Africa is where humanity got its start. Where pharaohs ruled and civilization first flourished.
For centuries, Africa has mesmerized the world with its stunning scenery, its ancient civilizations, its hypnotizing music.
The Great Lakes of Africa include some of the largest and most ecologically diverse freshwater systems on the planet. Twisting down the two arms of the Great Rift Valley like a chain of sapphires, the lakes are located in nine countries in East and Central Africa.
Eight of the 15 lakes in this region are considered to rank as "great lakes," a testimony to their size and depth. Lake Victoria, located between Uganda to the west and Tanzania and Kenya to the east, ranks as the second-largest freshwater lake in the world after the U.S.' Lake Superior. Lake Taganayika, located on the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, ranks as one of the deepest. Each lake has its own eco-system, dependent on rainfall, proximity to the equator and land elevation.
When most non-Africans think of Africa, they think of East Africa. This is the region they picture.
Africa's great savannas are a place dominated by sky and rolling grassland. Their wildlife has long been the focus of filmmakers, photographers and writers.
Of Africa's great plains regions, the Serengeti is the most famous. Straddling Kenya and Tanzania, it is the only part of Africa where vast, annual migrations of animals -- wildebeest and zebras -- still occur. Early man first appeared in the Serengeti region's Olduvai Gorge some 2 million years ago. Today, the plains boast a wide range of cultures, from Maasai nomads to Kikuyu farmers and Dorobo hunter-gatherers.
For thousands of years, the region's rhythm of life remained unchanged. But now, sporadic droughts, soil erosion and overgrazing are tiring the land out, while demands on it from impoverished human populations continue to grow.
At the bottom of the continent, under the soil of Southern Africa, lies a very old and huge rock. Called the Kaapval craton, this massive geologic formation is over 2.6 billion years old, and is one of the most stable continental formations on the planet. But this is no ordinary rock. The Kaapval craton contains some of the world's richest mineral deposits, ranging from gold and diamonds to platinum and asbestos.
Their presence has shaped the modern history of Southern Africa.
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