Köppen Climate Classification - Aw/As - Tropical Savanna Climate

Latitudes: Mostly from low teens to mid-20s latitudes.


Temperatures: Highest temperature range of all tropical climates.


Precipitation: Has a pronounced dry season with less than 60 mm (2.4 in) in the driest month. Length and intensity of wet and dry seasons can vary between locations.


Relevant geography: Mainly found at the outer margins of tropical zone. Most commonly found in Africa, Asia, and South America.


USDA equivalent zones: 11-13


Soil: Usually poor due to heavy rainfall washing away nutrients. Often rich in clay. May be acidic. Humus layer thin, where present.


Dominant plant life of the region: Grasslands with scattered drought-resistant trees, scrub, and thorn bushes.


Strengths/challenges for plant life: Plants must be able to handle extremes of precipitation and high heat.


Garden plants that are a good fit for this region: Beans, okra, maize, and other grass family members.


Dominant animal life (or its features): Grazing animals (Antelope, zebra, giraffe, savanna elephant). Hyena, lions.


Challenges for animal raising: Dry and wet extremes.


Animals that are a good fit for this region: Hardy grazing animals.


Notes: Sometimes “As” used in place of “Aw” if dry season occurs during the time of higher sun and longer days (summer by daylight, if not by temperatures).



The tropical savanna climate is often associated with dry winters. That’s what the “w” means in its letter designation “Aw”. However, your dry season could come in the summer. In this case, it may be referred to by the designation “As”. Either season can be longer, or they can be equal. It varies by location. Also, the intensity of dryness and wetness can vary so that your local area almost qualifies as a monsoon or semi-arid climate.


Your climate zone is mostly found at the outer margins of the tropical zone from the low teens to mid 20s of latitude. It is most commonly found in Africa, Asia, and South America. But it is also present in Central America, northern Australia, the Pacific Islands, some islands in the Caribbean, and a section of North America.


This zone has the widest temperature range of all the tropical climates, falling between 11-13 on the USDA plant hardiness scale.


Plant Life & Gardening

Native plant life consists mainly of grasslands with scattered drought-resistant trees, scrub, and thorn bushes. This gives us a hint as to what we can grow here. Some members of the grass family, such as maize, can adapt well to this climate. What would a grassland be without grass?


Soil quality in this zone is usually poor, due to the heavy rainfall in the wet season. Nutrients get washed away. Soils here may be acidic and are often rich in clay. The humus layer is thin, where present. The land will likely need your help to become fertile enough for sustained agriculture.


You may also find success with okra and some types of beans. The beans will have the added benefit of helping to enrich the soil. You can also grow the species of acacia from which gum arabic is derived. Any plants you grow will need to be able to handle the high temperatures and extremes of precipitation.


Animal Life & Livestock

The tropical savanna is home to iconic animals like lions, hyenas, and hippos. It supports large number of grazing animals, such as antelope, zebra, giraffe, and savanna elephant. Likewise,the animals best suited to be used as livestock in this climate are hardy grazing animals.


N’Dama cattle and West African dwarf sheep are already bred for this climate. You may also find success with donkeys, particularly if your area’s dry season is more pronounced that the wet season.


If you had your mind set on birds, consider guineafowl. These can be raised for meat and eggs, like chickens, but are better adapted to the region. More accurately, they are native to it. They are also more wary of predators than most chicken species.