There are eight major geographical regions in Africa that influence its landscape. These include the Sahara Desert, the savanna, the Sahel, the African Great Lakes, the Swahili Coast, South Africa and the rain forest. The landscape, climate and biodiversity from one region to another varies greatly. Most of the continent consists of expansive plateaus ending in steep escarpments.
The Sahara is the largest hot desert on Earth. The hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet, 136 degrees Fahrenheit, was taken in the Sahara. It covers 25 percent of Africa and is mostly made up of sand dunes up to 1,000-feet tall and gravely barren plains. Africa has few tall mountains, but some are found in the Ethiopian Highlands. The Great Rift Valley, caused by the upward surge of a vast monolithic dome that split, is located there.
Almost half of Africa is grassland, or savanna. The Serengeti plains cover over 11,500 square miles and contain some of Africa's most iconic wildlife, including zebras, elephants, lions and giraffes. The highest ratio of wildlife to area, however, is found within Africa's rain forests located in central Africa along the Congo River basin. Over 80 percent of Africa's original rain forests have been destroyed, though, due to increased or poorly planned agriculture, forestry and development.