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.
- Take a look at the map above, or click here to see the full-size, zoomable version. Why do you think Africa’s ethnic communities do not loosely adhere to country borders?
- There are a lot of reasons, but a powerful one is the impact of European colonialism. As the Mic article says, “European colonial powers divvied up sections of the continent with little regard for how the residents . . organized the land themselves.”
- 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.”
- According to our encyclopedia’s “Historic Cultures” section, what was the other major migration that shaped Africa’s human geography? Is that migration represented by a layer on the AfricaMap?
- The Atlantic slave trade was the other major migration pattern that helped define much of Africa and its influence on the modern world.
- The slave trade is represented by two categories on the AfricaMap: the “Atlantic Slave Trade & Life Database” and the “Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.” Use layers in these categories to better understand the ports, ships, and human cargo involved in the brutal trade. Where were the biggest slave destination ports in the New World? Where was the biggest slave port in the U.S.?
- The largest slave ports in the Americas were in what is today Brazil and the Caribbean.
- The largest slave port in the U.S. was in Charleston, South Carolina. Read more about Charleston’s horrifying market in human trafficking here.
- Experiment with other layers on the AfricaMap: religion, life expectancy, world heritage sites. What other information would you like to see the good folks at Harvard represent on the map?
Mic: These Amazing Maps Show the True Diversity of Africa
Nat Geo: What is the human geography of Africa?
One thought on “Africa’s Dazzling Diversity”
Thanks for sharing this great information about the diversity of Africa. It is truly amazing how culturally diverse Africa is!