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Chapter 12 Kingdoms and Trading States of Africa. Ge graphy of Africa. Tropical rainforests cover less than 5% of the land. The rainforests have thick vegetation and a heavy amount of rain which makes it very moist.

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Chapter 12

Kingdoms and Trading States of Africa

Tropical rainforests cover less than 5% of the land. The rainforests have thick vegetation and a heavy amount of rain which makes it very moist.

Africa’s largest and most populated climate zone is the savanna, or grassy plains. The savanna generally has good soil and enough rainfall to support farming.

Climate Zones of Africa


Climate Zones of Africa

  • Another climate zone in Africa is the desert. The Sahara, in northern Africa, is the biggest desert in the world. The desert is very dry therefore, farming is almost impossible.
  • Along the Mediterranean coast of Africa, and at the tip of southern Africa, there is fertile farmland called the Mediterranean Climate. Unlike the desert, the Mediterranean Climate is ideal for farming.
Over thousands of years, migrations contributed to diversity of African people and their cultures. West African farmers and herders moved to the south and east between 500 and 1500 AD. They spoke a variety of languages that all came from the African root language, Bantu.

The ancient kingdom Nubia was formed on a wide band of fertile land along the Nile. Nubian rulers adopted many Egyptian traditions. They built palaces and pyramids modeled on Egyptian styles.

African Civilization

The Romans built roads, dams, aqueducts, and cities across North Africa. From North Africa, they imported lions and other fierce animals to do battle with the gladiators. By 200 A.D., camels had been brought to North Africa from Asia. The camels revolutionized trade across the Sahara because they can carry heavy loads for a long time with little or no water.

Advancements of Africa


The Gold-Salt Trade

West Africa

North Africa




Gold for Salt

  • Two products, gold and salt, dominated the Sahara trade. Gold was plentiful in present day Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal which is in West Africa. They would trade their gold for salt with South Africa. South Africa was in need of gold and West Africa was in need of salt. Salt was very important. People needed salt in their diet to prevent dehydration, especially in hot, tropical areas.
The most common religion in Africa was Islam. Islam spread slowly at first but in 1050, the Almoravids, who were Muslims of North Africa, launched a campaign to spread Islam.

One of the greatest emperors , Mansa Musa, fulfilled one of the five pillars of Islam and made his pilgrimage to Mecca. Wherever he stopped on his way, he spread his generosity and gave the people there goods and gold.

Islam in Africa


The Five Pillars of Islam

The 5 pillars of Islam are what hold the Islamic religion together.

1 - Declaration of faith.

2 - Daily prayer.

3 - Giving charity to the poor.

4 - Fasting during Ramadan.

5 - Pilgrimage to Mecca.


Trade Routes of East Africa

By 1000 A.D., port cities in Africa were thriving from trade across the Indian ocean. Some of the things that were produced in Africa that they traded were ivory, rhinoceros horn, hides, and gold. Some immediate affects from the trading were that there was thriving commerce in Mogadishu, Kilwa, and Sofala. There was also a rise of strong East African city-states and a rise of slave trade. There was also the introduction of crops and animals from the Middle East and Asia.

To the south and inland from the coastal city-states, massive stone ruins sprawl across rocky hilltops near the great bend in the Limpopo River. These ruins are known as “Great Zimbabwe.” The builders of Great Zimbabwe were a group of Bantu-speaking people who settled in the region between 900 and 1500.

The newcomers brought improved farming methods. They produced enough food to support a growing population.

The Stones of Great Zibabwe

Scholars have suggested that the ruler of Great Zimbabwe was a god-king who presided over a large court. A central bureaucracy ruled an inner ring of province, while appointed governors had authority in more distant villages.

Economy and Government

Zimbabwe reached its height in about 1300. By then, it tapped nearby gold resources and created profitable commercial links with coastal cities like Sofala.


Adapting to the Land

  • Bantu people migrated across Africa. Whenever they settled, they adapted to local environments. They had different groups serving different purposes in their villages. One of the groups included hunter and food gatherers. They would hunt animals and gather wild plants and roots. Another group was the herders and fishers. Their jobs were to trap fish in the rivers and to herd animals such as cattle. The last group is the farming societies. They farmed a variety of crops from grains to bananas. Most farmers used a method called slash-and-burn agriculture. They cleared forest and brush land with iron axes and then burned the remains, using the ash for fertilizer.
African art was usually created in ivory, bronze, and wood. Jewelry and dyed cloth was used in African art often. Much art, though, served as social and religious purposes.

African Arts