Karroo or Karoo (both: kərōˈ, kä–) [key], the semiarid plateaus of South Africa. The Little Karroo, in Western Cape, is located N of the Langeberg and Outeniqua Ranges and extends c.200 mi (320 km) from east to west at an altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 ft (305–610 m). It is separated from the Great Karroo, in Western Cape and Eastern Cape (c.300 mi/480 km long; alt. 2,000–3,000 ft/610–915 m), by the Swartberg Mts. The Northern Karroo, in Northern Cape, North West and Free State, forms (with the highveld, see veld) the innermost and highest of South Africa's plateau regions. It extends north from the Great Karroo, bounded by Namaqualand on the west and the Komsberg and Roggeveld escarpments on the southwest, and merges with the highveld of Free State and Transvaal provinces. Up to 4,000 ft (1,219 m) high in Northern Cape province, it rises to c.6,000 ft (1,829 m) in the highveld of Transvaal. It forms the lower western half of the central escarpment. The Karroo, where irrigated, is very fertile. Livestock grazing is important there, and citrus fruits and grains are raised. The name is also applied to the low scrub vegetation found in semiarid regions and also to a system of rocks laid down over central and southern Africa during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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