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Continental Scale: East Africa
This GIS set gives information about various aspects of Central and East Africa. All of the maps in this set are exactly the same size and coregistered with each other. This means that they can be overlaid onto each other for comparison, and all of the boundaries and coastlines will match. Thus each map is a "layer" in the GIS set.

The maps may be viewed individually using your net browser by simply clicking on the thumbnail of the map. Or, if you wish, you may download all or any combination or all of the maps by clicking on "download TIFF." Stack and/or overlay them using NIH Image or a similar program. This will enable you to compare information for a given location on all of the maps more easily. The last map in this set is the base map for this area that you can use to create your own additional map layers for this set.

Image of a map that shows national boundaries and capital cities of the nations in Central and East Africa.  This image links to a more detailed image.Political Map (download TIFF) This map shows national boundaries and capital cities of the nations in Central and East Africa. Latitude and longitude are shown in degrees on the borders of the map. The Virunga Mountains are located at the intersection of Rwanda (in red), Congo (in bright green), and Uganda (in yellow) at lower left center. As you look at the information in each of the other maps, keep your eye on the information shown for that area to see how it relates to the broader picture.

Image of a map that shows population density in East Africa and the Virunga region.  This image links to a more detailed image.Population (download TIFF) This map shows population density in East Africa and the Virunga region. The population densities indicated by the purplish and reddish tones are comparable to the highest population densities in the world, similar to the suburban and developed agricultural areas around the great cities of the American East and Midwest.

Image of a map that presents elevation data for Central and East Africa.  This image links to a more detailed image.Topography (download TIFF) This map presents elevation data for Central and East Africa. Inland lakes are shown in deep blue. Notice the deep Nile Valley (upper center) and the highlands along the African Rift system, which extends from Ethiopia (upper right center) southeast through Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Africa's highest mountains are in this area.

Image of a map that presents climate data for Central and East Africa.  This image links to a more detailed image.Climate (download TIFF) A wide range of climates are found in this part of Africa. The color key, which you will be able to see clearly if you click on the thumbnail, shows the following. Equatorial: hot, humid, and wet all of the time. Tropical rain forests with all their incredible plant, animal, and insect life are found here. Humid Tropical: hot, wet, with short dry seasons. Tropical/Long Dry: warm/hot, wet, but with long dry seasons. Sahelian: warm/hot, dry, with occasional rains. Vegetation is semiarid steppe. Desert: hot and dry. Vegetation is sparse to nonexistent in central desert areas. Mediterranean: warm, moist, with dry, mild summers. Highland: variety of wet to dry climates with temperatures and humidities lowered by altitude. Even in highland areas with low rainfall, the lower temperatures reduce evaporation to allow more intense farming. The lower temperatures and humidities make such climates more pleasant for humans and animals by making the air more comfortable and by reducing insect populations so common in lower wetter climates.

Image of a map that shows the percentage of land that can potentially be used for agriculture assuming rainfall is the only source of water.  This image links to a more detailed image.Soil Suitability (download TIFF) This map shows the percentage of land that can potentially be used for agriculture assuming rainfall is the only source of water. This simple data format really hides a very complex combination of many different types of data, including soil type, chemistry, suitability for regional crops, and local climate. For example, the lack of suitable soils in the brown areas of the map may be due to lack of rainfall, poor soil, extreme temperatures, or any combination of problems. More details about these data can be obtained from the Home page of the Greater Horn of Africa Project.

Image of a  map that shows the percentage of land actually used for agriculture. This image links to a more detailed image.Land Use - Crops (download TIFF) This map shows the percentage of land actually used for agriculture. It shows land used for dry, rain-fed, and irrigated farming. Thus this map shows actual land use in spite of problems, such as lack of rain or alkaline soil, while the Soil Suitability map shows the potential for farming without technological aids, such as mechanized irrigation systems or chemical fertilizers. This is an important distinction, because the technology that would allow use of more land usually requires large amounts of money that ordinary people and even governments in this part of Africa simply do not have. Comparison of the two maps shows that, in most areas, the extent of actual agricultural use correlates with soil quality. There are few anomalous areas, however, such as the prominent high-intensity farming area in East Central Sudan and along the Nile River to the north. Farming in both these areas is supported by extensive irrigation systems. Other anomalous areas represent farming under poor conditions, which means farmers get very little back for a lot of work. Why do it? Because, in many cases, you either farm the poor land for a little food or die of starvation. More details about these data can be obtained from the Home page of the Greater Horn of Africa Project.

Image of a  map that shows a false-color mosaic of satellite images. This image links to a more detailed image.Multi-Spectral Scanner Mosaic (download TIFF) This map shows a false-color mosaic of satellite images. In the color scheme used here, vegetation shows up in tones of red, barren or nearly barren rock and soils are greenish or grayish, and sand shows up as yellow or white. Water is colored an artificial deep blue. The outline of the satellite image of the Virunga Mountains available in the Local Scale images can be seen at lower left.

Image of a  map that includes political boundaries and coastlines at the same scale as the other maps in this set.  This image links to a more detailed image.East Africa Base Map (download TIFF) This map includes political boundaries and coastlines at the same scale as the other maps in this set. Use this map to add your own data leaves to the GIS.

[ Geographic & Remote Sensing Information ]
[ Continental Scale: East Africa ]
[ Regional Scale: Rwanda & Neighbors ]
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Local Scale: The Virguna Mountains ] [ Remote Sensing/GIS Activities ]
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