Long Distance Trade in West Africa Essay

857 Words 4 Pages
African History
18 March 2011
History of Trade Influence in West Africa Trade has played an important role in the history of the West African region. Trade shaped the region in two main ways. Trade worked as a catalyst for the rise of nearly every empire in the region from its’ earliest times to present day. Also, the growth and spread of trade routes brought in an immense amount of culture with it as well. Trade is and has been a reason for organization in all parts of the world from the days of the barter system all the way to the mass production and retail trade that we see today. It is especially important in West Africa, where control of the trade market means control of the region. By about 3000 B.C, climate change had caused
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The empire met its’ demise around the 13th century, and another didn’t emerge in the region until the Mandinka people of Kankaba seized control of the trade routes, and the empire of Mali was formed. Mali found greater success than Ghana because of a new factor brought about by centuries of trade with Northern Africa, this being the spread of Islam. Muslim influence began during the time of Ghana through trade and commerce. Arabs from the north would trade things such as salt, horses and camels for gold and timber. It wasn’t until Mali was formed that Islam was allowed to integrate into West African society. Islam gave a sense of unity to the entire region, making all of West Africa more peaceful. The peace brought about by this new sense of unity enabled Mali to expand their trade companies to all of West Africa.
Islam is just one new aspect of culture brought in through foreign trade. Agriculture, livestock, and Iron Age technologies were brought from Asia to Egypt and then diffused to West Africa through the Saharan trade routes. The region was not again drastically shaped until European influence is seen. It wasn’t until 15th century shipbuilding advancements that European nations could now trade directly with West Africa rather than go through a northern middleman. The Portuguese were the first to make contact, but the British, French, and Dutch all had

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