World History 1 136 - 9.1 Africa’s Geography and Climate

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Describe the way geography and climate shaped Africa’s ancient societies
  • Discuss the various Neolithic and hunter-gatherer societies in early Africa

Geography played a vital part in shaping early human societies. Landscape, climate, wildlife, vegetation, and the availability of natural resources all helped influence what early societies looked like, whether they were nomadic units that kept animals and survived by hunting and foraging or settled communities that grew crops, tended herds or flocks, and built shelters. Such characteristics depended on factors like weather patterns and soil fertility, as well as the proximity of drinking water and toolmaking resources.

Well-watered regions in Africa, such as the grassy plains of the savannas and the northern and southern fringes of the continent, have historically produced environments that foster settled human communities. Here abundant rain, adequate forestation, and a host of wildlife provided conditions that could support ever-growing populations over long periods of time. More arid regions, such as the narrow transitional belts separating the savannas from Africa’s deserts, experience less rain and have less fertile soil, producing land that cannot be successfully farmed. These areas lent themselves to nomadism and the herding of grazing animals to provide many of the necessities of life, from milk and meat for food to leather and fur for clothing and bones for toolmaking. Throughout most of human history, geography has been an important factor in human development. As a result, exploring Africa’s diverse geography opens a window into the development of the earliest human civilization on the continent.

This lesson has no exercises.

The content of this course has been taken from the free World History, Volume 1: to 1500 textbook by Openstax