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Karoo(both: kəro͞o`, kä–), the semiarid plateaus of South Africa. The Little Karroo, in Western Cape, is located N of the Langeberg and Outeniqua Ranges and extends c.200 mi (320 km) from east to west at an altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 ft (305–610 m). It is separated from the Great Karroo, in Western Cape and Eastern Cape (c.300 mi/480 km long; alt. 2,000–3,000 ft/610–915 m), by the Swartberg Mts. The Northern Karroo, in Northern Cape, North West and Free State, forms (with the highveld, see veldveld
[Du.,=field], term applied to the grassy undulating plateaus of the Republic of South Africa and of Zimbabwe. The veld comprises territory of varying elevation—the highveld (4,000–6,000 ft/1,220–1,830 m), the middleveld
..... Click the link for more information. ) the innermost and highest of South Africa's plateau regions. It extends north from the Great Karroo, bounded by Namaqualand on the west and the Komsberg and Roggeveld escarpments on the southwest, and merges with the highveld of Free State and Transvaal provinces. Up to 4,000 ft (1,219 m) high in Northern Cape province, it rises to c.6,000 ft (1,829 m) in the highveld of Transvaal. It forms the lower western half of the central escarpment. The Karroo, where irrigated, is very fertile. Livestock grazing is important there, and citrus fruits and grains are raised. The name is also applied to the low scrub vegetation found in semiarid regions and also to a system of rocks laid down over central and southern Africa during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras.
(Hottentot karusa, “dry” or “sterile”), the general name for the semidesert plateaus and intermontane depressions in South Africa; they lie to the south of the Orange River and have a subtropical climate.
The Upper Karroo is a plateau 1,000–1, 300 m high between the Orange River in the north and the Great Escarpment in the south. It is composed of horizontal sandstones and shales (the continental formation of the karroo dates to the Upper Paleozoic and Mesozoic ages) broken by numerous dolerite intrusions. Precipitation (250–400 mm per year) falls irregularly, usually in torrents. The karroo is broken by the wadi beds of the tributaries of the Orange River, which after the rains become flooded. Sparse brush vegetation has survived, as well as solitary trees, chiefly in the valleys and saucer-like depressions.
The Great Karroo is an erosion depression between the Great Escarpment and the Kaap (Cape) Mountains; it extends 400 km from west to east, with an average width of 130 km and average elevations of 450–750 m. It is composed of sandstones of the Karroo suite. The climate is semidesert and desert, with 125–400 mm of precipitation a year. The vegetation cover is sparse, particularly in the west.
The Little Karroo is a very wide (about 64 km) longitudinal depression in the Kaap Mountains, between the Zwartberg Range in the north and the Lange Bergen in the south; it stretches 320 km from west to east. Precipitation is 250 mm a year, supporting sparse brush and grasses.
L. A. MIKHAILOVA