The black continent is characterized by difficult climatic and weather conditions, the presence of the hottest places on the planet, deserts, semi-deserts and similar territories. One of the driest regions in Africa is located in the south of the mainland and has a name - the Karoo Desert. It unites semi-desert, rather high plateaus and depressions between them. The location is easily determined by the geographical map - this region is located south of the Orange River and the Big Ledge.
Dividing the Karoo Desert
In fact, scientists have identified two zones that are characterized by special climatic conditions and have different relief: the Great Karoo (plateau) - in the northern part; Small Karoo (plateau) in the southern part of the region.
The Karoo Desert occupies almost a third of the territory of South Africa, and also covers some areas of neighboring Namibia. The total area, according to scientists, is almost 400 thousand square kilometers.
The history of the conquest of desert lands
It is believed that the origin of the name of the desert should be sought in the language of the Khoisan peoples (representatives of the southern regions of Africa), where there is the word karusa, which can be translated as “barren, dry”. From time immemorial, representatives of the indigenous population of the mainland have settled near this desert.
The development of nearby territories by Europeans began in 1652, when the first white people appeared in the Cape lands. But only in 1689, one of the brave travelers (history has preserved the name of the hero - Isak Shriver) passed through the mountains, and then ended up in a valley, the original name of which was Klein-Karu (or Maloye Karu).
In the second half of the 17th century, active settlement of the territories began, at first modest settlements began to appear, which gradually turned into cities.
Geographical features and climate of the desert
Karoo is located in the south of the African continent, in the northwestern part it rests on the coastal zone and plateau, which smoothly passes into the famous Namib desert. From the east, it is supported by another famous desert - the Kalahari, such a neighborhood cannot but affect the climatic conditions of the Karoo.
Interestingly, the mild Mediterranean climate on the east coast is adjacent to the desert. Karoo's dry climate is attributed to several important factors. First, moisture evaporating in the tropics is transported to the north, where it falls in the form of heavy rainfall.
From the south, the movement of clouds that can bring rain is hindered by the Cape Mountains. From the north, the Great Ledge becomes exactly the same obstacle to rain clouds. The creation of certain climatic conditions (dry and cold) is also facilitated by the cold Bengal Current, which runs along the entire southwestern coast of Africa.
Of the two zones, the Big and Small Karoo, the latter is the least arid region. First, it is a deep enough valley located at an altitude of 400-600 meters above sea level. The Lesser Karoo valley is 245 kilometers long, with an average width approaching 50 kilometers. The amount of precipitation differs at the bottom (130 mm) and on the slopes (400 mm).
Big Karoo is located to the north of its "colleague", Small Karoo. And it is a typical semi-desert that has a corresponding flora and fauna. Although from the point of view of geology, the Great Karoo is a depression, the age of which is determined by scientists at 250 million years.
The amount of precipitation falling on the territory of the Big Karoo ranges from 100 mm in the western part of the region to 400 mm in the region of the eastern borders. An important note - most of the precipitation falls in the winter, that is, it is distributed unevenly. Average annual temperatures range from + 13 ° С to + 18 ° С. It is hottest in winter, the average January temperature in the Karoo Desert exceeds + 20 ° C.
From the point of view of geology, the Great Karoo consists of rocky plains with a wavy character, their composition is sandstones and decomposed shales, sands are found only in places.
Scientists note a large number of different plant species that have adapted to life in such conditions. In the southern regions, plants characteristic of the Cape flora prevail, in the northern regions one can note the presence of representatives of the flora, guests from Sudan and Zambezi.
The largest group is represented by succulents, followed by shrubs, these plants are of great importance for local agriculture, are valuable food for sheep. From other representatives of the flora kingdom, various irises, amaryllis, lilies, and plants of the oxalis genus are noted. Abundant spring showers promote the active development of flowering plants. You can find certain types of geranium, euphorbia, asteraceae.