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Asmara, Eritrea  

David P. Johnson

Asmara is located in a highland region of Eritrea that was settled roughly 700 years ago. It is believed to have been the site of four small, feuding villages, which, under pressure from the villages’ women inhabitants, finally made peace and united around 1515. The name Asmara comes from Arbate Asmara, which in the Tigrinya language means “the four villages of those [women] who brought harmony.” Sixteenth-century Italian sources describe Asmara as a caravan trading center.

Shortly afterward Asmara was sacked by Islamic warriors and went into decline. Few historical records even mention Asmara again until the late nineteenth century, when the Italians began their colonial conquest of the region. After occupying Aseb in 1882 and Massawa in 1885, the Italians pushed into the highlands, where they encountered resistance. However, in exchange for weapons Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II signed a treaty in 1889 acquiescing to Italian control ...

Article

Bamako, Mali  

Elizabeth Heath

The administrative, economic, and cultural center of Mali, Bamako lies on the left bank of the Niger River in the southwestern part of the country. Little is known about Bamako before the eleventh century, when it achieved prominence as a center of Islamic scholarship in the Mali empire. After the fall of Mali in the sixteenth century, the Bambara occupied the town, which became a fishing and trading center. In 1806 Scottish explorer Mungo Park estimated Bamako’s population to be less than 6,000. By 1880 the town had fallen under the domination of the Mandinka warrior Samory Touré, whose kingdom covered an expanse of territory to the south.

In 1883 French Lieutenant Colonel Gustave Borgnis Desbordes occupied Bamako and used it as a base for military campaigns against Touré Bamako took on new importance under the French who valued the town s position on the navigable ...

Article

Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso  

Susanne Freidberg

The city of Bobo-Dioulasso is located in one of the greener areas of Burkina Faso, and has long benefited from the fertility of the surrounding countryside. According to the legends of the Bobo people, their ancestors migrated from present-day Mali sometime between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries c.e.. and became the first inhabitants of what Bobo folk songs call “the plateau of abundance” in the southern Volta region. Over the following centuries, long-distance traders settled among the Bobo peasants on this plateau and established a community known as Sya on the banks of the Houet River. Located at the crossroads of trans-Saharan and east-west trade routes, Sya was a lively market town by the time European colonization began in the late nineteenth century. French troops, facing fierce resistance from Sya’s Zara warriors, conquered the town in 1895 They renamed it Bobo Dioulasso in Dioula house of the ...

Article

Edward, Lake  

Lake Edward, located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, has an area of about 2,150 square kilometers (about 830 square miles) and lies 912 meters (2,990 feet) above sea level. It is connected on the northeast with Lake George (or Lake Dweru) in Uganda, by means of the Kazinga Channel. Lake Edward is fed by the Rutshuru River, a headstream of the White Nile. The lake has only one outlet, the Semliki River, which links it with Lake Albert to the north. High escarpments run along the western shore of the lake and mountains rise on the northwestern shore. The water is brackish with mineral salts. Many fish and crocodiles live in the lake, and waterfowl abound on its shores. The Anglo-American explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley discovered the lake in 1889. The lake was formerly called Albert Edward Nyanza.

See alsoGeomorphology, African ...

Article

Minas Gerais  

Aaron Myers

Minas Gerais was a densely forested region sparsely inhabited by Tupi and Guarani Indians before the arrival of Europeans in the seventeenth century. At that time explorers and bandeirantes (slave raiders) moved inland from São Paulo in search of Indian slaves as well as precious stones and metals.

Article

Turkana, Lake  

Robert Fay

Commonly called the Jade Sea because of its color, Lake Turkana is located in the volcanic rock desert of northwestern Kenya; its northern tip lies in Ethiopia. The shallow, narrow lake is about 250 kilometers (160 miles) long and covers an area of 7,100 square kilometers (2,700 square miles). It is fed by the Omo River, from the north, but has no outlet. Lake Turkana is most famous as the site where Richard Leakey unearthed fossils that transformed scientific understanding of human evolution. But the lake is also home to the pastoral Turkana people who keep cattle camels goats and sheep The Turkana practice transhumance moving their herds away from the lake during the dry season to areas of better pastures and returning to the lake during the rainy season Lake Turkana also provides refuge for the largest crocodile population in the world Poachers ignore these crocodiles ...