Africa’s Dazzling Diversity

GEOGRAPHY

Africa is not a country. It’s an entire continent filled with amazing, unparalleled diversity of languages, peoples and nations. New maps illustrate just how diverse Africa really is. Beware: You can spend hours here. (Mic)

Learn more about Africa’s dazzling cultural diversity.

africa ethnicity

Click on the map to find the full-size version! This map displays the ethnic diversity of Africa, overlaid with country borders.
CC-BY-NC-SA-3.0

Discussion Ideas

 

Click on the map to visit the full-size version! This map (the layer "Language families 2001 Felix", under the "Ethno and Linguistic" category) displays the language families found in Africa, overlaid with country borders.

Click on the map to visit the full-size version! This map displays the language families found in Africa, overlaid with country borders.
CC-BY-NC-SA-3.0

  • Read through the short “Historic Cultures” section of our terrific encyclopedic entry on the human geography of Africa, then take a look at the map above, or click here for a full-size, zoomable version. What language family do you think is represented by the light green color that dominates the southern part of the continent?
    • Bantu is the language family color-coded light green. According to our encyclopedic entry, the Bantu language family lent its name to the Bantu Migration, the most important human migration to have occurred since the first human ancestors left Africa more than a million years ago. According to our encyclopedia, “Historians do not agree on why Bantu-speaking people moved away from their homes in West Africa’s Niger Delta Basin. They first moved southeast, through the rain forests of Central Africa. Eventually, they migrated to the savannas of the southeastern and southwestern parts of the continent, including what is today Angola and Zambia. . . Today, most of the population living in these regions is descended from Bantu migrants or from mixed Bantu-indigenous origins.”

 

Behold the Triangle Trade. The first leg of the triangle, represented here in green, was usually from a European or New World port to Africa, in which ships carried supplies for sale and trade, such as cloth, beads, guns, and ammunition. When the ship arrived, its cargo would be sold or bartered for slaves. On the second leg, represented here in red, slave ships made the harrowing "Middle Passage" from Africa to the New World. (Dig deeper with AfricaMap's layers on the second leg, outlining human trafficking by nationality, number of people exported, and the year of the voyages—these are my favorite, and most devastating, layers of the map.) The third leg of the triangle, represented here in black, took the ships back to their home port with cargoes of sugar, rum, molasses, tobacco, and hemp.

Behold the Triangle Trade. The first leg of the triangle, represented here as a green trade route, was usually from a European or New World port to Africa, in which ships carried supplies for sale and trade, such as cloth, beads, guns, and ammunition. When the ship arrived, its cargo would be sold or bartered for slaves. On the second leg, represented here as a red trade route, slave ships made the harrowing “Middle Passage” from Africa to the New World. (Dig deeper with AfricaMap’s layers on the second leg, outlining human trafficking by nationality, number of people exported, and the year of the voyages—these are my favorite, and most devastating, layers of the map.) The third leg of the triangle, represented here as a black trade route, took the ships back to their home port with cargoes of sugar, rum, molasses, tobacco, and hemp.
CC-BY-NC-SA-3.0 (Leg 1) (Leg 2) (Leg 3)

 

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Mic: These Amazing Maps Show the True Diversity of Africa

Nat Geo: What is the human geography of Africa?

Harvard: AfricaMap

One response to “Africa’s Dazzling Diversity

  1. Thanks for sharing this great information about the diversity of Africa. It is truly amazing how culturally diverse Africa is!

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