What Are the Major Landforms of East Africa?


East Africa is marked by several distinct and dramatic landforms, giving the region a unique and diverse character.

Great Rift Valley

  • The Great Rift Valley is a series of rifts and valleys running from north to south across the whole of East Africa. The African continent is gradually splitting in two along these fault lines.

Lakes and Rivers

  • Located in and around the Great Rift Valley are several major lakes. Lake Victoria is the largest in surface area, the second-largest lake on Earth and the source of the Nile River.

    Lake Tanganyika is notable for its depth. At 4,823 feet is the second-deepest lake on Earth.


  • Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa at 19,340 feet. Other major peaks in East Africa include Mount Kenya (17,058 feet) and Rwenzori Range (6,761 feet).

    The Ethiopian Highlands is a region of plateaus and mountains that cover parts of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia.


  • Rolling plains, covered in hardy grasses, shrubs and scattered trees, are found throughout East Africa. The most famous is the Serengeti Plain, home to a wide variety of wildlife.


  • Separated from East Africa by the Mozambique Channel of the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is the fourth-largest island in the world.

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  • Photo Credit Gerard D. Hertel/West Chester University/Bugwood.org, Diane Davies/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org
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