Background Information 




    Of the three great rainforest areas in the world, Africa is the smallest.   There are two main areas of rainforest that lie between Sudan to the North and the Angola plateau to the South.  The Upper Guinea Forest occupies lowlands from Liberia to eastern Ghana and is interrupted by the savanna country of Dahomey.  The Lower Guinea Block, otherwise known as the Congo Forest, starts as a narrow strip along the coast of eastern Nigeria, fans out in Cameroon and Gabon, flows across the floor of the Congo basin- eastward to Mountains of the Moon and the slopes of the East Africa Plateau.  Only one-fifth of Africa is actually rain forests. 
      Rainforests are defined by ninety plus inches of rain and a constant temperature in the 80s.  Rainforests are divided into four distinct layers.  The bottom layer, known as the forest floor, is dim, dark, and wet.  The floor is covered by animal debris, twigs, and dead leaves.  One half of the world's insects are located in the rainforest and most are located on the forest floor.  These insects  help break down the soil and allows the rainforest to function as a separate ecosystem.  The most prominent insects are ants and termites. 
      The next layer is the understory.  Small trees, bushes and plants grow at this level.  It is the home of bats, frogs, snakes, and butterflies.  The third layer is the canopy.  The canopy is like a big green umbrella and is home to many monkeys, apes, and exotic plants such as orchids.  The diversity of monkeys is especially great in Africa.  The last layer is the emergent level.  Butterflies, birds,  and a few specific monkeys live at this level.   
      The Mbuti people of Zaire live in the Ituri forest of Eastern Congo.  This group depends heavily on the animals and plants located in the rainforest.  The Mbuti people don't have a permanent camp, but rather travel through the rainforest as a way of life.  To get the resources they don't have, they trade with the Bantu village.


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