Earth Friendly Planet by Community Press - HTML preview

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This contrasting land includes hot desert in the north, to swampy rainforest in the south. As it lies near the Equator, there are only two seasons – dry and wet! The proximity to the Equator also brings quicker sunrises and sunsets – often it goes straight from day to night.

North Africa


Most of this large country is covered by the Sahara Desert – home to just a few creatures like monitor lizards and sand vipers. Also here live native tribes like Berbers and Tuaregs (called ‘indigo people‘ due to their skin being stained from their dark blue robes). The national dish is couscous, always finished with sweet mint tea.


Like most eastern countries, this is set in The Horn of Africa (a peninsula that juts out into the Arabian sea). Again it‘s mainly desert, but it also sits on the Red Sea (its name comes from the red-coloured plants near the surface), the most northern tropical sea on earth.


Home to the Nile (the world’s longest river) and the mysterious Giza pyramids (built on exact cardinal points), the chaotic capital city of Cairo (Um ad-Dunya – ‘mother of the world’) contains 20 million people. A land of friendly camels (they only spit if distressed), ancient cats and hungry crocodiles.


This green country has almost 700 miles of protected coastline along the Red Sea. If families have leftover Sowa (a fermented barley drink), they place a tin can on a long stick in front of their house, so others can share. If you take coffee, expect an hour’s wait – and you are expected to drink three cups!


This country in the Sahara desert holds the record for the hottest ever temperature recorded, but it is cooler by the Mediterranean Sea. The town of Ghadames has been cleverly built with interconnected white buildings, to keep people cool. The Jebel Acacus mountains contain cave art dating back 12,000 years.


Not to be confused with Mauritius, this lies on the Atlantic Ocean. Like most northern countries, it is nearly all desert and also contains Ben Amera, the second biggest monolith (sandstone) after Australia’s Uluru.

Western Sahara

Presently shared by Morocco and Algeria, this small country is mostly made up of Sahara desert, and borders the Atlantic Ocean. It is home to some of the most inhospitable land on earth.


Just across the sea from Spain, this is a different world of hot desert, Berber tribes and the Atlas and Rif mountains. The urban areas are a heady mix of souk markets, carpet sellers, hot mint tea and the city of Casablanca. Morocco is known for its beautiful Moorish gardens, orange trees, flamingos, grey cranes, herons and storks.


This is the largest country in Africa, divided by the Nile and bordered by the Red Sea. It has a sad history of civil war (Darfur), but now looks to peace. It contains the Nubian Desert, swamps and rainforests. Here once roamed northern white rhinos (now strictly protected, to save the species).


Like Morocco, this is a land of colour and spice. Ornate front doors are often painted bright blue to match the sky. This is the home of the ostrich – the world’s largest bird who is second only to the cheetah in speed (he can use his wings as rudders to change direction mid-run).

East Africa


This country is considered by many as the birth of civilisation. It is also home to the birthplace of Emperor Haile Selassie, the founder of the Rastafarian religion. Now the famine has gone, many parts are full of lush greenery, waterfalls and the villa-rich city of Addis Ababa. It’s also the birthplace of Yirgacheffe coffee.


Here you can find more wildlife than anywhere else in Africa, including the annual wildebeest migration: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, topi, gazelle, monkey, hippo, crocodile, hyena, jackal, cheetah and zebra (they mingle together to confuse the colour-blind lion!) Masai semi-nomads also roam these lands.


This high altitude country is cooler, and home to the mountain ‘gorillas in the mist’ made known by researcher Dian Fossey. Now over its sad genocide history, Kigali recently became the first city in Africa to receive the Habitat Scroll of Honour for its urban conservation model. It‘s also the first majority women government.


With the longest coastline in Africa, precious spices and exotic nomads, this is a fascinating place. Supermodel Waris Sirie (who fled to London from an arranged marriage and now lives in Austria) continues to highlight the issue of female circumcision in her former homeland.


Known for its annual wildebeest migration near the Kenyan border, this is where Dr Jane Goodall arrived 50 years ago to study wild chimpanzees. Based on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania also lies on the Indian Ocean and is home to Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest peak.


Like Rwanda, its star attraction are the mountain gorillas, hidden in inaccessible bamboo forests. Other flora and fauna include African grey parrots and giant lobelia plants. Uganda (and what is now Democratic Republic of Congo) was the setting for the film African Queen.


This tropical ‘spice island’ lies 25 miles off the coast, and grows nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper. It is an oasis of sandy beaches and coral reefs, and contains few of the wild animals found elsewhere in Africa. There are however several birds, butterflies and coral reefs. The north of the island is lined with palm, coconut and banana trees.

Central Africa

Central African Republic

Although desert, this land sits in the basin of the Ubangi River, which flows into the Congo (the largest river after the Nile). Textbook Africa, with lowland gorillas, chimps, forest elephants and bongos (large antelopes with red coats and spiralled horns). National Geographic Magazine voted it the country least affected by light pollution.


Again mainly desert, but Lake Chad is the second largest wetland in Africa. Marshes attract elephants, hippos, giraffes, wildebeest, lions, antelopes, chimps, birds, ducks and reptiles. Lake Chad also provides 20 million people with the only water supply near the surrounding Sahara desert.


Not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo (next), this landlocked country next door is home to 80% of the world’s wild chimpanzees, who live in dense inaccessible forest. Also find one of Africa’s largest tropical ecosystems in Odzala National Park and eastern lowland gorillas in local swamps.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The third largest country in Africa, here you can find just a small section of coastline, and more thunderstorms than anywhere on earth. This country is so big, it is the same size as France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and Norway put together!

Equatorial Guinea

This small comparatively wealthy country (by African standards) has islands and native tribes, and is called ‘the Amazon of Africa’, due to its lush rainforests, mangroves and shrubs growing in salty coast waters. Home to pygmy tribes and the world’s largest ‘Goliath’ frog (only found here and in Cameroon).

West Africa


This colourful country is known for its painters. Like most West African countries, it’s home to elephants, lions, monkeys, antelopes and hippos (‘river horses’). The African Baobab ‘upside down’ tree produces monkey bread fruit for animals and humans – mysteriously at the end of its life, it thumps to the ground -and mysteriously disappears!

Burkina Faso

Its name meaning ‘‘land of the upright people’, the people here harvest local nere trees for their black seeds, to make into stock cubes. The savannah is home to giraffes, the tallest land animals who gain extra water through eating the tall shrubs that others cannot reach. They share these branches with smaller animals, to provide mutual look-out posts.


This small landlocked country sits on Lake Tanganyika (the second largest freshwater lake in the world – and the world’s deepest). Burundi is also the starting point for the Nile – the world’s longest river. Burundi is known for its birds: Trumpeter Hornbill, African Lemon Dove, Handsome Francolin and the ShoeBill.


With beautiful coastline, rainforests, deserts and 200 languages, this country (a bit larger than California) is Africa in a nutshell. Waza and Benoue National Parks are home to hippos, lions, water buffalo, elephants and warthogs. The more remote Boubanjidda National Park is home to lowland gorillas – fiercely protected by local tribes now it is feared their black rhinos may have recently become extinct. In the Dja Reserve, you can find Bantus and pygmy people living together in harmony. The forests and coasts are also home to exotic fruits, including oranges, pineapples, coconuts, grapefruits, limes and bananas (herbs).

Cape Verde

These volcanic islands off the west coast are home to the third largest population of sea turtles in the world (after Oman and Florida). Breeding humpback whales and dolphins are a common sight along the turquoise oceans. Also find unique birds: Alexander Swift, Raso Lark, Lago Sparrow and Cape Verde Warbler.


This stunning country is home to rainforests that extend to the sea, mangroves, Savannah and the Cristal mountains. The president was so taken by photographer Mike Nicholl’s pictures of ‘surfing hippos’, that he cancelled or bought out remaining logging. Also has the second most whales and dolphins, after South Africa.


This small country is less than 30 miles wide, and entirely surrounded by Senegal. It has 50 miles of Atlantic coastline, and is a dream destination for birds, with over 560 species. Also home to hippos, baboons and rescued orphaned chimps, Gambia’s people are so friendly, the country is known as ‘the smiling coast’.


Bordered by the Ivory Coast, this is the most central country on earth (the exact centre is in the Atlantic ocean). Trees abound here – baobabs, acacia, ebony, mahogany and shea. Wet enough for elephants, monkeys, crocodiles and marine turtles, parrots and butterflies – also hear one of the best dawn choruses in Africa.

Guinea Bissau

On the Atlantic Ocean, these islands hold mangrove swamps, powder white sand and azure blue waters. It’s home to 5 of the world’s 8 tortoises, dolphins, manatees, crocodiles, monkeys, striped antelope, 100 migratory birds and rare saltwater hippos. There is no electricity here, so people sit in darkness and talk when evening falls.


Full of rainy and dry forests, this small country is teeming with wildlife. Add cascading waterfalls, African elephants, otter-shrews and Diana monkeys (named after a goddess), and this is the real spirit of Africa.

Ivory Coast

This is a square-shaped country on the Atlantic. It did suffer in the past from a severe toxic spill. But today it is noted for its coconut palms and kola trees (the nuts help people to work without fatigue, and clear the mind).


The ‘Pepper Coast’ gets its name from the melgueta pepper and sits on the Atlantic amongst mangrove forests. This country was founded for the purpose of providing a safe free place for former slaves. Today it is a rainforest paradise and home to pygmy hippos, deserted white beaches, tidal lagoons – and Africa’s first woman president.


This flat landlocked country lies mostly in the Sahara and includes the legendary city of Timbuktu. It’s also home to desert elephants who have lived in harmony alongside native tribes for centuries. The Dogon tribe realised that Jupiter had moons, Saturn had rings and that the planets orbited the sun – all before the telescope was invented!


Not to be confused with Nigeria (next door), this adjacent country is again mainly covered by the Sahara desert. It is home to endangered species like the African painted hunting dog (whose coat literally looks like a palette of paint) and the wild addax antelope.


With its port Lagos being one of the largest cities in the world, this is a big country, but it’s not all urban. It’s home to tropical rainforest, the world’s largest diversity of butterflies and the Drill Monkey – whose bottom is multi-coloured (pink, mauve and blue) which makes it easy for his family to follow him through the forest!

Sao Tome and Principe

These quiet islands sit in the Gulf of Guinea, off the west coast. Here find the world’s smallest ibis, the world’s largest sunbird and giant species of begonia. It looks more like the South Pacific than Africa. At the beach, watch giant sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, and humpback whales play.


This Atlantic coastal country is the closest to the USA and completely surrounds the tiny country of Gambia. This is bird paradise with many kingfishers (who eat their own bodyweight in food each day) and millions of pink flamingos with their mesmerising mating dance (their colour comes from algae they eat).

Sierra Leone

Home to the world’s third largest natural harbour, this country has rolling hills, rainforests, rivers, 260 types of birds and a chimp sanctuary at Tacugama. Chimps live up to 50 years and are closer to us than gorillas. Like us, they are dependent on family until they grow up, and have a language as complex as ours.


This small hilly country is full of quiet beaches, coastal lagoons, wooded savannahs, swampy plains and exotic markets. It’s also home to elephants, buffalo, antelopes, exotic birds and butterflies and whales (in the Gulf of Benin) each October.

Southern Africa


With over 1000 miles of beautiful Atlantic coastline, this is where marine turtles come to lay their eggs. The coast gives Angola a nice breeze (but it’s not Sweden!). Angola is home to many favourite African animals – elephants, rhinos, leopards and antelopes and western lowland gorillas.


Setting of the popular No.1 Ladies Detective Agency novels, this sits in the more fertile Kalahari Desert, and is home to lions, hyenas, antelopes, meerkats and weaver birds in their communal nests. The national park covers 36,000 square km and animals roam free back and forth between here and Namibia.


The most southerly landlocked nation, this is called Africa‘s ‘Kingdom in the Sky‘, due to the stunning mountain scenery and alpine flowers. Some say it resembles Switzerland. If you meet someone here, they will raise their hand and say ‘Khotso’, which means ‘peace’.


This sits in the in the Kalahari Desert and has less people per square km than any country bar Mongolia. Parisian Olivier Houalet has become known here, for his work in helping orphaned cheetahs to live in the wild. Cheetahs are the fastest land mammals and can see 5km into the distance – better than us with a pair of binoculars!

South Africa

This large country juts so far south, you almost reach Antarctica. It has everything from 2000km of coastline to small islands to the flat-topped Table Mountain to the Kalahari Desert and Kruger National Park. Find everything from hippos to penguins – locals are installing the first ‘penguin crossing’ to keep them safe in urban areas.


Dominated by the Lebombo Mountains, ‘Ngwane’ is a main hideaway for southern white rhinos. They weigh more than a truck, have a wide flat mouth to graze and are the most social of all the rhinos. They take regular mud baths to keep cool.


This cooler landlocked country is full of mountains and valleys, and drained by several rivers including the Zambezi (which runs through six countries) and Congo. Its border with Zimbabwe is the home of the stunning Victoria Falls, one of the wonders of the world. One native bird is the lovely little Chaplin Barbet.


Like Zambia, Victoria Falls (that can be seen from miles away) dominate this country – locally they are named ‘mosi-oa-tunya’, which means ‘the smoke that thunders’. Zimbabwe is home to hippos, African painted dogs and elephants.

South East

Most of these countries sit in the Indian Ocean, off mainland Africa.



Home to some of the most unusual flora and fauna on earth. Here you can find the Aye-Aye (a beautifully strange looking lemur), other lemurs that give off police siren calls, spiny octopus trees, bottle-shaped Baobab trees, tomato frogs and giraffe-necked weevils. 98% of all mammals here are found nowhere else.


The country’s name comes from ‘Maravi’ – the old name of the Nyanja people who live there. It’s not all arid – Malawi has the second deepest lake in Africa, and contains more types of fish than anywhere. Home to the African painted dog with its beautiful mottled coat. Plus endless inland beaches, waterfalls and over 600 species of orchids.


This is another fascinating island, 500 miles from Madagascar. With a strong Creole culture, there is where the extinct dodo came from, now used as a symbol for conservation. This is a tropical paradise with turquoise seas, giant tortoises and pink pigeons. Also home to Port Louis – Africa’s wealthiest city.


This land country borders the Indian ocean and is divided by the Zambesi river and also has four big lakes. On Africa’s largest coastal plain, this is where you can find black-winged flamingos, freshwater crocodiles, ostrich, porcupines and elephants.


Another French-speaking island, this looks like Hawaii in Africa. The main volcano Piton de la Fournaise has erupted more than 100 times since 1640, making it the world‘s most active. The lava even sometimes reaches the sea.


With the smallest population in Africa, these 115 islands in the Indian ocean are spread out over one million square kilometres. Home to Coco-De-Mer (a sort of sea coconut), jellyfish tree, the world’s largest coral, Seychelles Warbler, black parrots, tiny ‘Gardener‘s‘ frog and Esmeralda – the world‘s oldest tortoise who is around 180.