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Introduction. Understanding African Land-Holding: Power, Wealth, and Meaning

  • Parker Shipton and Mitzi Goheen

Africa is the region with the sparsest overall population, but to infer that Africa has no problems of rural land shortage would be quite wrong. The continent has the highest and fastest-rising rate of population growth—lately over 3 per cent annually—and the distribution of people across the continent is quite uneven. At least as far as rain-fed lands are concerned, some of its local densities already count among the world's highest. Several of its nations—for instance Kenya, Tanzania, and Nigeria—encompass within their borders a full spectrum from range land or desert with fewer than five per square kilometre to better-watered settlements of over 500 per square kilometre, where domestic groups have space for little more than kitchen gardens.

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Note: Works cited in the introduction are marked with an asterisk.

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