East Africa region: countries, landscapes and areas

East Africa is the eastern part of the continent of Africa with beautiful landscapes and a great diversity of flora, fauna and cultures. From the vast savannahs to the beautiful coasts and the enchanting islands in the Indian Ocean. The Great Rift Valley runs through this area, with high volcanoes and deep lakes. Large concentrations of wildlife live here.

To land

According to the United Nations composition of continental regions, eighteen countries belong to East Africa, or Eastern Africa. The French overseas islands of Mayotte and RĂ©union in the Indian Ocean are also included.

  • Burundi
  • Comoros
  • Djibouti
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mauritius
  • Mozambique
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Somalia
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Southern Sudan


Areas and landscapes in East Africa

The Great Rift Valley

The Great Rift Valley, also called the East African Rift Valley, is an area of rifts. This is called a rift , an area where two tectonic plates (two pieces of the Earth’s crust) are moving apart. The East African Rift Valley runs from Ethiopia to Mozambique and consists of high mountains such as Virunga along the Western Rift . But the Rift Valley also contains very deep lakes, for example Lake Tanganyika . The area is volcanically active. A nomadic people who live in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley are the Samburu. They are related to the Masai tribe and mainly live by raising cattle, goats and camels. The rift valley is also home to many wild animals, such as the African elephant, lions, zebras, giraffes, buffalos, leopards, cheetahs, and so on.

Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya

Kilimanjaro is a mountain massif in northeastern Tanzania, in the eastern part of the Great Rift Valley. It consists of three connected volcanoes and contains the highest mountain in Africa (the Kibo at 5895 meters). Kilimanjaro is surrounded by savannahs, it is dry and warm here. The mountain slopes are covered with tropical rainforests and tundra. Another high volcano is Mount Kenya in Kenya (5199 meters). The highest peaks of these mountains are covered with snow and glaciers.

The Horn of Africa

The northernmost countries of East Africa, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia, belong to the Sahel ( ‘coast’ in Arabic). This broad transitional region in Africa, at the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, runs from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Red Sea in the east. The landscape consists of savannas, desert steppes and low plains and it is quite dry and warm. This area in eastern Africa is also referred to as ‘the Horn of Africa’ . Somalia’s coastline resembles a rhino’s horn jutting into the Indian Ocean. Here the Red Sea flows into the Indian Ocean. Just like in the other Sahel countries, the population in the Horn of Africa is among the poorest in the world. A nomadic tribe that lives here is the Afar, they keep livestock such as camels, goats and cows. Another important ethnic group is the Amhara, who live on the central plateau in Ethiopia. Times of severe drought and various civil wars have turned the countries in the Horn of Africa into a developing area.

Rivers, lakes and waterfalls

In Ethiopia, the Blue Nile originates in Lake Tana. The White Nile originates in Lake Victoria. In Sudan, these rivers merge into the Nile River . The Zambezi River originates in the north of Zambia, flows through a number of southern African countries and flows into the Indian Ocean via a 100 kilometer wide delta (estuary) in Mozambique. In the Zambezi on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe are the widest waterfalls in Africa, the Victoria Falls (about 1700 meters wide and 100 meters high). The locals call these waterfalls ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ (thunderous smoke). Lake Tanganyika lies within the Western Rift Valley of the Great Rift Valley. It is the largest and deepest rift lake in Africa (about 670 kilometers long and 1470 meters at its deepest). The largest freshwater lake in Africa is Lake Victoria with an area of approximately 69,000 square kilometers. There are several islands in the lake and many freshwater fish and hippos live there. Lake Victoria is located between the countries of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. The Great Rift Valley is also home to many alkaline soda lakes, lakes with a high salinity. For example, Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria in Kenya. These lakes are home to many algae and crustaceans, which attract large numbers of small flamingos. This is also the breeding area of the pink pelican.

The Indian Ocean

Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique border the Indian Ocean. Manta rays, reef sharks, dolphins and many other fish and coral species live in the warm tropical waters off the coastline. Located 35 kilometers off the Tanzanian coast, the island of Zanzibar is famous for the production of cloves and other spices. In the Indian Ocean there are islands of volcanic origin, such as Mauritius, Mayotte, RĂ©union and the Comoros archipelago. The Seychelles consist of granite and coral islands and are mainly known as a tourist destination. Madagascar, the largest island in Africa, has a unique ecology with animals that are only found on this island. For example, the prosimian lemurs (or lemurs) and the comet tail butterfly. The Swahili population lives along the coast of the Indian Ocean and on the islands, derived from the Arabic ‘sawahil’ (coastal people). They grow crops such as beans, peas and corn. The Swahili language they speak is a Bantu language. ‘Bantu’ means people.

National parks

The largest nature park in Africa is located in Zambia, the Kafue National Park and covers approximately 22,400 square kilometers. In addition, there are many more national parks in East Africa. The Serengeti National Park is located in Tanzania , known for the great migration of herds of wildebeest and the many wild animals that live here. The nomadic Masai people have, among other things, the Serengeti as their living environment. These are shepherds and warriors who live off their cattle. This tribe is known for their rich culture and colorful clothing, such as the red cloths. Serengeti means ‘endless plain’ in the Masai language. The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a park in Uganda, home to more than half of the population of the highly endangered mountain gorillas.