Africa – Land, Climate, Resources and their Utilization

Terms that you know

Strait: A narrow stretch of water connecting two large bodies of water or seas.

Isthmus: A neck of land separating two seas.

Waterfall: A sudden descent of water over a big step in the bed of the river

Wild life: Animals  and birds leading a free life in their natural surroundings.



The African continent is separated from Europe by the Mediterranean Seas and from Asia by the Red Sea.  However, it almost touches Eurasia at three different points: a) the Straits of Gibraltar in the north-west b) the Suez Canal in the north-east and c) the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb in the east.  By the beginning of the twentieth century several Europe countries had become so powerful that they had brought most parts of the world under their rule.  Almost the whole of Africa had come under the domination of one or the other European power.  After World War II, the struggle for independence started gaining ground in Africa.  Today, the whole of Africa is free from foreign domination.  As a result, the political map of Africa has changed rapidly in recent years.


The land

The map shows some of the major landforms of Africa.  Almost all of Africa appears to be one huge plateau though it consists of several plateau.  Though it consists of several plateaus.  The plateau is higher in the south and in the east.  A few volcanic mountain peaks rise above the plateau in the eastern part near the equator.  In fact, the Kilimanjaro with a height of 5,895 highest peak of Africa located in this metres above sea level.  It remains highland region.  It is Mount snow-covered throughout the year.

The lowland areas are in the western and the north parts and along the coast.

One of the special physical features of Africa is its Great Rift Valley.  A Rift Valley is a long and deep valley formed due to cracks or rifts in the land.  It is bounded by wall like steep slopes on both sides.  In Africa, there is a long chain of sun rift valleys running form the south of lake Malawi northward to the Red Sea  and then through eh Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqfuaba to the Dead Sea.  Hence it is known as the ‘Great Rift Valley’.

Many of these valleys are filled with water called lakes.  Therefore, there are several large lakes in the highland region of Africa.  Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa.  It is also the source of river ‘Nile’ which is the longest river in the world.  It rises in the rainy equatorial region and flows northward.  After a long journey through the Sahara desert it reaches the (Mediterranean sea).  Another important river is the Zaire in central Africa.  It is also known as Congo in the later part.  It drains a large area and discharges a huge amount of water into the Atlantic Ocean.  In fact it carries the greatest volume of water among all the rivers of Africa.  The Niger in the western part and the Zambezi and the Orange in the southern part are the other important rivers of Africa.


Victoria falls on river Zambezi

A splendid view of the Victoria falls on the river Zambezi.  It’s original name in the local language meant ‘the smoke that thunders’.  While travelling through Africa, Livingstone saw it for the first time in 1855 and named it after Queen Victoria.  Notice the width of the fall which is more than 2 kms.

With the exception of the Nile and the Zaire, few African rivers can be used for shipping.  This is because the rivers drop from the higher plateaus to the coastal lowlands, making waterfalls. Victoria Falls on the Zambezi is higher and wider than even the famous Niagara Falls of North America.

About one-third of Africa is a desert land. T eh Sahara is the largest desert in the world.  It is located in the  northern part of Africa.  The Kalahari desert in southern Africa is another great desert.


Climate and natural vegetation

Africa extends between 370 14’N to 340 50’s latitudes.  Thus the major part of it lies within the tropical zone.  It is, in fact, the most tropical of all the continents.  The temperature is very high almost throughout the year.  The highest temperature in the world has been recorded at al-Aziziyah (Libya) as 580C.  only on the high plateaus and mountains is it somewhat moderate.  Temperatures are high although the hights are cool.

There are marked variations in the distribution of rainfall.  It has caused wide variations in climate.

The belt lying along the equator on both sides has a hot, wet climate throughout the year   It rains almost daily and there is only one season, namely the hot-wet summer.

This is known as the equatorial type of climate.  Because of the abundance of heat and moisture, most of the region is covered with thick forests called TROPICAL RAIN-FORESTS.  It has varied wildlife.

To the north and south of rainforests, there are regions of warm summers and milk winters.  In these belts, most of the rain occurs in summer.  There is a distinct dry period.  Total rainfall is also much less than that in the tropical rain-forests.  This climate is known as the Sudan type of climate.  This climate is found in a very large part of the continent.  Its vegetation is mostly grasses.  The tropical rain-forests gradually begin to open up and give pale to woodlands, which finally turn into grasslands.  The region covered with tall and coarse grasses is known as the SAVANNA.  It is the homeland of a variety of grass-eating animals and the wild beasts that live by killing them.

Beyond the savanna, both in the northern and in the southern parts of Africa, there are extensive deserts.  They are known as the Sahara in the north and the Kalahari in the south.  Temperature is very high.  In fact the  highest temperature in the world is found here.  There is almost rainfall.  The climate is hot and extremely dry known as the desert type of climate.  Vegetation is either wholly absent or includes only scrub and bushes.

The northern and the southern coasts of Africa have milk and rainy winters and warm and dry summers.  This is known as the Mediterranean type of climate.

The climate is cooler in the highlands of southern and eastern Africa.


Natural resources and their utilization

The bounties provided by nature to any area are known as NATURAL RESOURCES. They include things such as soil, water, minerals, forests and animals.  Africa is rich in several natural resources.



Soil is one of the most important natural resources.  It supports different kinds of plants and trees.  Soil is formed very slowly.  It takes hundreds of years to form a one centimeter thick layer of soil.

Some soils are better suited for crops.  Such fertile soils are usually found in the river valleys and plains.  However, some of the less fertile soils can also be made fertile by adding fertilizers.  But some soils are not at all suitable for crops, though they can support other kinds of plants or grasses.

In Africa, only 10% of the soil is suitable for crops.  It includes the volcanic soils of east Africa, the alluvial soils of the Nile valley and certain soils of the savanna lands, which are very fertile.  In other parts of the continent, climatic conditions and the nature of the landform have been unfavourable for the formation of good soil.  However, a very large part of central Africa is under forest cover, which is also an important natural resource of the continent.



A large part of Africa is dry.  However, the remaining parts get good rainfall.  There are many rivers which carry plentiful rain-water throughout the year.  A good deal of this water in used for irrigation.  Many rivers reach the sea through a series of waterfalls  because they flow from the higher plateau areas on to the lower coastal plains.  As such ships and boats are prevented from sailing very far upstream.  These can, however, be used for the development of hydroelectricity.

The Kariba dam on the Zambezi is the largest producer of water-power in Africa.  The Aswan  dam on the Nile in Egypt is another very big dam.



Africa is very rich in several valuable minerals.  It leads the countries of the world in the production of diamond gold and platinum.

More than 95% of the world ‘s diamond production comes from Africa.  The pride of diamond depends on its size and brightness.  Good quality diamonds, often used in jewellery, fetch a high price.  Inferior quality diamonds are used for industrial purposes.

Africa is responsible for more than half the world’s gold production.  South Africa is the major producer of gold and platinum in Africa.  As you know, gold is used for making ornaments but its greatest value lies in the fact that it serves as the basis for issuing currencies in all the countries of the world.

Africa has large reserves of cobalt, manganese, chromium, copper, tin, bauxite, and uranium.  But there is not much coal and iron ore in this continent.  This was hampered the production of steel, which is so important for modern industrial growth.  In the past, most of these resources were used recklessly by the European powers, who exported them in large quantities.  As a result, several large copper mines are now closed.  Today, the independent nations of Africa are facing the problem of finding out ways by which these resources could be utilized wisely for their economic prosperity.  Cobalt and manganese, which are mixed with iron to make steel, are found in the southern half of Africa.  South Africa leads the countries of the world in the production of chromium a metal which does not rust.  Congo and South Africa are the main producers of copper (which is used for making electric wires), bauxite (which yields aluminum) and uranium (which is used in producing atomic energy).  Petroleum is found in many parts of Africa such as Nigeria, Libya and Angola.



Forests and tree s are very important sources of wealth.  Besides timber many other  products are obtained from them.  Large parts of central Africa are covered with thick forests.  They yields hardwood which may be used a timber.  They have many valuable tree such as mathogany, ebony and kapok.

Three different types of palm trees are found in Africa.  They are coconut palm, oil palm and date palm.  Coconut palms are found in the tropical island (such as Zanzibar and Pemba) and along the equatorial coasts such a Tanzania.  They yield copra from which coconut oil is obtained.  Oil palm, from which palm oil is obtained, is common in west Africa.  Nigeria exports a good deal of this oil.  Date palm grows in the oases in the drier regions.  Dates constitute an important item of food for the local people.  Egypt exports a large among of dates.

Cocoa is one of the most important cash crops of Africa.  The photograph shows a collection centre in Ghana where fresh cocoa pods are being packed in sacks.  Notice the shape and size of the coca pods.

Cacao and kola are trees  which provide us beverages.  Cocoa is obtained from the cacao trees.  Like coffee, it is a very popular drink and is also used for making chocolate.  Cacao grows well in the equatorial lowlands.   West African countries, such as Ghana and Nigeria, export a good deal of cocoa.  Kola trees yield nuts which are used in preparing cola drinks and chewing gum.

Africa has  a large variety of fruit trees.  In the tropical rain, banana, pineapple, papaya, jackfruit and mango are common.  Citrus fruits such as lemon, orange and lime are also grown here.  The Mediterranean regions grow olives, apples, peaches and grass.  East Africa produces cashew nuts.  Zanzibar and Pemba islands are the biggest producers and exporters of cloves in the world.



There is an abundance of wildlife in Africa.  The extensive equatorial forests and swamps as well as the huge grasslands are ideal homes for a variety of birds and animals.

Elephants, wild buffaloes, snakes pythons,  monkeys, hippopotamuses and rhinoceros are some of the important animals found in the forests.  And swamps.  Deer, stag, zebra and giraffe belong to the open woodlands and grasslands.  Some animals such as lions prey on these grass eating animals.  camels are found in the deserts.  The ostrich, a large, fast the deserts.  The ostrich a large, fast running bird, is found in the Kalahari desert.

Wild animals and birds are important natural resources.  Previously they were hunted for their skins, bones, horns, tusks and feathers, which these national parks to watch wildlife in natural surroundings.  Tourism is thus a fast growing industry which provides good income tot eh local people.  However, hunting of these animals has not stopped completely,  and so there is a need to enforce the laws.

In the higher savanna regions of eastern, northern and western Africa, cattle grazing is very important.  Large herds of cattle are owned by nomadic tribes.  Who move from one place to another with their herds.



Different kinds of crops are gown here.  Some crops are grown by the people for food.  These are called FOOD CROPS.   There are other crops which are grown mainly for manufacturing industries.  These are known as CASH CROPS.

Most of the food crops of Africa are root crops such as yam and cassava.  With the exception of maize, cereals are not very important.  Wheat, rice and millets like sorghum are grown only in small quantities.

Amongst the cash  crops, palm oil, groundnut, cocoa, coffee, cotton and sisal are important.

Palm oil and groundnut are produced mainly in west Africa.  Cocoa and coffee from Africa constitute about 60  and 24 per cent world trade respectively.  Cotton has been grown in the Nile Valley for several thousand years.  About nine per cent of the world’s hassle in cotton comes from Africa Sisal is a vegetable fibre that a used in making ropes and sacks.  Africa is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of sisal.  In fact,  Tanzania leads the countries of Africa in sisal production.  Sisal plants thrive well on poor, sandy soils.  They are reared in a nursery.  Afterwards they are planted in rows in large fields  after three or four years,  their leaves are cut off and crushed by machines.  The fibre is left which is dried and made into ropes and sacks.

The islands of Zanzibar and Pemba are famous for cloves and coconuts.  They produce about nine-teenths of the world’s cloves.  The clove trees grow to  a height of about 12 metres.  They have long, dark and shining leaves.  The creamy pink buds of the trees are picked must be done within a very short time.  The picking season is a very busy time.

In the past few years, many African nations increased their production of cash crops.  This could provide them money to build dams, industries, transport and communication lines and improve their living conditions.  Hence, the area under food crops decreased in many countries.  In some parts of Africa drought conditions are prevailing because of the failure of rainfall for many years.  There has been acute food shortage in several countries of Africa.


The people

Its difficult to describe the people of Africa as there is so much of variety as well as overlapping of languages and customs.

About 70% of the people are the Blacks.  The rest of them have come from other parts such as Europe and Asia.  Most of the Africans belong to different groups called tribes with their own languages and customs.  Some of these tribes are very large having millions of members spreading over different parts of the continent.  However, some of these tribes have only hundreds of people.

Like in our country, several hundred languages are spoken here.  This presents problems in communication.  Many -Africans, therefore, find it useful to be able to speak at least two languages like us.  One is the local language or dialect.  This enables them to communicate with people in their own village or tribe.  In addition, they learn to speak.  French, Italian, English, Arabic or Swahili.  SWAHILI is a language which is understood by many people.  Different religions such as Islam, Christianity and Animism are followed by the people of Africa.  ANIMISM is the religion followed by many tribes.  It is based upon lover and respect of nature.

The total population of Africa is about 778 million.  If it is distributed uniformly over the whole continent there will be only 26 persons per square kilometers.  In other words, DENSITY OF POPUALTION in Africa is 26 persons per square kilometer.  We may therefore, say that it is thinly populated continent.  The actual distribution of population is, however, uneven.

Look at the population map and note the vast spaces which are unpopulated. T eh Sahara desert in the north and the Kalahari desert in the south-western part have very little population.  Why are these regions thinly populated?  Why do we find a dense population in the valley and the delta of the Nile and some parts of west Africa?



Africa does not have enough means of transport.  The extensive deserts and thick forests hinder the construction of roads and railway.  Rivers are useful only for local transportation.  The presence of waterfalls makes them  largely unnavigable.  Railways and roads are not well developed.  Mostly they link the mining and other important  centres with the coast.  Air transport is becoming more and more important but it is costly.

Look at the map in your atlas and note the railway routes in south, east, north-east and west Africa.  Locate on the amp the two sea routes of the world, one passing through the Suez canal and the other going around the Cape of Good Hope.

Africa is a continent of great promise because it has vast natural.  Resources.  The new independent countries of Africa are making great progress in developing their agriculture, industries and transport routes.  @ and many other nations are helping African nations to develop their resources.


                        New terms you have learnt

                        Rift Valley:                     A long and deep valley with steep slopes on both sides, formed due to a crack or a rift in the land

                        Tropical rain-forests:    Dense and thick forests of the equatorial region where the temperature and rainfall are very high.

                        Savanna:                         The tropical grasslands in Africa having tall and coarse grasses

                        Density of population:   The average number of persons per unit area, i.e., square kilometer.


Land of Forests – Democratic Republic of Congo


Terms that you know

Cassava:      An important plant of the tropical region.  The roots of the plant are eaten as food.

Export:        Goods and services sold by one country to another country.



Congo was ruled by Belgium for a long time.  But it became an independent country in 1960.  It is about three fourths the size of @ but it has a small population which is just a little more than that of Kerala State.  See the location of Congo in the map of Africa.


Land and climate

The greater part of Congo lies within the basin of river Congo form which it has derived its name.  the Congo basin is a large saucer-shaped depression surrounded by plateaus.  The Congo is one of the largest rivers of the world.  But it is navigable only in parts because it has numerous waterfalls and rapids, i.e., small waterfalls.

Congo lies in the equatorial region and so it has high temperature and heavy rainfall throughout the year.  The abundance of heat and moisture causes plants and trees to grow very rapidly.  The land is, therefore, covered by tropical rain forests.  These forests are evergreen because all trees do not shed their leaves at the same time.  In these dense forests trees compete with each  other for sunlight and become very tall.  Many of them reach a height of 40 metres or more.  Trees of several species are found in a very small area.  Below the tall trees there are seeral small trees.  Beneath them is a mat-like green cover of grasses, shrubs and climbers.  Because of the trees and the undergrowth, it is very difficult to travel in these forests.  River courses are the only means of which one can travel in these forests.  The foliage in theseforests is so dense that the rays of the sun hardly reach the forest floor.  These forests are, therefore, dark and gloomy

On both sides of the rain-forest, savanna grasslands are found.


Resources and their utilization

Congo is rich in several natural resources such as forest, wildlife, soil, minerals and water power.  Agriculture and mining are the two important economic activities of the people.



A large part of the country is covered with equatorial or tropical rain-forests.  Though they contain one of the largest reserves of hardwood in the world, they have not yet been utilized much.



Congo is often called a gigantic zoo because of its large variety of wildlife.  Snakes, pythons, monkeys, elephants and hippopotamuses are some of the examples of animals living in the forests and swamps of Congo.  Besides, a variety of birds also lie in its forests.


Soil and Crops

Although Congo is a lowland, only one-fifth of its total land is under cultivation.  It is because of its vast forest cover.

The principal food crops grown here are rice, maize, cassava and sorghum.  Rice is grown in the north,  the north-east and in the Kasai province in the south.  Maize is grown in the savanna region.  Cassava is a kind of tuber.  Its plant grows to a height of about a metre and  a half.  The tuber is dried and pounded into flour.

Cash crops such as rubber, coffee, cotton and oil-palm are grown just for export.  Cattle-rearing is done on the highlands especially in the savannas.

Methods of agriculture are mostly traditional.  The food crops are used mainly b the families producing them.  Efforts are being made to improve agriculture by providing fertilizers and using new methods of farming.


Minerals and Industries

Congo has vast reserves of copper, diamond, cobalt, tin, zinc, manganese and uranium.  They are found minaly in the southern province of Shab (Katanga).  It is one of the largest producers of copper and industrial diamond in the world.  Most of the minerals extracted within the country are exported.

Most of the industries in Congo process agricultural and mineral products for export.  They are located mainly in Likazi, (Jodotville), and Lubumbashi (Elizabethville).


Water Power

There is huge potentiality for water power.  It has a number of dams and hydel power stations.  It also supplies water power to its neighboring  countries – Congo and Burundi.  However, there is a lot of scope for future development.


The people

The people of the country are mainly the Blacks.  They, however, belong to different tribes.  Early two-thirds of the population consists of the Bantu speaking Backs.

Its total population is about 49 million.  Because of the country’s huge size, the density of population is low, i.e., about 20 persons per square kilometer.

Congo is mainly rural.  However, the number of people now living in urban areas is growing very fast.  In fact, the rate at which the towns and cities have developed in Congo is one of the highest in Africa.  Many of these urban centres were developed by the European settlers.  They are similar in appearance to any city of a developed country.  Kinshasa is the largest city and is the capital of Congo.  Lubumbashi (Elizabethville) and Kisangani are other important cities.  Matadi is the chief port of the country which is situated on the river Congo.

New term you have learnt

River basin:  a large area drained by a single river and its tributaries.




Land of Palm Oil – Nigeria


Terms that you know

Tributary: A stream for river which joins a larger river.

Hydroelectricity: Electricity produced by the force of falling water on turbines.



Nigeria is located in the western part of Africa.  In population it leads all the countries of Africa.  It is one of the wealthiest and most progressive countries of the continent.


Land and climate

Nigeria is a country of lowlands and plateaus.  The coastal area in the south is a lowland covered with rain-forests.  The surface of the land is undulating, i.e., it rises and falls so that it looks like waves.

Further north, lies the Plateau of los where woodlands gradually give place to grasslands. The extreme north of the country merges with the Sahara Desert.

The Niger is the most important river after which the country is named.  It drains the greater part of Nigeria, before it falls into the Gulf of Guinea.  Rivers of the north-eastern part of the country flow into lake Chad thus forming an inland drainage system, i.e., one where the rivers do not reach a sea or an ocean.

Coastal Nigeria has an equatorial type of climate and has rainfall throughout the year.  In the interior there is a marked dry season in summer.  Hot and dust-laden winds often blow from the north east during this season known as the HARMATTAN.


Resources and their utilization


Nigeria is mainly an agricultural country.  The major part of its land is under food crops which are consumed locally.  They include yam, cassava, millet, maize, sweet potatoes, rice and beans.  The country is self-sufficient in food and is very important for certain agricultural exports.  It is the world’s largest exporter of palm kemels, palm-oil and groundnuts.  It is the second largest producer of cocoa.  It also produces cotton, rubber, tobacco and bananas.

The oil palm  tree grows very well in the equatorial climate.  It reaches its full height of approximately 12 metres in about fifteen years.  The fruits of the tree growing clusters.  Oil is extracted from the hard nut as well as from the pulp of the fruit by simple, crude methods or by machines.  The chemical properties of the two oils are different.  It is used in marking margarine, soap, candles, hair oil and other things.


Animal Rearing

It is important in the northern grasslands.  Cattle, goats and sheep are reared.  The goat skins are supplied to the leather industries of Nigeria.



One-third of the country’s total area is under forest.  Timber and plywood are the important exports.


Water Power

Nigeria is in water power resources.  Kainji dam has been constructed on the river Niger.  There are four hydel power stations in loss in the north.


Minerals and Industries

There are large reserves of tin and columbite in the central plateau.  They are exported on a large scale.  Nigeria also possesses iron, lead, zinc, manganese and limestone.  It is the only coal producing country of western  Africa.  It is one of the largest mineral oil producing countries of Africa.  In the 1970s it experienced a real oil boom because of increased production.  This affected the economic condition of Nigeria in many ways.  On the one hand it helped in earning more money for the country, and on the other it affected agriculture adversely.  Increased income generated demand for services of all types.  As a result the percentage of people employed in services increased from about 10 in 1970 to 57 in 1990.  But the percentage of people engaged in agriculture dropped from 75 in 1970 to 43 in 1990.

Nigeria has several industries such as textiles, food processing, leather and tanning, oil mills, cigarettes, rubber factories and metal works.

The transport and communication system of Nigeria is one of the best in Africa.


The people

The majority of the people are the Blacks.  They, however, belong to different tribes.

Nigeria has a population of 12 million.  The density of population is about  131 persons per square kilometer.  The density of population comparatively higher in the south western and south eastern parts than the rest of the country.

Lagos is the capital city of Nigeria Lagos and Port Harcourt are the principal ports.  Ibadan is the largest city and an important trade centre.  Important industrial centres are Kano, Kaduna and Jos in the north and Lagos and port Harcourt in the south.


The Gift of the Nile – the Arab Republic of Egypt


Terms that you know

Gulf:  A small area of the sea penetra ting into the land. It’s usually of a larger extent than a bay.




The Arab Republic of Egypt is situated in Africa but it is at the junction of two continents, namely, Africa and Asia.  Until the Suez Canal was construct, the isthmus of Suez formed a land bridge between Africa and Asia.  The Suez Canal serves as a very useful and convenient gateway of international trade between the countries of the east and the west.

Look at the map and note the neighbouring countries of Egypt.  You will notice that Egypt is a part of the Great Sahara Desert which occupies nearly half the northern part of Africa.  A very small part of Egypt  lies in Asia also.  The life giving waters of the Nile have made it one of the richest and most thickly populated lands of Africa.  No wonder the Egyptians consider their land the gift of the Nile!  The Nile Valley has been the home of one of the oldest civilizations of the world.


Land and climate

The larger part of the country is a desert because of scanty rainfall.  This part is almost wholly uninhabited.  Hot, dry and sand landen winds blow from the south during early summer, i.e., April and May.  These are known as KHAMSIN.

There is a narrow strip of land along the river Nile, which is fertile.  The river has deposited rich mud on both sides during floods.  In fact, not more than one thirtieth of Egypt is populated.  People live on both the banks of the Nile in a strip of land, which has a maximum width of about 25 kilometres.  At places, it is not more than two or three kilometers wide.

The Nile is the longest river in the world.  Its source lies in Lake Victoria.  This lake is located in the equatorial region, where it rains heavily throughout the year.  It, therefore, collects a large volume of water before entering Egypt.

At Cairo the river splits into a number of channels, distributing its water over a wide tract.  Such channels by which river water is distributed are known as DISTRIBUTARIES.

Look at the distributaries of the Nile in your map.  They form a triangle which has its head or apex at Cairo. Such a triangular land which is at the mouth of a river and has a number of distributaries is called a DELTA.  This name was given by the Greeks because its shape is like the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet: D (delta).  A delta is made up of fine silt or alluvium brought down by a river.  Fresh alluvium is constantly deposited at the mouth of the river.  As a result, a delta continues to extend gradually into the sea or lake into which the river drains.


Resources and their utilization


Agricultural land is very limited in Egypt.  Only three per cent of the total land is under cultivation.  However, nearly two-thirds of the population is engaged in agriculture.  Hence, there is a great pressure of population on agricultural land.

Even though the Nile Valley and its delta one of the world’s most fertile lands, agriculture cannot be carried out, without irrigation.  The flood waters of the Nile have been used for irrigation with great skill for the last 5,000 years.  The Egyptian farmer, called FELIAH, has to work very hard on his small field but he is able to grow at least  two crops annually.

The principal crops of Egypt are maize, rice, wheat, millet, and sugarcane.  Dates are an important product grown especially in oases.

Cotton is the most important cash crop of Egypt.  It is world famous for its fine quality.  Cotton plant needs a fertile soil, high temperature and abundant sunshine.  It grows well here with irrigation water.  Its fruit or ball ripens in about six months, after which it bursts open showing the white fluff that is cotton.  Rain, fog, dust and pests can damage cotton crop.  That is why the hot, dry and clear weather of Egypt is very suitable for cotton growing.




Water Resources

Several high dams have been built on the Nile.  The largest among them is at Aswan.  Canals taken from the dams irrigate crops throughout the year.  Hydroelectricity is also produced at these sites.


Minerals and Industries

Mineral oil is the most important mineral wealth of Egypt.  It is found in Sinai and along the Red Sea coast.  Other minerals such as phosphates sea salt, manganese and iron ore are also produced.

The cotton textile and food industries are quite important and also the oldest.  Engineering industries, i.e., manufacture of different kinds of equipments,  chemical industries, i.e., manufacture of fertilizers, glass, soap, etc., and oil refineries are developing fast.


The people

The inhabitants of Egypt are mostly Arabs and are followers of Islam.  The total population of the country is about 65 million. The average density of popualtion is thus 66 persons per square kilometres.  The actual distribution, however is very uneven.  In the Nile Valley it is more than 900 persosn per suqare kolometre.

Cairo, the capital of Egypt is the largest city of Africa.  The famous pyramids and epidnx are located near Cairo.  Alexandria is the chief sea port and the second largest city of Egypt.  Port Said at the Suez Canal is a big trading centre.



The roads and railways run along the course of the river Nile.  The network of transport lines is very dense in the delta region.  However there are roads in all directions.  Cairo is the centre of the transport system.  Besides, it is also a very important international airport.  But, it is the Suez Canal which has put Egypt on the world map of international trade.  This canal was cut across the isthmus which separates Africa and Asia.  It now links the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea.  The opening of the Canal in 1869 shortened the voyage from Mumbai to London by more than 7,000 kilometres.  The canal is 173 kilometres long and a ship takes about 10 to 12 hours to pass through it.


New terms you have learnt

Distributaries:   The Channels of a river by which it distributes its water.

Delta:                 A more or less triangular tract made up of alluvium at the mouth of a river.  It is traversed by a number of distributaries.



Land of Gold and Diamonds – South Africa


South Africa lies in the southernmost part of the continent.  It is a large country, about three-eighths the size of India, but has only a small population.  It has a variety of natural resources.  It is known for its mineral wealth, particularly gold and diamonds.

Look at the map of the country.  It is bounded on three sides by two oceans – namely, the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean.  It occupies an important position on the international trade route.


Land and climate

Almost the whole of South Africa in a high plateau sloping towards the west.  The Drakensberg mountains in the east form the edge of this plateau.  Some of its ridges are higher than 3,000 metres.  To the east of these mountains the land drops down rapidly.  To the south, the land drop down in steps.

The plateau region is covered with grasses.  It is called ‘the veld’.  It is Dutch word which means field.

South Africa lies in the warm temperate zone.  It has a moderate climate due to several reasons.  It surrounded on three sides by the cold current along the west coast.

The Orange and the Vall rivers from the Drakensberg mountains westward to the Atlantic Ocean.  The Limpopo river flows along the northern boundary of the country for some distance.

Except in coastal areas, the rainfall is not much and decreases from south to north and from east to west.  Most of the country has rains in summer but the southern coast gets rain during winter.


Resources and their utilization

Soil and Crops

Since a large part of the country on the western side does not get sufficient rain, it is a dry land.  The eastern part has a good rainfall but most of its hilly and unsuitable for cultivation.  It is only in the veld region in the north central part that the land is fertile and rainfall is moderate.  As such only one-eighth of the total land of South Africa is under cultivation.  Maize is the most important crop.  Wheat, oats and barley are also grown.


Animal Rearing

It is more important than the cultivation of crops.  The breeding and rearing of animals on pastures is known as PASTORAL FARMERS.  Cattle, goats and sheep are reared for their milk, meat, wool and skin.  The Merino sheep of South Africa are famous for their fine wool.  In fact, as an exporter of wool, South Africa is next only to Australia.  In some areas cultivation of crops is combined with animals rearing.  This type of agriculture is known as MIXED FARMING.


Minerals and Industries

South Africa is the leading producer of gold and diamonds in the world.  It accounts for nearly half of the world’s production of gold.  The gold mines are near Johannesburg.  Rocks containing gold are blasted, crushed, washed and sorted.  Then with the help of chemicals, gold is dissolved and separated from the ore.  The centre of diamond mining is Kimberley, Platinum, manganese, uranium, copper, iron, asbestos and coal are the other important minerals of the country.  Mining is the most important activity of the people.

South Africa is the most  industrialized country of Africa.  It manufactures a number of products from its agricultural raw materials.  Tinned fruits, processed food, sugar, cigarettes, meat, dairy products and textiles are the important products.  The iron and steel industry has become a major industry.  Metal  works and chemical industries are also developing.


The people

The first European settlers in South Africa were the Portuguese and the Dutch.  These early colonists came to be known as Afrikaners.  The British came later.  The native people were gradually pushed into the interior by the Europeans, who took control of the area.  The native people became the tenant farmers or labourers in fields, mines and factories.

Today, the total population of South Africa is about 44 million.  The density of population is only 36 persons per square kilometer.

Nearly two-thirds of the population consists of the Blacks belonging to different tribes.  About one-fifth of the population is composed of the whites.  The rest of the population includes the Asians and mixed groups.  Despite being in minority the whites ruled the country.  They followed the policy of segregation for the non-whites.  It meant completed separation of the non-white people in every sphere of life-political, economic and social.  The policy was known as apartheid.  The non-whites struggled for their rights and ultimately in 1994 they were successful in getting voting rights.  For the first time, a truly elected democratic government, came to power in 1994.  Dr. Nelson Mandela became the first Black President.

Johannesperb is the largest city of South Africa.  It is a commercial and industrial centre.  Pretoria is the administrative capital of the country.  Cape Town is the seat of legislative and the largest port. The other two important ports are Durban and Port Elizabeth.

The country has a good network of railways.  This ahs enable it to exploit its mineral wealth and to develop its agriculture and industries.


South America


South America is the fourth largest continent in the world.  Most part of this continent lies in the Southern Hemisphere.  Its Andes mountains are next only to the Himalayas in their average height.  It contains wide plateaus and highlands as well as vast lowlands.

It is drained by the Orinoco, the Plata and the Amazon river systems.  A large part of the continent lies in the tropical belt.  It has extensive rain-forests and grasslands.

South America is rich in some mineral resources such as mineral oil, copper, silver, bauxite tin and iron ore.  Only about 10% of the soil is suitable for agriculture.  wheat, maize, sugarcane coffee and banana are the important crops.  Agriculture and cattle rearing are the two important activities of the people.

Water resources are abundant in this continent.  These have been used to produce  electricity.  But these can be utilized on a much larger scale than has been done so far.

South America has mostly light industries such as meat-packing plants, textiles mills, sugar refineries and shoe factories.  Heavy industries using mineral resources are developing slowly.

A very rapid growth of population ahs been experienced in this continent.  Most of the people live within a few hundred kilometers from the sea coast.  The standard of living is not very high because economic development has been slow.  Today, countries of South America are trying to improve their farming as well as



South America – Land, Climate, Resources And Their Utilization


            South America is the fourth largest continent in the world. About two-thirds of the continent in the tropical belt south of the equator.

  1. South America, 2. Central America, 3. Mexico and the 4. West Indies together make up ‘Latin’ America, You may wonder why the word ‘Latin’ is part of the name. Latin was the language of ancient Romans. As many Indian languages have developed from Sanskirit, several European – languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian have developed from Latin. The people speaking these languages are called Latin people. A large number of them, mainly from Portugal and Spain began to settle in these areas from the sixteenth century. Because of this the continent began to be called Latin America.

Look at the map of South America. Which oceans and seas surround the continent? Find out the location of the Panama Canal in the map. Which is the largest country of South America? Name the two land-locked countries.


The Land

South America has the following physical division—the Western Coastal Strip, the Western. Mountains the Central Plains and the Eastern Highland.


The Western Coastal Strip

            There is a narrow strip of lowland along the Pacific Coast in the western part of South America. It stretches from north to south with great variations in its width.


The Western Mountains

            Notice on the map how mountains and hills form a wall along the western part of South America. These mountains run from the Caribbean Sea to the very southern tip of South America. These are called the ANDES. They form the second highest mountain systems to the world next to the Himalayas. They are called the YOUND FOLD MOUNTAINS. They are young because they have been formed comparatively recently in the earth’s history. Since these mountains have resulted due to the forces acting beneath the earth’s surface from two opposite sides giving rise to the formation of folds on the earth’s surface, they are called fold mountains. Look at the map and name the countries through which the Andes mountains run.

There are three main ranges in the Andes. Two of them on the eastern side are very high. These ranges come closer at a few points and separate again. In between these ranges there are high plateaus. The Bolivian Plateau is one of them. Lake Titicaca, one of the largest lakes of South America, is located in this plateau region.

The Andes have several lofty peaks. Many peaks are so high that in spite of being located near the equator they are covered with snow all the year round. Mt. Aconcagua is the highest peak of the Andes. It is 7,021 metres high above sea level. The Andes have several volcanic peaks. Some of them are active, others are dormant or extinct. Cotopaxi in Ecuador is the highest active volcano in the world. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are very common in this part.

The Central Plains

They lie between the Andes and the Eastern Highlands. The central plains mainly consist of the basins of the Orinoco, the Amazon and the Plata. The Amazon is the ‘largest’ river in the world as it discharges the greatest volume of water. It rises in the Andes and after flowing through the entire width of Brazil, falls into the Atlantic Ocean. It is 6,280 kilometres long.


The Eastern Highlands

The Guyana and the Brazilian highlands along the eastern coast form the Eastern Highlands. The Angel Falls is the highest waterfall in the world. It is located in the south eastern part of Venezuela.


Climate and Vegetation

The greater part of South America lies within the tropical zone. Therefore, its climate is generally hot. The Amazon basin which lies close to the equator has an equatorial type of climate. It is hot and wet all the year round. This region is, therefore, covered with equatorial rain-forests locally known as the SELVAS.

On either side of the Amazon forests lies the belt which has the savanna type of climate. This is the region of grasslands. In the north, in the Orinoco river basin, they are locally known as the UANOS. In the south, in central Brazil, they are known as CAMPOS. In this regions, there is a distinct dry period and the rain occurs mainly in summer.

In the lowlands of northern Argentina and western Paraguay, it is dry during winter and wet during summer. Rains are heavy. This region is covered with chick forests and grasslands and is locally known as the GRAN CHACO.

Parts of southern Peru and northern Chile have a typical hot, desert type of climate. This region is known as the Atacama Desert. Its natural vegetation consists of scrubs, prickly pear and cactus.

Further south, that is in central Chile, there is the Mediterranean type of climate. This region has rainy winters and warm and dry summers. Its vegetation consists of evergreen forests with trees having thick and shining leaves, which are able to resist summer droughts. Oak, walnut, chestnut and fig are some of the common trees of the region.

In the extreme south, that is in southern Chile, there is the OCEANIC or MARINE type of climate. Rainfall occurs here all the year round. As the region lies in the temperate zone, the climate is cool. This type of climate is generally found on the western coasts of the temperate regions. It is a region of temperate, mixed forests where beech and pine are the valuable trees.

South of the tropical grasslands of southern. Brazil lies the region of temperate grasslands. This region has a warm climate with rain all through the year, although it rains more in summer than in winter. These grasslands in central Argentina are known as the PAMPAS.

Further south, on the eastern side of the Andes, lies the desert of Patagonia. Its climate is dry because it lies in the RAINSHADOW AREA of the western mountains.


Resources and their Utilization

South America is rich in a variety of natural resources. It has extensive forests which abound in wildlife. A large number of products are obtained from these forests. It extensive grasslands are used for growing crops and also for rearing domestic animals. The continent is equally rich in minerals and water power.



A very large part of the continent is covered with forests. Most of these, in the Amazon basin, are tropical rain-forests. They are important storehouses of handwoods such as mahogany. However, the lightest wood in the world, balsa, also comes from rain-forests. The Carnauba palm trees of Brazil yield was. It is used for furniture polish, shoe polish and candles. Other products include cinchona bark (used for the medicine, quinine) and chicle (used for chewing gum). The Amazon basin is the home of the rubber tree. With the development of rubber plantation in other parts of the world such as Malaysia, the wild rubber from the Amazon proved to be costlier. So the demand for it decreased in the world market. The rain-forests in general, have not been utilized very much due to several difficulties. For example, a variety of trees are found in a small area making it uneconomical to fell trees of a particular species at a time. Besides, these forests are dense and inaccessible because of the lack of transport facilities. It is difficult to construct and maintain roads and railways in such areas. Yerba is an important tree of the Eastern Highlands. Its leaves are brewed like tea. Quebracho, meaning ‘axebreaker’, is an important hardwood tree of the Gran Chaco. It yields tannic acid used for tanning leather. The forests along the eastern slopes of the Andes are known as montana. They yield valuable softwood.



South America abounds in a variety of wildlife, specially in the Amazon basin. The continent possesses about 1,500 species of very colourful birds. Candor is the largest bird of prey in the world. Rhea is a flightless bird. It is like the ostrich of Africa and the emu of Australia. Monkeys are important tree dwellers of the Amazon forests. The spider monkey is known for its acrobatic skills. The owl monkeys are night lovers. Then, there are squirrel monkeys, which are known for their gentleness.

There are many kinds of reptiles. Snakes and pythons are the most common among them Anaconda is a very-large python, which is about ten metres long.

Ant-eaters and armadillos are the most ancient types of mammals found in South America. Puma is a dangerous animal of the cat family. It is stronger than the leopard. Jaguar is another animal of prey. Both these animals live on land as well as on trees. They prey upon monkeys and other tree dwellers.

Llamas are the strange animals of South America. They live in the highlands of the Andes. Being surefooted they are used as beasts of burden in this mountainous region. These long-necked animals belong to the family of the camel and can go without water for many days. Alpaca is a smaller variety of llama found on the high plateaus. Guanaco, a wild variety of llama, is found in the desert of Patagonia.



South America has huge water resources. However, it has not yet begun to make full use of these resources. For example, it has a few large lakes such as lake Titicaca, but fishing in the lake is restricted to local consumption only. It means under-utilization of a resource.

Though there are several rivers, only the Orinoco, the Amazon and the Parana are really long and deep enough to be used for water transportation. Hydroelectric power generation has increased in recent years. Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Venezuela have built large hydroelectric plants. Brazil, in particular, has developed a number of hydroelectric projects.



Sea-waters around South America, especially along the western coast, abound in fish. South America accounts for about one-fifth of the world’s total catch of fish. Fishing is an important industry of Peru. It is one of the leading countries of the world in the fishing industry.


Soil and Crops

Only about 10 per cent of the soil is suitable for farming. Most of the good farmland is found in Argentina and Uruguay.

A large part of the grasslands have been brought under cultivation. Another important farming region is along the Pacific Coast in the middle part of Chile. Wheat and maize are the important food crops of South America. Wheat is a crop of cool, temperate regions. It is grown in Argentina and Chile. Maize requires a warm climate with a fair amount of rainfall. Its main producers are Brazil and Argentina. In fact, maize is native to South America and it reached the rest of the world after the discovery of this continent.

Coffee, sugarcane, cocoa and banana are important cash crops which are grown on large plantations. Growing of plants or trees on a large scale for commercial purposes is known as PLANTATION AGRICULTURE. In this type of agriculture, the farm activities are carried on in a specialized manner as done in a factory. Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador are among the leading producers of coffee in the world. Cotton is another important cash crop grown in Brazil.

There are large farmlands and plantations in South America. These are owned by a few individuals or groups of people. Most of the people are farm workers who do not own enough land to support themselves.


Animal Rearing

South America has extensive grasslands on which cattle, sheep and goats are reared in large numbers mainly for beef, meat and wool. The most important cattle rearing areas in South America are the semi-humid parts of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. In these areas the original grasses which were not very nutritious have been replaced by a more valuable variety of grass—ALFALEA. The alfalfa is a leguminous plant, which besides being nutritious, helps in maintaining the fertility of the soil. Cattle fatten very quickly on these grasses.

The sheep-rearing areas are in Argentina and Chile. South America is among the world’s leaders in cattle and meat production. Argentina’s main industry is meat-packing and processing. Today it is one of the largest meat exporters.


Mineral Wealth

South America is very rich in minerals. There are huge deposits of mineral oil in Venezuela and the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Much of the oil is being drilled from below the lake waters in Maracaibo in Venezuela. Asphalt or coal-tar is found in Trinidad. About one-seventh of the world’s mineral oil comes from South America. Its iron-ore reserves are equally important.

Brazil has one of the largest iron-ore deposits of the world. Copper and tin are among the other important minerals of the South America. They constitute about one-fifth of the world’s total output. Chile is the major producer of copper in the world. Bolivia is the world’s fourth largest producer of tin.

South America is very fortunate to possess rich deposits of nitrates in the desert of Atacama. Nitrate is an important source of manures and fertilizers. Chile is the largest producer of nitrates. Similarly, Guano Islands, oft the coast of Peru, are extremely fortunate in having the world’s most concentrated single source of natural manure. These rainless and desert islands are the home of millions and millions of Guano birds. These birds live entirely on sea fish. It is believed that they consume nearly five million tonnes of fish in these waters every year. The droppings of the seabirds have been in use for several hundred years as valuable manure for a variety of crops. Today they are in great demand for sugarcane and cotton crops. This natural manure contains all the ingredients of plant food that can be readily assimilated by the plants.

Apart from these minerals South America possesses sizeable reserves of bauxite, manganese, silver and antimony. Surinam and Guyana are the major producers of bauxite in the continent. Most of these resources are however, exported because there are not many industries within these countries to use them.




The People

The people of South America belong to three main racial groups. They are the American Indians, the Blacks, and the Europeans. Besides these, there are a large number of people of mixed races. They are MESTIZOS, a new race of people of mixed Indian and European blood. MULATTOS, another race of people of mixed European and Black blood, and ZAMBO, yet another race of people of mixed Black and Indian blood. There is little racial feeling in the countries of South America. Among these mixed races the mestizos form the largest group. People of Indian origin have settled in large number in Surinam. Guyana and the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

The total population of South America is about 333 million. The density of population is about 19 persons per square kilometer. But the distribution of population is very uneven. Nearly one-half of the continent has a population density of less than two persons per square kilometer. Large areas of the Amazon Lowlands, the Llanos, the Gran Chaco. The Guyana Highlands, Atacama and Patagonia deserts are practically uninhabited. These lands fail to attract people because of their unfavourable climates. The most densely populated areas of the continent are near the coast. A large number of people live in rural areas and work as farmers. Gradually their number is decreasing as various manufacturing industries are coming up. It has added to the concentration of people in the port towns and capital cities.



The modern means of transport are not well developed in South America. The extensive equatorial forests, the high mountain ranges of the Andes and the Eastern Highlands have stood in the way of a good network of land transport. River are the only means of transport in the forests of the Amazon basin. Cheap river transport is provided by the Amazon and the Plata river systems. These rivers are navigable for long distances. The main railways and roads are concentrated in the plains of Argentina and Brazil. Some of the highest railways of the world are across the Andes in Chile.



Fold mountains: Mountains formed due to the internal forces working from two opposite directions resulting in folds.

Plantation agriculture: Growing of plants or trees on a large scale in a specialized manner, as done in a factory, for commercial purposes.


The Coffee Pot of the World — Brazil


Trade: Buying and selling of goods and services


Brazil lies in the north-eastern part of South America and occupies a little less than one-half the total area of the continent. In area, this is the fifth largest country in the world. It is more than two and a half times the size of India. But its population is about one-sixth of that of our country.

Look at the map of Brazil. It is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean from two sides. Name the countries which have common borders with Brazil. Which two countries of South America do not have a common border with Brazil? Note the position of the equator on the map of Brazil. You will find that the greater part of the country lies to the south of the equator.

Brazil got its present name from the redwood tree, brazil, which was the most important product of the country, when it was discovered about 500 years ago.


Land and Climate

The greater part of the country is a vast plateau, known as the Brazilian Highlands. The eastern and south-eastern parts of the plateau are comparatively high. In these parts at several places the highlands drop abruptly towards the narrow coastal plains.

The northern part of the country is an extensive, flat lowland built up by the Amazon and its tributaries. They have brought down great quantities of alluvium (fine soil) from the surrounding highlands over centuries forming this great plain. In the extreme north lie some portions of the Guyana Highlands.

Brazil is mainly a tropical country with a small part in the south extending into the warm temperate zone. The Amazon basin and northern coastlands have the equatorial type of climate. Here the season is hot and wet throughout the year. What type of natural vegetation would you expect in this region?

A major portion of the Brazilian, plateau has the savanna type of climate with rains during the summer. The natural vegetation of the region is the savanna grass. On the southern parts of the plateau the climate is mild and cool. The region is covered with temperate forests. Further south along the borders of Uruguay is the zone of temperate grasslands.


Resources and their Utilization

Brazil is rich in forests, soil and mineral resources.



Brazilian forests are among the richest in the world. They provide many useful products such as timber, gum, resins, waxes, essential oils, cellulose, fibres and nuts.

Many kinds of timber are obtained from these forests. Balsa, a very light wood, is used for making lifeboats and as a substitute for cork. Its Parana pine is in great demand for building purposes.

The bark of the cinchona tree is used for making quinine which is a valuable medicine in treating malaria. Camauba palm trees yield wax which is found on its leaves.

Brazil is the homeland of rubber. The rubber tree was first found growing wild in the Amazon forest. From here it was taken to the countries of Africa and Asia. Once the Amazon basin was the only rubber-producing region in the world. Today its production is almost negligible.


Animal Rearing

Grasslands and permanent pastures occupy about one-eighth of the total area of Brazil. Therefore, animal rearing is a very important activity. Cattle, pig, sheep, goats and horses are the common domestic animals. Of these, the cattle are the most numerous and important. These animals are reared mainly for their meat, wool and hide.



Brazil is mainly an agricultural country Fertile soils and warm climate favour growth of different kinds of crops. Maize, rice, beans, cassava and potatoes are the food crops grown mainly for local consumption. Coffee, cotton, sugarcane, cocoa and tobacco are grown mainly as each crops. Coffee is by far the most important crop of Brazil. This crop was introduced in Brazil by the Portuguese more than 100 years ago. Today, Brazil is the largest producer and exporter of coffee in the world.

Coffee is grown mostly on the slopes of the high plateaus in the tropical region. The coffee tree requires much rainfall and a high temperature, especially when it produces berries. At the time of harvest, it needs less rainfall and more sunshine.

In Brazil, coffee is generally grown on very large plantations which are called FAZENDAS. A large coffee fazenda usually covers an area of several square kilometers and may contain as many as a million coffee trees. On such a big fazenda, nearly 3,000 to 4,000 workers are required to look after the trees. They live on the fazendas. Each family looks after a certain number of trees. It has a small plot of land on which it grows maize, sugarcane, and vegetable for its own use.

The coffee trees may grow to a height of about nine metres. But they are pruned to the size of a low bush of about three metres. This height is suitable for picking the berries. The coffee trees begin to yield berries within five to six years after planting. The berries resemble cherries. The full-grown berries are picked, sorted and washed. The berries are cured and dried. The outer cover or the hulls are removed usually with a hulling machine. The beans thus left are polished, cleaned, sorted and packed for export.

The beans are roasted and ground into coffee powder. Since coffee quickly loses its flavor after roasting, this process is conveniently done in the countries where the coffee is consumed.

Cotton is another important crop. Brazil is one of the leading cotton producing countries of the world. The north-eastern part of Brazil is known for its sugarcane plantations. Brazil is now an important producer of sugar as well. It is also one of the largest producers and exporters of cocoa in the world, standing next only to Ghana and Nigeria in Africa.

Many kinds of fruits are grown in Brazil. Bananas, pineapples, oranges and grapes are the chief fruits of the country.


Minerals and Industries

Brazilian highlands like the plateau of South Africa are rich in minerals. The richest mining areas are in the state of Minas Gerais.

Brazil is rich in high quality iron ore and mica It also produces manganese and quartz crystal in large quantities. It exports manganese and iron-ore.

Brazil lacks good quality coal which hampers the development of its iron and steel industry. But Brazil is very rich in water resources. Its torrential rivers flowing towards the east and the south form a series of falls on their way as they drop from the Brazilian Plateau. This helps in generating electricity on a large scale.

Most of the industries of Brazil are based on local raw materials and abundant supplies of hydroelectricity. The most important is the textile industry, which includes spinning and weaving of cotton and wool. Cities of Sao Paulo, Rio-de-Janeiro, Belo Horizenete and Santos are important industrial centres. Brazilia is the capital city.


The People

Brazil has a population of about 165 million. But its huge size gives it a low density of population, i.e., about 19 persons per square kilometer. Majority of the people live in the Atlantic coastal region. The Amazon lowland is very sparsely populated.



Trade and Transport

Brazil depends a great deal on trade with other countries. For many years coffee has been its leading export. Cotton takes a second place. A great variety of other products such as cocoa, iron-ore, wood, sisal and sugar are also exported. Brazil imports mainly manufactured goods, especially machines, machine tools, coal, petroleum, chemicals, wheat and flour.

Brazil has a long coastline and there are several port cities. At the moment, roadways and railways have developed mainly in the southern and eastern parts. But roads are being constructed in the interior parts.



Fazenda : A very large coffee estate of plantation in Brazil.


The Land of Wheat and Cattle — Argentina


Rotation of crops : Different crops grown one after the other on the same piece of land, mainly with a view to restore fertility of the soil.


Occupying the southern part of the continent, Argentina is the second largest country of South America. Name the countries having common boundaries with Argentina. Argentina owes its wealth to its rich grasslands, the pampas.

Look at the map of Argentina and find out the latitudes and longitudes between which Argentina is situated. Which island forms its southernmost portion? Note the islands that lie south-east of the country. Argentina is nearly four-fifths the size of India. But its population is even less than that of Gujarat.


Land and Climate

Argentina is mainly a country of lowlands. These lowlands lie to the east of the mountainous areas of the Andes. They run all through its length from north to south. In the north, they are occupied by marshy lowlands of the Gran Chaco. In the south, beyond the Colorado river, they merge into an extensive low plateau of Patagonia. With almost a flat surface, the plateau of Patagonia slopes gradually towards the east.

The most important part of the lowlands is the pampas. In Spanish, it means ‘extensive plains’. The pampas are made up of deep, fine soil free from any stone. For thousands of years stormy winds have carried fine rock particles from the dry west and deposited them in layers one over the other. In some places, these layers of fine soil are more than 300 metres deep. The pampas are, therefore, one of the most fertile grasslands of the world.

The lofty mountains of the Andes form a boundary between Argentina and Chile. The Andes have several high peaks. Mt. Aconcagua is the highest of them all. In the southern part of the country, there are several lakes.

The climate of Argentina is generally temperate. Temperature decreases from north to south and rainfall from east to west. Most of the rainfall comes in the summer months. Which are they?

Grass is the chief vegetation of Argentina. European grasses and alfalfa have now replaced original grasses that were less nutritious. The Gran Chaco is a land of warm temperate forest interspersed with patches of savannas. Quebracho is the most important tree of these forests. Its wood is very hard.



The most valuable product of the forest in Argentina is the quebracho tree. Tannin can be extracted from its bark. Tanninis a liquid used for tanning leather. The quebracho wood is used for making railway sleepers, telephone poles and fencing posts.


Animal Rearing

It includes cattle as well as sheep rearing. It is another important activity. While cattle are reared mainly in the wet areas of the east, sheep are reared in the dry west. It is because sheep can survive on scanty grasses.

In Argentina cattle are reared on large pastoral farms spreading over several square kilometers of land.

These farms are run on the lines of a big factory. There are several departments to look after different aspects such as cattle, fodder crops, machinery water-supply, transport, etc.

Cattle are looked after by gauchos, who put them to pasture and round them up. They belong to a mixed race of Europeans and American Indians.

Great attention is paid to the rearing of best quality beef-cattle. Cattle are sent to the ports for export. They are slaughtered and each part is utilized in some way. For example, bones are turned into fertilizers, hides and fats form other by products. Meat-packing and beef-extracting factories are located at ports.

In Patagonia and the dry western parts, sheep rearing is most important. Sheep provide meat and wool.



Because of the cool, temperate climate and fertile lowlands, crops are grown on a large scale. In fact, the pampas are the main source of Argentina’s wealth. Wheat, maize and linseed are the main crops grown in the pampas. Argentina is one of the leading exporters of wheat, maize and linseed oil in the world. Barley and oats are grown mainly as rotation crops. Besides linseed, sugarcane and cotton are the chief cash crops. Agriculture is one of the most important activities of the people.


Minerals and Industries

The mineral resources of Argentina are limited. Mineral oil is the most important mineral wealth of Argentina. Coal, zinc, chrome, lead and uranium are the other minerals of the country. Uranium is used in the production of atomic energy.

Most of the industries of Argentina are based on the raw materials obtained from its pastoral farming and agriculture. These industries are concentrated in the areas-surrounding the city of Buenos Aires. The major industrial activities of this area are meat-packing, food processing, flour milling, leather tanning and making of leather goods. The region is also known for its cotton and woolen textiles and its sugar mills.

Argentina now manufactures various machines. It has set up big cement plants and oil refineries. It also now manufactures some chemicals and medicines.


The People

The total population of Argentina is over 36 million, giving an average density of about 46 persons per square kilometer. About three-fourths of the population lives in cities. Buenos Aires is the capital and principal city of Argentina.


Trade and Transport

Beef, wheat, maize, linseed and wool are the main exports of Argentina. Its chief imports are machinery and vehicles, iron and steel, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fuel and lubricating oils, Being a lowland, transport lines are easily constructed Argentina leads the countries of South America in the total length of railway line. The trans-Andean railway between Chile and Argentina passes over some of the highest mountains of the world. Most of the railway lines converge in Buenos Aires. It is also the major port of Argentina.



Gauchos : A mixed race of Europeans and American Indians, who look after cattle in a sheep farm.




Australia is the smallest continent. It lies entirely in the Southern Hemisphere. Together with New Zealand and the nearby islands it is known as Australasia.

Australia has some unique vegetation and wildlife.

A large part of Australia is a rain-thirsty land. Only four per cent of its land is under cultivation. But people have managed their limited land and water resources very well. It is known for its pastoral industries, which are pursued on modern and scientific lines.

The average density of population in Australia is very low. Most of the population is concentrated in the eastern and south-eastern regions. Though it is mainly an agricultural and pastoral country, the percentage of the people living in urban areas is very high.

While going through the brief introduction, several queries might have come to your mind. For example, how are the natural vegetation and life in Australia different from other parts of the world? Why is Australia rain-thirsty? How have people managed their land and water resources? Why is the population concentrated only in a few areas? in the following pages you will find answers to such questions.


Australia — Land and Climate


Inland drainage : A river system whose waters do not reach the ocean.

Monsoon winds : Winds changing their direction with the change in the seasons in a large part of Asia


Australia is the only country in the world that covers the entire continent. It is also known as the ‘Island Continent’. In area, it is slightly more than twice the size of India. It lies entirely south of the equator. Look at the globe and you will notice that Australia lies to the south-east of Asia. Name the oceans lying on the west, south and on the east of this continent. Note that the Tropic of Capricom passes almost through the middle of the continent. Find the latitudes and longitudes between which the continent is situated. Name the big island that lies to the south-east of Australia. Australia together with New Zealand and other islands is known as Australasia.

Australia was discovered by Captain James Cook, an English seaman, in 1770. He landed near the site of the present Sydney Harbour. Since it had a favourable climate, he quickly realized that it was possible for his countrymen to settle in this new land.

The country is divided into six self-governing states and two centrally administered territories. Which is the largest state of Australia? Find out the names of the national capital city and the capital city of each state from the map.


The Land

Look at the map of Australia showing its major land forms or forests of the north-eastern coastal region. The forests of Tasmania, and the south-eastern and south-western parts of Australia are of the temperate type. They have mainly eucalyptus trees.

The grasslands of Australia are of two types—tropical and temperate. The tropical grasslands are found in the north. They are called savannas. The temperate grasslands found in the Murray Darling basin are called DOWNS. These grasslands are known for pastoral farming.

The vegetation of semi-arid regions consists of salt-bush and mulger plants. Cactus and thorny grass plants are found in more arid parts.



Many of the animals of Australia are MARSUPIALS. These animals have a pouch like fold of skin near the stomach in which they can carry their young ones. The kangaroo and wallby are well-known examples of marsupials. The kangaroo lives on grass and leaves. It has become symbolic of Australia. Koala is another marsupial of Australia. It resembles a teddy bear because of its flat, black nose. It lives on trees. It feeds on the leaves of the eucalyptus trees. It is active during the night and sleeps during the day.

Dingo is a wild dog. Platypus is a strange animal. It is an animal-bird that survives under water, walks on the ground and digs tunnels under the ground. It is a four-legged animal that lays eggs like a bird.

The emu, kookaburra and lyrebird are some of the birds of Australia. The emu is a large-sized bird which cannot fly but can run fast like the ostrich of Africa. The kookaburra is called the ‘laughing jackass’ because of its peculiar laugh-like call. The lyrebird is a very beautiful bird. It is a great mimic. It can imitate the songs of other birds, the bark of a dog, and the toot of a passing car.



Due to inadequate rainfall in most parts, only four per cent of land in Australia is under cultivation Agriculture is carried on in the south western and south-eastern parts and the eastern coastal areas where water supply is adequate. In some parts, where rainfall is not sufficient, farmers have to depend upon irrigation. A number of dams have been constructed across its big rivers. Water is diverted to the fields through canals.

Like India, Australia is mainly an agricultural country. The most modern and scientific methods of farming are used here. Land is mostly level and farms are of big sizes. This favours the use of machinery. Besides, the farmers have to depend on machinery for most of the work, because of the small population of the country.

Wheat is the most important food crop of Australia. New South Wales and Western Australia are the main wheat growing states. Wheat is also exported in large quantities. Barley, oats and maize are other food crops grown in Australia. Rice is cultivated in irrigated areas. Sugarcane, tobacco and cotton are important crops grown in Queensland. Australia grows a variety of fruits—both tropical and temperate. Pineapple, banana and papaya are grown in the tropical north whereas apples, oranges and grapes are grown in the temperate south.


Sheep Rearing

Australia has the largest number of sheep in the world. Sheep are reared mainly for wool. They can survive on scantv grass and even on salt-bush. The best sheep lands are the lands between the rivers Murray and Darling Merino is the most important breed of sheep producing the best wool.

In Australia, sheep are reared on very large farms known as SHEEP STATIONS.  They are run by a family with the help of a few labourers known as ‘jackaroos’.  They heard the flocks of sheep, attend to their injuries and mend fences to protect the sheep from wild animals such as the dingo.

A sheep station is generally spread over several square kilometers.  It is divided into a number of open grasslands, each having about two to three thousand sheep.  They are looked after by a shepherd or two.  A flock of sheep is driven with the help of dogs from one paddock to another when grass and water become scarce.

Every sheep station is like a self-contained village.  It has all the facilities of modern living.  It has windmills to  pump water from the well.  Besides, there are small houses for the workers.

The  shearing season is the busiest season.  At this time extra men are employed.  Expert teams of shearers go from station to station.  The wool is graded and pressed into bales.  These bales are sent to markets for sale.  From there they are taken to ports for export.  More than 90% wool is exported.


Cattle Rearing

In Australia, cattle area reared partly for dairy products like milk, cheese and butter and partly for meat.  The finest beef-producing cattle is reared on the grasslands of Queensland and the Northern territory.

The chief areas of dairy farming are in the east and south-eastern parts of  Australia.  These regions have a temperate climate.  Rainfall is sufficient for the growth of grasses.  Most of the milk is made into butter and cheese in cooperative factories.


Minerals and Industries

Australia has considerable mineral wealth.  The discovery of gold in the last century brought the first great rush of settlers to this new land.  Australia still produces a fairly good amount of gold.

Australia possesses large reserves of coal, iron-ore, bauxite, manganese and tin.  It is the largest producer of bauxite in the world.  But it ranks fifth in the export because a fairly good amount is used by its own industries.  Australia produces as well as exports iron-ore, tin and manganese in large quantities.  It also has some reserves of petroleum and natural gas.

Australia is one of the important industrialized countries of the world.  It produces iron and steel, agricultural machinery, motor vehicles, electrical goods, chemicals, paper, ships, machine tools and refined oil.  Australia makes several products from its agricultural and animal raw materials.  They are cotton and woolen textiles, sugar, condensed and powdered milk, butter, cheese, tinned fruits and meat.  Most of the manufacturing industries are located  in  Victoria and New South Wales.  Find out from the amp the important centres of industries.


The people

Though Australia is more than twice the size of India, its population is comparatively very small.  Its total  population is about 18 million.  Its density of population is about 2 persons per square kilometer.

Look at the population map of Australia.  You will notice that the population is not evenly distributed.  Much of the interior of Australia is very thinly populated.  Can you give reasons for this?  It is concentrated mostly in the eastern coastal lowlands and south-eastern parts of the continent.

It is very interesting to note that though Australia is mainly an agricultural and pastoral country, most of the Australians live in towns.  Nearly 85% of its people live in the eight capital cities.  Can you name these cities?


Trade and transport

Note from the map that all the state capitals in Australia are port cities.  The rapid growth of Sydney and Melbourne is related mainly to their importance in trade.  Australia stands first in the export of wool.  Its other main exports are wheat, dairy products, beef and mutton, machinery and minerals its main imports are machine4ry, transport equipments, textile goods, petroleum and petroleum products.

Railways are the most important means of transport in Australia.  Study the railway lines of Australia from the map.  What do you notice?  The only transcontinental railway running from one end of the continent to the other is the Trans-Australian Railway.  It runs between Sydney and Perth.  Which other important cities lie on this route?  The journey is of nearly 4,000 kilometres and takes several days to complete.

Good roads connect all the capital cities and important towns of Australia.  The major roads in Australia are called commonwealth highways’.  They are like the National Highways in India.  They run parallel to most of the important railways.

Australia is a continent of great distances.  Air transport, therefore, has been of great importance for reaching the distant sheep farms and other farming settlements and scattered towns and cities.  Aeroplanes are used very frequently for carrying both passengers and goods.  There are also regular air services between Australia and important countries of the world.

One interesting feature of the air transport in Australia is the air ambulance system.  It is not possible to maintain a separate doctor for each of the settlements, as they are scattered.  There are air ambulance bases in each state from where doctors are flown to settlements where they are urgently required.   To make this service more useful the station homesteads are supplied with wireless receiving and transmitting sets.

All important ports of Australia are linked by sea routes which connect them with important ports of other countries.  Coastal shipping is also very important.  There are regular steamer services between the important ports.  Sydney is the largest city and important seaport of Australia.  It is the capital of New South Wales and a major exporting port of the country.  It is connected with all the important towns of Australia by rail and road.  Melbourne and Perth are other important cities.

New Terms you have learnt

Sheep station: Very large farms where sheep are reared mainly for wool.

Transcontinental railway: Railways running from one end of the continent to the other.





Antarctica is the fifth largest continent of the world.  But it is the only continent which is devoid of permanently settled human population.  Can you guess why?

It is called a ‘white continent’ because it is permanently under a thick cover of ice.  It is extremely cold and windy.  What kinds of vegetation and animal life would you expect in this part?

Since the beginning of this century, people from different parts of the world have started exploring this continent.  Some countries have established permanent stations where a few people live throughout the year to conduct scientific studies.  India has also established a base camp there.  How do these people live in such a climate?  What do they want to study?  You will come to know about these in the following chapter.


The White Continent – Antarctica

Terms that you know

Ice-caps:   An area of a few square kilometers covered with permanent snow and ice

Ice-sheet: A large area of land covered with a permanent sheet of ice and snow which is of great thickness.


Antarctica lies completely in the Southern Hemisphere with the South Pole almost in its centre.  In size, it is the fifth largest continent.  However, it is the only continent  which is completely frozen.  It is, therefore, known as the ‘white continent’.  It is the coldest and loneliest landmass on the earth.  Human beings cannot live here permanently.

The mainland of this continent was first discovered in 1820, but real exploration began only in the twentieth century.  It was, therefore, little known to the world for a very long time.  However, in the past few decades hundreds of explorers and scientists from many different countries have gone to Antarctica.  India has also sent a few teams of scientists to this continent for conducting scientific studies.  It has established a permanent base camp at Dakship Gangotri for this purpose.  Several observation stations  have been established by other countries to gain more knowledge about the earth and its atmosphere.  Scientists feel that weather in this part may influence weather in other parts of the world.


Land and climate

About 99% of the continent remains covered permanently with ice, the average thickness being approximately two to five kilometers.  Much of Antarctica is rugged and mountainous.  Shores are steep and there is no coastal plain worth the name.  a few isolated valleys exposed to high velocity winds are bare.  Queen Maud Range divides the continent almost into two equal parts.  One of the most picturesque landmarks ont eh continent is ‘Mount Erebus’ which is the only live volcano on it.

Though vegetation in this part is comparatively  more than in the other parts of the continent, it is very sparse.  It consist of mostly lichens and mosses.  Surrounding the icy continent is a vast expanse of sea called the Southern Ocean.  It is a cold ocean, the surface temperature of water rarely rising above 40 celsius.

The climate is severe.  At the South Pole. The lowest temperature has been recorded at -950 celsius during winter.  Mid-summer temperature normally does not rise above 00C.  It is summer in Antarctica from November to February.  The sun never sets during this period.  On the other hand, during winter, i.e., in May, June, July and August, the sun never rises.  Wind blows at high speed throughout the year.  At the centre of the continent, the air is relatively calm.


Resources and their utilization

Many scientists believe that there may be valuable mineral deposits under the ground.  But there are not enough evidences to support these views.  It is because we still do not have any technology to explore under thick layers of ice.  The scientists have to brave the icy and violent winds to carry out their studies in the open.  Some amount of coal, iron and copper have been found.  However, their utilization on a commercial basis has not yet started because of many difficulties.

About 70% of the world supply of fresh water is stored in the ice caps and ice sheets of this continent.  Huge masses of ice from these ice caps break away and float in the surrounding sea.  These are called ICEBERGS.  It is interesting to know that there has been thought of towing the icebergs to the desert lands of Arab or western Australia for meeting the requirements of fresh water Technically it is possible, but it would be very costly to do so.

The land surface is mostly barrel and is a very cold desert.  The scan vegetation can support only little animal life.  But the sea is bountify Penguins,  sea birds and seals a abundant.  Whales are also found in surrounding sea.  However, there is international law restricting the killing of these sea animals on a large scale preserve the environment.  The resource which has some potential development is krill. Krills are we small fish )length upto six cm a weight, 1 – 105 grammes).  They found in swarms extending upto) metres or more.  They can provide variety of products such as fish-meat, krill-mat paste (used as bread spread and krill-protein.

Despite its vast size, Antarctica little to offer by way of mate resources.  But it provides unique opportunities to scientists to learn more about the earth.  This continent, therefore, is also called ‘a continent for science’.  People have created  liveable environments within the stations established by them.  There are special kinds of permanent structures which can withstand the harsh climate and high velocity winds. Electric generators supply electricity for lighting.  Special clothing, deep-frozen foods, stoves and special vehicles have been flown in.


New term you have learnt

Iceberg:          A large mass of ice floating in the sea which is at least five metres high above the sea level.


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