Geographically, Southern Africa is defined through a series of plateaus that stretch across the nations of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and the central portion of Angola. Within the plateaus, a wide variety of notable ecoregions exist, ranging from the grasslands in southern Zimbabwe to the vast Kalahari Desert. The Kalahari desert is featured in the South African plateau, and eventually rises to become the Great Escarpment. The area is defined by the sharp line of the Great Escarpment, which continues almost unbroken from the Zambezi River to Angola. Another notable mountain range in the region is the Drakensberg Range. This range boasts the highest point in Southern Africa, found at Mount Ntlenyana in Lesotho.
Southern Africa was the home to Homo erectus, an early hominid species with upright posture and hands and teeth resembling modern humans, according to the archaeological teams that have canvassed the region looking for evidence of early life. While many people believe that Homo erectus was a vital link in the evolution of humankind, the connection between H. erectus and modern–day humans is still disputed by a minority of scientists. While followers of the theory of evolution point to the find as a huge step in discovering the human past, there are some creationists who do not choose to believe that humans underwent a process of evolution.
Southern Africa hosts a wide variety of wildlife, although the animal population varies depending on the location within the region. In the semiarid plateaus which cover most of the region, Southern Africa exhibits much of the big game wildlife seen in the northeastern portions of the African continent, in particular antelopes, gazelles, zebras, elephants, and the big cats. Coastal areas of Southern Africa do not host the same varieties of big game that can survive on the plateaus.
The interior of Southern Africa consists of a series of undulating plateaus that cover most of South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana and extend into central Angola. Contiguous with this are uplands in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Coastal mountains and escarpments, flanking the high ground, are found in northern Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, and along the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border. Coastal plains abut the Indian Ocean in Mozambique and the Atlantic in Angola and Namibia.
The Kalahari desert forms the central depression of the Southern African plateau. Its elevation rises to the Great Escarpment, which flanks the plateau in an almost unbroken line from the Zambezi River to Angola. Southern Zimbabwe and much of South Africa are within a region of scrublands and grasslands known as the veld. To the southeast of the veld is the Drakensberg range, which includes the region’s highest peak—Lesotho’s Mount Ntlenyana, at 11,424 feet (3,482 metres). In Namibia the coastal margin includes the extremely dry Namib desert, which, in the south, merges eastward into the great sandy expanse of the Kalahari.
Southern African climates are seasonal, ranging from arid to semiarid and from temperate to tropical. The seasonality is an important control on plant growth and a regulator of river flows. Droughts are common in much of the region. Four main types of vegetation are found: savanna woodlands (known as miombo forest) in the north, a series of dry woodlands to the south of these, arid and semiarid grassland, scrubland, and bushland in the Namib and Kalahari deserts and their environs, and Mediterranean vegetation along the southern coast.
In terms of natural resources, the region has the world’s largest sources of platinum and the elements chromium, vanadium, and cobalt. The region also boasts uranium, gold, titanium, iron deposits, and diamonds.
read more http://www.addisherald.com/africa/