Africa -- School-age


Africa Map

Things to Know

Africa is the second-largest continent on Earth with an area of 12 million square miles. Africa is also the world's second most populous continent with an estimated population in 2013 of 1.033 billion people.

There are over 1000 languages in Africa.

Africa Countries Flags

There are 54 independent countries on the continent of Africa.

Africa globe


Africa is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife and the largest mammals known to man the Africa elephant.

Creature Feature: African Elephants

The Cheetah Spot

African Lion


Nile Crocodile



North Africa was reasonably known Greco-Roman geography. The exploration of Africa began in the 15th century along the coast with trade posts.

The Portuguese Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) launched the first great European voyages of exploration. He made it possible for the first Europeans to explore Africa.

Henry the NavigatorPrince Henry rarely participated in explorations, he sponsored explorations Africa that mapped the coast of west Africa, spread Christianity, established new trade routes for Portugal, and defeated Muslims who were the enemies of the Portuguese.

Prince Henry's school of navigation resulted in breakthroughs for Portuguese navigation. Henry wanted to find a water route to India and he helped unlock the secrets of Africa. Henry's school for sailors included libraries. an astronomical observatory, ship-building facilities, employed cartographer to create maps, and he sponsored sailing expeditions.

Prince Henry helped begin the Age of Exploration or Age of Discovery as it is sometimes called. The Age of Exploration began in the 15th century with Europeans exploring regions of the world for commercial, military, scientific, religious, and other purposes.

North Africa was reasonably known from Greco-Roman geography. The exploration of Africa began in the 15th century along the coast with trade posts. The interior of Africa was unfamiliar to Europeans until the 19th century.

Mary Kingsley (1862-1900) The greatest of all women explorers.

Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890)

Dr. David Livingston
(1813-1873) Explored the interior of Africa.

John Speke (1827 - 1864)
Discovered Lake Victoria the largest source of the Nile River.

Isabelle Eberhardt
(1877-1904) was an explorer who lived and traveled extensively in North Africa.

Things to Do

Age of Exploration Printable Timeline Squares

Henry the Navigator color page


Walt Disney Legacy Collection - True Life Adventures, Vol. 3

Walt Disney's True-Life Adventures awakened viewers to the wonders of the natural world. Disney began the series in 1946 with Seal Island, and the six features and seven features won eight Academy Awards.

One winner was Bear Country (1953), which is included in Creatures of the Wild, along with The African Lion (1955), Jungle Cat (1959) and The Olympic Elk (1952).

From the 1955 nature documentary The African Lion.



Much of Africa has a tropical or desert climate. Africa has the largest tropical area of any continent. The equator runs through the middle of Africa, and about 90 % of the continent lies within the tropics.


Africa is a land of enormous mountains, tropical rainforests, grassy savannas, three large deserts, and the world's longest river.


Africa is home to three deserts:

The Sahara, in the north, is the largest desert in the world. It's nickname is the Sea of Sand. The Sahara desert reaches from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Red Sea in the east. From east to west the length is 4,800 km (2,983 mi). From north to south the width is 1,800 km (1,118 mi).

The Kalahari, in southern Africa, is a cold rocky desert.

The Namib, in southwest Africa, is one of the hottest, driest places on earth,

Sahara Desert Satellite Image
Sahara Desert satellite image by NASA

Great Rift Valley

Great Rift Valley
Great Rift Valley
from space.

The most mountainous region in Africa is on the eastern coast in the Great Rift Valley stretching from Mozambique to Israel and up to northern Syria.

It is a geographical and geological feature running north to south 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) . The Great Rift Valley ranges in elevation from 1,300 feet (395 m) below sea level (the Dead Sea) to 6,000 feet (1,830 meters) above sea level in South Kenya. The Great Rift Valley is known for its spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife.

In East Africa the valley splits into two, the Eastern Rift and the Western Rift. The Western Rift is edged by the highest mountains in Africa and contains some of the deepest lakes in the world.

Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain peak in Africa, is made up of an inactive volcanoe. Kilimanjaro is located on the border of Kenya and Tanzania near the equator, but is so high that although it lies in the tropics its peak is always covered with snow.

Mt Kilimanjaro
Mt. Kilimanjaro

Many lakes have formed in the Great Rift Valley. Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the second largest freshwater lake in the world. The lake was named after Queen Victoria by British explorer John Hanning Speke.

Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria by NASA

Lake Victoria is a source of the Nile, the world's longest river.


Rainforests in Africa today are limited to the Western coast and only reach as far inland as eastern Zaire.

Half of the African continent's animal species live in the rainforests. Roughly 90 percent of West Africa's rainforests have been wiped out. The second largest rainforest in the world is in Central Africa's Congo Basin. It also is in danger due to deforestation, road construction, and farming.

African Forest


North and south of the rainforest are savannas, areas with tall grasses and scattered trees and bushes. The savanna is home to large grazing animals: elephants, lions, tigers, giraffes, and zebras.


South African Plants


by Wilhelmina Harper

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