35
Introduction: The Major Regions

In attempting a regional division of Southern Africa it is essential, as in any other country, to recognize the outstanding features of both the physical and cultural landscape of any particular area and to assess the relative importance of physical, economic, and social factors in producing its regional unity. many criteria must necessarily be considered but some are of much greater significance than others.

Climate is of fundamental importance, exerting a profound influence over earth sculpture, soil formation, vegetation, and agricultural activities. Rainfall is a critical factor and its distribution suggests a division of the country into three broad belts: an eastern one in which the rainfall is adequate and, being concentrated in summer, permits the production of a wide range of crops as well as the establishment of good pastures; a south-western area where sufficient rainfall is received in winter for cool season crops; and the arid interior where the total fall is too small for crop production. Within each of these belts the relief or surface form frequently determines the suitability or otherwise of the land for arable cultivation and in many cases sets the scale of the operations; the features of the relief and drainage determine the opportunities for irrigation. The quality of the soil often governs the choice of crop and the nature of the vegetation and its value for grazing purposes largely dictate the form of livestock enterprise.

Within the limits imposed by the physical environment, economic considerations such as agricultural prices, labour supply, markets, transport facilities, etc., and social factors such as the size of the farm unit, the financial and technical know-how of the farmers, etc., largely determine the agricultural economy and the specific land use. Together these produce the agricultural landscape. And superimposed on this is the urban and industrial landscape from mining and manufacturing activities.

The division adopted here is based very largely on this sequence. Essentially it is the result of the superimposition of the agro-economic map of the Union Department of Economics and Markets (Fig. 182) over the Physiographic Regions map of J. H. Wellington (Fig. 12) over the climactic regions map of S. P. Jackson (see Fig. 37) modified by the separation as distinct regions of the

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