Africa — страница 6

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of British East Africa) Europeans find the climate suitable for permanent residence. On tablelands over 6500 ft. above the sea, frost is not uncommon at night, even in places directly under the equator. The acclimatization of white men in tropical Africa generally is dependent largely on the successful treatment of tropical diseases. Districts which had been notoriously deadly to Europeans were rendered comparatively healthy after the discovery, in 1899, of the species of mosquito which propagates malarial fever, and the measures thereafter taken for its destruction and the filling up of swamps. The rate of mortality among the natives from tropical diseases is also high, one of the most fatal being that known as sleeping sickness. (The ravages of this disease, which also attacks

Europeans, reached alarming proportions between 1893 and 1907, and in the last-named year an international conference was held in London to consider measures to combat it.) When removed to colder regions natives of the equatorial districts suffer greatly from chest complaints. Smallpox also makes great ravages among the negro population. Flora.—The vegetation of Africa follows very closely the distribution of heat and moisture. The northern and southern temperate zones have a flora distinct from that of the continent generally, which is tropical. In the countries bordering the Mediterranean are groves of oranges and olive trees, evergreen oaks, cork trees and pines, intermixed with cypresses, myrtles, arbutus and fragrant tree-heaths. South of the Atlas range the conditions

alter. The zones of minimum rainfall have a very scanty flora, consisting of plants adapted to resist the great dryness. Characteristic of the Sahara is the date-palm, which flourishes where other vegetation can scarcely maintain existence, while in the semidesert regions the acacia (whence is obtained gum-arabic) is abundant. The more humid regions have a richer vegetation —dense forest where the rainfall is greatest and variations of temperature least, conditions found chiefly on the tropical coasts, and in the west African equatorial basin with its extension towards the upper Nile; and savanna interspersed with trees on the greater part of the plateaus, passing as the desert regions are approached into a scrub vegetation consisting of thorny acacias, &c. Forests also

occur on the humid slopes of mountain ranges up to a certain elevation. In the coast regions the typical tree is the mangrove, which flourishes wherever the soil is of a swamp character. The dense forests of West Africa contain, in addition to a great variety of dicotyledonous trees, two palms, the Elaeis guincensis (oil-palm) and Raphia vinifera (bamboo-palm), not found, generally speaking, in the savanna regions. The bombax or silk-cotton tree attains gigantic proportions in the forests, which are the home of the indiarubber-producing plants and of many valuable kinds of timber trees, such as odum (Chlorophora excelsa), ebony, mahogany (Khaya senegalensis), African teak or oak (Oldfieldia africana) and camwood (Baphia nitida.) The climbing plants in the tropical forests are

exceedingly luxuriant and the undergrowth or ``bush'' is extremely dense. In the savannas the most characteristic trees are the monkey bread tree or baobab (Adanisonia digitata), doom palm (Hyphaene) and euphorbias. The coffee plant grows wild in such widely separated places as Liberia and southern Abyssinia. The higher mountains have a special flora showing close agreement over wide intervals of space, as well as affinities with the mountain flora of the eastern Mediterranean, the Himalayas and Indo-China (cf. A. Engler, Uber die Hochgebirgsflora des tropischen Afrika, 1892). In the swamp regions of north-east Africa the papyrus and associated plants, including the soft-wooded ambach, flourish in immense quantities—-and little else is found in the way of vegetation. South

Africa is largely destitute of forest save in the lower valleys and coast regions. Tropical flora disappears, and in the semi-desert plains the fleshy, leafless, contorted species of kapsias, mesembryanthemums, aloes and other succulent plants make their appearance. There are, too, valuable timber trees, such as the yellow pine (Podocarpus elongatus), stinkwood (Ocotea), sneezewood or Cape ebony (Pteroxylon utile) and ironwood. Extensive miniature woods of heaths are found in almost endless variety and covered throughout the greater part of the year with innumerable blossoms in which red is very prevalent. Of the grasses of Africa alfa is very abundant in the plateaus of the Atlas range. Fauna.—The fauna again shows the effect of the characteristics of the vegetation. The open