Generally speaking, African colonies during the colonial period were seen as expensive liabilities by the great European powers, especially in relation to trading concessions. Toward the end of the 19th century, the attitudes of these powers altered as rival industrial nations like Great Britain, Germany, France and Belgium, attempted to locate and develop overseas markets for their goods. In 1885, the Berlin Conference was convened to resolve conflicts of interest in Africa by allotting areas of exploitation to these colonial powers. As a result, the so-called "scramble for Africa" began in which these powers sought to establish their "rightful" claims to vast expanses of land.
When this conference was convened, most of Africa was under colonial control and was subsequently broken up into numerous states, made up of some fifty separate countries with very irregular geographical boundaries. One major problem linked to this break-up was that it brought together many ethnic groups that eventually came to despise each other and thus resulted in inter-tribal and ethnic warfare which continues to this very day. The new Sub-Saharan states were geographically haphazard -- the Congo State (Belgium) was zig-zag shaped with no coastline except for a thin slice on the Atlantic Ocean which greatly affected its shipping capabilities; German East Africa was somewhat oviod with a huge coastline along the Indian Ocean, a prime necessity for shipping and trade; German Southwest Africa was more elongated with a great coastline along the Atlantic side, much like its northern neighbor, Angola which was more square; the Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republic were very irregular and totally landlocked, as was Southern and Northern Rhodesia (British), both highly irregular in shape. Obviously, those states with long coastlines along the Atlantic and Indian Oceans prospered through trade and commerce, while the others suffered from a lack of shipping capabilities.
No single factor is responsible for global deforestation; in fact, it is due to a combination of causes, such as extensive logging, agricultural concerns, governmental policies and global economic forces, such as population growth and the need for a higher standard of living. For the most part, deforestation is occurring in such places as the Brazilian Amazon basin, parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. With deforestation, one of the major associated problems is the loss of biodiversity, especially in the tropical rain forests of South America and Southeast Asia.
The destruction of natural habitats is by far the leading mechanism for species extinction. For instance, the loss of half of the forests would reduce what is left to wide open terrain and subsequently affect the forest's ability to retain rainfall, thus eroding away most of the valuable topsoil which could be used for agricultural purposes. In addition, regional climate alterations caused by deforestation have affected rainfall in India, Malaysia, the Ivory Coast, the Philippine Islands and in the area of the Panama Canal. In the Amazon, deforestation will affect the entire basin and eventually all of the agricultural terrain of Brazil.
The reason that human beings continue to contribute to deforestation has much to do with the spread of people into regions once inhabited only by animals, an affect of population growth and the desire to increase one's economic stability and standard of living. Thus, as human populations expand, the need for more land increases, a sort of vicious circle with the rainforests paying the heaviest price.
Since 1910, Mexico has experienced what some call a permanent revolution, made up of political, social and economic aspects, with the goal being to achieve social justice for all Mexicans and to create a political system based on the ideals of American democracy. This "unfinished revolution" continues even today, especially in relation to Mexico's thriving economic activity which has geographically spread to every corner of the country, due in part to its immense natural resources, such as oil, minerals and related natural products.
The future of Mexico hinges on several scenarios which are part of the on-going changing geography of economic activity within the country. First, Mexico must pursue new and profitable markets in both the U.S. And abroad through its participation in free trade agreements made within the last fifteen years or so. It must also closely examine any and all markets for potential new sales of Mexican-made goods, especially through the assistance of Mexican entrepreneurs who possess progressive and forward-looking viewpoints. Mexico's "unfinished revolution" must also focus on spreading its agricultural base which will transform Mexican society in many ways and create domestic economic development. Conversely, the revolutionary history of Mexico has hindered its growth, for while the United States and Europe have heavily industrialized themselves, Mexico has fallen behind, due to authoritarianism, poverty and ignorance.
The natural resources found within the country of Brazil, bounded on the north by French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela and Columbia, on the west by Peru and on the southwest by Bolivia, Paraquay, Argentina and Uruguay, are undoubtedly the most abundant of any region in the Southern Hemisphere. Brazil is blessed with rich soil for agriculture and an abundance of groundwater which controls the distribution of many major types of natural vegetation. Two specific areas in Brazil that contain the most of these natural resources is the interior and the Brazilian highlands. From Rio de Janeiro northward to Rio Grande Norte, the Brazilian interior is largely composed of horizontal beds of sandstone that have been cut into flat-topped mesas some 500 feet high.
Behind these features lie the western edge of the plain with its fertile red soils on the alluvial deltas of the Doce and Jequittinhonha, often used to plant cotton, tobacco, cacao and sugar. The Brazilian highlands contain the country's richest farmlands and the most valuable mineral reserves. The Paraiba valley runs almost parallel with the Atlantic coast and serves as the main route for transportation between the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. In the southwest, the Rio Parana and its numerous tributaries flow across the Parana plateua which feeds the lower valleys and allows for much agricultural activity. Thus, these two regions in Brazil yield high potentials for economic growth within the country and help to maintain the lifestyles of millions of Brazilians.
The current geography of Africa has been highly affected by the colonial rule of the great European powers of the 18th and 19th centuries. As a result of colonial dominance, the landscapes and environments were greatly affected, due to the removal of people from their natural habitats into strange, new territories which put a tremendous strain on the natural resources and the existing economic systems within these new territories. Most of this change occurred between 1900 and 1975, especially after World War II when international trade exploded and thus added further burdens on the natural landscape. Between 1950 and 1960, most of the European colonial powers, due to the rising tide of African nationalism, relinquished their hold and gave independence to the territories. For example, Morocco, Tunisia and the Sudan gained independence in 1956, and due to their reliance on the European system of economics, they floundered at first and faced much economic and environmental challenges. Also, the post-colonial independence of many of the nations in Africa forced them to institute rapid changes in their methods of living and in the various social structures which maintained a sense of order and conformity. One example is the dispersion of people from rural areas into larger urban communities which in essence played havoc with the availability of natural resources and as a consequence turned vacant land into communal villages. The movement of entire rural societies into an urban environment also weighed heavily on the infrastructure and forced the various governments to seek rapid and long-term alternatives to what remained of the colonial regimes.
Much like any other region in the world, West Africa has depended quite heavily on its environment and, not surprisingly, is firmly dependent on its geography. West Africa is divided by nature into a number of belts of various types of landforms and climates. These belts run across the landscape between the west and the east of Africa with the Atlantic Ocean at one side and the Nile River and the Red Sea at the other side, and from north to south, these belts form a number of zones. A map of West Africa clearly shows five main zones of different soil types, ranging from the deserts of the vast Sahara to the red-brown tropical soil that forms much of the region's surface.
A map of the rainfall in West Africa reveals even more belts or zones. In the southern Sahara, the rainfall average is less than 25 centimeters annually; in contrast, in western Guinea and the Niger delta, the average rainfall is more than ten times as much. These wide and varying differences in natural conditions, being West Africa's environment, can be observed by anyone who dares make a journey from the…