International Day of the Tropics (29th June 2018)

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The tropics are the region of the Earth near to the equator and between the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere and the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere. This region is also referred to as the tropical zone and the torrid zone.  They’re individually called the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. This area includes all the areas of the Earth where the sun reaches a point directly overhead at least once a year. The word "tropics" comes from Greek tropos meaning "turn", because the apparent position of the Sun moves between the two tropics within a year.

Tropical countries are those that lie within the region that is called the tropics. It is the zone between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The tropics are regions of the Earth that lie roughly in the middle of the globe. The tropic lies between the latitude lines of the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The tropics include the Equator and parts of North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Djibouti and Mauritania are the only two tropical countries of continental Africa not included in this group, which excludes the Mediterranean countries of North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt) and the temperate countries of southern Africa (Republic of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland).

An important feature of the Tropics is the prevalence of rain in the moist inner regions near the equator, and that the seasonality of rainfall increases with the distance from the equator. 40% of the world population lives at the tropics.

The tropic is the most important region of the world because;

  1. It is where most of the people dwell
  2. Most children are found there
  3. A lot of animal species are found at the tropics
  4. Great diversity of culture exist there
  5. Its growing richer everyday
  6. Growth of trade and investment is also the order of the day
  7. It determines the global climate
  8. Climate change will greatly affect the tropics

The only remaining rain forest in Africa is found in the Congo River Basin. The tropical environment is rich in terms of bio-diversity. Tropical African forest is 18 per cent of the world total and covers over 3.6 million square kilometers of land in West, East and Central Africa.

The following animals are found in tropical Africa

  • Chimpanzee.
  • Cross River Gorilla.
  • Mountain Gorilla.
  • African Elephant.
  • Forest Elephant.
  • Western Lowland Gorilla.
  • Eastern Lowland Gorilla

There is great concern about the rapid expansion of the tropics as a result of climate change. We need to take measures to reduce pollution and save our forests from destruction, only then will we be able to curb the expansion. If left unchecked, humans as well as wildlife will suffer. Many tropical species will not be able to survive the changing climatic conditions and could begin to experience population decline or extinction. Other impact of this change could mean prolong in dry days, changes in precipitation, leading to high level of smog, long hot and drier seasons, increase in pests and diseases, bad impact on agricultural activities, forced migration of human being to inhabitable areas, it is common knowledge that this continued change in the tropics will cause changes to the earth.

Compiled by Grace Sitienei – University of Nairobi Library