The World and Its People

Chapter 21: Southern Africa—A Varied Region

Chapter Overviews

The Republic of South Africa, the most industrialized country in Africa, is located at the southern end of the African continent. It is the world's largest producer and exporter of gold and also has large deposits of other mineral resources. In 1948 the white settlers in South Africa set up a system of apartheid that limited the rights of black South Africans. In 1991 apartheid ended, and in 1994 South Africa held its first democratic elections in which people from all ethnic groups could vote. Within South Africa lie the two tiny enclaves of Swaziland and Lesotho. Many of the people in these countries farm or work in South African mines.

The four countries of inland southern Africa include Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. The Zambezi River flows across the country of Zambia, and a large area of copper mines, known as a copper belt, stretches across northern Zambia. In the middle of Malawi lies Lake Malawi, which holds more fish species than any other inland body of water in the world. Zimbabwe takes its name from an ancient African city and trading center—Great Zimbabwe. Mineral-rich Botswana lies in the center of southern Africa. The Kalahari Desert spreads over the southwestern part of the country.

Angola and Namibia have long coastlines on the Atlantic Ocean. The Namib Desert runs along the coast of both countries. Although most of Angola's people are farmers, the country's major export is oil. Namibia is one of Africa's newest countries, gaining independence in 1990. It has rich mineral deposits, but unfortunately, most of its people continue to live in poverty.

The Indian Ocean countries include Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius, and Seychelles. Madagascar's island location has resulted in many plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. While Comoros continues to be mainly agricultural, Mauritius has succeeded in developing a variety of industries. The beaches and tropical climate of Seychelles attracts many tourists.

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