Albertine Rift is the western branch of the East African Rift,
covering parts of Uganda, the
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),
Burundi and Tanzania. It extends from the northern end of Lake
Albert to the southern end of Lake Tanganyika. The geographical term
includes the valley and the surrounding mountains.
2 Lakes and rivers
5 See also
Map of the region showing the
Albertine Rift to the west
Albertine Rift and the mountains are the result of tectonic
movements that are gradually splitting the
Somali Plate away from the
rest of the African continent. The mountains surrounding the rift are
composed of uplifted
Pre-Cambrian basement rocks, overlaid in parts by
recent volcanic rocks.
Lakes and rivers
The northern part of the rift is crossed by two large mountain ranges,
Rwenzori Mountains between Lake Albert and Lake Rutanzige
(formerly Lake Edward) and the
Virunga Mountains between Lake
Rutanziga and Lake Kivu. The Virungas form a barrier between the Nile
Basin to the north and east and the
Congo Basin to the west and south.
Lake Rutenzige is fed by several large rivers, the Rutshuru River
being one, and drains to the north through the
Semliki River into Lake
Albert. The Victoria Nile flows from
Lake Victoria into the northern
end of Lake Albert and exits as the
White Nile from a point slightly
to the west, flowing north to the Mediterranean.
South of the Virungu,
Lake Kivu drains to the south into Lake
Tanganyika through the Ruzizi River.
Lake Tanganyika then drains into
Congo River via the Lukuga River. It seems likely that the
present hydrological system was established quite recently when the
Virunga volcanoes erupted and blocked the northward flow of water from
Lake Kivu into Lake Edward, causing it instead to discharge southward
into Lake Tanganyika. Before that Lake Tanganyika, or separate
sub-basins in what is now the lake, may have had no outlet other than
evaporation. The Lukuga has formed relatively recently, providing a
route through which aquatic species of the
Congo Basin could colonize
Lake Tanganyika, which formerly had distinct fauna.
Mount Stanley in the Rwenzori range. With an elevation of 5,109 m
(16,763 ft), it is the tallest mountain in the
Albertine Rift and
the third tallest in Africa.
From north to south the mountains include the Lendu Plateau, Rwenzori
Virunga Mountains and Itombwe Mountains. The Ruwenzori
mountains have been identified with Ptolemy's "Mountains of the Moon".
The range covers an area 120 kilometres (75 mi) long and 65
kilometres (40 mi) wide. This range includes
Mount Stanley at
5,119 metres (16,795 ft),
Mount Speke at 4,890 metres
(16,040 ft) and Mount Baker at 4,843 metres (15,889 ft).
The Virunga Massif along the border between
Rwanda and the DRC
consists of eight volcanoes. Two of these,
Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo,
are still highly active.
Isolated mountain blocks further to the south include Mount Bururi in
southern Burundi, the Kungwe-Mahale Mountains in western Tanzania, and
Mount Kabobo and the
Marungu Mountains in the DRC on the shores of
Lake Tanganyika. Most of the massifs rise to between 2,000 metres
(6,600 ft) and 3,500 metres (11,500 ft).
Albertine Rift montane forests
Albertine Rift montane forests are important eco-regions.
Transitional forests, intermediate between lowland and montane forest,
are found at elevations from around 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) to
1,750 metres (5,740 ft). Montane forest covers the slopes from
around 1,600 metres (5,200 ft) to 3,500 metres (11,500 ft).
Above 2,400 metres (7,900 ft) there are areas of bamboo and elfin
forest. Heather and grasses predominate above 3,500 metres
(11,500 ft). The ecology is threatened by deforestation as a
growing population seeks new farmland. Illegal timber extraction is
another problem, and artisanal gold mining causes some local
Mukura Forest Reserve
^ Owiunji & Plumptre 2011, p. 164.
^ a b Erfurt-Cooper & Cooper 2010, p. 35-36.
^ Clark 1969, p. 35.
^ Hughes & Hughes 1992, p. 562.
^ a b c WWF.
^ Erfurt-Cooper & Cooper 2010, p. 37.
^ Erfurt-Cooper & Cooper 2010, p. 36.
^ a b Birdlife.
Albertine Rift mountains". Birdlife International.
Clark, John Desmond (1969). Kalambo Falls prehistoric site, Volume 1.
Erfurt-Cooper, Patricia; Cooper, Malcolm (2010). Volcano and
Geothermal Tourism: Sustainable Geo-Resources for Leisure and
Recreation. Earthscan. ISBN 1-84407-870-1.
Hughes, R. H.; Hughes, J. S. (1992). A directory of African wetlands.
IUCN. ISBN 2-88032-949-3.
Owiunji, I.; Plumptre, A.J. (2011). "The importance of cloud forest
sites in the conservation of endemic and threatened species of the
Albertine Rift". Tropical Montane Cloud Forests: Science for
Conservation and Management. Cambridge University Press.
Albertine Rift montane forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World
Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
Regions of Africa
Gulf of Guinea
African Great Lakes
East African Rift
Great Rift Valley
Rift Valley lakes
Horn of Africa
Gulf of Aden
Gulf of Tadjoura
Indian Ocean islands
Cataracts of the Nile
Gulf of Aqaba
Gulf of Guinea
Guinean Forests of West Africa
Inner Niger Delta
Central Highlands (Madagascar)
Cape Floristic Region
East African montane forests
Greater Middle East
Islands of Africa
List of countries where Arabic is an official language
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