Human Environment
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Human Environment
Atlas Team

The Human Environment section of the African Marine Atlas displays the multiple aspects of the socio-economic relationships between man and the marine environment. The human dimension constitutes pertinent social sciences, that should inform all phases of management, including socio-economics, political science, cultural anthropology, legal studies, and geography.


The growth in population and population density, as well as the rate of urban and industrial development  have accelerated considerably in the last few decades. In many urban areas the marine environment is adversely affected by discarding domestic and industrial waste, and by physically alteration its coastline and critical habitats through direct coastal engineering works.


While knowledge and sound scientific information guide in devising effective policies, political and economic factors determine whether or not the wisdom accumulating in our laboratories and libraries will be put into practice.


A suite of basic spatially-enabled products together with necessary metadata have been put together as tools to assist in qualitative and quantitative comparisons of socio-political and environmental entities, and as tools for further analysis of consequences of activities and/or formulation of management options. These products range from administrative boundaries, population distribution, infrastructural developments and socio-economics.

  • Geopolitical - The geopolitical aspects of the marine environment refer to several multi-sectoral scenarios that includes such as areas as country boundaries (Land) and State Maritime boundaries, treaties within the Economic Exclusive Zones, shipping routes, military zones, fishing zones, offshore mining areas, mariculture areas and designated dumping sites. Others important features include marine cables, pipelines, aids to navigation as well as existing natural and man-made marine wrecks and obstructions.

  • Population - Africa is the world's second-largest and second most-populous continent after Asia. With more than 900 million people (as of 2005 UN/DESA statistics)  it accounts for about 14% of the world's human population. The last 40 years have seen a rapid increase in population. Over the past two decades, Africa’s coastal cities -centers of trade and commerce - have been growing by 4% a year or more, drawing people inevitably out of the countryside. Cities such as Lagos, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, Accra, Abidjan and Dakar have seen their populations explode from in-migration, with settlements next to the seafront. Other important coastal cities include Cairo, Kinshasa, Alexandria, and Casablanca.

  • Infrastructure - The effectiveness of ports, transport and telecommunications networks, the electricity grid and water and drainage systems all impact on commercial activity. The infrastructure of a country directly affect a country's economic vitality and quality of life. It can increase productivity, reduce the cost of production, increase trade and reduce poverty. A country's  physical infrastructure links, transport people and goods and provide services within the country and beyond its borders. Terrestrial high-speed fibre optic network, long-haul submarine cables and telecommunications satellites provide the vital infrastructure that wires the world together.

  • Industry & Commerce - Commerce refers to trade, business, transactions, exchange of products/services and money especially on a large scale between different countries (foreign commerce) or between different parts of the same country (domestic commerce). Industry denotes any business that produces goods or provides services in technically productive enterprises  involved in manufacturing and production in a particular field. Such include the work and related activities in factories, industries and organizations which are often named after their principal product e.g. steel industry, Tiomin mining, shipping industry, farming (seaweeds, oysters, coconuts, cashew nuts) etc.

  • Hospitality & Tourism - Tourism and hospitality is the act of travel for predominantly recreational or leisure purposes, and also refers to the provision of services in support of this act.  Tourism has become an extremely popular, global activity. As a service industry, tourism has numerous tangible and intangible elements. Major tangible elements include transportation, accommodation, and other components of a hospitality industry. Tourism is vital for many countries, due to the income generated by the consumption of goods and services by tourists, the taxes levied on businesses in the tourism industry, and the opportunity for employment and economic advancement by working in the industry. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) forecasts that international tourism will continue growing at the average annual rate of 4 %, although Africa may experience a growth rate of 5% per year. Most tourists are know to visit the lucrative bathing and surfing beaches, marinas, diving and sporting locations. For information on tourist target areas visit the marine and terrestrial protected areas.