Geography of South Africa

By J. P. 6

Namib Desert

The Namib Desert is a coastal desert in southern Africa, and is the oldest desert in the world. The Namib is almost completely uninhabited by people, except for a few small settlements throughout.

The Namib is important because, due to its age and ancient past, it may be home to more endemic species of plants and animals than any other desert in the world.

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Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky, narrow piece of land that juts out into the sea from the coast of the Cape Peninsula. The Cape of Good Hope marks the point where ships begin to travel more eastward than southward when following the western coastline of Africa.

The Cape of Good Hope is important because it has long since been a symbol of significance to sailors, many who refer to it as simply "the Cape". It is a resting place, or waypoint, for clipper ships on the route to the Far East and Australia. The route is still followed today by offshore yacht races.

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The city of Johannesburg has the largest population of people in South Africa, and and is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa.

Johannesburg is important because it is served by two international airports and one domestic airport. The O.R. Tambo International Airport is east of the city, and is the largest and busiest airport in Africa, as well as a gateway for international travel to and from the rest of Southern Africa. This allows more visitors and tourists to visit, boosting the economy.

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Zambezi River

The Zambezi River is the fourth-longest river in Africa, as well as the largest river flowing from Africa into the Indian Ocean. The river's most noted feature is Victoria Falls.

The Zambezi is important because it is a vital waterway for shipping goods in and out of the continent, as well as an important source of water and hydroelectricity. The two main hydroelectricity sources on the river are the Kariba Dam, which provides electricity for Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the Cahorra Bassa Dam in located in Mozambique, which provides power to Mozambique and South Africa.

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Limpopo River

The Limpopo river is a river that flows through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique in a great arch. The river is described to flow 'sluggishly', due to the considerable amount of silt in the water.

The river is important because it provides a habitat for the Zambezi shark, crocodiles, and hippopotamus, as well as people. Around 14 million people make their home in the Limpopo basin; the fertile lowlands can support a denser population.

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Lusaka is the largest city and capital of Zambia, and is one of the fastest-developing cities in Southern Africa.

Lusaka is important because it is a center of both government and commerce in Zambia, and connects the four main highways of the country, heading north, south, east, and west.

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Kalahari Desert

The Kalahari Desert is a semi-arid, sandy savannah in Southern Africa, stretching 900,000 square kilometers and covering most of Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa.

The Kalahari is important because, after plentiful rainfall, it contains huge spreads of excellent grazing grounds, and is home to many species of plants and animals, including endangered species like the African Wild Dog.

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Cabinda (exclave)

Cabinda is an exclave and province of Angola, though many political organizations have had disputes over its status. Today, Cabinda is a mixture of three kingdoms: the N'Goyo, Loango, and Kakongo.

Cabinda is important and highly valued because of natural resources, particularly oil. Adjacent to the coast of Cabinda are some of the largest oil fields in the world. The province also produces coffee, hardwoods, rubber, cacao, and palm oil, though petroleum accounts for most of Cabinda's domestic product.

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Orange River

The Orange river is the longest river in South Africa, rising up into the Drakensberg mountains and flowing west through South Africa into the Atlantic Ocean.

The river is important to the South Africans because it provides water for irrigation, as well as hydroelectric power for electricity.

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Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is a waterfall on the Zambezi river in South Africa, located at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is also claimed to be the largest waterfall in the world.

The Victoria Falls is an important part of Zambia and Zimbabwe's economy, as it attracts many tourists every year. Both countries permit tourists to make day trips from side to side, and visas can be obtained at border posts. The costs can range from $20-$50 (U.S. dollars)

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