Africa is a very large continent, one with 53 independent states fraught with a troubled and complex historical geography. While most Americans have a general sense that modern Africa is beset with difficulty, there is little real understanding of Africa. It seems that one of the reasons Americans don’t consider Africa much is that frankly what little we know tends to make us uncomfortable and confused. The editors of this book hope to help turn attention towards this continent, one with an enormous amount of environmental value and human potential even though it is beset with serious problems which, if not solved, will continue to seriously degrade both. They offer it as the fruit of the geographer’s art, one that seeks to know both the physical and human characteristics of places, and how those characteristics intertwine and interact to make a place the way it is, and different from other places.