The history of North Africa is dominated by the Sahara, which has always been a vital factor in the lives of the peoples of Barbary and the Western Sudan. The cultural and economic development of both has been profoundly affected by intercourse between the two. Yet they are separated by a desert which forms one of the world's greatest barriers to human intercourse.
A slight increase in the aridity of the Sahara would so extend the waterless stages that the caravan routes would become impassable to camels and therefme to men—leaving, of course, mechanical transport out of consideration. A correspondingly slight increase in rainfall would quickly multiply the waterholes and desert pastures and render man independent of the now necessary camel. The question of climatic change in historic times is therefore a matter of importance to the student of the history of northern Africa.
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