Major River Basins of Africa

The second-largest continent in the globe, Africa is home to a variety of topographies, abundant natural resources, and dynamic civilizations. Africa's extensive rivers and basins support a variety of ecosystems and give its inhabitants access to vital resources. Major river basins including the Sudan, Chad, Djouf, Congo (Zaire), and Kalahari basins have a significant impact on the topography, hydrology, and biodiversity of the continent.

Understanding these basins is essential to understanding the biological importance of Africa and how interrelated its ecosystems and cultures are.

Feature of Major River Basins of Africa

Here are the features of major river basins of Africa −

The Sudan Basin

Sudan is a nation in northern Africa. The Arabic term "bild al-sdn" (literally, "land of the blacks"), used by medieval Arab geographers to describe the settled African nations that started near the southern edge of the Sahara, is where the name Sudan originates. For more than a century, South Sudan, a neighbouring country that is home to several sub-Saharan African ethnic groups, was included in Sudan, first as a colonial possession and later as an independent state. With a territory that made up more than 8% of the African continent and almost 2% of the planet's total land area prior to the independence of the south in 2011, Sudan was the largest African nation.

Since gaining its independence in 1956, the government has seen a great deal of change. It was challenging for succeeding regimes to get widespread support from the various political constituencies. The majority of people in the south and northerners who supported a secular government were among those who opposed the northern leaders' plan to forcibly extend Islamic law and culture to every region of the country in order to impose unity upon the nation.

The Chad Basin

The greatest inland drainage basin on the continent is found in Central Africa and is known as the Chad Basin (sometimes written Tchad). The basin's centre, albeit not its lowest point, is where Lake Chad, a sizable sheet of freshwater, with a mean depth of between 3.5 and 4 feet (1 and 1.2 meters), is located. The Tibesti Massif in the north, the Ennedi plateau region in the northeast, Ouadda in the east, and the Oubangui Plateau in the south are among the mountains that surround the region, which is surrounded by clay and sand sediments.

A down warped portion of the Precambrian African Shield is the Chad Basin. Most of the more recent layers have buried the earlier crystalline rocks. The basin was shaped most significantly by a much larger ancient sea that once existed there. This sea is sometimes referred to as Mega-Chad. At its largest, the sea covered an area of roughly 154,400 square miles (400,000 square kilometres), was more than 600 feet (180 meters) deep, and emptied into the Atlantic Ocean via the Benue River system. In the period between 41,000 and 2,300 years ago, it went through four high periods. The El-Ghazal River that flows into the depression from Lake Chad occasionally overflows, but it is mostly contained by the Kanem dune fields.

The Djouf Basin

West African desert region of El-Djouf, often written Al-Juf, is located at the westernmost point of the Sahara. It is located at the eastern and western borders of Mali and Mauritania. The northern Sahara Desert includes El Djouf. 320 meters above sea level is El Djouf. A typical African broad shallow sedimentary basin, the El Djouf is divided by fault blocks, plateaus, and mountain ranges, with rock debris eroded from higher surfaces deposited at the base. Other notable basins of this kind include the Congo and Zambezi rivers, Lake Chad, the Victoria-Kyoga Lake basin, and Lake Chad.In October 1989, a carbonaceous chondrite meteorite of a unique variety was discovered in El Djouf.

The Congo (Zaire) Basin

One of the most significant wilderness areas still existing on Earth is the Congo Basin. It is the second-largest tropical forest in the world with a total area of 500 million acres, bigger than the state of Alaska. More than 75 million people rely on the Congo Basin for food, clean water, and shelter. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea are the six nations that make up the Congo Basin. The Congo Basin is home to some 10,000 species of tropical plants, 30% of which are specific to the area. The dense forests are home to endangered species like lowland and mountain gorillas, forest elephants, chimpanzees, bonobos, and chimpanzees. There are additionally 400 additional animal species, 1,000 bird species, and 700 fish species in this area.

The Kalahari Basin

The Kalahari Basin, often referred to as the Kalahari Depression, Okavango Basin, or Makgadikgadi Basin, is a huge lowland area that spans much of Botswana and Namibia as well as portions of Angola, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It is an endorheic basin. The expansive Kalahari Desert, which is located in the basin's heart, is its most notable physical feature. The Selinda Spillway (or Magweggana River), on the Cuando River, is a permanent river split that joins the Kalahari and Zambezi basins.

The main stream in the basin is the Okavango River. The Cubango and Cuito rivers, which spring on the Bie Plateau in central Angola and run southeast, meet at this point to form the river. The Omatako River, which originates in central Namibia's Damaraland region and flows northeast, joins the Cubango right above its confluence with the Cuito. On the soils known as Kalahari sands, the Kalahari Basin supports a variety of wildlife and flora. Acacia trees, African Rosewood, and several herbs and grasses are among the local vegetation.

List of Major River Basins of Africa

Here's a table listing the major basins of Africa, along with their locations and approximate area covered −



Area Covered (square kilometers)

The Sudan Basin

Sudan and South Sudan


The Chad Basin

Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic


The Djouf Basin



The Congo (Zaire) Basin

Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Angola, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania, Zambia


The Kalahari Basin

Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe



Numerous notable river basins may be found in Africa, and they are important to the geology, ecology, and way of life of the continent's inhabitants. While the Chad Basin is located in Central Africa and has a sizable inland drainage system, the Sudan Basin spans both Sudan and South Sudan. While one of the greatest tropical forests in the world may be found in the Congo (Zaire) Basin, the Djouf Basin is situated in the westernmost region of the Sahara Desert.

The Kalahari Basin, last but not least, is found in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. These basins have a variety of landforms, unique ecosystems, and resources that support millions of people.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Sudan Basin?

The Sudan Basin is located in Sudan and South Sudan. It is the largest African nation, covering over 8% of the continent and nearly 2% of the planet's total land area.

Where is the Chad Basin located?

The Chad Basin is located in Central Africa, spanning Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic. It is the largest inland drainage basin on the continent and is centered around Lake Chad.

What is unique about the Djouf Basin?

The Djouf Basin is situated in the westernmost part of the Sahara Desert, at the eastern and western borders of Mali and Mauritania. It is characterized by shallow sedimentary deposits and is home to the El Djouf desert region.

What makes the Congo (Zaire) Basin significant?

The Congo (Zaire) Basin is one of the most significant wilderness areas on Earth. It is the second-largest tropical forest in the world, covering 500 million acres and supporting diverse ecosystems and a wide range of wildlife species.

Where is the Kalahari Basin located?

The Kalahari Basin spans across Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Zambia, and parts of other countries. It is known for the expansive Kalahari Desert and supports a variety of wildlife and vegetation.

Updated on: 08-Nov-2023


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