East Africa is the easternmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. It is traditionally comprised of the following countries: Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Burundi and Rwanda, are also sometimes included although many also consider them part a of Central Africa. Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia – collectively known as the Horn of Africa are also part of East Africa. Sudan is often included in this region. Madagascar is also sometimes included, but has close cultural ties to Southeast Asia and the islands of the Indian Ocean.
Geography and climateEdit
The climate of East Africa is rather atypical of equatorial regions. Because of a combination of the region's generally high altitude and the rain shadow of the westerly monsoon winds created by the Rwenzori Mountains and Ethiopian Highlands, East Africa is surprisingly cool and dry for its latitude.
The lower-lying lands of northern Kenya and Greater Somalia are indeed extremely dry. In fact, on the coast of Somaliland and Puntland many years have no rain whatsoever. Elsewhere the annual rainfall generally increases towards the south and with altitude, being around 400 millimetres (16 in) at Mogadishu and 1,200 millimetres (47 in) at Mombasa on the coast, whilst inland it increases from around 130 millimetres (5 in) at Garoowe to over 1,100 millimetres (43 in) at Moshi near Kilimanjaro. Unusually, most of the rain falls in two distinct wet seasons, one centred around April and the other in October or November. This is usually attributed to the passage of the Intertropical Convergence Zone across the region in those months, but it may also be analogous to the autumn monsoon rains of parts of Sri Lanka, Vietnam and the Brazilian Nordeste.
West of the Rwenzoris and Ethiopian highlands the rainfall pattern is more typically tropical, with rain throughout the year near the equator and a single wet season in most of the Ethiopian Highlands from June to September - contracting to July and August around Asmara. Annual rainfall here ranges from over 1,600 millimetres (63 in) on the western slopes to around 1,250 millimetres (49 in) at Addis Ababa and 550 millimetres (22 in) at Asmara. In the high mountains rainfall can be over 2,500 millimetres (98 in).
Rainfall in East Africa is influenced by El Niño events, which tend to increase rainfall except in the northern and western parts of the Ethiopian and Eritrean highlands, where they produce drought and poor Nile floods.
Temperatures in East Africa, except on the hot and generally humid coastal belt, are moderate, with maxima of around 25 °C (77 °F) and minima of 15 °C (59 °F) at an altitude of 1,500 millimetres (5 ft). At altitudes of above 2,500 metres (8,202 ft), frosts are common during the dry season and maxima typically about 21 °C (70 °F) or less.