Sahel


Sahel
Sahelian, adj., n.
/seuh hayl", -heel"/, n.
the arid area on the S flank of the Sahara desert that stretches across six countries from Senegal to Chad.

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Arabic Sāḥil

Semiarid zone, western and north-central Africa.

Extending from Senegal eastward to The Sudan, it forms a narrow transitional band between the arid Sahara to the north and the humid savannas to the south. Beginning in the late 20th century, it was subjected to increased desertification and soil erosion caused by natural climate changes as well as overgrazing and overfarming. The countries of the zone suffered a devastating drought and famine in the early 1970s, and by 1973 sections of the Sahara had advanced southward as much as 60 mi (100 km). Severe drought and famine again struck the region in 1983–85. Efforts by local governments to combat desertification in the Sahel have met with limited success.

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Arabic  Sāḥil,  

      semiarid region of western and north-central Africa extending from Senegal eastward to The Sudan. It forms a transitional zone between the arid Sahara (desert) to the north and the belt of humid savannas to the south. The Sahel stretches from the Atlantic Ocean eastward through northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, the great bend of the Niger River in Mali, Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), southern Niger, northeastern Nigeria, south-central Chad, and into The Sudan.

      The semiarid steppes of the Sahel have natural pasture, with low-growing grass and tall, herbaceous perennials. Other forage for the region's livestock (camel, pack ox, and grazing cattle and sheep) includes thorny shrubs and acacia and baobab trees. The thorny scrub once formed a woodland, but the country is now more open and relatively traversable by motor vehicle. The terrain is chiefly of the savanna type, with little continuous cover and a dangerous tendency to merge into desert because of overstocking and overfarming. At least eight months of the year are dry, and rain, confined to a short season, averages 4–8 inches (100–200 mm), mostly in June, July, and August. There are also wide areas of pasturage watered by the flooding Niger and Sénégal rivers. Modest crops of millet and peanuts (groundnuts) can be raised in many areas.

      In the second half of the 20th century, the Sahel was increasingly afflicted by soil erosion and desertification resulting from growing human populations that made more demands upon the land than previously. Town dwellers and farmers stripped the tree and scrub cover to obtain firewood and grow crops, after which excessive numbers of livestock devoured the remaining grass cover. Rainfall runoff and the wind then carried off the fertile topsoils, leaving arid and barren wastelands.

      The fragile nature of agriculture and pastoralism in the Sahel was strikingly demonstrated in the early 1970s, when a long period of drought, beginning in 1968, led to the virtual extinction of the crops there and the loss of 50 to 70 percent of the cattle. In 1972 there was practically no rain at all, and by 1973 sections of the Sahara had advanced southward up to 60 miles (100 km). The loss of human life by starvation and disease was estimated in 1973 at 100,000. Severe drought and famine again afflicted the Sahel in 1983–85, and desertification progressed despite some government reforestation programs. The Sahel continued to expand southward into neighbouring savannas, with the Sahara following in its wake.

      In northern Africa the term Sahel is applied to the coastal band of hills in Algeria and to the steppelike eastern coastal plain of Tunisia.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • SAHEL — Le Sahel est le domaine de transition entre le Sahara et le Soudan. Par son rythme climatique annuel, il appartient au domaine tropical humide. Mais la longueur et la rigueur de la saison sèche le classent aussi dans les régions semi arides… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Sahel — (arabisch ‏ساحل‎ „Küste“ oder „rettendes Ufer“) steht für: den Übergang von Wüste/Halbwüste zur Trockensavanne; also ist ein Sahel eine Dornstrauchsavanne Sahelzone, die von West über Mittel nach Ost Afrika verlaufende Randzone der Sahara… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sahel FC — Club fondé en Couleurs jaune et bleu Stade St …   Wikipédia en Français

  • sahel — SAHÉL s.n. Zonă de tranziţie între Sahara şi savanele Africii subecuatoriale, cu vegetaţie de savană uscată şi de stepă. – Din fr. sahel. Trimis de LauraGellner, 17.07.2004. Sursa: DEX 98  sahél s. n. Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa:… …   Dicționar Român

  • Sahel SC — Sahel Sporting Club Sahel SC Club fondé en 1974 Couleurs …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sahel — (Région du Sahel), 1) franz. Gebiet in Westafrika in dem Dreieck zwischen Senegal und Niger, zu Senegambien und Territorien gehörend, 108,400 qkm groß, mit etwa 250,000 Einw. (Kreis Ni oro 120,000, Kreis Gombu 90,000, Kreis Sokolo 40,000). – 2)… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Sahel — Sahel, die westliche Hälfte der Wüste Sahara (s.d.) in Afrika …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Sahel — Countries (Cape Verde Islands, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Upper Volta) …   Eponyms, nicknames, and geographical games

  • Sahel — from Arabic sahil “sea coast, shore.” …   Etymology dictionary

  • sahel — sàhel m <N mn i> DEFINICIJA prijelazno sušno područje između savane i pustinje …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Sahel — [sä hel′] region in NC Africa, south of the Sahara, characterized by periodic drought …   English World dictionary


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