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Climate is an average pattern of weather and temperature over a period of time. It is a regions climate, together with physical landscape, that determines plant life found there.

The climate is influenced by its latitude or how far to the north or south of the equator it lays. Regions around the equator are the hottest in the world. Closer to the poles, the colder it gets. Africa's climatic zones fall into three broad categories: humid equatorial, dry, and humid temperate.

In West and Central Africa, along the Guinea Coast, in Gabon, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, northeastern Republic of the Congo, and in East Africa south of the equator in Tanzania, Mozambique, and Madagascar the climate is humid.

The regions nearest the equator receive year-round rainfall, while those north and south of it experience short dry winters and a lower average annual amount of rainfall.

North Africa climatic zones
climatic zones legend South Africa climatic zones

Where the dry seasons are long enough, equatorial regions give way to dry regions. In the north the Sahel desert stretches from east to west through Mali, Niger, Chad, and Sudan and borders the Sahara.

In the deserts themselves, rainfall is extremely scarce and temperatures are very extreme. Although the daytime temperatures in the desert are high, due to the lack of plants and moisture, nights can be extremely cold. The coastal regions of North Africa and southern tip of Africa experience temperate or "Mediterranean" weather, including dry summers and wet winters, due to their proximity to the oceans.

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