What Are Some Facts About the Physical Geography of Africa?

Africa is the second-largest continent. Its landmass borders the Mediterranean Sea to the north and extends 4,500 miles south to the Cape of Good Hope. Africa's major geographical regions from north to south include the Atlas Mountains near the Mediterranean Sea, the Sahara Desert, the semiarid Sahel, the equatorial rainforest of the Congo Basin, the Great Rift Valley, the Kalahari Desert and the southern African plateau.

Africa's major river systems include the Nile, the Niger, the Congo and the Zambezi. The Nile is formed by two tributaries: the Blue Nile that is sourced by Lake Tana in the Ethiopian highlands and the White Nile that originates from the headwaters of Lake Victoria. The Nile flows over 4,000 miles from the equator to the Mediterranean, making it the longest river in the world. Africa's three largest freshwater lakes are Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi.

In terms of mountain ranges, the Atlas mountains run through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia in northwest Africa. The Tibesti mountains are located along the border of Libya and Chad. In East Africa, volcanic peaks line the contour of the Great Rift Valley, a gigantic fault line extending north from Mozambique through Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia. Africa's highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, stands at 19, 340 feet and is located in Tanzania.