2 AFRO-AMERICAN ENCYCLOPAEDIA.
the east are characterized by mountaneous ridges and plateaus,
which •" stretch from the southern tableland like rocky promontories
into a sea of level country '' The only other elevated region of im¬
portance is the Atlas range in the northwest. The coast line is
about 16,000 miles in extent, or about two-thirds of the entire dis¬
tance around the globe. The bodies of water which surround Africa
are the Mediterranean Sea on the north, the Red Sea and the Indian
Ocean on the east, the Southern Ocean on the south, and the Atlan¬
tic Ocean on the west.
This country has been looked upon as pre-eminently the land of
deserts. The great Sahara stretches almost across northern Africa.
It is not an unbroken sandy expanse, but full of variety, broken up
by great oases and green stretches of land. Some of them are 120
miles in length and from three to five miles broad. In Southern
Africa is another desert known as Kalahari. The plateaus of South¬
ern Africa are fertile and thickly populated.
The extent of the mineral wealth of the continent is unknown, but
the precious metals are only found in a limited area. Gold is found
in Guinea, iron and copper are found in inter-tropical Africa, coal
has been discovered along the Zambesi, and salt is everywhere
Dense forests with rankest vegetation, teaming with animal and
insect life, pervade the equatorial regions. The most valuable pro¬
ductions of the vegetable kingdom are dates, oranges, olives, rice,
cotton, indigo, bananas and grains.
The quadrupeds found in Africa cover a wide range of natural
history The chimpanzee and the gorilla, baboons and monkeys
abound in great numbers. The elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus,
buffalo, giraffe, camelopard, zebra, quagga, antelope, lion, leopard,
panther, tiger, hyena, jackal and camel are all at home on the "Dark
Continent." The camel is used as the principal beast of burden.
There are five great mountain systems. The climate is more equable
in the distribution of heat than that of America. There are many
large and important rivers: The Congo, the Limpoppo, the Niger,
the' Nile, the Senegal, and the Zambesi. The Nile is the most
famous and wonderful of all. Many of the lakes are vast inland
seas, whose existence have been verified by recent explorers. The
general form of Africa is triangular, the northern part being the
base, and the southern extremity the vertex.
In the northern part of Africa the Mohammedan religion prevails,