Southern Africa: A Geographical Study - Vol. 2

Southern Africa: A Geographical Study - Vol. 2

Southern Africa: A Geographical Study - Vol. 2

Southern Africa: A Geographical Study - Vol. 2

Excerpt

In vol. I of this work an attempt has been made to set out what is known of the physical character of the subcontinent. The structure and surface features, the climate, vegetation and soils have been described in some detail to delineate the environmental setting of the human geography. Although it is, of course, possible to acquire a knowledge of economic and demographic conditions without a previous study of the physical environment, in a subcontinent such as Southern Africa, where habitable and uninhabitable areas grade into one another and where a slight change in climate or soil may spell economic success or failure, the physical and biological environment is often of decisive significance. The present volume deals with the human aspects of the geography of Southern Africa. We shall consider first the economic activities of the inhabitants and then turn to the people themselves.

The basic economic activities are concerned with primary production in the agricultural and mining industries, and also with fishing. In agriculture the main crops are maize and wheat, with fruit-growing of special and increasing importance. Animal husbandry, however, has always been the most characteristic form of South African land utilization and bids fair to remain so, whilst forestry, despite the patchiness of true natural forest, appears likely to expand on account of the extraordinarily rapid growth of exotic timber. The consideration of these aspects of land utilization will be linked with soil and water conservation, in which Southern Africa is making progress. As a climax to our study of the agricultural industries of the subcontinent, an attempt will be made to classify the land into categories based on actual or potential production, but such a classification must perforce be tentative since over large areas of the subcontinent the land potential has not yet been tested by modern methods of agriculture. And here, as in animal husbandry, the biological environment, evidenced in the protozoal diseases carried by insect vectors, impresses its unmistakable mark.

Non-agricultural primary economic production in Southern Africa includes the important mining industries. We are concerned here with the richest mineral belt so far discovered on the earth's surface, stretching from the Katanga and the Northern Rhodesian Copperbelt in the north . . .

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