West Africa: A Study of the Environment and of Man's Use of It

West Africa: A Study of the Environment and of Man's Use of It

West Africa: A Study of the Environment and of Man's Use of It

West Africa: A Study of the Environment and of Man's Use of It

Excerpt

Long usage has given the term 'West Africa' a fairly clear meaning; it is usage based upon a real physical separateness. West Africa is here taken as the area lying west of the boundary between Nigeria and Cameroon. The latter has close physical and human affinities with Central Africa. Thus, this study of West Africa covers the republics d'expression française includ- ing Togo and Guinea, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Portuguese Guinea and the islands of SÃo Tomé and Príncipe, and the Spanish islands of Fernando Po and Annobon.

The distance between the extremities of West Africa is nearly equal to that between London and Moscow. The total area is 2.4 million square miles, or nearly five-sixths that of the United States. The population is over 100 million, being about one-half that of the United States, or the same as that of France and the United Kingdom. The republics d'expression française occupy three-quarters of the area; yet, largely because some of these republics include vast tracts of the Sahara, they have under one-third of the total population. Nigeria, one of the largest and most densely populated countries of the Common- wealth, has a population of about 59 million in an area four times that of the United Kingdom, and has well over one-half the population of West Africa and over twice that of the four times larger area of the republics d'expression française.

West Africa has for long been divided internally. Relief, climate, vegetation, soils and the responses in agriculture, live- stock keeping, ethnic types, societies and religion, all tend to given an arrangement of east-west belts. The greatest and most fundamental division is between the south and the north. The former has a generally heavier rainfall, rather leached soils, was originally mostly forested, produces the oil palm and other useful tree crops, grows cassava, yams or rice for the main foods, is inhabited by purer negroes, was originally animist in . . .

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