Major Geographic Qualities

1. Physiographically, Africa is a plateau continent without a major mountain range, with a set of Great Lakes, several major river basins, variable rainfall, generally low-fertility soils, and mainly savanna and steppe vegetation.
2. Hundreds of distinct ethnic groups make up Subsaharan Africa's culturally rich and varied population.
They far outnumber the states in this realm, and their boundaries do not often coincide.
3. Most of Subsaharan Africa's peoples depend on farming for their livelihood.
4. Health and nutritional conditions in Subsaharan Africa need improvement as the incidence of disease remains high and diets are often unbalanced. The AIDS pandemic continues to be a major health crisis in this realm.
5. The realm is rich in raw materials vital to industrialized countries, but many economies continue to rely on primary activities-the extraction of resources-and not the better income-generating activities of assembly and manufacturing.
6. The realm is famous for its wildlife, but many species are threatened. Combining bio-conservation and sustainable development is a major challenge.
7. During the Cold War, great-power competition magnified conflicts in several Subsaharan African countries, with results that will be felt for generations.
8. Severe dislocation affects many Subsaharan African countries, from Liberia to Burundi to Zimbabwe. This realm has the largest refugee population in the world today.
9. Government mismanagement and poor leadership afflict the economies of many Subsaharan African countries.
10. In contrast to general patterns in the realm, a small number of countries have witnessed spectacular economic growth in the past decade.

From Geography: Realms, Regions and Concepts, 13th Edition
by H.J. de Blij, Peter O. Muller