Map of Africa
Natural History
- Introduction
- Vocabulary
- Land of Contrasts
- Climate
- Vegetation
- Animals


Classroom Ideas
(Academy Library)
- African People
- African Animals
African Photos


The climate of any region is mainly dependent on temperature and the amount and distribution of rainfall. Since most of Africa lies within the tropics or subtropics and has warm temperatures; its climates vary principally in the amount and seasonality of the precipitation they receive.

Tropical Wet - Rain Forest. This climate is hot with lots of rain year round; rainfall from 65 inches (1 65 centimeters) to between 1 50 to 200 inches (254 to 381 centimeters) a year is not uncommon. (By comparison, Los Angeles receives only 14.8 inches or 38 centimeters per year.) The seasons, such as they are, are characterized by changes in the amount of rainfall and can best be described as a wet season and a less wet season. The tropical wet climate is found only near the Equator, and temperatures do not change much from winter to summer.

 Tropical Dry. This climate is found roughly along the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. The tropical dry climate is both very hot and very dry. The Sahara Desert, located on the Tropic of Cancer, is the largest and hottest desert on earth; the Kalahari Desert is located along the Tropic of Capricorn in southern Africa. Areas within the tropical dry region receive less than 20 inches (51 centimeters) of rain per year, but there is wide variation in the actual amount an area receives from year to year. Temperatures during the day are high, but often nighttime temperatures are much lower.

 Tropical Wet and Dry. Between the tropical dry and tropical wet climates is found the tropical wet and dry climate, which has some characteristics of each. Temperatures are warm and stable throughout the year, but seasonal changes in wind patterns result in distinct wet and dry seasons. There is a wide range in the total seasonal rainfall, but the minimum is at least 20 inches (51 centimeters) per year.

 Montane (Mountain). This climate resembles those found at higher latitudes (closer to the North and South Poles). However, it is a special variation of the surrounding climate caused by the high elevation of a mountain; it characteristically has increased rainfall and decreased temperatures. Temperatures at the mountain top are colder than those at the base. Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet or 5895 meters), the highest mountain in Africa, lies close to the Equator, yet it is capped with snow all year, while the lowlands that surround Mt. Kilimanjaro have a tropical wet and dry climate.


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