North AfricaChapter 21
North Africa includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Western Sahara (which is occupied by Morocco.)North Africa stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. The northern border is the Mediterranean Sea.
LandformsCoastal plains are the main landforms where North Africa meets the sea and ocean.Beyond the coastal plain, the Atlas Mountains run parallel to the coastal plains.The Sahara, the largest desert in the world, extends all across North Africa below the Atlas Mountains and acts as a natural barrier between North Africa and the rest of the African continent.
The Sahara covers about 3.5 million square miles (roughly the size of the USA) ERGS Basins covered with high shifting sand dunes creating a sea of sand.
REGS Where the wind has blown the sand and dust away, leaving a gravel covered plain.
Other LandformsLarge, low areas are called depressions. In Egypt, the Qattara Depression is 440 ft. below sea level and is a wilderness of quick sand and salt marsh.
Rainwater also carves outwadis, which are dry streambeds that only fillwith water after rain falls.
Other LandformsIn the eastern Sahara, the Nile River flows north through Egypt into the Mediterranean. The Nile is a long oasis in the desert. Water from the river and Nile Delta supports crops and other vegetation, creating a fertile green strip across Egypt.
ClimatesMediterranean climate along the coast warm, dry summers and mild rainy wintersSemiarid between coastal areas and the SaharaArid climate covers most of North America
The highest temperature ever recorded on Earth was 135 degrees on the northern edge of the Sahara in Libya.Natural ResourcesOil and natural gas are the regions most valuable resources. Oil is found in every country in North Africa (Libya has the most).Morocco is the worlds largest exporter of sardines (350,000 tons are caught each year).Egypt is an important cotton and rice producer.
HistoryThe first people in North Africa were hunter-gatherers. About 3000 BC the great civilization of Egypt grew along the Nile River.They depended upon the Nile flooding for survival (silt spilling out on the bank.)Later, as Egyptian power weakened, Phoenicians, Greeks, and the Romans controlled North Africa.
HistoryThe Phoenicians set up trading colonies such as Carthage in what is today Tunisia.Alexander-the-Great founded the city of Alexandria in Egypt. The Roman Empire became a great power in North Africa after it destroyed Carthage.The Vandals (from Spain) set up a kingdom that became what is now Libya.Eventually Arabs swept across North Africa and conquered Morocco. Most people in North Africa became Muslim and Arabic became the main language of the area.People and LanguagesThe countries of North Africa share a similar history and Muslim culture. Almost all people of North Africa consider themselves Arab (even tribes like the Berbers and the Bedouins).Arabic is the official language of every country in North Africa.Many people also speak European languages: French iswidely used in Algeria, Morocco,and Tunisia. Italian is spoken inLibya, and English is used widelyin Egypt.
Settlement and Land UsageMost North Africans live along the Mediterranean coast or in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.Exception: Egypt about 99% of the people live in the Nile River Valley and Delta. Cairo, the capital of Egypt, is the largest urban area in North Africa.
ReligionMost North Africans are Muslims (except for small Christian and Jewish minorities). Islam plays an important role in North African life prayer 5 times a day, many businesses closed on Fridays, etc. Wedding celebrations are very important and can last for several days. Womens and mens celebrations are held separately except for the last day of the wedding.