Three West African Kingdoms

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To what extent did geography determine the location of the three West African kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhai? Ghana, Mali and Songhai were the three largest Kingdoms to exist in the history of West Africa. They were located in West Africa during the 11th, 14th and 15th century. West Africa is the region in the western part of the African continent, it lies approximately 15° north of the equator. Geography is the study of the physical features of the earth and its atmosphere. These three prominent western african kingdoms flourished due to strategically located trade routes, abundance of natural resources and diverse types of land. These three factors primarily determined the location of the kingdoms and sustained and supported their societies. The existing trade routes greatly influenced the location of where the empires were built and expanded upon. One of the most commonly used and oldest trade routes in the world is the Trans Sahara route which crosses the Sahara desert and leads to the West African coast. As a result to the location of this trade route all three empires were located south of the desert to be the first civilization traders would reach after their journey. Map A (Trade Routes in Western Africa at the time of the Mali Kingdom) shows the location of the kingdoms in relation to the different trade routes coming from and to western Africa. This gave the kingdoms the direct link to different cultures from Europe, Asia and India whom all frequented this path. As the kingdoms prolonged more routes were opened up, leading northeast across the Sahara for example. As well as this, the positioning of trade routes allowed the empires to stabilize a flourishing economy with little risk of failure. The kingdoms proximity to the routes gave the population exactly what they wanted from all over the world. Merchants coming from Europe, Asia and India brought a variety of goods to Africa, including ceramics, silk, spices, camels and slaves. These items...
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