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West African Trading Kingdoms. Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. Ghana and Muslim Influence. The Sahara region trade is dominated by two products: GOLD and SALT Heave with gold mines along the West African coast; the empire of Ghana (800-1100AD) was appropriately called “land of gold” by Arab writers

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west african trading kingdoms

West African Trading Kingdoms

Ghana, Mali, and Songhai

ghana and muslim influence
Ghana and Muslim Influence
  • The Sahara region trade is dominated by two products: GOLD and SALT
  • Heave with gold mines along the West African coast; the empire of Ghana (800-1100AD) was appropriately called “land of gold” by Arab writers
  • Muslim merchants were frequent visitors to the empire of Ghana
  • Ideas about government, military, technology, as well as the written Arabic language and the religion itself, spread throughout the region

West African and Saharan Trade Routes

Where are the gold and salt located?

mali and mansa musa
Mali and Mansa Musa

“There is complete and general safety throughout the land. The traveler here has no more reason to fear thieves than the man who stays at home.”-IbnBattuta

  • Ghana evolved into the Empire of Mali by the year 1250. The term Mali is an ancient term for “where the king dwells”.
  • Musa, a Muslim convert, based his entire system of justice on the Quran, and fulfilled one of the five pillars of Islam in 1324: the hajj.
  • There was no greater African king than Mansa Musa. He expanded Mali’s borders to the Atlantic Ocean and northward, but always maintained the empire as a peaceful place.

“This man spread upon Cairo the flood of his generosity: there was no person, officer of the court, or holder of any office of the Sultanate who did not receive a sum of gold from him. The people of Cairo earned incalculable sums from him, whether by buying and selling or by gifts.”

  • Traveling across the Sahara to Cairo and on to Mecca, Mansa Musa left a profound impact on those he encountered on his one – year journey…
  • Impact of the Hajj
    • Lavish spending in Cairo caused the value of gold to drop for over ten years!
    • New trading and diplomatic ties reached with both Egypt and Morocco.
  • Effects continued…
    • Musa returned to Mali with Arab scholars, artists, and architects.
    • Word of Musa’s wealth and spread to Europe, increasing interest in Mali’s gold.
    • ISLAM + Road Trip! = Even more conversions and new believers in Islam
songhai and timbuktu
Songhai and Timbuktu

A description of Timbuktu

“Here are great store of doctors, judges, and other learned men, that are bountifully maintained at the king’s cost and charges. And hither are brought various manuscripts of books from North Africa, which are sold for more money than any other merchandise”

  • A primary center for learning and trade, Timbuktu was the HQ for the West African gold/salt trade
ibn battuta s resume

Countries visited


  • Egypt
  • Arabia and the Middle East
  • Eastern Coast of Africa
  • Asia Minor and Anatolia
  • Constantinople
  • Central Asia
  • India / Sri Lanka
  • Southeast Asia and China
  • The Sahara / West Africa
  • Muslim Spain / Morocco
  • A merchant, scholar, and traveler, IbnBattuta logged about 75,000 miles on his journey around the Eurasian and African continents. Under the banner of Islam, Battuta’s travels is a example of cultural diffusion. As he traveled, goods and ideas were carried with him and each had a profound influence on the cultures, places, and people he met along the way from 1325-1353.