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Read the passage carefully. Then choose the correct answer.
 
Africa is the second largest continent in the world and it is a continent that is unique for its diversity of environment, people, and culture. Africa is geographically divided into two parts: the Sahara desert that extends right up to the Mediterranean Sea comprising countries such as Egypt, Libya and Algeria, and the larger sub-Saharan region which extends to the coast of South Africa comprising countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Sudan.

As with its diverse environment, the people also live in diverse conditions. There are huge spectacular nature reserves with varied wildlife and there are also extremely urbanised regions with large cities that contain fascinating skyscrapers and contemporary facilities. There are people who are extremely poor and there are people who are extremely rich. There are regions that suffer from severe droughts and famine and there are regions where food is plentiful. Visiting Africa will definitely open one's eyes to the varied world of this land mass and its people.

The population of the African continent is rapidly increasing despite making up merely 10 percent of the world's population. In some parts of Africa as in the Sahara Desert, which makes up one-fourth of Africa's land mass and which is unsuitable for habitation, the population density is low. In other parts of Africa, in particular the less developed countries, despite the birth rate being high, the infant mortality rate and the death rate are also high. Over the last few decades, famine, disease, and war have also taken their toll on the people and this has affected the continent's population growth. In the more affluent African countries that are faring well economically, the birth and death rates are lower thus bringing about a higher population density. This population density appears to be similar to the world's population average in areas that support agriculture. Currently, the continent as a whole, has a population growth rate of 3 percent.

The inhabitants of Africa belong to various ethnic groups with their own distinct languages, traditions, arts and crafts, history, way of life, and religion. Thus, the people from diverse ethnic groups in Africa help to influence, contribute to and enrich one other's culture. There are more than 50 countries in Africa with some 20 or more different ethnic groups living within their boundaries. There are also different ethnic groups living in rural Africa with their own traditions and lifestyles that have remained virtually unchanged for centuries. They have lived the way of their forefathers from generation to generation. Their rich cultural heritage is preserved and untouched by the outside world. The people of Africa are mainly of African origin. Some are of Arab origin when their ancestors migrated from their native land and resided in northern Africa. Some others are of European origin whose ancestors moved to Africa during the colonial period. And some are Asians originating from the Indian subcontinent. Some of the well known ethnic groups in Africa are the Ashanti, Bantu, Bushmen, Dinka, Fulani, Ganda, Hottentot, Kikuyu, Luba, Moors, Nuer, Pygmies, Semites, Swahili, Tuareg, Xhosa, and Yoruba.

Like the rest of the world, Africa is rapidly urbanising. Even though most of the people live in rural areas, its cities are occupied by more than a third of Africans. They lead a modern lifestyle just as those living in other cities around the world. Modern amenities such as transportation, electricity, telecommunications, computer technology and opportunities for acquiring quality education are available for city dwellers.

However, amenities are not as abundant for Africans who have settled in smaller townships. For example, resources provided in schools are limited. Job opportunities are also not as varied as in the big cities. The people are mainly involved in the service or manufacturing sectors. In terms of technology that is available, it is much less advanced.

Various languages are spoken across the continent. In the northern part, Arabic and Berber are the two most commonly used. The former originated from Egypt and Sudan, while the latter was from Morocco and Algeria. Since there are many sub-Saharan languages, they are grouped as language families. Among the larger ones are Bantu which is spoken in the central and southern African countries; Kordofanian, in areas between North Africa and Bantu; and Khoisan in the south-western part of Africa.

In most parts of Africa, getting clean water is difficult and this includes areas outside the sub-Saharan region. Despite major rivers crossing the continent and providing fresh water, the population mainly concentrates along the coastal areas. Water crises and unsanitary water supply have contributed to the high death toll among Africans, especially among infants and young children, due to disease spread through contaminated water. Furthermore, the sewage treatment systems are not adequate. A simple act of boiling water is also not always possible since fuel is not easily available.

     
    What do the following words or phrases refer to in the passage ?
  1. rapidly ( paragraph III )
  2. enrich ( paragraph IV )
  3. resources ( paragraph VI )
  4. adequate ( paragraph VIII )
     
    Answer the questions below based on the passage.
  1. In your opinion, what makes Africa a diverse and unique continent ?
  2. Name three problems which affect population growth in Africa.
  3. Explain the phrase, 'their own traditions and lifestyles that have remained virtually unchanged for centuries', as state in paragraph IV, What can you infer from this ?
  4. What is the best word to replace 'urbanising' ? a) moving  b) growing  c) improving  d) developing
  5. State three ideas in the passage to describe the problems faced by the African people.
  6. The writer mentions water crises which lead to water-borne diseases in most parts of Africa ( paragraph VIII ). In your own words, explain what this means.
     
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    Answers
     
1.   quickly
2.   improve
3.   facilities, materials, supplies
4.   sufficient
5.    
6.    
     
1.   It is a world with many ethnic groups, different cultures and languages, extreme poverty contrasted with extreme wealth, plentiful food contrasted with famine, etc.
2.   famine, disease, war
3   The people in Africa have been leading lifestyles that are similar to their ancestors' and therefore do not accept change as suggested by others.
4.   D
5.   a) water crises leading to water-borne diseases   b) poor telecommunications system   c) language barrier between ethnic groups
6.   Clean water is rare in most areas despite the fact that the continent has its fair share of rivers and has some of the world's largest freshwater lakes. At the same time, the sewage treatment system in many places is not adequate resulting in the contamination of water which in turn leads to water-borne diseases. In some areas, the scarcity of fuel prevents the boiling of water for safe consumption.
     
 
 
 
 

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