The Distribution of West African Rainforests
Until last century, European travellers to Africa believed the continent to be covered with rainforest from just about one end to the other. Sailors along the coast of West Africa between latitudes 10°N and 10°S, from Sierra Leone to north of the Congo River, observed nothing but seemingly impenetrable jungle. Trees lined the coast just short of the water’s edge and damp foggy mists hopelessly hid the interior of the forest from inquiring eyes. A single stretch of savannah 300 kilometers long running from Accra in Ghana to Cotonou in Benin attested to the fact that rainforest was not the only form of African vegetation. This arid zone is known today as the Dahomey Gap. Early pioneers most likely believed it to be backed by dense jungle growth. After all, Africa looked no different when approached from the Indian Ocean. With wet coastal forests lining the eastern side as well, the continent appeared to be absolutely impenetrable and quite threatening.
KeywordsForest Cover Glacial Period Gallery Forest Moist Forest Congo Basin
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