The continent of Africa is comprised of almost sixty countries, or about one-third of all countries on the earth. Within these countries lie some of the most diverse climate and vegetation regions in the world. This variation is also reflected in the peoples of Africa; hundreds of traditional tribes that represent a myriad of language groups exist side by side within political regions created by European conquerors during the 19th century. The colonial legacy of Africa has led to economic underdevelopment which, in turn, is linked to political and social strife. However, many leaders of African nations are finding creative and innovative ways to address the monumental problems facing the continent, including the creation of an African Union to collectively fight the scourge of AIDS, overpopulation, environmental degradation and famine.
In this unit, students will focus on the continent of Africa, but the point should be made that geographically, the nations of Northern Africa (Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia), may have more in common culturally with Southwest Asia (the Middle East).
In this unit, students will address the following questions:
- What is the physical geography of Africa?
- What is the cultural geography of Africa, past and present?
- What is the history of African nations and what are the effects of the colonial legacy?
- What are some ways in which African nations are dealing with health issues?
- What are some ways in which African nations are working to protect the environment?
- What are the social and political issues facing Africa currently?
- What are the challenges of underdevelopment?
- How can African leaders promote unity among nations?
By the end of this unit, students should be able to:
- Accurately describe the distinct climate and vegetation regions in Africa.
- Understand the diversity that exists between peoples of Africa.
- Identify the European nations that colonized Africa and generally know the regions colonized by each power.
- Recognize the multi-faceted issues that AIDS brings to African nations.
- Identify the major environmental problems in Africa today and suggest solutions.
- Understand the necessity of African nations working together to solve African problems including health, human rights, the environment and sustainable development.
Students will be presented with the following scenario: The World Bank has just turned down a proposed route for a highway across Africa from Tunis, Tunisia, to Cape Town, South Africa. Students are requested to submit to the World Bank a proposal for a better route for the highway. Drawing upon lessons learned in the activities, students will explain why the first route was turned down, and create a new and improved route with reasoned support for it.