Ethiopian Plateau

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ethiopian Plateau


(also Amhara Plateau), a tableland in northeastern Africa, primarily in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Plateau extends from Lake Turkana to the lower course of the Barka River—that is, from 5° to 18° N lat. Elevations increase from 2,000 m in the southwest to 3,000 m in the northeast. The tableland drops off abruptly in the east and descends in steps in the west.

The northern part of the Ethiopian Plateau (to 15° N lat.) is a peneplain formed on crystalline rocks, with isolated mountain peaks; to the south are mesa-like lava plateaus, known as ambas, that are separated by deep canyon-like valleys into massifs difficult of access. The highest peak is Ras Dashan (4,623 m) in the Semien Mountains. Southwest of the mountains is a vast inter-montane depression that includes Lake Tana. In the southeast the tableland descends in steps to a deep fault depression that forms the border of the Somali Plateau. Transverse lava sheets divide the depression into several basins; fumaroles and hot springs are found on its floor and along its periphery.

The tableland has a hot, subequatorial climate, with a wet summer. A marked altitudinal zonation of climate, soils, and vegetation is observed. The climates of the western and eastern slopes differ sharply. The western slopes receive abundant precipitation in the summer and about 1,500 mm annually. In summer, hot winds similar to foehns often move down the eastern slopes, which are dry; precipitation (about 500 mm annually) falls primarily in winter. High in the mountains there are winter snowfalls.

The Ethiopian Plateau has an extensive river network. The large rivers of the Nile-Blue Nile, Atbara, and Baro basins, which flow through deep canyons, have many rapids and are not navigable.

The soil and vegetation zones are most highly developed on the windward western slope. The lowest zone—the quolla (to 1,700–1,800 m)—has an average annual temperature of at least 20°C, with tropical rain forests and, on the interfluvial benches, high-grass and dry (in the north) savannas. In the woina dega zone (to 2,400 m) average monthly temperatures range from 13° to 16–18°C; there is savanna vegetation, with palms, acacias, and Euphorbia candelabrum. In the dega zone (2,400–4,000 m), where temperatures drop sharply, coniferous forests of juniper trees grow on the mountain slopes, giving way to high-mountain steppes. The three zones have long been cultivated and produce many varieties of grain crops, notably durum wheat, rye, and barley. Maize, oil-bearing plants, citrus trees, and coffee trees are also cultivated.

The fauna of the Ethiopian Plateau is quite diverse, with such herbivores as giraffes, elephants, zebras, and antelope and such predators as the leopard, Senegalese lion, lynx, and hyena. Rhinoceroses and hippapotamuses live near the rivers. The numerous apes include green monkeys, geladababoons, and anubis baboons. The bird life is especially rich and diverse.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The river likely originated in the highlands of the Ethiopian plateau while the lake developed at lower elevations where rift activity caused the Earth surface to stretch and thin, creating the lowlands of the Afar region.
Egypt receives about 70% of its water flow from the Blue Nile and Atbara River, both sourced in the Ethiopian plateau, then merge as the Main Nile in the northern Sudan.
It is said that coffee was first discovered centuries ago in the forests of the Ethiopian plateau. It was eventually cultivated for mass use in Yemen, and Arab traders were directly involved in the commercialisation of this lovely fruit.
Meanwhile, the second tributary is the Blue Nile, which starts from the Ethiopian Plateau. As per Alternative 1, the route will be "navigable" and start from Jinja city of Uganda; the vessels will come from Kenya and Tanzania through Lake Victoria bound for the port of Jinja, from which the vessels will start their trade journey to the city of Packwash in Uganda, then move through the White Nile and complete it to the Mediterranean Sea.
According to the Columbia (University) History of the World, three thousand years ago much of Africa was thinly populated with the exception of the "Sudanic belt stretching across the continent from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ethiopian plateau." In this region the inhabitants were technologically superior to the southern neighbours who remained hunter-gatherers while they had domesticated native cereals and rice.
Khartoum, Aug.9 (SUNA) - President of the Republic, Field Marshal, Omar al-Bashir received, Tuesday, a phone call from his brother, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi President of Egypt, reassuring on the situation in Sudan after heavy rains on the Ethiopian plateau and a number of the states of Sudan .
The committee said in its daily report that data collected from the main stations and satellite pictures showed rainy clouds on the Ethiopian plateau which means that water levels would continue to increase in most of the Nile reaches.
Khartoum, Shawwal 08, 1433, August 26, 2012, SPA -- Officials in the northern State of Nahr Al-Neel (river Nile) of The Sudan said today that 30 villages accommodating more than 5,000 families were totally isolated from the rest of the state due to flooding Atbara river pouring from the Ethiopian plateau.
Summary: Nile River levels have risen substantially due to heavy rain falling on the Ethiopian plateau. Egypt is considering precautions to deal with this rise.
The erosion and transportation of silt only occurs during the Ethiopian rainy season in the summer, however, when rainfall is especially high on the Ethiopian Plateau; the rest of the year, the great rivers draining Ethiopia into the Nile (Sobat, Blue Nile, Tekeze, and Atbarah) have a weaker flow.
For instance, nearly 60 per cent of the Tigris and Euphrates river waters originate from outside the region, namely Turkey, while 100 per cent of the Nile River originates from the Ethiopian Plateau, experts noted.

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