Geography of Angola

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Angola_map.png
Map of Angola

Angola is located on the South Atlantic Coast of West Africa between Namibia and the Republic of the Congo. It also is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia to the east. The country is divided into an arid coastal strip stretching from Namibia to Luanda; a wet, interior highland; a dry savanna in the interior south and southeast; and rain forest in the north and in Cabinda. The Zambezi River and several tributaries of the Congo River have their sources in Angola. The coastal strip is tempered by the cool Benguela current, resulting in a climate similar to coastal Peru or Baja California. There is a short rainy season lasting from February to April. Summers are hot and dry, while winters are mild. The interior highlands have a mild climate with a rainy season from November through April followed by a cool dry season from May to October. Elevations generally range from 3,000 to 6,000 feet (900 to 1,800 m). The far north and Cabinda enjoy rain throughout much of the year.

The coast is for the most part flat, with occasional low cliffs and bluffs of red sandstone. There is but one deep inlet of the sea - Great Fish Bay (or Baa dos Tigres). Farther north are Port Alexander, Little Fish Bay and Lobito Bay, while shallower bays are numerous. Lobito Bay has water sufficient to allow large ships to unload close inshore. The coast plain extends inland for a distance varying from 30 to 100 miles (48 to 165 km). This region is in general sparsely watered and somewhat sterile. The approach to the great central plateau of Africa is marked by a series of irregular terraces. This intermediate mountain belt is covered with luxuriant vegetation. Water is fairly abundant, though in the dry season obtainable only by digging in the sandy beds of the rivers. The plateau has an altitude ranging from 4000 to 6000 ft (1,200 to 1,800 m). It consists of well-watered, wide, rolling plains, and low hills with scanty vegetation. In the east the tableland falls away to the basins of the Congo and Zambezi, to the south it merges into a barren sandy desert. A large number of rivers make their way westward to the sea; they rise, mostly, in the mountain belt, and are unimportant, the only two of any size being the Kwanza and the Kunene, separately noticed. The mountain chains which form the edge of the plateau, or diversify its surface, run generally parallel to the coast, as Tala Mugongo (4400 ft., 1350 m), Chella and Vissecua (5250 ft. to 6500 ft. or 1500 to 2000 m). In the district of Benguela are the highest points of the province, viz. Loviti (7780 ft., 2370 m), in 12° 5' S., and Mt. Elonga (7550 ft., 2300 m). South of the Kwanza is the volcanic mountain Caculo-Cabaza (3300 ft., 1000 m). From the tableland the Kwango and many other streams flow north to join the Kasai River (one of the largest affluents of the Congo), which in its upper course forms for fully 300 mi (490 km). the boundary between Angola and the Congo State. In the south-east part of the province the rivers belong either to the Zambezi system, or, like the Okavango, drain to Lake Ngami.

Geology: The rock formations of Angola are met with in three distinct regions:

  1. the littoral zone,
  2. the median zone formed by a series of hills more or less parallel with the coast,
  3. the central plateau.

The central plateau consists of ancient crystalline rocks with granites overlain by unfossiliferous sandstones and conglomerates considered to be of Paleozoic age. The outcrops are largely hidden under laterite. The median zone is composed largely of crystalline rocks with granites and some Palaeozoic unfossiliferous rocks. The littoral zone contains the only fossiliferous strata. These are of Tertiary and Cretaceous ages, the latter rocks resting on a reddish sandstone of older date. The Cretaceous rocks of the Dombe Grande region (near Benguella) are of Albian age and belong to the Acanthoceras mamillari zone. The beds containing Schloenbachia inflata are referable to the Gault. Rocks of Tertiary age are met with at Dombe Grande, Mossamedes and near Loanda. The sandstones with gypsum, copper and sulfur of Dombe are doubtfully considered to be of Triassic age. Recent eruptive rocks, mainly basalts, form a line of hills almost bare of vegetation between Benguella and Mossamedes. Nepheline basalts and liparites occur at Dombe Grande. The presence of gum copal in considerable quantities in the superficial rocks is characteristic of certain regions.

Location: Southern Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Namibia and Democratic Republic of the Congo

Geographic coordinates: Template:Coor dm

Map references: Africa

Area:

  • total: 1,246,700 km²
  • land: 1,246,700 km²
  • water: 0 km²

Area comparative

Capital

  • Luanda (São Paulo de Loanda)

Major Cities

Land boundaries:

  • total: 5,198 km

Coastline: 1,600 km

Maritime claims:

  • contiguous zone: 24 nautical miles (44,5 km)
  • exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles (370 km)
  • territorial sea: 12 nautical miles (22 km)

Climate: Semiarid in South and along coast to Luanda; North has cool, dry season (May to October) and hot, rainy season (November to April). In the interior, above 3300 ft. (1000 m), the temperature and rainfall decrease. The plateau climate is healthy and invigorating. The mean annual temperature at São Salvador do Congo is 22.2° C (72.5° F); at Loanda, 23.3° C (74.3° F); and at Caconda, 19.5° C (67.2° F). The climate is greatly influenced by the prevailing winds, which arc W., S.W. and S.S.W. Two seasons are distinguished ? the cool, from June to September; and the rainy, from October to May. The heaviest rainfall occurs in April, and is accompanied by violent storms.

Terrain: narrow coastal plain rises abruptly to vast interior plateau


Elevation extremes:

  • lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
  • highest point: Morro de Moco 2,620 m

Natural resources: petroleum, diamonds, iron ore, phosphates, copper, feldspar, gold, bauxite, uranium

Land use:

  • arable land: 2.41%
  • permanent crops: 0.4%
  • other: 97.19% (1999 est.)

Irrigated land: 750 km² (1998 est.)

Natural hazards: locally heavy rainfall causes periodic flooding on the plateau

Environment - current issues: Overuse of pastures and subsequent soil erosion attributable to population pressures; desertification; deforestation of tropical rain forest, in response to both international demand for tropical timber and to domestic use as fuel, resulting in loss of biodiversity; soil erosion contributing to water pollution and silting of rivers and dams; inadequate supplies of potable water

Environment - international agreements:

Flora and fauna: Both flora and fauna are those characteristic of the greater part of tropical Africa. As far south as Benguela the coast region is rich in oil palms and mangroves. In the Northern part of the province are dense forests. In the South towards the Kunene are regions of dense thorn scrub. Rubber vines and trees are abundant, but in some districts their number has been considerably reduced by the primitive methods adopted by native collectors of rubber. The species most common are various root rubbers, notably the Carpodinus chylorrhiza. This species and other varieties of carpodinus are very widely distributed. Landolphias are also found. The coffee, cotton and Guinea pepper plants are indigenous, and the tobacco plant flourishes in several districts. Among the trees are several which yield excellent timber, such as the tacula (Pterocarpus tinctorius), which grows to an immense size, its wood being blood-red in colour, and the Angola mahogany. The bark of the musuemba (Albizzia coriaria) is largely used in the tanning of leather. The mulundo bears a fruit about the size of a cricket ball covered with a hard green shell and containing scarlet pips like a pomegranate. The fauna includes the lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, buffalo, zebra, kudu and many other kinds of antelope, wildpig, ostrich and crocodile. Among fish are the barbel, bream and African yellow fish.

Geography - note: the province of Cabinda is an exclave, separated from the rest of the country by the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Extreme points

This is a list of the extreme points of Angola, the points that are farther north, south, east or west than any other location.

Angola

Angola (mainland)

Reference

Much of the material in this article comes from the CIA World Factbook 2003 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.


See also

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