Climate  and Vegetation in Africa



Most parts of Africa are warm or hot, but rainfall varies from region to region. It decreases the farther you move away from the equator.  Most of Africa lies in the tropical or subtropical region. The highest temperatures of the continent are measured in the desert regions of the Sahara, where daytime temperatures reach up to 50°C.  Nights can be cool and frosty, even during the summer. The coldest regions of Africa lie in the eastern highlands and southern Africa.

Most of Africa is divided into wet and dry seasons. Near the equator there are two very wet seasons, as the sun passes overhead in spring and fall. During this time heavy rain falls every day in the afternoon. Precipitation up to 4000 mm a year is no exception. Humidity is always high, making life in this region very unpleasant.

Other parts of Africa usually have one wet season which gets shorter the farther away you get from the equator. North of the equator most rain falls from April to September, south of the equator the rainy season is from October to March. The Mediterranean coast as well as the southern part of Africa get rainfall during the winter months.

Rainfall in Africa

Yearly Rainfall in Africa


Plant life is influenced by the amount of rainfall. Tropical rainforests extend to the north and south of the equator. They are home to thousands of plants and animal species. The rainforests consist of various layers of vegetation, from shrubs and ferns on the ground to trees that grow up to a height of 50 metres.

In the savannahs and grasslands longer grass is replaced by shorter grass as you move away from the equator, with trees scattered in-between. In some areas, like the Sahel zone, there are large differences in rainfall every year. In the last decades droughts have caused hunger and starvation in many part of the Sahel and Ethiopia.

Rainfall influences Africa’s agriculture. Nutrients in the top layers of the soil are washed away after torrential rain, on the other side nothing can grow if it rains too little.

In the desert regions of the Sahara, Namib and Kalahari rainfall often drops to under a hundred cm a year. Differences in temperature between day and night or often larger than between summer and winter.

Climate regions in Africa are under change, maybe due to global warming. Droughts are becoming more widespread across the Sahel and eastern Africa. The Sahara is moving southward and more and more areas are threatened by deforestation.

Drought in eastern Africa

Drought in eastern Africa


Africa - Exercises



Related Topics



  • agriculture = farming
  • amount = how much of something
  • consist of = to be made up of
  • decade = a period of ten years
  • decrease = to go down
  • deforestation = the cutting or burning down of trees
  • drop = go down to
  • drought = long period of dry weather when there is not enough rainfall for plants and animals to live
  • due to = because of
  • equator = line around the middle of the earth
  • exception = something that does not follow a general pattern or is not normal
  • extend = reach
  • fern = type of plant with green leaves shaped like feathers, but with no flowers
  • frosty = very cold
  • global warming = increase in the world’s temperature because  of too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
  • height = how high something is
  • humidity = when the air is very wet and warm
  • in-between = in the middle of two things
  • influence = affect
  • measure = here: to find how high or low something is
  • Mediterranean = area between Africa and Europe
  • nutrient = chemical or food that gives plants and animals what they need to grow
  • overhead = above your head
  • precipitation = rainfall
  • reach = go up to
  • replace = to take the place of
  • savannah = flat area of grassy land
  • scatter = spread over a large area
  • shrub = small bush
  • soil = top layer of earth, on which plants grow
  • species = a group of animals and plants that are very similar
  • starvation = suffer or die of hunger
  • threaten = to be in danger
  • torrential = heavy, pouring
  • unpleasant = not nice, not comfortable
  • various = different kinds of
  • vary = change
  • widespread = very common