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Great Rift Valley

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Definition:

The Rift Valley, also known as the Great Rift Valley or Eastern Rift Valley, is a geological feature that runs south from Jordan in south west Asia, through East Africa and down to Mozambique in southern Africa. In all the Rift Valley is 6,400 km (4,000 miles) long and is 64 km (35 miles) wide on average. It is 30 million years old and exhibits extensive volcanism, having produced Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya.

There are two branches -- the Great Rift Valley or Rift Valley which runs for the full extent, from Jordan and the Dead Sea, to the Red Sea and across into Ethiopia and the Denakil Plain. Next it goes through Kenya (particularly Lakes Rudolf (Turkana), Naivasha, and Magadi, into Tanzania (where because of erosion of the eastern edge it is less obvious), along the Shire River Valley in Malawi, and finally into Mozambique, where it reaches the Indian Ocean near to Beira.

The western branch of the Rift Valley, known as the Western Rift Valley, runs in a great arc through the Great Lakes region, passing along lakes Albert (also known as Lake Albert Nyanza), Edward, Kivu, Tanganyika, Rukwa and to Lake Nyasa in Milawi. Most of these lakes are deep, some with bottoms below sea level.

The Rift Valley varies mostly between 600 and 900 metres in depth, with a maximum of 2,700 metres at the Gikuyu and Mau escarpments.

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