East Africa, a part of sub-Saharan Africa, consists of two traditionally recognized regions: East Africa, which includes Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda; and the Horn of Africa, which comprises Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.
Eastern Africa contains the majority of Africa’s highest elevations and has a large number of plateaus. Ethiopia and Kenya are characterized by highlands where large areas reach elevations of 6,500 to 10,000 feet (2,000 to 3,000 meters).
The Eastern Rift and Western Rift Valley
The region is traversed by two parallel rift valleys that are part of the East African Rift System. The Eastern Rift Valley extends from the Red Sea’s junction with the Gulf of Aden southward into Ethiopia and Kenya and into Tanzania. Western Rift Valley is located on the western borders of Uganda and Tanzania.
A plateau extends from the two rift valleys and encompasses most of Uganda and western Tanzania, including Lake Victoria. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, reaching 19,340 feet (5,895 meters) in northeastern Tanzania. Somalia occupies the vast lowland coastal plains of the Horn of Africa, a peninsula extending into the Arabian Sea from the African continent.
The climate of eastern Africa
The climate of eastern Africa is generally tropical, but its high elevation tends to lower average temperatures. The amount of precipitation is also affected by elevation: Uganda, Tanzania,
Somalia, eastern Ethiopia, and northeastern Kenya receive far less rainfall than the rest of Kenya. The region’s vegetation ranges from wooded areas and grasslands to thorn bush areas in semi-arid areas. There are large herds of ungulates (e.g., gnus, zebras, and gazelles) and predators (lions, hyenas, and leopards) in the grasslands of Tanzania and Kenya.
160 or more different ethnic
There are 160 or more different ethnic groups in Eastern Africa, depending on how you count them. Some people in Tanzania and Kenya speak languages belonging to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages, as do most people in Eritrea and Ethiopia. Uganda and the rift valley regions of Kenya and Tanzania are home to Nilo-Saharan speakers, while Bantu speakers make up much of the remaining population of these countries.
Eastern Africa is dominated by two ethnic groups: the Oromo, Cushitic speakers who occupy most of southern Ethiopia, and the related Somali, who occupy all of Somalia, southeastern Ethiopia, and much of Djibouti. Both Eritrea and Djibouti are home to the Afar. Eritrea’s two main ethnic groups, the Tigray and the Tigre, speak Semitic languages.
The Tigray and Amhara, another Semitic-speaking group, dominate northwestern Ethiopia. There are several ethnic groups in In Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, many smaller groups of people are intermingled or occupy discrete territories. Nilo-Saharan speakers include the Luo, Lango, Kalenjin, Maasai, and Karimojong, while Bantu-speaking ethnic groups include the Kikuyu, Chaga, and Kamba.
The article Africa
The article covers the history of the area from ancient times to the 20th century. The article Africa discusses the physical and human geography of the region. To learn about the physical and human geography of individual countries in the region, as well as their late colonial and postcolonial histories, see Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda. The area is 1,420,236 square miles (3,678,394 square kilometers). Pop. (2009 est.) 293,654,000.
Coast until 1856
Periplus Maris Erythraei, written by an Egyptian merchant in the second half of the 1st century CE, and Ptolemy’s Guide to Geography contain the earliest descriptions of the East African coast. Which, in its extant form, probably represents a collection of geographical knowledge available at Byzantium about 400.
Periplus describes in some detail the coast of what would eventually become northern Somalia. From there, ships returned with cotton cloth, grain, oil, sugar, and ghee, while others headed down the Red Sea to the East African coast with cloaks, tunics, copper, and tin. In return, aromatic gums, tortoiseshell, ivory, and slaves were traded.