Coastal Processes of Africa
Coastal deposition (accumulation of sediment) occurs along much of the African coastline, particularly along the Mediterranean coast, along the Atlantic coast from Liberia to South Africa, and along the Indian Ocean coast of South Africa and southern Mozambique. Where there are strong winds parallel to the coast, waves and currents move sand along the coastline, in the process creating large sand spits and blocking harbors. At the mouths of the Niger and Nile rivers, large fan-shaped deltas have been created through the deposition of vast amounts of sediment carried downstream by these rivers. Few good harbors are found in areas where there are high levels of coastal deposition.
Colonial Rule in Africa
By World War I (1914-1918) Ethiopia and Liberia were the only independent nations left in Africa. France and Britain held the most African territory: French colonies stretched across almost all of West Africa, while Britain held an almost unbroken string of colonies from Egypt to South Africa.
Generally, African coastline is very even, with few good natural harbors. The coastal plain is narrow around much of the continent, particularly in the south and east. Major escarpments run parallel to the coast in several areas. Most of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean coastline is fringed by coral reefs, which are an obstacle to ships. On the Atlantic coast, waters are generally too cold for coral development. Africa’s best natural harbors are found in the many deep coastal inlets between Senegal and Liberia, especially at the mouths of rivers. Lagoon coasts, with a coastal barrier beach backed by lagoons, are common between Liberia and Nigeria. African Coastline however depicts the continents vast natural potentials.
In the tropical wet zone of Africa, occurring close to the equator in West and Central Africa and eastern Madagascar, dense natural vegetation requires periodic clearing and burning to obtain plots for cultivation. Both small-scale and plantation agriculture are practiced in the zone, but small-scale production predominates for almost all export crops as well as food crops. Major export crops include coffee, oil palms, and cacao, and important subsistence food crops include cassava, yams, okra, plantains, bananas, and legumes. In most areas, farmers grow both export crops and subsistence food crops. Most of Africa’s exports of coffee, cacao, and oil palm products come from small-scale producers in this region. In some areas of Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria, plantations using modern mechanical equipment and artificial fertilizers have been established. The most notable example is the extensive Firestone rubber plantation of Liberia, which produces most of the country’s rubber crop. Other major successful commercial undertakings include coffee growing in Côte d’Ivoire and cacao production in Ghana all within the tropical wet zone of Africa.