with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. In rural families, men go out to work while women cook and fetch water.


Millions of people flock to Egypt every year to see the pyramids and other remains of the country’s ancient past, such as the tombs in the valleys of the kings and queens and the temples at Karnak and Luxor. The old pyramid is the step pyramid at Saqqara, which was built about 2650 BC as tomb for King Zoser.


Egypt is one of the world’s leading producers of dates which are mostly grown in oases, along with melons. While some farmers use modern methods, many fellshin or peasant farmers use centuries-old teachniques such as this one where the donkey drives a wheel that scoops up water for irrigation.


Reputed to be as old as the pyramids, the traditional Egyptian dish of ful medames is made by boiling broad beans with garlic, onion, olive oil and spieces. The beans are served with hard-boiled eggs, lemon and unleavened bread. Food is often accompanied by sweet tea and coffee.

Suez Canal:

More than 20,000 cargo ships sail through the Suez Canal each year. The canal, built by French engineers in 1869, is 190 km (118 miles) long and provides a short cut for ships between the fulf of Suez and the Mediteranean Sea.


Although only five per cent of Egypt’s land can be farmed, the country is a leading producer of cotton. Quality cloths are exported or made into cool garments like jelebas or tunics often worn by locals.

Egypt Facts:

Capital City: Cairo
Area: 1, 001, 450 sq km (386, 660 sq miles)
Population: 69, 100, 000
Density: 69 people per sq km (154 per sq miles)
Main Language: Arabic
Major Religion: Islam
Currency: Egyptian Pound
Life Expectancy: 67 years
People per Doctor: 625
Government: Multi-party democracy
Adult Literacy: 55%


Egypt’s ancient capital is the largest city in Africa with a population of more than 7,000 ,000 it has at least 1,000 mosques, some built with stone looted from the pyramids. Old Cairo’s narrow streets heave with bustling bazaars, while the wealthy west bank has modern casios and hotels.


Sudan is the largest country in Africa, measuring 2,050 km (1,274 miles) long from north to south. Desert in the north gives way to central, grassy plan. Marshland covers much of the south. Two brances of the Nile (the White Nile and the Blue Nile) meet at the capital, Khartounm, providing fertile soil for farming. The country has good oil and mineral resources, but war and drought have weakened it.


There are more than 500 Sudanese ethnic groups speaking about 100 languages and dilects. Some are nomadic herders. And many of them have now settled on farms. Most own their own plots and live in villages of mud huts along the Nile where farming is combined with fishing. The produce is sold at markets. Civil war and famine in the south of Sudan have created refugees.

Religious Conflict:

The ruling people of the north are Arab musims and the tall minarets, of their beautiful mosques dominate the landscape. Farther south the majority are divided into many ethnic groups and follow Christianity or traditional African religions. The religious, cultural and language differences between north and south have caused bitter fighting.

Sudan Facts:

Capital City: Khartoum
Area: 2, 505, 810 sq km (967, 493 sq miles)
Population: 31, 800, 000
Main Language: Arabic
Major Religion: Islam, Christianity, Traditional Religions
Currency: Sudanese Pound or Dinar

Eritrea: :

A small, hot country on the horn of Africa, Eritrea won independence from Ethiopian troops which left a legacy of destruction and further war. Vast, but as yet unexploited copper resources around the rugged mountains have potential for development. Eritrea’s strategic Red Sea coastal position gives it access to the sea’s oil fields, fishing grounds and useful trade routes.

Subsistence Farming: :

More than 80 per cent of Eritreans live by subsistence farming, many of them as nomadic herders. Farmers depend on September rains to create Season River that water the harvest, but recurring droughts have meant that Eritrea has been forced to reply on food aid from overseas.

People: :

The long war of independence developed a strong sense of nationalism among the people, although they belong to several ethnic groups speaking different languages. Women, 30,000 of whom fought in the war, many at leadership level, have been pressing the government for equal rights in the country’s new political constitution.

Eritrea Facts: :

Capital City: Asmara
Area: 121, 320 sq km (46, 842 sq miles)
Population: 3, 800, 000
Major Languages: Tigrinya, Arabic
Major Religions: Christianity, Islam
Currency: NAFTA

Ethiopia: :

The Great Rift Valley, a high plateau and an arid desert dominate Ethiopia. The country has suffered famine, drought and civil war, but farming reforms and good seasonal rains have enabled Ethiopians to depend less on aid from abroad. Four fifths of the population makes their living though farming. Unique traditional like storytelling, music and dance are an important part of everyday life.

Food: :

Spicy foods are standard in Ethiopia. A hot sauce, known as wat, served with beef or chicken and mopped up with bread. Usually, a soft, flat bread called enjera is eaten which is made from teff, a field crop grown mainly in Ethiopia. A wide range of fish is available to those with money. Ethiopian raffa, coffee floured with rye, is known as Health of Adam.

Orthodox Church: :

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the chief Christian faith in the country. The pilgrimage centre of Lalibela, in Ethiopia’s central highlands, is known for its Christian churches, which date from the 10th century. Timkat, a yearly festival is celebrated by many Ethiopian Christians.

Ethiopia Facts: :

Capital City: Addis Ababa
Area: 1,127,127 sq km (435, 184 sq miles)
Population: 64, 500, 000
Major Languages: Amharic
Major Religions: Christianity, Islam, National Believes
Currency: Ethiopian Birr

Somalia: :

An arid, flat country bordering the Indian Ocean, Somalia has some of the longest beaches in the world. The country gained independence in 1960s. The south has been in the grip of civil war waged by wealthy rival warlords and has had no effective government. Most people are poor and live in coastal towns in the north and in the south near rivers.

Mogadishu: :

Conveniently situated on Somalia’s coastline, Mogadishu has long been an important port. An Arab founded the capital more than 1,000 years ago and sold it to the Italians in 1905. In 1960, it was returned to Somalia. The city’s buildings are a mixture of older Arab architecture and 20th century Italian design, but many have been damaged by war.

Civil War: :

Traditionally, the Somalia was organized in clans of loyal family groups that were controlled by elder members. The government destroyed the clan system in the 1980s, provoking bitter wars. Many people are now dependent on overseas aid.

Somalia Facts: :

Capital City: Mogadishu
Area: 637,657 sq km (246,199 sq miles)
Population: 9,200, 000
Major Languages: Somali, Arabic
Major Religions: Islam
Currency: Somalia Shilling

Djibouti: :

A desert country on the Gulf of Aden, Djibouti serves as port for Ethiopia. The two ethnic groups, the Afar and Issas, have tradition of nomadic herding, but now half of them live in settled homes in the capital. Djibouti.

Shipping and Fishing: :

The 19th – century city of Djibouti is one of the key Red Sea ports in the area and generates much of the country’s income. The fishing industry thrives on its rich waters.

Djibouti Facts: :

Capital City: Djibouti
Area: 22,000 sq km (8,496 sq miles)
Population: 644, 000
Major Languages: Arabic, French
Major Religions: Islam, Christianity
Currency: Djibouti Franc

Kenya: :

Lying on the Equator, Kenya has a varied landscape. The arid north is hot, but there is a rich farming region along the coast and the southwestern highlands are worm and were. The country has a stable, prosperous economy based on agriculture. More than 90per cent of the Kenyan people are under the age of 45 and belong to about 70 ethnic groups. Kenya is noted for its wildlife and its spectacular national parks.

Nairobi: :

Founded by British colonists as a railway town in 1899, Nairobi is Kenya’s capital and a centre of business and communications. Homing 2,564,500 people, the city high – rise buildings contrast with the surrounding plains where elephants and lions roam.

Tourism: :

National parks are the main attractions for the thousands of tourists who visit Kenya every year. Ten per cent of all Kenya is designated parkland and there are more than 40 major national reserves. Amboseli where many African animals (including lions, antelopes and leopards) live enjoys a spectacular view of Kilimanjaro.

Crops: :

About 85 per cent of the population works in the land. Kenya is the world’s fourth largest producer of tea, which together with coffee, is grown on plantations. Kenya leads the world in the export of pyrethrum, a pink flower that is dried to make insecticides.

Kenya Facts: :

Capital City: Nairobi
Area: 582,650 sq km (224,961 sq miles)
Population: 31, 300, 000
Major Languages: Kiswahili, English
Major Religions: Islam, Christianity, National Believes
Currency: Kenya Shilling

Uganda: :

Independence from Britain in 1962 led to ethnic conflict and poverty in Uganda. But since 1986, when peace was restored, the economy has been recovering slowly. Agriculture is still the main activity. Coffee, cotton and sugar-cane are the main exports. Uganda also has good mineral deposits, including copper, gold and cobalt. Most Ugandans live in rural villages.

Farming: :

About 80 per cent of the work – force farm 43 per cent of the land. Most people own small farms, producing enough cassava, maize, miller and sweet potatoes for themselves and to trade at market.

Kampala: :

Uganda’s Capital, Kampala, stands on hills overlooking Lake Victoria. The ancient palace of the former Uganda kings stands alongside the modern Makerere University. The 953,400 people of Kampala experience violent thunderstorms on an average of 242 days a year and rain nearly every day.

Lake Victoria: :

The world‘s second largest freshwater lake, Victoria lies between Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Giant perch Fish have eaten nearly all the lake’s natural fish species. A hydroelectricity project at the lake’s Owens falls aims to cut Uganda’s oil imports in half.

Kenya Facts: :

Capital City: Kampala
Area: 236,040 sq km (91,135 sq miles)
Population: 24,000, 000
Major Languages: Kiswahili, English
Major Religions: Islam, Christianity, National Believes
Currency: New Uganda Shilling

Tanzania: :

The islands of Zanzibar united with mainland Tanganyika in 1964 creating Tanzania. More than half the country is covered by forests and it has a long Indian Ocean coastline. Dar es Salaam, the largest city and chief port, was until recently the capital. Farming is the main activity, but oil, diamonds and gas have been discovered.

Cotton: :

Tea, tobacco and cotton account for two thirds of Tanzania’s exports, most cotton is produced on government – operated farms in the north and south highlands and around Lake Victoria. Workers carry the cotton to the factory to be spun and woven into cloth.

People: :

The 120 ethnic groups of Tanzania live together in harmony, as no single group is dominant. More than two thirds of the people live in small, scattered villages, but the state Ujamaa policy has tried to resettle them into larger communities to provide more facilities.

Zanzibar: :

The island of Zanzibar and its small companion island of Pemba lie off the east coast of Tanzania. Zanzibar is one of the world’s leading producers of cloves and sisal, a plant grown for making rope and bags for export.

Kenya Facts: :

Capital City: Dodoma
Area: 945,087 sq km (364,898 sq miles)
Population: 36,000, 000
Major Languages: Kiswahili, English
Major Religions: Islam, Christianity, National Believes
Currency: Tanzania Shilling

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