Southern Central Africa

Southern Central Africa is made up of seven countries that form part of the African mainland and the islands of Madagascar and Comoros in the Indian Ocean. Farming is still an important source of income in these countries, but major deposits of minerals such as diamonds, copper, uranium and iron have led many people to move to the towns and cities in search of work. A Variety of tribal groups each with its own language, customs and beliefs, lives in the southern central region.

Physical Features:

Although lowlands fridge the coast, most of the region lies 400- 1,500m (1,200 – 4,500 ft) above sea – level. The landscape includes the Namib and Kalahari deserts in the west and centre, dry savannah and wood land, and humid, subtropical forests in the north.

Regional Climate:

Most of the region lies in the tropics where the climate is always hot, but there are two seasons: wet and dry. Rain is heavy in the wet season. Most of Botswana and Namibia has semi – arid climate and much of Namibia is desert. Eastern Madagascar has a tropical wet climate.

Namib Desert:

The Namib Desert extends 1,900 km (1,100 miles) in a narrow strip from southwestern Angola along the skeleton coast of Namibia and down to the border of South Africa. Although it rarely rains the climate on the coast is humid with cold and morning fogs. Sand dunes reach down to the edge of the Atlantic and the only practical means of transport is the camel.


Much of the region is covered by grassland or savannah. The most common trees in these areas are thorn trees especially acacias. They are suited to the dry conditions and grow on the edges of the Kalahari and other semi desert regions.

Women’s Role:

The traditional role of African women was to look after the home and bring up the children. Many were also expected to cultivate the crops and some built their own house. Today many women is Southern Central Africa have additional responsibilities. Because, their husbands are away working in mines and cities. Despite the domestic power of women, few have official jobs or own property.


In 1975 after a long war, Angola became independent of Portuguese colonial rule. With fertile land and huge reserves of diamonds, oil and natural gas, the country should have become prosperous. However, Angola was torn apart and economic development was restricted by the fighting that continued after independence. Civil war erupted between rival ethnic groups and continues today.

Oil and Diamonds:

Most of Angola’s oil is produced in Cabinda a tiny Angolan enclave in Democratic Republic of Congo. Petroleum provides 90 per cent of Angola’s exports. Angola also ranks highly in world output of diamonds, its second largest export.


Founded by the Portuguese in 1575, Angola’s capital and largest city is home to more than 2,500 people. Once used for shipping slaves to Brazil, it is still a major seaport. Modern Luanda is an industrial centre with its own oil refinery.

Angola Facts:

Capital City: Luanda
Area: 1,246,700 sq km (481,351 sq miles)
Population: 13,500,000
Main Language: Portuguese
Major Religions: Christianity, Traditional Believes
Currency: Readjusted Kwanza


An ex–German colony and ruled for 70 years by South Africa, Namibia won its independency in 1990. Rich mineral resources make mining the country leading industry. One in seven people lives on the land, mainly rearing livestock. Although drought and the expanding desert make farming difficult. Fishing is good off the Atlantic coast.


The Rossing Uranium mine in the Namib Desert is the world’s largest, producing 2,000 tones (2,200 tons) of uranium every year. Namibia is the world fifth largest producer of uranium and ranks among the top producers of diamonds


Namibia has a peaceful multiracial society. The white minority lives mostly in Windhoek in European style house. Black Namibians include many groups. The largest of which is the Northern Ovambo. To the west, the semi-nomadic Himba raise cattle.

Namibia Facts:

Capital City: Windhoek
Area: 825, 418 sq km (318,694 sq miles)
Population: 1,800,000
Main Language: Ovambo, English, Afrikaans, Kavango
Major Religions: Christianity, Traditional Believes
Currency: Namibian Dollar


Bordered to the south by the Zambezi River, Zambia is a country of upland plateaus, 80 per cent of which are grassland and forest. About 50 per cent of the people live by subsistence farming, constantly threatened by drought. Tobacco is the main exported crop. Hydroelectric power provides much of Zambia’s energy. Low copper prices in the 1980s upset finances.

Copper and Cobalt:

Zambia is the world’s sixth largest producer of copper. The seam of copper ore where the metal is mined, the Copperbelt, is 320 (200km) km long. The second largest producer of cobalt; Zambia also mines lead, silver and zinc.

Urban Living:

About half of Zambia’s people, a mix of more than 70 different ethnic groups, live in towns and cities. The most populated area is the Copperbelt where most of them work. The capital, Lusaka, thriving industrial and business centre, is home to 1,800,000 Zambians.

Zambia Facts:

Capital City: Lusaka
Area: 752,614 sq km (290,584 sq miles)
Population: 10,600,000
Main Language: English, Bemba, Tonga, Nyanja, Lozi, Lunda
Major Religions: Christianity, Traditional Believes
Currency: Zambian Kwacha


Southwest Botswana is covered by the Kalahari Desert. To the north is the marshy delta of the Okavango River, a haven for wildlife. Despite this wetland Botswana suffers droughts. Most people live in the more fertile east. Production of demands – the third largest in the world – has helped to stimulate Botswana’s economy.


The original inhabitants of Botswana are the nomadic San people, once known as Kalahari Bushmen, one of Africa’s only remaining groups of hunter – gathers. There are fewer than 50,000 San today. But small groups still roam the Kalahari Desert hunting small animals and eating edible plants and insects. Many San now work on cattle ranches.


The Tswanta people who make up the majority of Botswana’s population live mostly by subsistence farming, raising cattle and growing enough maize, sorghum and miller for their own use. Their staple diet consists of meat stews served with a kind of porridge made from cereals. Fresh Vegetables are rare.

Botswana Facts:

Capital City: Gaborne
Area: 600,370 sq km (231,803 sq miles)
Population: 1,600,000
Main Language: English, Tswana, Shona, Khoikhoi, Ndebele
Major Religions: Christianity, Traditional Believes Currency: Pula


In 1980, the former British colony of Rhodesia became independent and took the name Zimbabwe, after the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe. About 70 per cent of Zimbabweans live from farming. Coal, gold, asbestos and nickel are mined for export. Zimbabwe has recently suffered great disruption over the issues of government and land–distribution.


Zimbabwe’s main tourist attractions are the spectacular Victoria Falls, the Kariba Dam national parks and the ruins of the city of Great Zimbabwe. Tourists enjoy action holidays such as canoeing and rafting on the Zambezi.


Formerly called Salisbury, the capital is Zimbabwe’s commercial and industrial centre and home to almost two million people. It is a clean and sophisticated city that is characterized by flowering trees, colorful parks and modern buildings.

Zimbabwe Facts:

Capital City: Harare
Area: 390,580 sq km (150,803 sq miles)
Population: 12,900,000
Main Language: English, Shona, Ndebele
Major Religions: Christianity, Traditional Believes
Currency: Zimbabwe Dollar


The fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar is home to some unique wildlife because of its isolated position off Africa’s east coast. A high plateau runs the length of the island, dropping to a narrow, fertile strip in the east where most people live. The country’s economy is based on growing crops and raising livestock.


Madagascar is the world’s largest exporter of Vanilla. The pods of the plants are used to flavor ice–cream and chocolate. Other important cash crops are cloves, sisal, cocoa and butter beans.

Rural Society:

Most Madagascans are descended from Asians from Malaysia and Indonesia who began to settle on the island almost 2,000 years ago. Later Waves of mainland Africans intermixed to produce a uniquely multiracial society. Three – quarters of the Madagascan labor force works on the land growing subsistence crops such as cassava and rice.

Madagascar Facts:

Capital City: Antananarivo
Area: 587,040 sq km (226,656 sq miles)
Population: 16,400,000
Main Language: Malagasy, French
Major Religions: Islam, Christianity, Traditional Believes
Currency: Malagasy Franc


As a result of years of civil war, flooding and drought, Mozambique is now one of the world’s poorest countries with a high birth rate. The land, though largely unexploited, is fertile and rich in minerals. The ports and railways provide a trade link for land – locked Swaziland, Malawi and Zimbabwe.


One of Mozambique’s key industries is fishing and shrimps account for more than 40 per cent of export earnings. The country’s total annual fish catch averages 24,170 tones (24,643 tons). Other exports include cotton, tea and sugar.

Mozambique Facts:

Capital City: Maputo
Area: 801, 590 sq km (309,484 sq miles)
Population: 18,600,000
Main Language: Portuguese
Major Religions: Islam, Christianity, Traditional Believes
Currency: Metical


With few natural resources, Malawi has a rural society despite the constant threat of drought. Light industries, such as food processing textiles and manufacturing farm tools are developing. Fish from Lake Malawi which covers on quarter of the country is a source of food.


Almost 86 per cent of Malawi lab our force works in agriculture, growing cash crops, such as tea, tobacco, coffee, cotton, and sugar, as well as subsistence crops of maize, rice, cassava, and plantains. The country is self–sufficient in food.

Malawi Facts:

Capital City: Lilongwe
Area: 118,480 sq km (45,745 sq miles)
Population: 11,600,000
Main Language: English, Chewa
Major Religions: Islam, Christianity, Traditional Believes
Currency: Malawian Kwacha


The three islands and few islets of the Comoros archipelago lie north of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. They were governed by France until 1975. The economy is underdeveloped and most of the people live by subsistence farming.


Comoros is the world’s largest grower of Ylang-ylang which an aromatic tree with greenish yellow flowers that produce pleasantly scented oil used to make perfume.

Comoros Facts:

Capital City: Moroni
Area: 2,170 sq km (838 sq miles)
Population: 707,000
Main Language: Arabic, French, Comoron, other local languages
Major Religions: Islam
Currency: Comoros Franc

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